German to English, German to Portuguese and German to Spanish – dictionary and several useful references, and all for free – available on BeoLingus.
Beolingus is not just another online dictionary with more ads than headwords; it is full-scale reference with useful examples. The project is created by the Chemnitz University of Technology and it has been online since 1995. According to the site, Beolingus offers 396,000 word translations German-English, 112,000 word translations German-Spanish, 42,000 word translations German-Portuguese. We should also mention 37,000 synonyms of German words and more than 14,000 English, 6,500 German, and 10,000 Spanish quotes and aphorisms. Many of these great things are based on other projects and seamlessly incorporated into the site.
What we really like and what we find particularly useful is German-English example sentences and German / American pronunciation. This makes definitions more interesting and easier to remember; and there are no uncertainties about the pronunciation.
However, this is not all. Beolingus offers:
Special subjects – Expressions and words related to many specific areas such as Holidays, Family Members, Love, Games, Grammar…
Grammar reference – simple Preposition guide and link to another project
Beolingus will assist you with German spelling, make your search easier with use of wildcards and offer an easy way to enter umlauts, in case you do not have German keyboard layout installed. You can even embed it in your own website or place in on Google Homepage, or maybe open it in small window so you can have more space for your work. Two thumbs up!
I was more than happy when I discovered this language-learning online paradise. Not only it is free – it is from BBC, and available in: French, German, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Greek and Chinese. The site offers Online Courses, with special attention payed to culture of the country where the language is spoken. Some of the content is grouped into Intermediate and Beginner sections, so you can learn in your own rhythm. If you plan to travel to one of the countries, you will find weather information and, what is more important, Quick Fix – Essential holiday phrases.
The visitors will appreciate Steps, full-scale multimedia language course for free. For example, Italian Steps is available as 12 weeks course grouped around everyday communication topics. Every lesson is summerised with useful revisions in form of Challenges.
No matter whether you would like to refresh you foreign language knowledge, learn new stuff or just for kicks sound Greek – BBC Languages is not to be missed easily because of its linguistic richness and modern approach.
Phonetic transcription that is included in quality dictionaries is great, but what use of the transcription if you do not know phonetic alphabet? We have selected for you five places with free interactive content, perfect for quick reference. The list is based on several evaluation points, including free use, interactivity, outlay and offline content. Our aim was to show phonemic charts as a reference only, and not to discuss lessons about IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet).
This tool is provided to us by Macmillan Publishers and we have selected it as one of the best phonetic charts online. The outlay is very simple and straightforward. After clicking on a symbol, the phoneme is articulated, followed by a full word in which the phoneme occurs. Macmillan Phonetic Chart is available as offline content, in form of a simple program that comes in two flavors. The first version displays the phonemes in small window. The second, however, uses full screen, which is simply perfect for presentation (realia) in a class. One of the things we would like to see is written form of spoken example word. The software is free for use.
The forerunner on our list is Phonemic Chart by British Council. This simple software uses clear outlay with nicely grouped and uncluttered vowels, consonants and diphthongs. After clicking on a phonetic symbol, the sound of the phoneme is played.
We think that written word in which the phoneme is used or word read after the phoneme (like in Macmilan’s Chart) would be more natural than isolated symbol. We place this tool on the second place because of its simplicity and the fact that download versions are available both for MS Windows and Mackintosh.
The third place is reserved for BBC English. The most basic of all in the list, this tool is opened in a browser window and it is not available offline as a separate application. The chart itself is simple with clearly articulated phonemes. We have decided to select it because of quality content that is available on the same place if you decide to hang around – pages named Pronunciation tips. BBC is in the top of the game, with great lessons on English pronunciation. Each of the sounds is explained in a separate lesson, accompanied by video content. Another great site from BBC.
On this site the phonemes are presented within the words, and isolated phonemes cannot be heard. It is great companion to previously mentioned charts, because it is possible to hear the phoneme in the context. However, the content is available online only. If you wish to use it on your computer offline, you will have to buy it. It would be good to mention that the software offers simple pronunciation quiz and phonetic diagram (both available online). The downside is somewhat strange voice recordings and not-so-friendly design for your eyes.
This page is the least interactive of all listed here. When a user clicks on a word, the pronunciations are played as mp3 recording (whole words are read, and not the phonemes). We decided to include the site here because it offers American and British versions of the pronunciation. To more advanced students, extra explanations in plain English will be of use and great introduction to International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). The content is available online only, unless you are ready to save each file individually.
This closes our list for time being. Do you know of any great online phonetic charts? Feel free to share in the comments.