Using a French dictionary online can provide many benefits for the French speaking student. For advanced students, French dictionaries help students become more intimately acquainted with the French language by providing synonyms for words rather than an English translation. This in turn helps students learn to think in French rather than translate quickly.
Ways to Use French Dictionary Online
Using a French dictionary to look up French words is not necessarily something that comes naturally to a student learning French. However, if your French is advanced enough, this is a great way to increase your ability to think in the language rather than to translate. Just like an English dictionary, French dictionaries will offer synonyms and working definitions so that you can figure out what the word means without having to translate it into English. The principle is similar to the idea of immersion used by popular computer programs like Rosetta Stone. Using a bilingual French dictionary online can prove to be very helpful for the beginning student, but more advanced students can benefit from monolingual dictionaries, which increase your comprehension as well as your speaking fluency.
Finding Online French Dictionaries
There are a variety of resources for French dictionaries that can be found online.
Lexilogos is a French dictionary with a variety of features. Not only is it a French dictionary, but it provides information on words in Middle and Ancient French, links to encyclopedias in French, as well as information and charts for spelling and conjugation. On top of that, you can write a word or phrase in the search box and choose the dictionary version with which you would like to look up the word.
Le Dictionnaire is a simple French dictionary online . It has a search box and then a drop-down menu where you can choose to search for the definition of a word, its synonyms, verb conjugations, or you can search for the word in a French encyclopedia. This is a useful tool that is easy to use.
Dictionnaire de TV5Monde
Le Dictionnaire de TV5Monde is not the easiest French dictionary to use or understand. However, it does have a very basic definition feature and synonym feature. Users should be aware that many of the definitions include urban meanings and colloquialisms that are more slang than proper French.
Linternaute's online French dictionary has perhaps the easiest interface for someone short on time. You can search for words via the search box or you can search for words alphabetically. Another nice feature is that this site has a full encyclopedia, so if you are researching and need to look up a word, you have all the tools you need at your disposal on one signle website.
Dictionnaire de français "Littré"
This is the dictionary for those who truly love the French language. This dictionary offers exceptionally complete entries, including information on the origins of the word and any changes that the word may have undergone, as well as typical information such as the gender of the word and usage.
Larousse is perhaps one of the best known names when it comes to French dictionaries. Known for being utterly thorough, students, translators and even teachers often prefer this dictionary. Not surprisingly, the online site is just as thorough, offering a free dictionary and encyclopedia. Having the encyclopedia and dictionary combined is a nice feature for advanced students that may be researching in French as it's always ideal to not have to translate into English but rather remain thinking in the language. The one downside to this site is that it has a lot of advertisements, which can be a nuisance if you only need a simple dictionary.
Working entirely in French is a skill that has to be worked on. It is not easy or natural for English speakers to not translate everything into English before understanding or responding. However, to achieve true fluency, learning to think in the language, and therefore only using native resources, is essential.