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The Google Translate App Is A Traveler's Best Friend

Posted by Lindsay Hall on 6/1/18, 11:31 AM


If you've ever lived in a foreign country before and you don't speak the language, you know how valuable Google Translate can be. Did you know they have an app now that makes it even easier? 

The Google Translate app (get it here for iPhone users or here for Google Play) is super easy to use and the best part...it's totally free. 

In true Google fashion, they are always updating this app, so you will always have the newest features all the time. Really, with this app, all you ILP volunteers (especially the ones living in China) won't need any other translating apps, gadgets or books. 

This app (pictured below) is great because you can use it in multiple ways. You do not need WiFi or data, but it does work if you have one or the other --  ILP offers an international phone plan through T-Mobile if you'd rather not rely on WiFi when you're traveling. 


How to use the Google Translate app

  • Manually typing in the phrase
  • Writing feature
  • Voice feature
  • Live camera feature -- the coolest feature

Manually typing in the phrase

The most basic of the features is also the most simple. After you have downloaded the app and selected your languages, you will be brought to a page that looks like this:

google translate 1

All you'll need to do is type your phrase into the text box, push the blue arrow and then the voice button (as shown in the below pictures). This will prompt the app to say the phrase for you. 


Writing feature

This is the least popular of all the options because it's the most time consuming. Even though you may not use it often, it's still a good idea to know it's there and how to use it. 

To use this feature, click on the pen under the text box instead of typing in your phrase. In the big box at the bottom, you will write your phrase with your finger. Once your phrase is complete, you will follow the same steps as above.


Voice Feature

The voice feature is really handy, especially when you're in a face to face conversation and need a quick translate. All you need to do is click the microphone and it will take you to a page that you just need to say the phrase and it will immediately repeat it back to you. 

There's been so many times where I was trying to communicate with a taxi driver or a tour guide and as soon as they realized I didn't speak their language they whipped out their phone and we had the entire conversation over the voice feature of Google translate. It's not perfect but it'll definitely get the message across in a pinch. 


Live camera feature

I think this is by far the coolest feature of the app. It's great for reading menus, books or really anything! If you want into a tiny noodle shop in China and the menu is entirely in Chinese (trust me ... these are usually the yummiest places to eat at) then how are you going to know what to order? Google camera to the rescue.

All you need to do is click the camera button, allow the app to access your camera and hold your camera up to whatever you're trying to read. It will instantly turn the text into English for you. I mean, check this out and tell me it's not cool!


Not only will your ILP group be grateful (and probably download the app right after they see you using it), but the locals will love it too! Talk about being able to connect with the locals on a whole new level. 

Google Translate is one of the many reasons why bringing your iPhone is a good idea (just make sure you have your phone prepped for the international trip). Other good reasons would include: Facebook, Instagram (why don't you give the ILP Instagram a follow), Maps, texting, e-books and games --you know for those long plane or train rides. 

Keep This In Mind 

Certain features are only available with WiFi or data. You get more function if you download the language you want to be translating before you are without data. There are a bunch of languages to choose from, so you might want to download the languages you think you'll encounter on your ILP semester. Volunteers in Europe, that may mean downloading 6-8 languages depending on where you'd like to go on vacation! 

Ready to become an International Language Programs volunteer? Well then, go ahead and click that big green button to get your application started!

Start My Application!

Topics: Getting Ready For Your ILP Trip, All The Travel Tips, All About ILP + Volunteering Abroad

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