Jul 182013

Today, more people than ever are travelling internationally, whether it is for business or pleasure. One of the things that people worry about most when visiting a foreign country is the possible language barrier but, would you believe it, there’s an app for that?


Catering to our desire to communicate with people from all corners of the earth, these fantastic programs are helping travellers interact with locals on a far more personal level than ever before. From apps which offer extensive databases of phrases and terms to sophisticated programs which translate your speech and play it back in the desired language, your days of struggling with ill-informed guide books is long over.

Some apps require internet connectivity whilst others can be used without once downloaded onto your smartphone. Whilst at home, high broadband speeds can be achieved at extremely competitive prices – click here to see details about Virgin Media’s deals – it is wise to remember that abroad ‘roaming’ costs can be quite expensive so you might want to look into this before selecting an app which puts pressure on your data allowances.

For a brief look at what’s available on the market, here is an overview of some of the best language translation apps for different smartphone operating systems.


iPhone Language Apps


  • Lonely Planet Phrasebooks



With a long history of helping travellers to find phrases they need for day to day usage, the Lonely Planet Phrasebooks brings this tradition to the modern world. They’ve even added advantage of speaking audible phrases in the right accent.

  • World Nomads Language Guides



Available in 25 different languages, the World Nomads Language Guides provides 230 spoken phrases in the free version upping this to 550 phrases in the paid-for version.

Android Language Apps


  • Talk To Me Classic



A basic app with numerous functions, Talk To Me Classic is free to download with three add-on options. These provide text-to-speech, speech-to-speech and text-to-text translation services.

  • SlavoEd Dictionaries


SlavoEd Dictionaries allows you to download an entire dictionary of vocabulary onto your phone, combining it with audio pronunciation features. This app can be used full online and has a search-by-voice function but the demands it places on your phone’s system memory can be a deterrent for those with limited storage capacities and no viable means of expansion.

BlackBerry Language Apps



Navita Translator


This app requires a live internet connection so may not be suitable for those facing roaming charges. However, the fact it is free to download swings the pendulum in its favour and there are other benefits too. For example, leading search engines have leant their translating services to the app with Bing Translator and both Google’s dictionary and translator being used in Navita Translator.




Boasting 200 practical phrases, you can receive both spoken and written translations from Babelphone which is available to download. Whilst the fact it only has Spanish and Chinese versions may limit its functionality, user reviews claim it is particularly useful for pronouncing Chinese characters making it top of its game in this particular sector.

About the Author

Karl Lawless is a languages lecturer from London with knowledge of more than 7 different languages. As part of his teachings he is constantly on the lookout for modern tools which can aid his students with their studies, routinely reviewing translation apps such as those mentioned above.