Language translation update – Rosetta Stone, and more on Google Translate

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/duncan1890

I’ve not posted much on language translation recently, so I’d thought I’d take another look and see what’s going on … A couple of things have come to my attention:

  • Rosetta Stone are doing some interesting things with iPhone/iPad (to be honest, not too soon – I’ve always thought that smartphones/tablet computers and Rosetta Stone are made for each other)
  • Google Translate continues to push forward – their smartphone app (for Android, iOS, etc.) is quite simply amazing (and yet still quite simplistic, but imagine where they’ll be in another 5-10 years, which is quite a long time in tech terms …

I like the contradiction of the above – one that promotes better language learning, and the other which helps you get by without language learning. Somehow typical of the world today – more solutions, more options, more complexity, more tailoring to individual needs, etc.

Rosetta Stone

If you don’t know them, Rosetta Stone have an interesting approach to language learning – not explanation in your native language, and rote learning, but rather teaching you in the language that you are trying to learn, through total ‘Dynamic immersion‘ as they call it, with the aid of pictures, sounds, video, ‘repeat after me’ practice, etc. – in fact, more like how a child learns a language for the first time, then the way that adults have typically tried to learn languages in the past.

Their popular brand of language self-learning tutorials would seem to me to be perfectly designed for online and mobile interaction/testing – finally this is becoming a reality. You can try out a demo (with a shorter choice of 9 languages, compared to the 31 that they usually offer), on their website, here (email address required [by Rosetta Stone]).

Per Tom Adams, CEO Rosetta Stone (via Bloomberg, May 9 , 2011):

We’ve elevated our marketing with emotional messaging that enhances our brand, and we’re developing an iPad delivery platform. Our premium language-learning solution, offering live, interactive coaching by trained native speakers as well as online gaming, continues to earn great feedback from users – and we’re confident it’s the best offering on the market

You can also hear Tom Adams talking about Rosetta Stone’s online efforts (including some interesting crowd-sourcing ideas, to get people with different native languages to talk to each other) with Bloomberg Surveillance here.

If you’re interested, more on Tom Adams, according to CrunchBase:

Tom Adams joined Rosetta Stone in 2003 and has grown the company into one of the world’s leading language-learning solution providers. He was named Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year® 2008 Award Winner in Greater Washington [see YouTube video embedded below]. A native of Sweden, Tom grew up in France and England. He holds a B.A. in history from Bristol University [University of Bristol], England …

YouTube video courtesy of ‘ErnstandYoungGlobal’

The Rosetta Stone Mobile Companion app (for iPod Touch and iPhone) exists already in some app stores, and the iPad app can be found in Apple’s UK app store (more to follow apparently) – follow them on Twitter (eg, @RosettaStone or @RosettaStoneUK) to receive timely updates.

Google Translate

I’ve commented on Google Translate in past posts (they were the winner of my mini-test, ‘Test results for comparison of free online translation tools‘).

If you don’t yet have it, you really should try out their app (for smartphone / tablet computers – Android, iOS for iPhone/iPad, etc. ) – it really is quite amazing, and while still quite simplistic, it’s incredible to imagine the potential of this sort of software will have in another 5-10 years, (quite a long time in tech terms …)

For the latest news on Google Translate, check out their blog, and their Facebook page. Recently the’ve been making some improvements to the app (of course, updates usually arriving on Android platform first …), as well as some building interfaces to other platforms (eg, Google Books – for more on this, see my post ‘The information age – thoughts on how ‘search’ is evolving, and the impact of Google Books‘).

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3 Responses

  1. I’d be interested in seeing how the Google translate app would work if they paired two smartphone, person A speaks say English, the phone translates, transmits the translated text to persons B’s phone, which plays the text in say German. With both wearing microphone headsets this could work smoothly.

    • Indeed. I understood Google were looking at Skype, before Microsoft went “all in” (or at least many $billion in) – it would have been interesting to see what Google might have done in pairing Skype and Google Translate.

      That said, who’s to say Microsoft won’t try to pair up its own language translation tool, Bing Translate, with Skype (only that Bing Translate seems to be slightly less developed than Google Translate – Bing Translate is web based, text only, no live app yet, no voice control/input, etc.)

      Lots of potential – I hope Microsoft tries to use it (helping further justify the Skype purchase price also …).

  2. […] Language translation update – Rosetta Stone, and more on Google Translate (May 2011) […]

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