Could your smartphone save your life?
All you need is a few outstanding apps to save you from any Spanish language emergency.
So, do you have your smartphone handy?
Silly question. Of course you do.
Most of us, myself included, always have our smartphones on and ready to use.
But, hey, there’s no shame in keeping your smartphone by your side at all times.
We all know that we can use smartphones for more than just Candy Crush Saga or Trivia Crack (whether or not we choose to so, now that’s the key).
Your smartphone can seriously help you on your Spanish learning journey with easy-to-use, inexpensive (or free), high-quality apps.
Let’s talk about how!
The Best Spanish Translation Apps for Real-time Language Learning
The best part about Spanish apps is that they’re all different. Each of them brings something unique to the table and can help your Spanish grow in different ways. There are some amazing “real world” language apps worth investigating. These are apps you can use when you are on the go and desperately need some help with a word or a phrase.
Here, we’re going to take a closer look at World Lens Translator, Speak & Translate and iTranslate.
Other apps are great reference and practice apps. These are ones that you are more likely to pull up when you are laying in bed and want to get in a little bit more practice.
For these purposes, we’ve selected SpanishDict, Learn Spanish Free: Phrases and Vocabulary and Spanish Dictionary + as our favorites.
While we’re at it, don’t forget to check out the FluentU app for your iOS and Android devices, available on the iTunes store and Google Play store.
Other sites use scripted content. FluentU uses a natural approach that helps you ease into the Spanish language and culture over time. You’ll learn Spanish as it’s actually spoken by real people.
FluentU has a wide variety of videos topics, as you can see here:
FluentU brings native videos within reach with interactive transcripts. You can tap on any word to look it up instantly. Every definition has examples that have been written to help you understand how the word is used.
Plus, if you see an interesting word you don’t know, you can add it to a vocab list.
Review a complete interactive transcript under the Dialogue tab, and find words and phrases listed under Vocab.
Learn all the vocabulary in any video with FluentU’s robust learning engine. Swipe left or right to see more examples of the word you’re on.
The best part is that FluentU keeps track of the vocabulary that you’re learning, and gives you extra practice with difficult words. It'll even remind you when it’s time to review what you’ve learned. Every learner has a truly personalized experience, even if they’re studying with the same video.
We know what makes great language learning apps tick, so you can rely on this list as your go-to app resource guide. All of these apps cost under $1.00 and are excellent language learning resources. Once you’ve got some of these apps at your disposal, you’ll be able to improve your Spanish quickly, easily and on the go.
Word Lens Translator
iTunes and Google Play
When I was nine, I moved from the small town of Idaho Falls, Idaho to the big city of Barcelona, Spain.
Culture shock? Oh yeah. To the max!
There were new foods, new faces, new sights and, of course, a new language.
I moved to Spain with no—and I mean no—Spanish knowledge. I could say hola and that was about it. It was impossible for me to navigate anywhere in the city because I couldn’t read anything. Simple things like streets signs were impossible for me to understand. Most of the time I just had to guess if a sign said “caution” or “welcome.” Not understanding anything can be kind of dangerous!
If I’d had this app, it would’ve made all the difference.
This app, unlike other apps out there, takes photos and translates whatever you see through the camera lens.
So when you’re backpacking through Europe, you can take a photo of a flyer and your phone will translate it into English. No need to break out the dictionary or spell the words out in your app.
This app isn’t only limited to Spanish and English—you’ll be able to translate from many different languages into any language of your choice.
Word Lens Translator can do pretty much anything. It’s insanely fun to play around with. You can take photos of any text and it will translate it for you directly. The grammar and vocabulary is spot on and Word Lens Translator is smart enough to change the sentence structure so that the sentence, phrase or paragraph still makes perfect sense in English. It’ll take anything, whether it’s a children’s storybook or a complicated instruction manual, and it’ll translate it right there for you.
This app only costs $0.99 in the app store, and it’s well worth the purchase.
Speak & Translate
I’ve had many different jobs over the years, but the most recent was at an apartment complex in Idaho Falls.
Residents would come to me every day with concerns, questions or requests about their apartments. I remember, so specifically, a Korean family that was renting one of our apartments. The father of the family moved with his wife and children to Idaho Falls for work and none of them spoke a word of English. Not. A. Word.
This led to many frustrating, stop-and-start conversations relying on hand gestures, smiles and raised eyebrows.
The wife came into my office one day with her smartphone in hand and a look of victory on her face. She said something in Korean into her app, pushed translate and held it up to me.
Finally! I knew exactly what she needed and how I could help her.
I don’t know if this is the same app, but it’s a pretty darn good one which accomplishes the same goal.
All you have to do is exactly what the title says, speak. You say the word or phrase which you need translated into your microphone, push the button and let it translate the words into the language of your choosing.
