No one actually asks me how I write a decent French essay, but if they did I would tell them:
- I can construct sentences using basic vocabulary and grammar rules, but when I am tasked with translating something which is idiomatic, I use this website: http://www.linguee.com/ Enter your phrase and the site will display several matches. I believe the site uses data mining. The website has dozens of language translations, and all you need to do is activate the drop-down box.
- Google Translate (https://translate.google.com/) allows you to take what you have written in your target language, and confirm your translation. Often, a simple change of the verb can save you from a major translation misstep.
- Go visual with (http://www.bing.com/images/discover?form=Z9LH), by simply entering the phrase you believe fits and seeing if the visual world of images matches what you believe to be true. Often I find myself on Pinterest.com, with a French visual object, which leads to an article on a French website that clarifies everything.
- I also use Google and Bing search engines to find articles on a French topic or word, after establishing the French using Google Translate.
- Often I find that I have a weakness in a certain area of French. Thank goodness for this website: http://www.bonjourdefrance.com/index/indexgram.htm
- A very good source for phrases and ideas, is to search a topic on Wikipedia, and see if there is an entry in French by looking on the left-hand side, under “Languages”. I often click the “Français”, which will hyperlink me to the entry made on the French version of Wikipedia.
- And finally, since I cataloged the “Balades” and “L’avis de Marie” podcasts, (I featured many of those entries on this website), I have a PDF for each that allows me to search phrases or words that they may have used.
As promised, this is the PDF I used to check essays in English: