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Breaking down language barriers with smartphones

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With technology optimizing everything from our homes to our wallets, the potential for it to help us break down cultural barriers has never been greater. Smartphone use has grown to play an increasingly important role – offering communications channels for text messages, images, video and content that is also helping break down language barriers.

We have found in the past few years that smartphones and tablets have completely changed how our customers and businesses access and offer information, entertainment and even educational materials. When it comes to personal education, such as learning a new language, smartphones have quickly become one of the easiest ways for people to enhance and simplify their experiences.

Smartphones continue to change the way we communicate, work and learn. A recent study¹ found that Americans are increasingly using their phone to help navigate important day-to-day life events. For example, approximately one third of respondents have used their smartphone to take a class or access educational content.

One of the more popular uses, which is expected to continue in 2017, is the ability for smartphone users to learn a new language. Here are five easy ways a smartphone can help when learning a new language:

Use apps. Apps such as DuolingoBabbel and Mind Snacks are easy ways to increase vocabulary and learn basic grammar in a variety of languages.

Listen to podcasts. There are many easily accessible language-learning podcasts out there. Non-educational podcasts, such as sports news or children’s stories, are also great ways to become familiar with a secondary language.

Watch videos. There are millions of free videos, clips and movies in hundreds of different languages on websites and apps such as YouTube. For example, check out a Telenovela and catch up on the drama to boost mastery of Spanish.

Change the language. Do not underestimate the power of passive learning. For example, changing the language of a mobile device’s GPS function is a quick way to learn directional vocabulary. The primary language can also be changed on social media, email and web browsers.

Download a language dictionary. Sometimes, it is most helpful to be able to look up what a word means. There are universal translator apps such as iTranslate, or for something more detailed, try a language-specific dictionary and translator app, like the German English Dictionary and Translator app by BitKnights, LLC or Pleco Chinese Dictionary for Chinese.

(To help smartphone users get the most out of their iPhone 7, Samsung Galaxy S7 or any other wireless device, U.S. Cellular offers device workshops for the entire community, including those who are not U.S. Cellular customers. Device workshops provide a great opportunity to learn more about the many features of today’s smart devices – including how they can be used to learn a new language - and are open to the public. Join the U.S. Cellular team on Saturday, April 22 from 8-9 a.m. at 33 Mid Mall Boulevard in Bangor to learn more.)

Last modified on Wednesday, 05 April 2017 11:00

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