Breaking Language Barriers with Technology

A recent study found that 75 percent of Asian Americans own a smartphone, the highest rate among any population in the United States. Not surprisingly, the majority of these smartphone owners are aged 18 to 34, while the lowest rate of smartphone penetration is among those 55 and older.

It’s possible that older Asian Americans – particularly those foreign-born – hesitated to make the switch from traditional cell phones to smartphones because of a perceived language barrier. After all, at the dawn of the smartphone revolution, on-screen menus, controls and settings were almost exclusively in English, rendering them difficult for those not fluent in English to use.

However, with built-in Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese language options now becoming standard in today’s smartphones, the barrier has been virtually eliminated. New smartphone owners can now select their preferred language as soon as the device is powered on. They can also download and install free writing apps that will allow them to send emails and text messages and take notes in their native language.

For Chinese speakers, Traditional Chinese Keyboard provides the widest range of input methods, including voice, handwriting and Zhuyin and offers features such as next word prediction. For those who require simplified Chinese, Google Pinyin Input offers many similar features.

Google Korean IME, on the other hand, offers a voice-to-text input function as well as a Korean dictionary that suggests corrections and helps reduce typos. GoTiengViet 3 allows users to type in Vietnamese using the telex or VNI formats and also features word hints and a spellchecker. 

What is your favorite smartphone or app for writing in Chinese, Korean or Vietnamese? Let us know on Twitter at @VZWnews.