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How to use your iPhone to translate foreign words to English (no app required)
If you have ever tried to wrap your head around a second language, the effectiveness of reading books or news of that foreign origin will not have escaped you: aside from proactively memorizing words and grammar, it's probably the quickest way to getting a grasp of the concept of any foreign language. While it is no longer a secret that Apple provides a set of built-in dictionaries for when you stumble upon a word unbeknownst to you, there is an important distinction between some of the dictionaries available to you.
The tutorial below is going to highlight the difference between the two main subsets of dictionaries (thesaurus vs. actual language to language translation) and scrutinize if your language of choice is one of the few lucky ones Apple decided to support beyond the thesaurus. Following that is a quick demonstration on how to translate the words in question to English. Read on to find out why some dictionaries are simply better than others.
It is beyond discussion that Apple's dictionaries were not created equal. The Dictionary section located in Settings is rife with native dictionaries offering synonyms and explanations in their own language for any tagged word. The existence of such is helpful, however if I decided to acquire for example the Danish language from scratch, a Danish dictionary would only get me so far.
Luckily though, even if only for a limited set of languages, Apple has something much more powerful up their sleeves: to this day, seven languages also come with a ‘foreign language to English' dictionary, which you should download on any account if you happen to be a student of one of them. Once installed, looking up a word will no longer just define it, but actually translate it on the spot.
Here is a list of the languages supported so far:
DutchFrenchGermanItalianJapaneseKoreanSpanishThe dictionaries are titled XYZ – English and can be found in Settings > General > Dictionary