If you follow us on Facebook or Twitter, you’ll know that last week uTalk became the world’s first Cockney language learning app! The traditional East London rhyming slang was launched at G Kelly pie shop on the Roman Road by the Pearly King of Forest Gate and Pearly Queen of Old Kent Road.
Some children from Olga Primary School popped in to put the uTalk app to the test. They had fun playing the games, and were keen to show our chairman Dick what they’d learnt.
And we finished with a good old-fashioned East End knees up, led by our Pearly King and Queen, pianist Mick Yarrow and the voice of uTalk Cockney, Patrick Mackervaie.
It was a fantastic day – thank you to everyone who got involved. Check out our video for more!
Our launch even made the news! As well as a feature on ITV London News on Thursday evening, our language expert Nat appeared on London Live with chairman Dick to talk about the app, and was interviewed with actor Patrick by Robert Elms on Friday morning for BBC Radio London (listen from 1 hour 40 mins onwards).
On Sunday we were back in the East End, giving Cockney lessons to visitors at the Roman Road Summer Festival. Patrick, who’s from Hackney, got the crowd warmed up with some Cockney quizzes (some harder than others), before inviting everyone to come and have a go with the app.
Want to have a go yourself? We’re giving away uTalk Cockney with the Evening Standard – and you get a free month’s subscription to all 133 other languages as well! Just visit eveningstandard.co.uk/offers to get started.
Enjoy! And we’d love to hear what you think – we know Cockney is constantly changing, and that not everyone has the same way of saying things. Email us at email@example.com or tweet us with #myCockney to join the discussion!
Our small office has been very busy recently preparing a big new update to uTalk, and we’re very happy to finally share it with you! Some of you may have already tried it – if you have we’d love to hear what you think.
So what’s new?
Stars and Specials
Stars are the biggest change within the new features, and it’s safe to say we’re all pretty excited about them! With the Stars, the more you play the more you get, so they’re basically in-game coins. By earning stars and achievements you can then buy additional topics or what we call uTalk Specials. These are extra topics that you may find helpful in various situations such as Camping, Driving, Sailing and many others.
We’ve introduced the Score Dashboard where you can see your points, your stars, uTalk Specials and Achievements. These are designed to keep you motivated; every time you get past a small milestone (like getting 30 correct answers in a row or try out half of the topics), we’ll reward you with stars that can be used to buy the uTalk Specials.
The store inside the app where you can purchase extra topics has a brand new look too, which we think is nice to play with. We’ve added beautiful imagery and interactive descriptions of how the app features will help you learn, so you always know exactly what you’re getting.
Something that’s not new but always helpful to have is the search bar at the top of the screen that you can use to search for words when you’re in a rush. Plus, you can search with emojis too!
The uTalk app is free to download for iPhone and iPad, and you can try any of the languages for free with our Starter Pack. We’d love to hear from you so please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org or even better, if you love the update, leave us a review on the App Store and we’ll be your friends for life
The uTalk Challenge is almost here!
From January 1st, start a new language for free, and learn as much as you can with our uTalk app by January 31st.
The uTalk challenge is open to everyone and totally free, so if you’d like to join in, you can find more details and sign up to the challenge here: eurotalk.com/utalkchallenge
With 130 languages to choose from (we’ve just added Greenlandic and Indian English to the app, so there’s now even more choice!), there’s something for everyone – and we’re certainly covering a variety of languages here in the EuroTalk office, where competition is bound to be fierce…
Safia – Mandarin Chinese
My mum and little sister despair at my lack of ability to speak any Mandarin so it’s probably about time to rectify the situation. And then they can’t gang up on me anymore when we play Mahjong!
Alex – Turkish
My best friend and her twin sister at uni are Turkish Cypriot, and they always speak Turkish between the two of them when they’re with us, so I want to be able to understand who or what they’re talking about.
Nat – Welsh
I always intended to move to Wales one day so thought I should learn a bit of the language – plus I’m interested to see how much my (limited) Cornish will help with Welsh!
Ioana – Argentinian Spanish
I want to be able to chat with the lovely non-English speaking relatives of my boyfriend, and also to unexpectedly add Spanish words to our daily conversations.
Adi – Arabic
I lived in Dubai for six years, and I hardly know any Arabic, so it’s high time.
Liz – Welsh
No particular reason, if I’m honest; I just fancy a challenge! I think trying to say Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch whet my appetite…
Steve – Scots Gaelic
Scotland is one of my favourite places in the UK and I’d like to learn a Celtic language which is still spoken there.
Simon – Polish
It’s the second most common language spoken in the UK. It’s very different from anything I’ve learnt before, and would be interested to try and pick up a few words and sentences and then try and see if I can hear them in real life!
Brett – Arabic
I have been to the UAE on a couple of occasions this year. I am going again next year to meet some schools who need a solution to help get their English-speaking students to speak Arabic. If I’m trying to help them, then I should really learn it too.
Pablo – Romanian
My girlfriend is from Romania. I’ll try to be able to say something else other than her name and ‘da’.
