Whether you’re traveling to a new country, or need to communicate with your clients, learning a language is becoming increasingly easy thanks to technology. Indeed, you can learn according to your personal schedule without the need to dedicate a fixed amount of time to language classes. Thanks to Babbel you gain even more flexibility as you can learn Danish, Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish and Turkish straight from your Android phone or tablet.
The idea of learning a new language may bring back horrible memories of chanting aloud amo, amas, amat, amamus, amatis, amant, and discussing whether the vocative form is indeed a case — but there is a better way to learn. If you’ve always loved the idea of picking up a second — or third, or fourth — language, your phone and tablet could help you out.
Having an Italian girlfriend spurred me into attempting to learn the lingo. I am essentially monolingual — I know enough French to get by, a smattering of German, and sufficient Latin to satisfy my love of etymology. I needed something to help me become fluent in Italian. Duolingo seemed to fit the bill.
The popular crowd-sourced online multilingual dictionary dict.cc boasts a whopping 946,000 translations between English and German, together with many thousands between other language pairs. It’s an incredible resource, with vocabulary training and a huge community, and now it has an Android app.
Dict.cc for Android comes in two flavors: the free ad-supported version provides offline translations for 51 language combinations, with data downloaded in language packs, while the paid dict.cc+ app adds recent searches and a quiz game.
I recently spent a long weekend in France. Now, I haven’t taken a French lesson in ten years, and my exam results were hardly a tour de force, so I thought it best to grab an app that would give me a hand vis-à-vis communicating abroad.
Jacob Schweitzer’s recent roundup of translation apps was very helpful, but the problem with most of these (as with most such apps on the Android Market) is that they’re powered by Google Translate, and so require an Internet connection in order to function. Data roaming is pretty expensive in Europe, so I wanted something I could use offline.
Travel Interpreter, which has a database of phrases that can be downloaded to the SD card over WiFi, seems to be the crème de la crème of foreign language phrasebooks — but how does it measure up when trying to use it in the real world?