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Find the Best Electronic Translator: Reviews and Ratings

Updated on December 13, 2013

Which is the best electronic translator for your language learning endeavours?

Before going on an exchange trip to Japan back in 2003, I had no idea that electronic translators and dictionaries even existed.

The very first dictionary I bought was a basic Japanese-English Casio model, but my addiction to purchasing electronic translators did not stop there. When I accidentally dropped my Casio on the ice (while ironically trying to translate the word for "ice" into Japanese), I immediately replaced it with an updated Sharp model, and soon after, the most modern Casio on the market at the time.

As you can see, I've had my share of experiences with electronic translator dictionaries. In this article, it is my pleasure to share with you some of the most popular electronic translator models for a variety of languages, from the Romance languages such as French and Spanish, to the three most popular Asian languages. Every one of these brand name dictionaries has received at least 4/5 stars on Amazon from language learners like you and me.

Photo of Chinese dictionary courtesy of Amazon. Click to purchase.

Which language do you want on your electronic language translator?

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French-English Electronic Dictionary

Ectaco EF500 Partner English-French Talking Electronic Dictionary and Audio PhrasebookBUY NOW ON AMAZON

The Ectaco English-French Talking Electronic Dictionary is the only reviewed model available on Amazon made specifically for learning the French language.

Amongst its many features are: a bi-directional dictionary (French-English and English-French) with 450,000 entries, accurate computerised pronunciation for all words, an audio phrasebook with 14,000 entries, and vocabulary games such as Hangman.

Moreover, for French learners of English, there are a number of features such as a list of popular American idioms, an English grammar resource, and the Oxford English Dictionary. Though these features are designed for French speakers, some like the Oxford dictionary may prove useful to English speakers as well.

This dictionary/translator is easy to use, pocketable, and very light. It uses SD language cards, meaning you can buy even more cards for other languages and interchange them according to the language you need at the time.

Overall, this is a great little dictionary for on-the-spot translation. You can rely on it to get you out of almost any sticky language situation!

Spanish-English Electronic Dictionary

Franklin Electronics BES-2170 Franklin Speaking Spanish-English Dictionary with MW Advance Learner's DictionaryBUY NOW ON AMAZON

Amazingly, every review of this Franklin Spanish-English Electronic Dictionary has been 5/5 stars, and rightly so. With a huge number of language learning features and a user-friendly design, it is easily the best Spanish-English dictionary on the market.

Some of the features include: 5 million English-Spanish translations, 160,000 example sentences and 4,800 common conversational phrases, 100,000 words and phrases, and 85,000 definitions.

The dictionary this machine uses is Merriam-Webster and the thesaurus is Frankin's own. It uses an easy-to-understand speaking human voice to provide you with accurate pronunciations. Included with the dictionaries are four grammar guides and verb conjugations.

If that weren't enough, this dictionary also comes with a SAT Spanish test word list for English speakers, games such as quizzes and crosswords, a phonetic spell checker, and a My Vocabulary function which allows you to save your favourite words.

To top it off, it is pocket-sized and extremely user-friendly. You cannot get much better than this!

Three Excellent Electronic Translators for Spanish

Three models to help you communicate in Spanish on a daily basis

The three electronic dictionaries you see below have all received excellent reviews from learners of the Spanish language. Keep in mind that the Casio model is intended for Spanish learners of English. As such, it will only prove useful to advanced learners of the Spanish language. The two Franklin models are similar to the Franklin English-Spanish electronic dictionary mentioned above, but are more basic in terms of function, and are not as expensive.

Franklin Merriam Webster Spanish English Dictionary (DBE-1500) BUY NOW ON AMAZON

CASIO Spanish / English Color Translator Dictionary - SPANISH VERSION BUY NOW ON AMAZON

Franklin Spanish - English / Merriam - Webster DictionaryBUY NOW ON AMAZON


Machines cannot translate random sentences as efficiently or as accurately as a human translator, so DO NOT expect perfect sentence translation from these dictionaries.

You will only be disappointed!

Japanese-English Electronic Dictionary

Casio EX-word Electronic Dictionary XD-B9800 (Japan Import)BUY NOW ON AMAZON

Unfortunately, there aren't any Japanese-English electronic dictionaries on Amazon for beginners. To use this dictionary, you will need a strong knowledge of hiragana and katakana (the Japanese phonetic script) and a basic knowledge of at least 100 kanji (Chinese characters). This is because this dictionary (as well as most others in existence) was designed with the Japanese learner of English in mind.

This being said, a dictionary like this can be extremely useful for intermediate and advanced learners of Japanese. It comes with a whopping 130 dictionaries, with the most useful being the Kenkyusha dictionary, and 1000 literatures.

Some of the most useful features are the history button, which saves your most recent searches so you can write them down later, the phrase book, and most importantly, the kanji look-up feature with pen, which allows you to draw in and look up kanji you do not understand or cannot read.

