• Ashley Nicole

Review: Phone Apps for Traveling to Foreign Countires

I've discovered firsthand, that living in a foreign country can be tough - especially when you aren't completely fluent in the language. I'm thankful to have discovered a few apps which have been particularly helpful, as I navigate though life in another language. I wanted to review them for you, so that one day, when you visit a country that speaks little English, you may consider using them to help you during your trip.

Scan and Translate

This application can be downloaded directly onto your phone or iPad. Basically, how it works, is that the app allows you to take a photo of something, then it identifies the language of the words in that photo and translates them into the language of your choice. I found this particularly helpful when I needed to read and sign hard copies of work and bank contracts. Amazing, right? Pros: This is a free app, so it literally costs nothing to install and use. To translate something, I no longer need to type into a translator or upload digital files onto Google Translate, but I can do it almost instantly now by just taking a photo. The great thing is that because it's a a phone application, I can literally take it anywhere with me. It is great for travelling to any country, as the text can be translated into a whole list of languages. It even comes with the option to read the translated text to you, which I was thankful to use for my work contract, as I really struggle with reading long documents. Once your words have been translated, you can share the file or save it on your phone, to access it later on. It also comes with the ability to upload and translate pictures of text that were taken at an earlier point.

Cons: This app needs the internet to work, so unless you have data or connection to internet somewhere, the app can't translate anything immediately. If your phone is offline, you must take a photo then translate it later on, once you are connected to the internet. Also, after a photo is taken, all of the words are processed and formatted into a document where it is turned into one big paragraph. Even if the original had multiple paragraphs, the translation lumps it all together, making it more challenging to read or find specific information. Despite my few frustrations with this app, I would still definitely recommend it. For now, it is manageable and still does the job when connected to the internet. You can download of it off the Google Play store or here on iTunes.

French English Dictionary

This particular app has probably been one of my best helpers, while I've been living here in France. This particular one is a French and English dictionary, but the company Ascendo Inc. makes the same app for multiple languages. I can't even count the amount of times that I've used it to refer to a word or quickly look up the meaning of something. From reading, to understanding music lyrics at church, to shopping in the supermarket, this app has provided me with many useful tools right at my fingertips! I occasionally scroll through my list of saved words and review them when I have free time, which has proved to be very helpful.

Pros: This app gives options to save favourite words, it lists important phrases, translates verbs, translation option and it also provides flash cards for doing a self quiz. If I learn a new phrase that isn't already listed in the phrases it provides, I can add it onto a list with my own personal phrases that it allows me to make. It can also read out words, so that you can hear the correct pronunciation. Most importantly, the dictionary can search and even save words in French and in English, even when you are not connected to the internet. Cons: This app sends warnings when you are not connected to the internet, despite not needing internet for the dictionary portion, however the translator part does. I am not super confident in it's translation abilities, because when I typed in the simple phrase "I am hungry," it gave me the translation "je suis affamé" instead of "j'ai faim," which is how it should be said. I have yet to discover if/how to put my own saved words into the flash cards portion, as it seems to use to choose its own words for the quizzes. Finally, if I save a word in English that is two or more words in French, it won't allow me to save the two French words together as a word, but only the two individual ones.

Again, despite these annoyances, for all of its uses and how it's helped my language to progress, I still highly recommend it. It has been incredibly helpful to me and I would consider it to be a "must have" travel app for foreign countries! Try it out for yourself by downloading off of the Google Play Store or here on iTunes.

Have you found any phone apps that have been particularly helpful for you? If so, please share in the comments below!