Language learning tricks: Using Wikipedia

We have a fabulous amount of beginner's language material available freely on the net - and that is great. And, as a tool for advancing specific translation needs, Google Translate is a great tool.

However, once you get into the more technical areas of a topic or industry, it can be hard to find materials that are written by native speakers for a natural translation. That's where Wikipedia comes in.

For example, say I'm in the computer industry, and I need to learn some words in Spanish. I can pull up the English Wikipedia article for, say, Random Access Memory, and then simply switch to the language of my choice by selecting it from the left-column! I can click "Español" to see the same article in Spanish!

This is incredibly powerful, and it is a learning tool we've never had before. Do keep in mind that the articles are not direct translations of each other, and are likely written by different people. So you won't be able to do a word-for-word or sentence-by-sentence equivalency; however, you will be able to see how natives translate and use all the important industry and professional terms for that subject.


This is a great example of how we get things we never expected "for free" when we network information and knowledge. No one built Wikipedia as a language learning tool, but now that it is built, it was simple to display a sidebar language selector that suddenly makes it a new power tool. Thanks, Wikipedia!

You can look for these unintended power tools everywhere... they are popping up and lurking all over the Internet!