Do you often travel abroad on business? It's all too natural to feel restricted and limited when you have to communicate and be understood in a language that isn't your own. Luckily, there are increasingly intuitive materials out there that can make things easier for you and help you communicate effectively, no matter where you are. Here's our top pick of the best solutions for getting your message across in a foreign language.
1. Tools for translating text
Do you have to deal with text written in a foreign language? Some of the latest-generation tools can help you to translate text almost instantly and increasingly intuitively, all the while avoiding mistranslations. Simply write down (or take a photo of) the text and translate it!
This is the most powerful translation tool on the market right now. Launched by Linguee, this intelligent translation software is more efficient than any other, for the simple reason that it was designed to understand both the meaning of the sentence and the context, and to learn as it goes along. At the moment, the software caters to seven languages (English, French, Spanish, Germany, Italian, Dutch and Polish), but is expected to expand in the near future.
Scanner and Translator
Here's an app that you simply won’t be able to do without. As its name suggests, this app can be used to scan (take a photo of) text in a foreign language (more than 70 languages are covered, in many different alphabets) and it will produce an instant translation for you. This app is useful when trying to understand what signs mean, for example, or when reading a menu.
2. Real-time translation applications
Perhaps even more astonishingly, these applications allow you to input text verbally and then have it translated into the language of your choice.
The Interpreter - Translator
This application recognises the language that is being spoken and then translates the content in real time. It's easy to use and caters to around 100 different languages. It can also translate written text and lets you share the results on social media.
This one almost seems too good to be true. The SayHi app instantly translates anything you say into the language of your choice, even including certain dialects. Have a conversation in two languages and hear your voice being translated while you talk!
3. Learning a language ahead of time
If you know that you'll be travelling to the same country several times, or if you're a naturally curious person, perhaps it might be wiser to get to grips with the basics of the spoken language yourself. This couldn't be easier with so many online tools available.
This is a language-learning system that offers around 15 different languages. Babbel facilitates language learning through enjoyable simulation exercises, which you can complete either on its website or through the smartphone application. All this is based on practical, educational activities.
In just 10 minutes a day, this application teaches you how to speak, listen and communicate in 12 different languages and provides a number of different practical contexts, including business language. The added benefit? You can also practise directly with native speakers of your selected language.
4. Paper tools
To fully immerse yourself, there's nothing quite like diving into a language-learning method that you can hold in your hands. There are still plenty of phrasebooks on the market that can help you on your travels, and that don't need an internet connection in order to be effective.
The empirical dictionary, Harrap's, has designed a whole range of language phrase books especially for travelling. Learn useful phrases and look up words in English, Greek, Japanese and many more languages, all without a connection.
For more than 85 years, Assimil has been making language learning effortless with its method based on listening, reading, repetition and humour to gradually assimilate new sounds. In addition to the paper version, the company now offers ebooks and downloads to complete your language-learning experience.