There are a number of dictionaries that you might want to use when writing your Assignment. Here, I am only going to show you the two that I consider the best, but there are many others.
The best monolingual dictionary (that is, only in Spanish) is the one made by the Real Academia EspaÃƒÂ±ola. This is the authoritative dictionary of Spanish and it can be accessed here. The pros: It is made by the association of Academies of Spanish, so it is the authoritative version. Each Spanish-speaking country (including the U.S.A.) has an Academy that follows the use of Spanish and regulates on it. It also tells you the origins of words (etymology) and the different meanings according to the countries. The cons: It is only in Spanish, and it can be hard to follow for a non-native speaker.
The best bilingual dictionary (English / Spanish) is WordReference. It is very accurate with the definitions, it offers a translation, phrasal verbs, idioms, and even pictures of the words. I truly recommend this one if you want to translate individual words.
The same way that you check your writing in English (or you should) before you turn them in, you have to spell-check your assignments in Spanish too. This is compulsory for all my courses. A writing assignment that is not spell-checked is not accepted. Spell-checking does not only correct a lot of mistakes that otherwise would have to be corrected by me (thus, earning you lots and lots of points!) but it is also a reflection on your writing. When you are confronted with your mistakes before I correct them, then you are reflecting on what you did wrong, and why, and how to correct it.
The best option is to do it with the word processor that you are using. However, since this is not always an option, you can use the following spell-checking webpages.
Lenguaje. Copy and paste the text of your WA into the box. I would leave your name, word count, and date out. Then, click on "corregir ortografÃƒÂa" to the right of the box. Once the assignment is corrected, then copy and paste it back into the word-processing program.
Corrector OrtogrÃƒÂ¡fico. More or less as above. Copy and paste the text, and once it is corrected, then copy and paste it back.
Stilus. The most sophisticated of them all. It not only corrects the spelling (ortografÃƒÂa), but it also gives you clues as to possible grammatical mistakes. Some of the words identified are only considerations, meaning that they ask you to think about this particular word in that particular context (i.e. it might be OK after all). The tab Informe de correcciÃƒÂ³n gives you notes and corrections as a professor would do, but you cannot correct it on-line (it is the same as getting the WA back from me). The tab CorrecciÃƒÂ³n interactiva allows you to correct everything on-line, but they ask you to sign up for that (it's completely free, they just want to know that people are using it). Once you sign up they send you an e-mail with the access code, which you can change later.
I am not going to take points off for (most of) these, but writing guidelines are different in each language, as are customs. For example, in Spain, wearing socks with sandals is about the worst thing you can do, especially if the socks are white. Seriously, nobody will speak to you. But let's go back to writing. When writing your assignment you might want to keep in mind the following:
a. Spanish does not capitalize days of the week, months, seasons, or even adjectives dealing with nationality, religion, origin, etc. Where you say Monday we say lunes, where you say Spanish we say espaÃƒÂ±ol. So please do not capitalize them... unless, of course, they are the first word in a sentence.
b. Titles. Again, do not capitalize every word. English capitalizes all words except prepositions, French capitalizes the first two words... Spanish only capitalizes the first word, and then the proper nouns, if there are any. The title of your writing assignment should never be Un DÃƒÂa En El Campus de Harvard, but rather Un dÃƒÂa en el campus de Harvard. The last word is capitalized because it is a proper noun. Notice Don Quijote: El ingenioso hidalgo don Quijote de la Mancha. Only Quijote and Mancha are capitalized inside the title because they are a) a person, and b) a place.
c. Do not attempttranslations of movies, places, books, etc. You're not going to get it right. We don't refer to Disneyland as "tierra de Disney", we call it "Disneylandia". Die Hard (with Bruce Willis) is translated into Spanish as "The Jungle of Glass"; and For Whom the Bell Tolls is actually rendered into "For Whom the Bells Toll". So, leave it in the original.
d. However. When you refer to titles of movies, books, etc. or you are leaving words in the original language, pleeeeeease put them in italics.
e. Last, punctuation differs in English and Spanish. Please do not worry about this, but at least I want you to be aware of it. Where English includes punctuaction inside quotations (i.e. "the dog."), Spanish leaves them out (i.e. "el perro".). Notice the position of the period in the previous two sentences.