Google Toolbar has been recently updated – only the Internet Explorer version, though – and now includes an efficient Translate feature that will make web browsing easier, even in those websites you can’t understand. The new Translate feature is displayed as one more button in Google Toolbar, and one click is enough to make it detect the language of the web page you’re currently visiting and translate to the language you’ve set as default in the toolbar’s configuration menu.
Google Toolbar works surprisingly well, although the quality of the resulting translation depends on the language pair, and is never going to be as reliable as a translation done by a professional translator. The good thing about it is that it keeps on translating pages as you browse the site, and if you often translate from and to the same languages, Google Toolbar will remember your settings and translate web pages without having to click anywhere. The Translate feature supports 41 different languages and will soon be offered in Google Toolbar for Firefox as well.
But what if you don’t want to install a toolbar? There are other ways to turn foreign texts in something you can more or less understand. One of them is Google’s Language Tools, where you can paste text fragments for immediate translation or type in a web URL to obtain a complete web page translated to the language of your choice, while keeping the original design and layout as much as possible. Another option is using translation software, like the well-respected Babylon.
If you prefer online tools, you can check ProZ.com, where professional translators can solve your doubts, or IATE, a powerful online dictionary with support for all European languages that’s mainly focused on technical terms. Finally, I’d recommend WordReference as an excellent online dictionary with support for six languages, an active user community willing to help you and a special app for the iPhone / iPod Touch.