For people who love languages
VOLUME 12, NEWSLETTER 1 January 2010
German-English Dictionary
iPhone 1.2.5
Language Learning Tips
Proloquo2Go iPhone App
Raising Bilingual Children
Spotlight - Keyboard Shortcuts
About Our Company
View Our Products
Product Support
Join the Conversation in our Forums!
You'll find discussions addressing grammar questions, cultural differences, technical issues, and more in our forums!

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Featured Product: German-English Dictionary by Ultralingua
German-English Dictionary

Whether you're traveling through Europe, translating Goethe, or just brushing up on your adjective declensions, the German-English Dictionary by Ultralingua is the tool for you. You can conjugate verbs, make customizable flashcards, and even search for definitions based on any form of a word (feminine, subjunctive, etc). And, as with all of our Mac, Windows and iPhone dictionaries, you don't need an internet connection, so you don't have to search for Wi-Fi just to access the more than 295,000 definitions. This bilingual dictionary is available for Windows, Mac, iPhone® / iPod touch®, Palm OS, Palm webOS, and Windows Mobile.

Get 40% off the desktop version - Special deal for Newsletter subscribers

From now until the end of the month, you can

  1. Follow us on Twitter, and
  2. Tell us why you want a German-English dictionary by sending us a tweet. Just include @ultralingua in your 140 character message to send it to us.

If you complete these two steps, we'll send you a direct message with a coupon code for 40% off either the Windows or Mac desktop version. In USD, that'd be $20.97 instead of $34.95, or $11.97 instead of $19.95 if you want to upgrade from version 6 of the dictionary. (Note: this offer only applies to the Ultralingua dictionary, not the Collins Pro version.)

iPhone 1.2.5 Update Now Available

We've just come out with a free update for our iPhone and iPod touch apps. In addition to fixing a minor bug in the recording of history results, we've added a feature that gives you "Did-you-mean..." results in the dictionary when there are no matches for a search. We've also included a Quick Reference Guide on the "About" screen, which you can use for basic technical support questions.

If you already have one of our iPhone dictionaries, you just need to accept the update which iTunes will prompt you to download. If you don't have one of our iPhone dictionaries, go to our page in the App Store to find our complete selection.

Language Learning Tips from Leland Guyer

If 2010 is the year you resolved to finally learn Spanish, add Mandarin to your repertoire, or turn your high school French into an applicable skill, chances are you've already encountered some bumps along the road. The following three tips for adult language learners come from Professor Leland Guyer. Professor Guyer is the editor of the Spanish-English Translation Dictionary by Ultralingua. He teaches Spanish and Portuguese at Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minnesota and is a prolific literary translator.

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  1. Maintain a receptive attitude. In a word, relax. Try to remember that a person takes a lifetime learning his or her own native language, and this is usually in a total immersion situation. Expressing oneself in a native language is such a familiar process that it rarely causes frustration. On the other hand, learning a foreign language can be frustrating. Accept that the process of learning a foreign language can be pleasant and rewarding. Understand that you can be a strong communicator in a foreign language without having the qualifications of a professional interpreter or a Nobel laureate in literature. Don't be afraid to make mistakes. Smile and try to show a sincere effort to communicate. This goodwill gesture will go miles toward establishing a rapport between you and the native speaker. Keep at it. Success in a foreign language will come to those who gently persist. Relax.
  2. Have good tools at hand. Essential items are language references such as a comprehensive textbook, for when your grammar fails you, as well as a collection of general and specialized dictionaries. The latter can include myriad forms of electronic formats, including desktop, on-line, iPod, iPhone, etc., such as are available at Ultralingua.com. Don't forget that for many purposes a traditional comprehensive bilingual and/or monolingual dictionary can be indispensable. Keep a small notebook or some other convenient device handy, so that you can jot down useful words and expressions you encounter. Likewise, make notes to yourself about problematic words, phrases and structures that you can look up later. Read all you can about the culture of the language(s) you are learning. Language is culture and culture is language.
  3. Create a learning environment. Have at your disposal many ways to learn the language. Expose yourself as much as possible to listening, speaking, reading and writing the language. Shamelessly enjoy television and movies. Subtitled films, whether in English or a foreign language can be an extremely rich learning environment. Radio is great to learn the rhythms of speech, conversational conventions and topical vocabularies. Youtube videos are unbelievably rich and economical resources, which respond to endless areas of interest. Find some songs you like in the language and learn the lyrics. There is something about the music that helps imprint useful vocabulary and phrases in the brain. One advanced student confessed that she learned most of her Portuguese vocabulary by learning the lyrics of "Águas de Março."

