Pocketalks in the Classroom

As an intern on the 2018 Global English Camp program, I noticed a particular gadget showing up in the classrooms: The Pocketalk. In the past, I remembered seeing this gadget in places I couldn’t exactly put a finger on, but what I could remember were my overall assumptions: It probably doesn’t work. Google Translate is a hilarious mess when it comes to English to Japanese and vice versa. Why would this be any different?

Image from www.tofugu.com

Image from www.tofugu.com

Sometimes, staff in the classrooms owned Pocketalks and put them to my mouth. Whenever I spoke into them, I was surprised by how natural the Japanese to English translation sounded. Granted, the translation became formalized and worked best with simple questions, but it still worked better than I expected. 


  • Great for simultaneous conversation

  • Decent at translating questions and simple conversation

  • Easy accessibility

  • Long battery - 7 hours of usage or up to ten days in sleep mode


  • Not free; can cost up to $300

  • Wifi is required

  • Same text/speak style as free Google Translate, although the voice seems better quality

Overall Opinion: The Pocketalk is great for people who have less than an intermediate knowledge of the language they will be speaking. Say anything too colloquial, metaphorical, or long, and it’ll probably screw up.

If you’re going to be a Global English Camp intern, expect to see some staff members in Japan potentially storing a few of these in their pockets!

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