Kick down those language barriers with Google translate!

Anyone thinking of travelling soon? I’ve always wanted to go to Paris, but I’ve never really travelled to a country where English isn’t the main language before.

The idea is kind of scary to me. Not being able to communicate in your mother tongue can make travelling to a foreign country that much more daunting. But not to worry! Thanks to modern technology, language translation is made a whole lot easier.

There’s a little app called Google Translate – you might have heard of it. It’s totally free, and you can download it straight onto your smartphone. In terms of language translation, Google Translate masters the holy trinity: text, voice, and photo.

Translate using Text

When you first open the Google Translate app, the first thing that shows up is its text feature. If you’re looking for a quick way to translate written text, this is the feature for you.

  1. On the top left-hand corner of the screen, you will see a language (for example, here we see “English”).

  2. Tap on this language and change it to whatever language you wish to translate from.

  3. On the top right-hand corner of the screen, do the same, but select the language you wish to translate to.

  4. Type in the words you wish to translate, and Google Translate will instantly spit out the translated text below it.


You can translate to and from any language – English to French, French to English, Spanish to Mandarin…you name it! Google Translate caters to over 100 languages.

Translate using Voice

This feature will help you to translate actual speech! Here’s how:

  1. Open up the app.

  2. Again, select the languages you wish to translate to and from.

  3. Tap on the little microphone icon in the centre of the screen. You may need to give the app permission to access your smartphone’s microphone.

  4. The app will then open up its Voice feature. At the bottom of the screen, you’ll see the languages you selected.

  5. Tap on the language you wish to translate from (that is, the language which is being spoken).

  6. Speak into the microphone, and the words will be translated on your screen!

This feature is handy for super speedy verbal translation. For instance, if someone is trying to communicate with you in French, have them to speak into the microphone; their words will be translated into English on screen!

Translate using a Photo

Although this feature isn’t exactly perfect, it sure is neat. And it can still be extremely helpful. If you’re trying to read the foreign words on a menu, street sign, or practically anything, you can use Google Translate’s Camera feature.

  1. Tap on the camera icon to the left of the microphone icon. This will open up your smartphone’s camera (you may need to give the app permission to access it first).
  2. Point your camera towards the foreign text, so that it appears clearly on your screen.
  3. Here’s the neat part – the app will translate this text right on your screen by fitting the translated text into the camera image!

Again, you can select what languages you wish to translate to and from by changing them on the main screen.

Now, thanks to modern technology, we are able to break down language barriers all around the world!

Will you try this app next time you travel? Please share in the comments below.

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  • Pretty cool but I dont have internet on my phone so no use to me.


  • yes this is a great app. You can type what you want and it will be translated into their language so you can communicate back


  • This would be funny to see in use. Yeah, you can see what needs to be said on the screen, but that doesn’t mean you’ll say it well enough to be understood


  • Late one afternoon I met a lady and her son on a bus who hadn’t been in Australia for very long. They were on their way home from the young boy’s school. They were saying words the best they could in English and the phone was “saying” the words with the correct pronounciation. I don’t know what brand of phone it was. The boy was also slowly reading the advertising above the window near the door of the bus. The “voice” on the phone was correcting that too.


  • Oh woah that is awesome! I have tried to learn French a few times but never have the time


  • It certainly seems to be very helpful.


  • What a fantastic idea for overseas travel. I hope to travel to Italy soon and am concerned about the language barrier. This would be such a perfect tool.


  • This is great for o/s travelers! When we get the chance I will be sure tyou give it a try.


  • Wish smart phones and this app were around when we travelled overseas – it would have saved us hours in a restaurant/café trying to get a chocolate cake with our coffee.


  • Im so slow with technology that I still dont own a smart phone.
    Im getting my first smart phone in September because Telstra are closing down the network that my old flip phone operates on…lol


  • good idea especially to read important signs.


  • What a great app, useful technology


  • I’ll keep this in mind if I ever get a smartphone.


  • What a great idea! How cool


  • How cool is that? Would make travelling a lot easier. Although I always wonder how accurate google translate is?


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