Lost in Translation
Technology to Help You Communicate With the Locals
No one wants to find themselves in a foreign land without the ability to ask where the bathroom is or how to avoid ending up on the wrong side of the tracks. Thanks to modern technology, there is no reason for the 21st century traveler to sweat it when it comes to talking with the locals. Here’s a look at some of the best gadgets and apps out there to help you save face while trotting the globe.
With the proliferation of smart phones, netbooks and tablets, it makes sense to download one of the many apps available to help travelers translate foreign languages while abroad. Here are some of the most popular.
Google Translate is the quintessential translation app providing translation for entered phrases and words, but what makes it stand out is the conversation mode. This mode allows the user to have an actual conversation with someone who speaks an entirely different language. Each person can speak into the phone in their native tongue and the app will automatically translate each phrase into the appropriate language. Translations appear as text, but if you just tap on the loudspeaker icon the text is rendered as speech.
Tourist Language Learn & Speak is an Android app that can translate for 58 countries and allows the user to navigate the language via categories like greetings and small talk as well as manually entering phrases for translation. The app provides both a written and verbal translation, so you can hear the proper pronunciation before trying out your language skills on the locals.
Word Lens is an iPhone app that uses the phone’s camera to translate everything from street signs to restaurant menus. Once the app is downloaded, all you have to do is aim your phone’s camera lens at the text you want translated and it instantly appears in English on your screen. The app also works in reverse, translating English text into a foreign language. While the app is currently only available for English, Spanish and French it’s still making a big splash on the translation scene, even grabbing the attention of daytime talk show diva Ellen DeGeneres.
For travelers who want a more extensive translator there are still a plethora of electronic translators to choose from.
The Nyrius LT12 digital translator is the perfect size to fit in a pocket and contains 8,400 travel-specific phrases in 12 different languages and eight conversational categories. Navigation is simple and the LT12 offers translation via digital display or speaking the phrase. Cross-translation is available in a dozen languages including French, German, Spanish, Italian, Japanese and Mandarin Chinese. For under $50, this is a reliable bet to keep you out of sticky situation overseas.
The EST-7014 by Franklin kicks it up a notch from the LT12, featuring 2.5 million entries to and from 14 languages. In addition to a full-color screen, all speech files were recorded by native speakers to ensure authentic pronunciations. The EST-7014 also includes over 2,000 phrases broken into 14 everyday phrase categories and 13 travel phrase categories, making it easy for the user to find the perfect phrase in no time. This one requires a heftier investment, costing almost $300, but the advanced features are well worth it to the serious traveler.
For those who just like to keep it old school, nothing beats the classic English to foreign language pocket dictionary. You can pick one up for nearly every language out there, and the price can’t be beat as most can be found for around $10.
What translators do you use when traveling abroad?
About the Author:
Lisa loves to travel and often finds herself in situations where these translators come in handy. She hopes to one day learn the languages by heart, but until then settles for the EST-7014. When she isn’t traveling, she is a fulltime blogger for Satellitetv.com, home of the best deals on Dish Network equipment.