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Fodor’s Travel Phrases for iPhone App Review

I remember a time when one of the most important things you could pack before travelling abroad was the phrase book. Walk into a country with a different language without one and you would be lost with no idea how to greet people, how to thank them or how to ask where the library was. Now in the digital age there is less need to carry such a book around everywhere as travellers now have access to all kinds of language apps, although it does warm the heart slightly whenever someone is spotted consulting the pages of one frantically.

Fodor’s Travel Phrases is a handy app that has a very ambitious aim in that it features 22 different languages, which should get many travellers as far as they need to go but will leave others wanting more. What it does cover though is useful and very easy to use. Menus are very clearly laid out and with a few taps you can find the language you need and a selection of accompanying phrases to go with them. These will all be very basic things, which are translated into the corresponding language. What it lacks is a written pronunciation to guide you but it makes up for this in part with the option to hear it spoken out loud. You can also build up a lit of favourite terms for quick and easy consultation.

The 22 languages covered provides a good range that covers a lot of the bases, including a lot of European languages such as French and German, as well as Middle Eastern languages such as Arabic. The app is ostensibly free but offers a very limited range of phrases and it will cost you if you want to unlock the more comprehensive language packs. Each language offers around 400 phrases when the full pack is downloaded and users can pick and choose which ones they want, each one costing $1.99. The full package can be downloaded as well for $14.99, which will unlock every language in full.

As a means to get by in a foreign land this is a good, little app that will provide all the basic pointers you need but 400 phrases can only get so far and it is highly unlikely that you will be able to communicate any further with locals using this app alone. It is certainly a far cry from language learning apps and if you are looking for a more in-depth way to study and speak a language with a degree of fluency then you need to look elsewhere.

Travel Phrases is useful to carry around on your iPhone as you can take it out and consult it any time but it is hardly revolutionary. The lack of a phonetic description means the only way you can check pronunciation is by playing it out loud, which may not go down well in public. But as a basic phrase book substitute, it does the job fairly well and will be enough for the more casual traveller.

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