Google Translate works offline now

Over the past year the Google Translate team has been really busy adding cool new features (see previous post on Google Translate). Two of the most recent additions are a phrasebook on the website (add entries via favoriting) and offline dictionaries/databases. Downloading languages does take some time, though: my German language base took about 20 minutes (160 mb). Moreover, the sizes of the language bases might not be suitable for some older phones with little memory.

Having your languages available offline is a huge relief on trips abroad when online access might not be available or expensive due to roaming costs. Plus, it can save you money otherwise spent on expensive dictionary apps. Furthermore, it comes in handy at schools that do not provide wi-fi access for their students.

Google Translate is one of the preferred digital dictionaries of my students. Even though most foreign language teachers feel strongly against it, I think that this does not justice to Google Translate. While you can't expect it to deliver syntactically correct translations, it does quite a good job as dictionary as it provides several translation options. What is more, when it comes to expressions frequently used in conjunction (phrasal verbs, collocations, proverbs and sayings) Google Translate is often more helpful than a dictionary which might have no entry.

One thing that is still less than ideal: the phrasebooks on the website and and on the mobile app do not sync. This makes using a phrasebook less useful than it could be. Ideally the phrasebooks would be synced via a Google Spreadsheet in Google Drive. This would have several advantages: editable phrasebooks, sorting  and organizing phrases and finally exporting the phrases to various shareable formats (e.g. .csv), which could be used for flashcard trainer apps and quizzes in an LMS.

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