Becoming a translator: The Three Best Language Learning Apps
The techy ways to learn a new language for starting translators
Fancy being a translator but need somewhere to start? With the advent of some amazing new technology, eager language learners are now no longer tied to traditional textbooks. Gone too are the days of bulky (and incredibly expensive) cassette tape sets prompting us to repeat phrases parrot-like until they stick.
With smartphones and tablets, there’s now an entire world of languages at our fingertips. Whether you want to do legal translation
in Polish or medical translation
in Spanish, there’s an app to help you well on your way to become a translator.
A review of language learning apps would be lost without the powerhouse that is DuoLingo
. It’s been around since 2013, and is by far the most popular language app with over 100m registered users worldwide.
It teaches with a focus on translation and relies heavily on your own intuition – you are expected to figure things out for yourself, and then build on those skills. It’s fun, and feels very much like a game – you earn points for each lesson you complete, which is a real motivation to keep going. You can even share your progress with your friends via Facebook. There are specific lessons on writing, speaking, translating and listening, so it covers plenty of bases.
One major universal gripe is that the phrases it uses to teach are often pretty strange, and simply wouldn’t come up in normal conversation ( “the snake eats my cakes” is a particularly terrible one!).
But overall, it’s a fun little app that can be used on the go in short snippets. Probably the greatest language learning app out there. And best of all, it’s completely free with no ads. Me gusta!
Hot on the heels of DuoLingo is Busuu
, which is founded on the basis of croud-sourced social media. You can choose from one of 12 languages, and it encourages learning with native speakers who will provide support and can correct you where you go wrong.
In return, you are expected to help others who are trying to learn your native language. A scratch-my-back-and-I’ll-scratch-yours focus, which is surprisingly good. This is aided by the use of instant messaging, audio or video links.
The lessons themselves are broken down into multiple choice questions, speaking and writing.
One of the few drawbacks of this method is that often the person critiquing your answers speaks only the language you’re trying to learn, so translating their feedback can often be tricky.
The basic app is free, but you will be gently encouraged to sign up to Busuu’s premium service, currently costing €14.99 per month (around £10.50).
The nifty little Memrise
app uses a series of flashcards and mnemonics
to help you cement the memories of what you learn firmly into your brain. Just a step closer to becoming a translator…
Crowd-sourcing is again used, with some of the flashcards being created by its users, though this can often lead to a real difference in quality and difficulty, sometimes leaving the experience a little disjointed.
The format, however, is great, especially if you’re a visual person. It makes clever use of pictures, videos and even music to really nail things home in the grey matter.
It’s easy to fit in a few little lessons when you have a couple of spare minutes, as they’re not incredibly long. It does, however, mean that it’s quick to finish. Again, the basic app is free, but you can upgrade to a premium service for $9 per month (around £5.70).
However you prefer to learn, there are plenty of apps out there, but in the meantime, you can leave the Polish legal translation to our translation experts.
If you want to chat to us about your translation project, contact us