2.26.2013

Plan Europe, and my new favorite Android App

Yeah I've seen the Eiffel Tower before, no big. Wait, shit. That was
just that time I rode some roller coasters and maybe Drop Zone. 
So. Announcement one: And this is big! I'm going to backpack Europe this summer. Yeah. You put those eyebrows back where they belong. And before you go all judgmental about how that's passe and anyone who's anyone has already been to Europe and you really have to go to Southeast Asia or Sub-Saharan Africa or Antarctica or Siberia, because everyone's so real there--stop. That all's next on the list. This is a first step. Necessary too.

I'm a once and future(?) English Major and that lovely English degree (it was also a hipster degree, since it was ironically not printed in English) is really just provisional--it is literally mandatory that I make an epigrammatic  pilgrimage to England. And France. And Spain. All so I can see the fabled places that all those literary expats hung out and walk through the streets, drinking in a heady ambrosia of a primordial soup that spawned modernism. I also maybe have a weakness for super pretty buildings. 

Announcement two: I just got a tablet. A Nexus. Not gonna lie. It's pretty cool. For straight up reading I prefer my Kindle because it's easy on the eyes. Now, for wasting time, a Kindle doesn't hold a candle to Android. I'm easily obsessed with timesinks, and this Nexus brings me into whole new worlds of perfection in the art of timesinking. 

Is it useful for writing? So far not at all. That's my next plan for App-searching. For now, I'm perusing the obvious nexus of Travel planning and Nexus: Travel Apps! Yeaaaaahhhhh!

Since I'm going to Europe, I did some research and learned that there are people in the countries of Europe that speak languages other than English. Weird, right? Totally unlike the U.S. where 110% of everyone speaks English.

Now, I love language. I believe I have demonstrated this by taking five years of Spanish and promptly forgetting all of it. Nonetheless, I made a New Year's resolution to learn 20 phrases in 10 languages. Up until February, I had worked towards this goal by forgetting all about it. But now that I have a tablet to play with I can get technology to do the work for me!

Introducing: the 2nd-easiest-to-Google-for Language Instruction app:  Tourist Language Learn & Speak!

Tourist language learn & speak
I love that it doesn't tell me to be a traveler and keep it real.
It knows I just want to be a murfurking tourist.
Finally! An app that cares about my New Years resolution. It features 24 languages and very basic, consistent phrases for each of them.* It includes pretty much anything I'll encounter in Europe and excludes pretty much everything native to Africa or South America. This App makes it easy to learn a little of everything. The practical application is limitless; if anyone ever refuses to point me towards a toilet, I can ask them in twenty-three different languages until they roll their eyes and point!

Utility aside, the app is pretty sweet for instant gratification of me feeling like I am learning really small amounts of information quickly. There are words. You click on them. A clear, non-robot voice reads them to you in what I can only assume is flawless pronunciation. They have the same set of numbers, greetings, small talk phrases, and travel directions in most* languages. This week I learned French. All of it. And since I can hear the speaker's clear voice, I can rest easy with the knowledge that my accent is likely incomprehensible to anyone who actually speaks the language. But it's very like pretending to learn a language while a little bit of knowledge sneaks in. It's fun, and it lets me feel accomplished and pleased with myself whenever I get stuck on a level of Angry Birds. 

*The only thing about the program that fills me with the rage of a thousand exploding suns is that some of the languages are missing chunks. It has much more full information for European languages. Useful sections like bus, train, plane, restaurant, etc. are not to be found for Hindi, Thai, Chinese, Japanese, or Korean. If memory serves, Vietnamese and Arabic may be the only non European origin languages. Hopefully they'll update those into existence later. Because right now I'm just offended that I can't learn all language ever on a tablet. 
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