Expat Tech: Google Translate

Today I thought I would start a series of posts about technology solutions that I have found to help deal with a number of common problems that I have encountered.  These are some technical ways I’ve been dealing with issues that I have run up against.

One of my ongoing issues is not speaking or reading much (any) Spanish yet. While this presents some problems in the real world, it also means that it is more difficult to navigate some of the local web sites which are entirely in Spanish or to email some of the people I deal with while here.  Luckily, Google Translate makes all of this a lot easier.

Google Translate has a lot of features and options. From the main page, you can enter a block of text and have it translated from one language to another. This is great for handling email conversations.  You can also translate a web page by entering its URL and clicking translate. They also have a feature to add 1-click translations to your browser’s toolbar, so whenever you want to translate a site you’re viewing, all you have to do is click once.  The translations may not be perfect, but they definitely do the job. Note that this only works well on basic text and does not help with Flash-heavy web sites.

In addition to this, they have Translated Search which takes your search query in English, converts it into Spanish, searches Spanish language sites, and then converts the results back into English. There’s also a dictionary for looking up words and they’ve just released Google Translate for the iPhone too, so now it’s portable.

It’s an indispensible tool for anyone learning a new language or needing to view a foreign language web site.