You walk into an amazing, authentic Chinese restaurant.
The menu is completely in Chinese. The entire staff and all the other people eating there are Chinese. Talk about the real deal!
The only problem? There’s no Wi-Fi in the restaurant, so you can’t translate the menu.
What do you do in situations like this?
Well, if you have an offline translator app on hand, there’s no problem at all!
Whether you’re visiting authentic Chinese restaurants, spending the summer in France or hiking in Peru, you’re bound to find yourself without Wi-Fi from time to time.
Thankfully, offline translator apps are here to save the day!
Going off the Grid? You Can Still Use These 6 Offline Translator Apps!
Translators are great tools for learning new words in a foreign language. Don’t just identify these words and forget about them. Create flashcard sets of the words you’ve encountered with your translator!
FluentU is a fantastic tool for creating digital, interactive flashcards. FluentU takes real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons. But besides videos, it’s also a resource for making interactive, multimedia flashcards!
With FluentU, you hear languages in real-world contexts—the way that native speakers actually use them. Just a quick look will give you an idea of the variety of FluentU videos on offer:
FluentU really takes the grunt work out of learning languages, leaving you with nothing but engaging, effective and efficient learning. It’s already hand-picked the best videos for you and organized them by level and topic. All you have to do is choose any video that strikes your fancy to get started!
Each word in the interactive captions comes with a definition, audio, image, example sentences and more.
Access a complete interactive transcript of every video under the Dialogue tab, and easily review words and phrases from the video under Vocab.
You can use FluentU’s unique adaptive quizzes to learn the vocabulary and phrases from the video through fun questions and exercises. Just swipe left or right to see more examples of the word you’re studying.
The program even keeps track of what you’re learning and tells you exactly when it’s time for review, giving you a 100% personalized experience.
Practically everybody knows about Google Translate! Its mobile app is astounding, both online and offline. It’s so ubiquitous that it’s the first and last app most people think of for translating.
With the Google Translate app, you can choose to translate to and from 103 different languages. That’s only with an internet connection, though.
When you use it offline, you have to download each language pack individually, and “only” 59 are available.
Google Translate was one of the first apps to implement the camera mode, which is now available in quite a few apps on the market.
Right now, there’s an active community of multilingual Google users that translates and corrects the most commonly used words and phrases. That extra human attention can really go a long way toward a smooth translation experience.
In Chinese, wàiguó means “foreign.”
That’s how the developers came up with the name Waygo. They were working and living in Asia and realized that an offline app would be perfect for travelers trying to navigate the unfamiliar languages around China, Japan and South Korea.
As the developers of Waygo have special connections to East Asia, the app only works for Chinese, Japanese and Korean. More languages are said to be in development.
Waygo was built to be a lightweight offline translator. You can even use it on older phones that don’t have the same processing power or storage space as today’s flagships.
Because a lot of people will be using this app in restaurants, the dictionary databases have a large stock of dish and ingredient names available.
There’s nothing like beautiful aesthetics to keep you coming back to an app. With iTranslate, the process of translating sentences and looking up words is intuitive and seamless, as well as robust enough to go toe-to-toe with industry giants. These features make it many users’ top choice for an offline translator app.
In fact, the design team put so much work into making it run well on iOS that it won an Apple Design Award for 2018.
Online, you can translate between 90 different languages, including specialized ones like non-standard Arabic languages and even Canadian French.
Offline, that list shrinks down to a still respectable 37, covering a huge proportion of the world’s speakers.
iTranslate is the only app on the market to support real-time conversation translation between non-standard varieties of Arabic. People from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt can use this app just like anybody else, along with speakers of Cantonese, another language you won’t find on every app.
Microsoft Translator is working hard to optimize their translation technology for businesses, including a new feature where people can translate their PowerPoint presentations in real time.
So how do their mobile apps stack up against the competition?
The offline mode supports 44 languages, and 11 of the largest ones come with the more advanced neural network processing algorithm—a fancy way to say that they use AI to improve translation quality.
Other apps let you translate a conversation in real time, but if two users both have Microsoft Translator installed on their phones, it’s a cinch to actually create a private chat room.
From there, each participant can type and receive messages in their own preferred languages.
Microsoft Translator also provides multiple translation options. This is helpful if you’re trying to communicate in a foreign language and need to find the best phrase to adequately express yourself.
You may have heard of Baidu once or twice if you’re from North America, but in China, it’s all the rage.
Their translation algorithms have been making leaps and bounds in the past few years, particularly with Chinese as a source language.
The app lets you translate between English and Chinese. That might initially seem limiting, but according to many Chinese-speaking users who leave reviews online, Baidu Translate’s translations for Chinese are much more accurate than Google Translate’s.
Baidu’s app probably has the widest range of neat features of any offline translation app on this list.
One of the coolest is object translation, which allows you to snap a picture of something in the real world and see the Chinese and English names for it, along with native-speaker recordings.
(Right now, object translation is only available when you’re connected to the internet. But in a few years, who knows?)
Offline, though, you can still have access to sample sentences for any one-word translations between English and Chinese, as well as a phrasebook that comes with native-speaker recordings.
Surprised to see an OCR (optical character recognition) brand name on this list? Sometimes a little specialization is good for a product.
The idea is that ABBYY TextGrabber first and foremost is an OCR app that can digitize signs and menus, and the adequate translation function is just icing on the cake.
This app actually has the most languages available for camera recognition on the market: over 60. That’s quite a few more than several of these other apps put together!
ABBYY TextGrabber has one feature and it does it well: finding text in images that are blurry, tilted or filled with strange alphabets.
You can take that text and then use the built-in dictionaries to find out what it means. If you aren’t satisfied with those definitions, drop that text into one of the other apps on this list that’s more focused on translation.
Wherever you go in the world, simply making an effort to understand and be understood goes a long way.
Learn from the translations that come out of your phone. Do your best to use them as a bridge to actual communication. That’s the key to an excellent journey!
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn languages with real-world videos.