Which language will you learn?
PS No EuroTalkers were harmed in the making of this blog post.
Quit smoking. Learn Welsh. Finally finish writing that book – and actually let someone read it. Learn Thai. Spend more time sailing. Learn Mandarin. Walk the street map of London. Learn Turkish. Achieve a freestanding handstand and a scorpion/needle stretch (whatever that is). Learn Argentinian Spanish.
These are just a few of the New Year’s resolutions we’ve been setting ourselves in the EuroTalk office, having just realised 2016 has crept up on us and is suddenly, terrifyingly close. And you may have noticed a bit of a language theme…
Introducing the uTalk challenge 2016 – learn a language for free this New Year
That’s because this January, we’ll be taking on the uTalk challenge 2016, using our uTalk app to learn as much as we can of our chosen language before 31st January. Last year Nat stormed to victory in our first uTalk challenge, completing the app in Icelandic before most of us had even mastered ‘hello’… but we’re hoping for a closer contest this time around. And failing that, our back-up plan is to steal her iPad.
How to join the uTalk challenge
But we don’t want to do it alone! So if you’re an iOS user*, and you’d like to finally start learning that language you’ve been talking about for ages, now’s your chance. And even better, the uTalk challenge is completely FREE. All you need to do is sign up at eurotalk.com/utalkchallenge, and on January 1st we’ll send you over a code to unlock the Essentials upgrade (worth £7.99) for your chosen language. Then it’s over to you…
We’ll check in with you each week by email to see how you’re doing and update the online leaderboard, so you can see how your score compares to everyone else’s. AND if you complete the Essentials by the end of January, we’ll give you another language to learn in February, and so on. So if you’re really determined, you could learn 12 new languages in 2016. Now that’s a pretty cool New Year’s resolution.
*Unfortunately the uTalk app is only available on iOS, we’re really sorry! But we don’t want anyone to miss out, so if you’re not an iOS-er and you’d like to take part, drop us an email to email@example.com and we’ll see if we can work out an alternative for you.
Spread the word
Challenges are a lot more fun if you’ve got company, so please help us spread the word to friends and family using the link eurotalk.com/utalkchallenge and on social media, using #uTalkChallenge. And for regular video updates from the EuroTalk team, in which we’ll attempt to demonstrate how much we’ve learnt, come and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
Some of last year’s uTalk Challengers (who we hope will join us again this year!)…
Ingrid, learning Serbian
I’ve really enjoyed doing the challenge. Serbian is a language I’ve wanted to get to grips with for a long time for quite a bizarre reason (it involves a love of the Eurovision Song Contest!) but I haven’t really known where to start.
Patricia, learning Icelandic
The uTalk app is a whole lot of fun, filled with useful words and phrases. I particularly enjoyed repeating the words and phrases after the native speakers and then hearing my own voice. What a great tool to gain confidence and improve pronunciation!
Jacqui, learning Croatian
After a month, I’ve made great progress. I haven’t earned maximum points (I’m on just over 4000), but I have managed to learn a lot more than I thought I would, even waking up some mornings with various phrases springing to mind!
And here’s how the EuroTalkers got on…
So… who’s up for the challenge?
You might not believe it, but I regularly arbitrate fairly ferocious arguments about cake. And it’s not because my colleagues can’t share cake (although this has been known to be a problem in the past).
The reason is that this little word, which you would think would be a simple thing to translate, actually gets people quite upset. Throughout the world, different sorts of cake prevail, and some people (understandably) get quite grumpy when you present them with the wrong type of cake. It’s important stuff.
One of our most recent additions to the uTalk app is Esperanto, where we had to make a very difficult decision about whether to translate the phrase ‘piece of cake’ (available in uTalk Essentials because, let’s face it, it’s essential vocab), as ‘peco da torto‘ or as ‘peco da kuko‘. For English speakers, ‘kuko’ was favoured because it is close to ‘cake’, and therefore brings to mind a big, squashy Victoria sponge. ‘Torto’, on the other hand, inevitably conjures something which is not a cake at all, but a tart – or even a flan: something flimsy and possibly, horror of horrors, covered with fruit.
Nonetheless, in the final stages of the battle, ‘peco da torto’ won, and went through to the final translation. Here’s why: our app is used all around the world by people who can learn from their own native language: we currently have 128 languages in uTalk, and people can learn any one of these from any other. For Esperanto, this is particularly important, because Esperanto is a language that nearly all Esperantists (barring a maximum of a few thousand native speakers) speak as a second language, making the Esperantist community very multinational.
So we want to make our Esperanto translation as internationally relevant as possible. And for most Europeans, at least, ‘torto’ will bring to mind a fairly generic type of cake, whereas ‘kuko’ might be slightly less familiar. Taking just a few European languages, we’ll see that in Russian we have торт, Italian torta, Dutch taart, Spanish tarta, Croatian torta, Hungarian torta. Both options would have worked, but ‘torto’ won the more international vote, and when it comes to Esperanto that’s a pretty important factor to consider.
What do you call a cake in your language? Let us know!