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Saturday, August 18, 2012

Interview with Ashleigh Lincoln, Ultralingua: Innovators in E-Learning Series

What role can online dictionaries play in e-learning? Finding just the right word to use, or understanding the true meaning of a word is often a matter of context as well as denotative meaning. Dictionaries can fall short because they do not always adequately present the full spectrum of meaning(s), and they are not flexible enough to engage deep learning. To offer a solution, Ultralingua combines technology with a philosophy of rich context and situated learning to build language knowledge and skills. Because Ultralingua offers monolingual and bilingual dictionaries, they support communication across cultures and nationalities. Welcome to an interview with Ashleigh Lincoln, Ultralingua. 

1. What is your name and your relation to elearning?
Ashleigh Lincoln, marketing and communications coordinator. E-learning embodies what our company, Ultralingua, is all about. We provide accurate, simple and accessible education on the web.

2.  What is Ultralingua? What does it do?  What makes it special?
Ultralingua is a software company that makes monolingual and bilingual dictionaries for people who love languages. Our dictionaries come with advanced reference and learning tools, developed to address the verb conjugation, vocabulary memorization, and grammatical challenges language learners face. Ultralingua is not your average software company. We have a passion for making easy and accurate software that people love to use. We take every user comment seriously, and use feedback to make Ultralingua dictionaries the best they can be.
3.  What are the learning theories that underlie the instructional strategy of Ultralingua?
 At Ultralingua, we believe technology can be a great asset to language learners, as long as they pick tools to help them learn rather than shortcuts to get around the challenge of learning. If a language learner is motivated to learn a new language, they already have taken the first necessary step. We aim to make our dictionaries the ultimate reference tool for people who are committed to learning a language and have the motivation necessary to learn a new language. Our software contains multiple translations with context and usage examples so learners can distinguish between word choices themselves.
4.  How effective is the strategy that you use? Is Ultralingua equally effective with everyone? What are the conditions that are required for learning to be optimal?
Language learners need context in order to choose the right word, and our dictionaries were designed to make that context accessible. Ultralingua is effective because we include so many additional tools and resources with our dictionaries. We believe the key to learning a new language this day in age, is balancing technology with teacher and native speaker interaction. If the learner has that fundamental motivation, and possesses an app like Ultralingua to use as a reference on them at all times, they have a recipe for success.
5.  Who has used Ultralingua? Do you have any examples?
Generally our users are people in the process of learning one or more languages. These users vary from students in high school language classes, graduate and undergraduate college students majoring or minoring in a language, teachers and professors, students and workers abroad, bilingual people, language translators, homeschoolers, and self-language learners.
Ultralingua actively communicate with the Ultralingua users and have been fortunate enough to interview a handful of them. Our users vary across the world from a farmer from California who needed to improve his Spanish speaking abilities, to an Esperanto-speaking world traveler, to a young man studying abroad in France needing a fast and easily-accessible bilingual dictionary. To check out some of their stories, visit our blog at
6.  What are your plans in the future? 
We just completed a complete redesign of our two most popular products: Ultralingua for iOS and Ultralingua online dictionary.
The new Ultralingua dictionary 2.0 is equipped with a new design, a “favorite” feature, for users to mark entries to remember or save for later, and as well as grammar references with answers to hundreds of usage and syntax questions for the Ultralingua 2.0 dictionary for mobile devices.

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