Dreaming of world travel? don't speak the language? no problem! overcoming the language barrier
Updated: Apr 21
When we lived in Germany when I was a kid, my mom carried a pocket phrasebook around wherever we went...and it served her well.
Things have changed a lot since then. Today, we have some really fantastic resources for breaking language barriers.
I want to go over 5 of my favorite options with you.
(click on your selection to skip ahead to that section)
first up: Google Translate
I'm using German as my example language, but there are dozens of languages offered with both the desktop and mobile version of Google Translate.
When I'm planning travel to a non English speaking country, Google Translate for Desktop makes life much easier or me.
first, go to translate.google.com
Here are some of the languages the desktop version will translate for you: Click the caret icon (circled in red) to view the full list, or just choose "detect language."
Let's give it a try!
Here's a video that shows how. Pardon my abrupt/clipped German, but you really have to enunciate with this feature if you want accurate results.
It's pretty simple, type in the text you want to translate and let it go to work.
You'll get your results in text format, but if you want to hear results spoken out loud or question pronunciation, just tap on that "listen" icon, seen below in red:
You can translate an entire document at one time:
....wooo hoo!! Image the things you can do with these tools!
Now, the desktop version doesn't work with a jpeg (photos), but the phone version will so let's move on to that.
2- Google Translate App for Mobile devices
First you'll need to download the Google Translate App onto your phone. Here's what it looks like. As you can see there is a "pen" option that allows you to type in your text, or the "microphone" for translating spoken word.
I have typed "where are you" into the box, and here are my results:
Select the microphone instead of the pen and start talking!
3-translating signs, menu's, documents...etc!!!
I have this sign that I would like to translate:
Rather than typing in this entire thing, or having to try and read it out loud into the phone, Google Translate makes translating written text super easy. Simply choose the camera option:
Then hover your phone over the sign and presto! translated! (notice the "instant" option in blue is selected.) Here are my "instant" results:
Notice in the photo above at the bottom of the screen is a "scan" option. Let's talk about how to use that one:
1-Again, hover your phone camera over the text you want to translate.
you'll get something that looks like this:
3-Now either choose "select all" or do as it says and highlight the text that you would like to translate with your finger (finger highlighting seen below:)
4-select the continue arrow (circled in red below:)
Here are my results:
Now for one of my favorite features...
4-the conversation feature!
This gives you the ability to translate an entire conversation. So handy! It's self explanatory...give it a try!
Here's what it looks like:
5-access more features:
click on that little drop down menu bar
Here is what you will find: save phrases into your "phrasebook", save transcripts, download for "offline translation"
this one is super cool too!
Find it here on your home screen (circled in red below,) select it, select the blue flashing microphone and go!
Use the Google Translate App for your phone wherever you have cell service, wi-fi, or download offline translation of your chosen language!!!
It's so nice that google does all that work for you, but what if you want to learn a little of the language? Locals appreciate your effort if you at least know a few basics; please, thank you etc.
3- Pimsleur Audio Courses
I originally got this course on CD from my local library. I loved it so much, I ended up buying all 5 levels of German instruction. I have a two hour per day commute, and listen while I drive. I'm half-way through German 4 now! It is pricey but if you are serious about learning, this program is quite effective.
Learn more about learning a foreign language with Pimsleur audio courses at their website. They are currently offering a 7 day free trial on dozen's of languages.
Duolingo, an online language learning tool is free, and it is fun! It's like a game. What I love so much about Duolingo is that you can learn to READ, WRITE AND SPEAK the language! fantastic!
"Duolingo lessons adapt to your learning style. Exercises are tailored to help you learn and review vocabulary effectively. A study has shown that 34 hours of Duolingo are equal to 1 university semester of language courses."
Here's what it looks like:
speak a new language! and have fun doing it!
learn to read and write!
5- Old Fashioned Flash Cards
Duolingo used to have a fun virtual flashcard site called Tiny Cards. Unfortunately, it has been discontinued. I make old fashioned flashcards instead.
I have found through my Pimsleur course, that I make better progress with learning full sentences, instead of studying single words. Therefore, I have flashcards for vocabulary words I'm struggling with, but have also purchased a German phrasebook and made flashcards for full sentences.
If you know a little of the language, you'll feel more confident and comfortable on your travels!
There will be times during your travels when you are going to struggle with the language barrier, but don't let it stop you. You'll be fine!
Now, I suppose it is time I get busy learning a little French for my upcoming trip to France! Bon voyage and Au revoir!!!