    Total immersion in a foreign country can be one of the best ways to learn a language if the time and resources are available. If possible, go to a foreign country, stay put, and become as familiar with the area as possible. Engage the people in speech, and read, watch and listen to everything you can. Become familiar with a specific dialect and colloquialisms: all this will give you the confidence you need to communicate effectively and with authority. Take courses for the fun of it; the more the better. Join a conversation/special interest group, such as at Meetup.com. Think about what kind of learner you are. Are you more visual? Add a visual component. Audio? Go audio. Physical? Learn to dance merengue. Emotional? Rumor has it that the best way to learn a language is within an intimate relationship. Connect to the culture.

  4. Bottom line: relax, be prepared and dive in.

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If you'd like to discuss Leland's tips, or perhaps offer your own advice, head over to our forums and join the discussion.
Proloquo2go - iPhone App For Those With Communicative Impairments

People who suffer from disabilities such as autism, cerebral palsy, apraxia, and others that inhibit their ability to communicate through spoken or written language have long relied upon alternative augmentative communications (AAC) devices to help them interact with others. While technology has come a long way in developing sophisticated and intuitive AAC devices (physicist and ALS patient Stephen Hawking's well-known speech generator is one example), these often cost well into the thousands of dollars, and are frequently large, standalone devices that are inconvenient to carry.

The people at AssistiveWare, a Netherlands-based company specializing in technology for the physically impaired, have responded to this problem by developing an iPhone/iPod touch AAC App called Proloquo2Go. This application, whose $189 price tag is just a fraction of the industry norm, is essentially a full-featured AAC solution with text-to-speech capabilities, picture and text-based communication, a customizable interface, and verb conjugation support provided by Ultralingua's very own Grammatica engine.

Response to this software has been overwhelmingly positive, and it has been praised for its full set of features, its ease of use, and the fact that it doesn't require standalone hardware. Younger people with communicative needs especially benefit from the use of the iPhone platform. Other standalone devices can often be embarrassing and can keep younger people from feeling comfortable interacting with others. The iPhone, on the other hand, is much less conspicuous. As Kate Ahern, an educator and blogger, puts it, "Proloquo2Go allows the user, especially tween, teen and young adult users, to be 'just like the other kids' in terms of carrying something everyone else carries."

Ultralingua is proud to have contributed to such an innovative and important project. If you or anyone you know has specific communication needs, be sure to tell them about Proloquo2Go. Learn more about Proloquo2Go in the App Store.

Interview With Author and Linguist Barbara Pearson

If you've ever spent hours pouring over verb conjugations, grammar rules or vocabulary lists, you've probably been nagged by the thought that it would have been much easier to learn that second language as a child, the same way you learned your first language. Many people want their kids to have that chance that they never had, but don't really know how to go about doing it.

Barbara Zurer Pearson, a linguist at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and the author of Raising a Bilingual Child: A Step-by-step Guide for Parents (Random House, 2008), tries to answer that question. We recently talked to her about the advantages and challenges of raising a child with more than one language.

Ultralingua: What sparked your interest in researching bilingualism?

Barbara Pearson: Becoming bilingual myself. I always loved languages - I was fascinated by them as a child and studied them in college. Then I spent my "junior year abroad" in Paris, and it was magic. Part of the thrill was becoming French, without losing my American identity. It took me a while to find out how to study the languages themselves, not their literature. I like literature, but I really love to think about the structure of languages, how they're used, how they change, and especially how they are learned. Bilingualism is perfect for me: it's first and second language learning all rolled into one.

UL: What do you find to be the most compelling reason to raise a child bilingually?

