If you travel to foreign countries for business, chances are you will be meeting with people who are linguistically prepared for your visit. Either they speak your language fluently, or they will have translators/interpreters present. So, that conversations will be clear, understood, and perhaps reduced to writing.
Before you get to those meetings, though, think about what else you may have to do in a foreign country whose language you do not know. Do you know how many languages can you learn? Memorize at least several useful phrases which enable you to communicate with locals. You will land at an airport and will need to find your luggage; you will need to take a cab to your hotel; you may need to order a meal, etc. During your stay, you may want to do some shopping or chat with some locals. All of these things require at least a bit of the native language on your part.
Fortunately, there are now some great apps that will let you do all of these things. While they may not provide a 100% accurate translation, they will certainly get you by. Here are five that can be downloaded on either Android or iPhone devices and that business travelers agree are the best.
1. Google Translate
First launched in 2006, this app has come a long way. Not only will it translate the spoken word, but images, written pieces, and more. You can point your camera at any image (e.g., a road sign), and it’ll give you an accurate translation. Over the years, this app has been vastly improved. Best of all? It’s free!
2. Trip Lingo
Here’s an app that does far more than just translate into 42 languages, although the basic free package will perform all the types of translations that Google Translate will. Here are the things you will get with the premium package:
- Tips on business and cultural etiquette and customs for any of the countries included in the app. This will prevent you from offending anyone or saying/doing something that might be interpreted as disrespectful.
- You will learn about important laws and regulations, how to navigate the bureaucracy.
- Language lessons that will demonstrate proper pronunciations.
- One live human translation a month.
- Additional live translations at the rate of $3.50 per minute.
The premium package will cost $99 per year – a bargain if you travel a lot.
There is a lot of “buzz” about iTranslate, and all of it is good. The creators have even taken to advertising it on television now and then, showing tourists happily using it.
First, this app supports over 100 languages. English-speaking users can type in anything and get an immediate translation into any of these languages. They can also use a voice feature, saying what they want to be translated. They will get a voice response that shows them how to pronounce the phrase or sentence correctly.
One unique feature of iTranslate is that the app operates even on an Apple Watch. For business travelers, this is especially attractive, because they do not have to take out their phones to get those translations.
While there is a free version of this app, it is very basic. The premium version provides more great features – website translation and the ability to use the app offline for the most-used languages. It can be of use for those aiming to translate a website into multiple languages.
4. Microsoft Translate
If a traveler is looking for the greatest accuracy, Microsoft Translate is the app to go for. The downside is it only offers a little over 60 languages.
Another unique feature is that a user can get translations when speakers in a room are using several different languages. It works fast to translate what each person says in his own language, provided only one person is speaking at a time, of course. This free app also provides phrasebooks in all of its available languages, for quick reference.
About 40 languages are available offline.
This app is limited but is hugely popular, given the growing business travel to Asian countries. In fact, Waygo is a translation app exclusively developed for Japan, China, South Korea, Vietnam, and other countries of the Far East.
The app is best-used with a phone camera. It will take pictures of the words in characters and then translate that into English, with some pronunciation help.
The other big plus is that this app will fully work offline. For those who travel to Asia often, and who have at least moderate fluency in English, this app is well worth the cost of $7.99+ for premium versions.
International Business Travel is Only Going to Increase
As this pandemic eases, international travel for business will return to normal and even increase. While the technology of online meetings and discussion has certainly improved and is being used successfully, some things can only be accomplished via face-to-face interaction. As travel opens once again, these five apps should be very helpful.
Author Bio: Merissa Moore is a researcher, consultant, and frequent contributor to blogs on all things of current interest to companies with a digital presence. In her limited spare time, Moore dabbles in gourmet cooking and advocacy for animal rights.