I have a dictionary very similar to this one, and it is a God sent, especially when I sit down with a complex Japanese book, watch a TV program, or can't remember a word when I am speaking with my Japanese friends. It is light, pocketable and portable. It is the one tool you'll find in my handbag along with my wallet, keys and cellphone.

Chinese-English Electronic Dictionary

Besta MT-7000 - Two Way Chinese-English Electronic Dictionary and E-TutorBUY NOW ON AMAZON

If you are looking for an electronic dictionary with crystal clear authentic Chinese audio for thousands of words and phrases, this is an excellent choice.

The dictionaries included with the Besta are: a bi-directional English-Chinese dictionary, a Chinese quantifier dictionary, a concise idiom dictionary, and a number of useful words arrange by topic.

The most appealing aspect of this dictionary is the handwriting recognition function. You can use the pen that comes with the dictionary to write characters onto the digital screen. This is especially useful if you come across a character you do not recognise and wish to know its meaning and/or pronunciation.

There is also a sentence translation function, but as with all direct sentence translators such as Google Translations or Altavista Babelfish, the result is often humorous at best.

Finally, there are also a number of lessons which deal with pronunciation, characters, conversation (daily and business) and more. As a Chinese learner, you really cannot go wrong with this dictionary!

Three Good English-Chinese Talking Electronic Dictionaries

Other options for lovers of the Chinese language

Here we have two other Besta models similar to the one shown above. Both have authentic Chinese audio samples for words and phrases, and include a handwriting recognition system to help you look up characters. There is also a much loved BBK model, also with authentic pronunciation and a number of Chinese-English dictionaries.

Besta CD-168 English-Chinese Bilingual Computerized Electronic DictionaryBUY NOW ON AMAZON

AM103 English Chinese Pinyin Dictionary TranslatorBUY NOW ON AMAZON

Besta CD-516 English-Chinese Talking Electronic Dictionary BUY NOW ON AMAZON

Why I Love My Electronic Translator - And why I cannot live without it

  1. I can look up any word or expression on the spot. Whether I be listening to a speech, watching the television, or reading the newspaper, I can quickly type in the word I'm looking for while maintaining my concentration on the discourse at hand.
  2. Electronic translators and dictionaries save the words you have looked up in a History section. This means that you can go back and write down the words you have looked up during the day. With these words, you can make flashcards and vocabulary books for later use.
  3. These dictionaries are much lighter and more portable than a paper dictionary.
  4. These dictionaries provide you with accurate pronunciation, meaning you don't have to ask a native speaker every two seconds to pronounce a new word for you.
  5. Compared to years back, these translators are not as expensive as they used to be. You can often find a basic translator for less than $100.

Korean-English Electronic Dictionary

Nurian X35: Two Way English Korean Electronic Dictionary TranslatorBUY NOW ON AMAZON

This two-way English-Korean translator is jam-packed with dictionaries for the English learner of Korean. Most importantly, there are the Minjung's English-Korean Korean-English dictionaries with over 400,000 words. Each word is accompanied by a human voice which provides you with the correct pronunciation.

Included with this product is a translator which, while very good, will never provide the perfect translation of an English sentence. (This goes for any electronic translator or dictionary, however.) It can be useful for very simple sentences that do not include idioms.

It also includes a handwriting function, a touch screen, a spell checker, a synonym generator, an MP3 player and more.

For users also interested in having an English-English dictionary on hand, it also comes with the Collins Cobuild Advanced Learner's Dictionary.

Korean Electronic Dictionary Magic Talker D500BUY NOW ON AMAZON

This Korean-English bi-directional translator features a total of 23 useful dictionaries among which you'll find Korean-English, English-Korean, Korean-Korean, and English-English. Interestingly, there is also a Korean-Japanese dictionary and a Korean-Chinese dictionary for those interested in trying some of the other Asian languages.

Keep in mind that this dictionary was created with Korean leaners of English in mind, so all the menus will be in Korean. This should not pose a problem for intermediate to advanced learners, however.

Along with the dictionaries, you get an MP3 player and an e-book reader as an added bonus.

For advanced users, this electronic dictionary is a dream for someone who enjoys watching Korean television, reading Korean books, and holding conversations in Korean.

Other Languages

Multilingual Electronic Language Dictionaries - Dictionaries and translators with more than one language

The multilingual dictionaries you see here have all received at least 4/5 stars on Amazon for quality, usefulness and ease of use. If you are learning more than one language, have the opportunity to use a number of languages in your area, or simply love travelling and using the languages of the region, these dictionaries will prove extremely helpful!

Did you find the right electronic language translator for you? - Please let us know you stopped by!

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    • Zach Spangler profile image

      Zach Spangler 4 years ago

      Hmm. I never knew these even existed.. this looks very helpful for spanish class! I was actually looking for online sites, but this looks even better..

    • profile image

      anonymous 3 years ago

      THIS IS AWESOME! I wish I wouldve seen this first because I think I looked 1,000 places before I finally found an electronic translator that worked for me. I actually wrote a blog post about it you should check it out here and tell me what you think! xoxo, WearToStandOut

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