In recent years, futurists and digital evangelists have paid a lot of lip service to the idea of being able to live and work anywhere on the planet thanks to the tools of the Internet. But the reality is quite different, especially when it comes to language. While the dominant language on the Internet is English, local languages still rule when it comes to interacting with different cultures, which is why Google Translate has become such a vital tool for so many global citizens. Now Google has added a new feature to this service that could serve to ramp up everyone’s language skills over the long term.
Starting this week, when users enter a word or phrase into Google’s translation service they’ll be presented with an option to save that word or phrase into a personalized phrasebook for later reference. The option remains hidden in the current interface, with a star icon used to tag a word or phrase. Once you’ve saved your word or phrase to your personal phrasebook, you can then click on a book icon at the top of the page that reveals all of your saved translations, along with the associated audio pronunciations for each entry.
This simple feature tweak ends up making Google Translate far more valuable as a language-learning tool for those who have looked up a particular word or phrase dozens of times. By making often-used translations available in an easily accessible phrasebook, the chances of retention becomes far more likely. The only catch is that the user must be signed into their Google account in order to use the Phrasebook option.
What makes this addition even more compelling is its potential uses within the Google Glass environment. As we’ve seen in recent demonstration videos, users will be able to translate foreign words on the fly. And while we cannot confirm whether or not the new Phrasebook feature has been immediately added to the Glass software menu, the possibility of being able to walk around in a foreign country with a personalized phrasebook floating in one’s field of vision suddenly makes international travel seem just a little more manageable and exciting.
By Adario Strange, PCMag