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Tuesday, May 17, 2016



Whats Better Than Google Translate For Translating From Chinese To English

I have children studying in Chinese school but I don't understand Chinese. This makes it a challenge when it comes to guiding them with homework. Fortunately, there are many tools available to help me.

Now, I use google translate a lot because it is quick and easy. It also has image recognition technology which makes it even simpler. Just snap a picture with my smart phone and translate. However, the translation is often not very accurate. Sometimes it does too literal a translation which doesn't work at all figuratively.

Fear not. There are many other tools. I find that the Yabla Chinese English Pinyin Online Dictionary excellent in terms of translating from Chinese to English, much better than Google translate. I'll show you why.

Right. Let's say you went into this website called zuowenku to look for Chinese model essays. Zuowenku has many sample or model Chinese compositions. You get quite intimidated when  you enter the site if you do not know Chinese because it is fully in Chinese and so wordy! Well, it is after all an Essay sample site.

Ok. So you enter the site and click on 小学作文which means primary school essays. If you hover over that link, you will see six columns, the first being for std 1, second is for std 2 right up till std 6. The rows denote the different types of essays.


Now, go ahead and click on any of the links. I clicked on the first link on the first column and first row and came to the following page. Intimidating right? Especially when you don't understand a word. I clicked on the one with the number 150. It means that essay has 150 words.



That brings me to the following page. This is the page with the 150 words model essay for standard one primary school. I copied the whole first line of the passage which I highlighed in yellow and now I'm going to get that whole line translated to English and pinyin. Watch the translation.



I paste the whole highlighted sentence on Google translate and this is what I got. It says "I am a : handsome , sometimes a little guilty of two boys" Oh dear. That doesn't sound right!

Now, I copy and paste the same sentence on Yabla Chinese English Pinyin Dictionary and this is what I get. (Copy and paste the whole sentence in the search box indicated by the arrow and hit search.  From this, I can guess that the sentence means "I am a handsome school boy who sometimes makes mistakes" or "I am a handsome but sometimes naughty school boy" something to that effect.

What's good about this is you get each character broken down and explained in detail which pinyin given as well. If it is a phrase it will be shown as a phrase. If it is an idiom, it will be shown as an idiom with the meaning given.

My translation of the meaning may not be perfect but with it broken down like that, you understand it a lot better.


You can also do this using the mbdg Chinese dictionary. Or if you want just the pinyin, you can  use this Chinese to pinyin converter which also gives you the meaning in English. Try all three to see which you prefer. I like the Yabla one best but sometimes when an idiom is given, I like the mbdg one because when you click on that idiom, it further breaks down each and every character in the idiom which will help you understand how that idiom was formed. Very interesting. You can use the one you prefer or all, like I do.

There is a right tool for everything! You just have to find it. With these tools, you can help your child with their Chinese homework, even if you do not know a word of Chinese!

If you found this useful, go ahead and share it.

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