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Would a Speaking Electronic Translator Be Helpful?

We are so excited about vacationing from the U.S. to Central and Northern Portugal this coming April '22. Since our favorite ever vacation so far was renting a car and driving around Ireland, we decided to also drive in Portugal, going off the beaten track sometimes. We'll be driving from Lisbon to Porto, then Douro Valley, Coimbra, Evora, then back to Lisbon, stopping to see sights along the way. And of course eating at authentic Portuguese food restaurants, yum!

We were thinking about buying an electronic device that translates and speaks European Portuguese. First - would this even be necessary do you think? Second - does anyone have experience using one of these things, and did it work well? Third - any recommendations for a particular brand of electronic translator, one that isn't too expensive? There are so many different kinds found on the web, it's overwhelming! Thanks everyone.

Posted by
112 posts

I asked a friend about this when I was going to buy one for my sister who was going to Japan. I was told just get Google translate. It’s an app and it works really well. I use it to write letters to my friends in Japan. It can do text, it can scan pictures menus etc. and translate, and it can do speaking as well. The best part? It’s free. You can try it out and see what you think of it.

Posted by
1055 posts

Most smartphones already come with a translation app, or you can add one. I wouldn’t bring more devices to have to keep track of.

Posted by
11754 posts

I have used google translate for this. Recently, in Manchester (UK) I wanted to get some things from the housekeeper. She didn't speak English. I found out she spoke Czech. I spoke English into Google Translate, out came what I said in Czech. Her eyes lit up and she smiled. And gave me what I needed.

Google Translate also lets you point your camera at a sign or menu and it will translate it on the screen.

It's not perfect but close enough. Download the languages you need before you leave in case internet coverage is spotty.

Those translators are popular in Japan. I saw dozens sold in their electronic "department stores."

Posted by
8359 posts

I use Google Translate often. You get speech and written word. Often the written word is in another alphabet like Japanese. I showed the taxi driver my phone in Kyoto and off we went to the correct hotel.

Posted by
463 posts

I don't think you will need an electronic translator. We drove around Northern Portugal and had no issues, even in the smaller towns. English was commonly spoken, and the few times not (buying items from street vendors etc.) non-verbal communication worked fine.

I did use google translate (on my phone) to translate parking signs to make sure I legally parked.

Posted by
5371 posts

I've used Google Translate occasionally and it seems to work well. Never tried it out loud though. I wouldn't do that unless as a last resort, like what Frank described.

Posted by
190 posts

As everyone has said, google translate works great. Just make sure you download the Portuguese dictionary before you leave so that you can use google translate anytime, even when you don’t have service

Posted by
3 posts

Thanks for all these replies, ya'll are great! We'll try the Google Translate app, now downloaded on phone.

Posted by
205 posts

Why would you need a translator in Portugal? Well, never mind, this will be very funny!

Hope you will have a nice time. If you need some inside information, I'm at your disposal. Concerning portuguese food, although it is very good (in my opinion, but I'm portuguese, so...), don't forget the sweets. If you have a sweet mouth, you will feel very happy in Portugal!


Posted by
3 posts

Thanks Helena - Yes, I definitely have a sweet tooth, so will enjoy the sweets! Can't wait!