a street with signs and signs on it

Whatever language they’re speaking, you can talk back…

Last year, Google blew peoples minds when it announced instant translation. Not only of things like text, or pictures – but people actually speaking. Yes, that’s right – even if you don’t speak a word of Hindi, Spanish, Mandarin, Arabic, Italian or any other foreign language, you can instantly communicate with people around the world while traveling, thanks to truly innovative listening technology. It all sounds amazing, so here’s how to actually do it.

a screen shot of a computer

Set Up

People love talking about doing this with the Google Pixel Buds, which are of course amazing, but not at all necessary. In fact, you may scare people slightly less if you come up to them for help without headphones on, and simply show them this message. Just set the language they’ll be speaking, from the screen above, and show them this…  a screenshot of a phone call


The Beep

Using Google Translate with real live conversation is like leaving a message. Wait for the beep. Now that the unsuspecting stranger has some idea what’s about to happen, push the button for your language and ask whatever question or conversational piece you’d like to interject. It looks like the following…

a screen shot of a phone

After you speak, you’ll find whatever you said almost instantly translated into the other language. You’ll want to have the volume up, so that the person can hear the translation into their language. When they’re ready to speak, you (or they) can press the button for their language. You’ll both hear a beep, and then their language will be instantly translated back into yours using both audio and text.

a screenshot of a computer


It’s worth noting that while the “auto” feature is exciting, and takes away the need to tap the button in between phrases, it’s not all that practical at the moment. In a variety of tests, we found that it struggled to get the correct phrase, whereas pressing the button and speaking naturally worked like a charm.

a street with signs and signs on itThis is an incredible way to “speak” over 40 languages in virtually real time. Unfortunately, the only drawback at this point in time is that you’ll need to use phone data or wifi to access real time convo features. With any hope, this will change over time. Until then, just pick a phone plan that doesn’t penalize you for traveling. That, or learn 40 languages…

Have you used Google Translate to make conversation?

google translate

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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1 Comment

  1. I’m going to Crete next week, so I may try this, since it’s all Greek to me. Sorry, I tried (slightly) but couldn’t resist.

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