The app also works in the reverse. Is someone trying to explain something important in Spanish and you have no idea what they’re trying to say? Just hold your phone up to them, have them speak into the microphone and you can translate it into English on the spot.
Trust me. This app will save you many headaches when you’re on the street asking for directions with minimal Spanish. Sure, sometimes it’s good to get lost and practice your Spanish as you meander along—other times you have someone waiting for you or an important appointment you can’t miss. That’s when you need this app by your side.
There are two versions of this app. One is free and the other costs $14.99. The free app is pretty comprehensive. The main difference is that the paid app lets you speak or type whereas the free one only offers the speaking feature.
iTunes and Google Play
iTranslate is similar to Speak & Translate, but with a few key differences.
iTranslate allows you to speak into the microphone to have the app translate your words into another language of your choice. This app will save your history, so if you want to go back and study a conversation or phrase later you can.
This app also allows you to select favorites. This feature is especially helpful if you find yourself in the same situation multiple times. Let’s say that you’re asked to go on business trips around Central and South America and you have to do training in all of these places.
Well, the favorites feature will help you with that. You can log in different phrases that you use often and, when you need them, you can pull them up at-will.
The free version of iTranslate offers speaking and typing options. It’s incredibly user-friendly and easy to navigate.
iTunes and Google Play
SpanishDict is incredibly comprehensive. On the main screen there are several cool things you’ll see right away. The search bar on the main page allows you to search for specific words and phrases. It also gives you verb conjugations. This is amazingly helpful when you’re trying to figure out the difference between different tenses on the spur of the moment.
This app also provides you with a word of the day. It gives you the word in Spanish and then it provides the definition and says the word aloud for you. The word of the day will help your vocabulary grow every day, without fail.
There’s a phrasebook which keeps simple, commonly used phrases on hand for you. These phrases range from greetings and introductions to shopping, sports, sightseeing, camping and health. The phrases are split up into categories which makes studying them extra easy. You can also input your own phrases to translate.
On this app, there’s a simple and effective word game you’re going to love. It’s a basic flashcard game which will challenge you to improve your vocabulary. In the word game, you start with simple words like rojo and casa. But as the levels continue on, you’ll get harder words like compendiar and alcurnia. As you advance through the word game, it’ll save words that you miss so that you’re able to reference them later. It’s super fun and slightly addictive.
This app has so much to offer. The price tag makes it even more appealing: $0.00!
You’re officially out of excuses for not installing this now.
Learn Spanish Free: Phrases and Vocabulary
iTunes and Google Play
Don’t let the colorful illustrations fool you, this app isn’t only for children. Like the title suggests, this app is full of phrases and vocabulary. These are split into different categories like weather, time, numbers, animals, colors, food and so forth. The simple design of this app makes it easy to navigate and find what you’re looking for.
One of my favorite features in this app is that it reads the words to you out loud.
Well yes, most apps do that, but this one will play recordings at different speeds. I cannot tell you how many times I had to lean in, cup my ear, focus and say “como?” to Spanish speakers who were just too fast for me to understand.
When you click on a word, there’s a turtle which will slow the word down for you. Now you’ll be able to practice saying the word correctly and compare your accent to the automated voice.
This app is especially good for beginners, because it always breaks down given phrases into their simplest forms.
As the title suggests, this app is free.
Spanish Dictionary +
iTunes and Google Play
A dictionary is always useful as a reference. This dictionary is especially good because it isn’t just a dictionary. This app comes with a word of the day, flashcards, scanning capability and several games.
The word of the day, much like on SpanishDict, will give you a new word every day that you can try and use in a conversation.
Spanish Dictionary + will actually generate five words every day for you to study, one in each of the following categories; general, academic, common, standard and advanced. The word of the day is given in English and then you click on “dictionary” to see the word in Spanish. You can share the words on Twitter and Facebook to help challenge your fellow language learners.
The flashcards on this app are drawn from your selected favorites. As you’re scanning through your dictionary, when you come across a word you don’t know you just have to bookmark it. Then when you go into the flashcard game it’ll pull up those words for you. Before you know it, your Spanish vocabulary will explode.
Something modern day dictionaries don’t have is scanning capability. Much like World Lens, this app allows you to take a photo something and it’ll translate it for you. Unlike World Lens, Spanish Dictionary translates the photo word by word rather than as a whole phrase.
Now for the fun part: the games.
There are three different games available on this app: Boost Memory, Multiple Choice and Guess Word. Competition is always healthy—it encourages you to be better and to try harder. In these games, you’ll be competing against yourself and your personal bests. The other great thing about games is that you’re basically tricking yourself into learning under the guise of entertaining yourself.
This app, with all of its amazing features, is completely free.
Well there you have it, some amazing apps that are out there for you to explore and use. If you download these apps and use them as much as you play Clash of Clans, your Spanish knowledge will grow and your confidence will skyrocket.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn Spanish with real-world videos.