Going abroad and not being completely familiar with the language can be a bit overwhelming, but have no fear! ESL dictionaries are the perfect way for you to figure out how to say what you want to say, the right way. Fortunately for you, the world of Internet and smartphones make it a cinch to keep a dictionary filled with thousands of words in your pocket or briefcase at all times. Take a look at some of the best ESL dictionaries out there so that your travel game remains fun and stress-free.
WordReference is my personal go-to site for all things language translation. With fifteen different languages to choose from, you have a good chance of finding your native language on the list. The site offers standard dictionary definitions as well as forums so that you can ask more specific questions about phrases or grammar and get feedback from learners and speakers.
Bab.la offers a translating dictionary featuring 25 different languages! There is also the opportunity to suggest new words to the dictionary so the site can stay updated with current slang terms.
Lang to Lang is great at giving you not only the direct definition of a word, but also synonyms and other variations to go with it. Over 40 languages are included, making it the most diverse dictionary on this list. My only complaint with this dictionary is that it is less clearly organized then some of the others, and there is no explanation for when to use some of the synonyms instead of the more basic word—and sometimes it makes a difference. Overall, it is a useful tool, especially if your native language is a bit more obscure and not available on the other sites.
Urban Dictionary is useful if you plan on a casual visit to the States where you may be surrounded by a lot of slang. The site itself can be translated into over 30 languages, making it easy to navigate, but the definitions remain in English, so copy and paste them into Google translate or a similar site to understand them. The site is submission-based and focuses on odd terms and phrases that come up in the modern day world of slang. I’m a fluent English speaker and even I have to use it at times to understand some of the weird terms that pop up in conversation. Do be cautious, as many of these entries are a bit humorous or crude and are intended to be this way.
Don’t stress if you still don’t feel like you have enough tools to be successful during your travels. Study the basics and keep these dictionaries in mind and you will have the resources to communicate and interact on your trip. Be willing to learn and show that, despite your lack of knowledge, you are eager to communicate. Be patient and friendly and the language barrier will seem a lot thinner!
Photo Credit: Dave Worley