How many of you took a language course in high school? There are probably a fair number of people raising their hands right now since most schools require students to take a language as part of the curriculum for graduation. And how many continued with language learning in college? Plenty of hands probably went down, not only because most colleges are content with counting whatever language you took in high school, but also because not everyone continues their education beyond the high school level. Okay, now for the kicker. How many adults out there have gone on to learn new languages (or continue their previous instruction) since finishing school? Probably not too many. This could be because it gets harder for us to learn new sounds and absorb new information (like an entire language) after a certain age. Or it could center on a lack of spare time for such pursuits, which are generally deemed unnecessary, unless you interact with a foreign office for work on a regular basis. But if you happen to love language and you’re always looking to expand your vocabulary and increase fluency, then Google Translate could make a great addition to the lineup of apps on your favorite Apple mobile device.
The app is free to download, which is a great place to start. Competitor apps can be costly and many don’t offer the same functionality that you’ll find with this freebie. So what can it do? Well, for starters it features text translations for 64 languages. This means you can type in a word or phrase in English and see it translated into Chinese, Korean, Swedish, or Swahili, just for example. But users can also translate between Spanish and Dutch, or German and Japanese. This comprehensive application allows for translations between any and all of the languages featured with simple functionality by which you select the “from” and “to” languages and then type in your phrase. It can even show you the translated text in both the alphabet of origin and the characters of the language you’re translating to (for those learning to read and write as well as speak). Plus, added features allow you to copy and paste text for easier translations (menus, road signs, etc.) on the go.
From there Google Translate really goes the extra mile. While many such apps lack talk-to-text capabilities, this one takes the opportunity to deliver some added value. The software recognizes 17 spoken languages, but it can also read your text back to you in 24 different languages. This is a must-have supplemental tool for anyone learning a language since proper pronunciation and inflection can be so important to conveying intent. Even better, the app allows users to star (save) searches so you can pre-program in certain words or phrases that you think you’ll need for quick reference later on. And if you happen to find yourself sans cell service, the app even lets you see your history of translations offline. Google Translate may not be quite as good as having human interpreting services on call, but it’s a heck of a lot less expensive and you can take it with you everywhere