Every day the world is becoming a smaller place. With a phone call or the click of a mouse, we have access to a plethora of resources that can help us access virtually anything. For those with a language gap, having the latest state-of-the-art equipment may not be necessary with all the resources that are already easily accessible today. If you want to learn a new language or are trying to adapt to an area where you don’t have the luxury of communicating in your native tongue, consider the ways mainstream technology is making it increasingly easier to do.
1. Translation Apps
If you are like millions of people worldwide with a mobile device at your fingertips, you already have a huge advantage when it comes to language. With internet access and a seemingly endless menu of apps at your disposal, your smartphone or tablet can also act as an instant translator. With apps that can translate anything from the text found in photographs, spoken words, or even entire webpages, you likely won’t need to fumble through a bulky dictionary or purchase a specialized device when needing to translate words on the go. This can be especially useful if you are living in a multicultural environment or traveling to multiple countries and plan on using more than one language on your trip.
Whether you want to learn a new language or want to have access to your favorite shows back from back home, technology today is making that easier to do. Language learners can help develop an ear for a new language by watching tv and listening to music or can feel a piece of home by watching their favorite shows from specialized services such as DISHlatino. Regardless of if you prefer full-length foreign films, international favorites dubbed and/or subtitled, or perhaps just squeezing in short sitcoms and newscasts, there are a huge variety of options from which to enjoy and learn. This is useful since immersion is the best way to become fluent in a new language. Watching shows and listening to music from a variety of actors, performers and speakers can help to reinforce and supplement what you know.
3. Search Engines
While language learners of the past may be used to books and simple videos available to them, users today have the luxury of searching educational material on just about anything. Instead of having to filter through endless results, a search engine can come in handy for pinpointing specific tutorials that may be relevant to what you may want to learn specifically. If you want to sharpen your ability to order at a restaurant, understand and give driving directions, or simply introduce yourself to others, a quick internet search can yield several results with different options suitable for visual, auditory, or hands-on learners.
4. Social Networking
Even if you can’t attend a traditional class with other language learners, technology allows users to discover many ways to network with educators, students, and other lovers of language. With social networking sites alone, people can find the latest local festivals and events about many different countries, pages dedicated to language, participate in social meet-up groups, and interact online by posting and commenting in different languages.
5. Formal Language Training
Formal language instruction is an important foundation for any language. Since different dialects and regional slang may affect language acquisition, formal training can help make sense of all the variations you may hear. Technology has come a long way and can help to give students the opportunities they need for more formal, yet interactive learning. Whether you are taking an online class or want to schedule a one-on-one video call with a professional instructor, technology provides many platforms for building your vocabulary and practicing.
A Final Word on Google Translate Quality
We should add that you need to spare a thought about the quality of the language that you’re accessing. While formal language training will be delivered by qualified professionals, the language used on social networks may not always be perfect in terms of spelling and punctuation. On the flip side, social media can give you some excellent insights into how people communicate these days, particularly when it comes to use of slang and other informal language quirks.
For translation apps, there’s the Google Translate quality issue to consider. We’re using Google Translate as the example here, but really no automated translation app is perfect yet. Translation quality tends to vary from language to language, so don’t assume that Google Translate quality equates to that delivered by a professional translator or language teacher. Machine translation has come a long way, but translation by humans is still more accurate.