The Best Language Learning and Translation Apps for Business Leaders

In our globalizing world, learning another language is no longer an option. Although English is the lingua franca of the 21st century, remaining ignorant of other cultures is never a good business strategy. If you can't learn another language, you at least have to figure out how to use translation technology to help them out. Thankfully, there are many apps available either for free or for a small fee that can help people in business communicate with people from around the world. In this brief article, we will take a look at a few of the greatest language learning and translation apps out there to help business leaders travel with confidence. Whether your travels bring you to Dubai or Düsseldorf, by the time you are finished reading this piece you will be able to figure out how to use technology to help you communicate with the locals. Before revealing the app names, however, people reading this article should always remember that apps are just tools, nothing more. Apps cannot solve all of your translation issues, and they certainly cannot replace a professional translator. Indeed, an overreliance on apps has caused major blunders for major companies in recent times. To remind you of this crucial point, we will detail a few major online translation fails that caused a great deal of embarrassment for big businesses at the end of this article.


One of the most popular language learning apps available today is called DuoLingo. There are a ton of positives going for this app. It's free, fun, and it's got a cute green owl as its mascot. What's not to love? DuoLingo works just like a video game. Your language courses are broken up into different levels, and through each round you are challenged to translate a bunch of phrases and questions. There are tons of languages now offered on DuoLingo, but perhaps the most useful languages for people in international business to learn include Spanish, French, German, Russian, and Italian. But, if you are into learning, well, let's just say "less marketable" languages, you will even be able to learn Klingon through this app very soon. Even if you feel like you can't learn a language no matter how hard you try, it is worth giving DuoLingo a shot. The app's style and structure make it addicting to play, and this app will work your aural, written, and spoken skills in every single lesson. There is definitely a good reason why DuoLingo is the most popular language learning app in the world today.  

Difficult Languages, Easy Apps

DuoLingo currently does not offer courses in the four hardest languages for English speakers to learn. The U.S. Foreign Service Institute says that these most challenging languages include Chinese, Arabic, Japanese, and Korean. Unfortunately, these four languages are huge in the business world of today, and some of you out there are probably trying to learn at least one of them. So, what apps can help you if you really want to learn one of these languages? Well, for Mandarin Chinese, there is a free app called ChineseSkill that works just like DuoLingo. This app will teach you the basics of Mandarin in a very fun game style setting. You should also download the free Pleco Chinese Dictionary app onto help you quickly translate Chinese words on the go. Arabic learners should start with the Learn Arabic Easily app by Adams Languages. This beginner's course will help you learn all about Arabic culture and the basics of the language through exercises, conversations, and grammar lessons. People interested in Korean can simply download the free Learn Korean app. Starting with the basics, and then gradually working your way through complex sentences, this app will allow you to track your progress as you learn the language of the "Land of the Morning Calm." Finally, those keen on learning Japanese should look into the Obenkyo app. Not only will you get practice learning the basics of Japanese grammar and the Japanese alphabets, you will also get a chance to practice you calligraphy with a touch screen feature. Translation Apps in Business

Translation Apps

For people who don't have the time or the patience for learning a new language, no worries. There are plenty of great apps online that can help you with translation. Perhaps the most famous translation app out there is Google Translate. The most beloved feature of this app is the ability to instantly translate a menu or sign just by taking a picture of it and running it through the app. You can also talk or text into this app and have it translate your words into a foreign tongue. For those who want to ease their way into learning a new language, perhaps iTranslate is the best option. This app can do everything the Google Translation app can do, but it will also provide you with some conjugation charts to help you start recognizing different verbs. Another wonderful translation app for someone interested in language learning is TripLingo. You can use this app just to speak and translate if you want, but TripLingo has a whole lot more to offer. This app is especially great for tourists interested in just getting a handle on the basics of a chosen language, since this app is full of quizzes, flashcards, and even etiquette tips. If you just want a plain interface to translate one language into another, then perhaps you should take a look at Vocre. This app doesn't have the bells and whistles as other apps have, but it has been marketed as the most efficient translating app in the business using its distinctive "tabletop interface."

A Brief Warning On App Over-reliance

While all of these translation apps are great for those involved in global business, you should always be wary of trusting these apps too much. Translation technology is still far from perfect, and relying on these apps for serious projects is simply foolish. A vivid cautionary tale on this very issue happened in August of this year. Bing's search engine recently mistranslated the Arabic acronym for Isis, "Daesh," into "Saudi Arabia." When citizens of Saudi Arabia became aware of this mistake, Internet users around the country called for a total boycott of Microsoft. Although Microsoft fixed the issue within a few hours, the social media protest had already spread across the country and caused Microsoft executives many PR headaches. One more humorous Internet translation fail comes out of Pontes, Spain. In 2015, Google Translate mistranslated the Glacian word "grelo," which means a special green vegetable in Pontes, into "clitoris." Instead of celebrating a "grelo festival," Google Translate let the citizens of Spain know that Pontes was preparing for a grand "clitoris festival." The list of epic fails from these translation apps is literally endless, but you should get the moral of the story by now. Always hire a professional translator if you are involved in an important business venture that needs to be done in a foreign tongue. Although this translation technology can help you a great deal, there will never be a substitute for a professional translation done by a well-trained translator.

If you need/require a quotation, please fill in the Quotation Application Form

Get A Quote