In one of my classes today, my student couldn’t come up with the next word to say because I guess she was trying to think of the English word for the Japanese word in her head. After some time, she finally asked if she could use her phone to look it up.

I don’t know if it’s the use of her phone or the looking up that she thought she needed to ask permission for, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong in checking a dictionary or the internet for words that you’ve forgotten or don’t know.

I use often Google Translate myself. Although it can be used to translate phrases and sentences, it’s also basically an English-Japanese dictionary. I also have a Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary on my phone and I often use it to check new words that I encounter while I’m reading, to check words I’ve forgotten, or to find a word that fits what I want to say or write.

When I was younger and didn’t have a smartphone, one of the first books I bought was a pocket dictionary and I used it for the same reasons. We also had two or three dictionaries at home, and I and my siblings used it a lot when we were younger.

But I think I’m moving away from what I wrote in the first paragraph, which isn’t really a bad thing for me because length is the goal. I guess what I’m saying is I don’t think there’s anything wrong in using a dictionary (or Google Translate) to help you in a conversation, especially in a language class.