WordReference.com features four multilingual translation dictionaries from HarperCollins in French, German, Italian and Spanish, and the Collins English dictionary. The English Spanish dictionary alone has over 160,000 words with more than 230,000 translations.
As a teacher, the single best thing about this particular on-line dictionary is that the word looked up is contextualized so the user can see proper usages. For example, a search for the word "dar" resulted in twelve definitions with examples of how the verb "to give" can be used as a transitive verb, five ways it can be used as an intransitive verb, and 7 ways as a reflexive verb. To the left of the definition, the word appears in the middle of a vertical list of twenty words in alphabetical order. This is a nice feature if you want to look up a different form of the word easily. Only single words can be entered, however, there are instructions for looking up the word used in an expression. Mike Kellogg, the author of the site, has a sense of humor. In his FAQ he addresses this issue and says "this is just a dictionary. Use it as you would use a regular dictionary. If you would like to receive a (bad) translation of an entire web page, there are plenty of companies doing that such as AltaVista's Babelfish."
My Spanish classes have used this dictionary for several years in and out of the classroom or LRC with great success. I myself have linked to it on many of my web pages for easy access. For example, in the Language Resource Center if students are working in pairs on another study module, they can easily open two browser windows and switch back and forth from the dictionary to the assigned work. Since the words are defined and then used in context there is less likelihood
that students will produce such creations as the classic "ir espalda" for "to go back" or "tener un buen tiempo" for "divertirse."
The free WordReference search box can be added very easily to your own website by copying and pasting some simple HTML code. The translation will open in a new browser window. The search box can also be modified to include selected languages. The search box is small and unobtrusive.
If I were a PC user I would love this next feature. WordReference can be used as a browser add-on tool. WordReference Personal works with Windows and comes in two forms, one for Internet Explorer, one for Netscape. The download is free and fast. To translate any word on any web page, double-click the word to highlight it, click the right mouse button, and chose from the menu. A small window will then open with the translation in the corner of the screen. Unfortunately this option is not available for Macs.
The dictionary loads quickly, has an uncluttered interface, and a good font size for easy reading. It is very easy to use and the directions are clear. There is a FAQ page with some short suggestions from the author. There are no irritating pop-up windows or flashing banners for advertising. There is a single advertisement banner (for matchmaker.com at the time of this writing) at the top. There is no login required. The WordReference search box can be installed on both PCs and Macs, however, it is available as a browser add-on tool for only PCs.