BP: I think it is a shame that children come with this tremendous talent to learn more than one language, and so few of us take advantage of it. For me personally, since I don't live in an international family with roots in two cultures, the most compelling reason is to make the child a better citizen of the world. I think knowing two languages - and learning them "naturally" - really gives the child a more open and accepting outlook on others. It also gives children a better sense of what is special about their own culture. For families who have two languages by birth, being bilingual means the children don't have to choose one side over the other. They can have both.

UL: What are the biggest challenges or barriers preventing parents from successfully raising bilingual children?

BP: I think bilingual upbringing is made harder than it needs to be because some people think it's too hard - and so they don't try. Other people think it's too easy - so they don't work at it either. It's not rocket science, but it helps to have a realistic plan. It's also helpful for those who want to do it to know more about children's language in general and to hear other people's experiences.

UL: Is there a significant difference in the intellectual benefit of knowing two, three, or more languages?

BP: There's a lot of research showing that children who know two languages do a number of tasks better than children who know only one. They have better selective attention and it trains what psychologists call "executive function," a fancy term for how you coordinate your actions and thoughts. Bilingual children have a better sense of how language works - that will help them learn to read, and they are more flexible thinkers. New reports even say being bilingual keeps elderly people's minds clearer for a longer time (that is, without getting dementia). As for whether three is better than two for those things, I don't think we know. It might be. It's certainly a greater cultural advantage. But we need more research on trilinguals than we have now.

UL: What are some of the biggest myths and misconceptions about bilingualism?

BP: I have heard so often from people who think being bilingual is too confusing for children. If a child is the least bit slow, people reach for bilingualism as a handy, but inappropriate explanation for a normal situation. They are forgetting how varied monolingual development is. Average is average because half the people are above it and half are below. That's "normal." From the opposite perspective, another misconception is that children soak up languages "like sponges." They do and they don't. It's not completely without effort for children to learn that second language, so people need to take some steps to make sure they give the child compelling reasons to want to learn it.

UL: Is there a step-by-step method of raising bilingual children that works for everyone?

BP: No, there are many different ways to go about it. You might be misled by the subtitle of my book, "a step-by-step guide for parents." There's not a recipe that you have to get your hands on, but there are several steps involved. Since there are so many different individual situations, I try to take parents through all the phases: making the decision, figuring out what their goals are, where their assets are, where to look for help, etc. I try to give them a sense of the "principles" so they can see what is involved, what they have to keep in mind. There is not one specific step you have to take, but you usually have to take a few steps - to make space for the second language in your child's daily life and to make it useful and attractive for her.

UL: How flexible can people be?

BP: Parents also need to realize that nothing is set in stone. You can change midstream. It happens all the time. But it's not like pressing a different button on an elevator and getting out on a different floor. There's a period of transition that people have to expect. Habits - like language habits - are hard to change, precisely because they're habits. But the human brain is very adaptable. People can and do change or even drop habits when they are convinced they need to.

UL: How does a translation dictionary factor in to the process of raising a bilingual child?

BP: Every house needs a dictionary, so a bilingual house will have two or more. I think it's important to have both a translation dictionary, and a single language dictionary - of each language. When you're bilingual, you're not translating - you go from thought to word without passing through the word in the first language. But still, sometimes you know a word in one language when you need it in the other. Then a translation dictionary is a great help.

Spotlight - Keyboard Shortcuts for Mac and Windows

Like many programs on your desktop, the Ultralingua dictionary software can be used faster and more efficiently with the aid of keyboard shortcuts. Here are a few shortcuts for Mac and Windows that can help speed up your dictionary usage:

  • Swap translation direction: If you're using a bilingual dictionary and you want to switch the direction (say, from English->French to French->English),
    • Windows: Ctrl L
    • Mac: ⌘D
  • Go to next language: If you're in a monolingual tool (dictionary, conjugation, number tool) and you want to switch to a different language,
    • Windows: Ctrl M
    • Mac: Shift⌘D
  • Change text size: To make the dictionary text bigger or smaller,
    • Windows: Bigger -> Ctrl =, smaller -> Ctrl -
    • Mac: Bigger -> ⌘=, smaller -> ⌘-

To find other shortcuts, you can check the help file or simply hover the cursor over buttons on the dictionary interface. If there is a shortcut for that button, it will appear when you hover over it.


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