Archive by Author

New Levels Coming to Russian Bingo!

24 Sep

Download from the iTunes Store

Due to the huge success in Russia of Russian Bingo (2K downloads in 24 hours!) we’ve gotten 70 requests for new board levels. Yay!

The new levels cover the following words:

  • Out On the Town: Clubs, movies, drinks with friends, dinner, cultural events.
  • Personal Technology: Ever been stranded abroad and need a new camera flash drive? Want to get on some free wifi to check email?
  • Family relationships: It’s remembering all the relationship words that’s tough- but valuable when you make new friends while traveling. Describe your home, ask about theirs, all at the tip of your tongue.

The levels will be available probably in 3-4 weeks. You can buy them in the app by clicking “Buy Levels” on the information page.

Swipe gestures to navigate from screen to screen.
Audio prompts in English so this game can be used for English-learners, as well as Russian.

Russian iTunes store featured us at #69 on 9/24/2011, next to (gulp) Facebook and Angry Birds, ha!

Updates! Updates!

22 Sep


The Swedish and Russian Bingo’s are getting updated in the store. That means new user interface, and a nice new option to vote for new boards- so click “buy levels” in the app if you do want more. The first one to reach 10 votes will get new vocabulary! I’ve heard from folks that they want new words, but hard data is always nice too.

Once Russian Bingo is approved, it’ll go for FREE on the store for two weeks. Tell your friends!


Notes on Playing Chinese Bingo (中文 Bingo)

21 Sep

Posted this on, but it’s mostly relevant here ;)

I’ve been thinking of making this app ever since we started the Bingo franchise. This is perhaps the hardest language I’ve learned next to Russian, and was super excited to have a simple little game I can play casually.

The other day I looked over my sister’s shoulder as she played with almost every Chinese app I had downloaded on my iPad- and I have a lot of them. I was working with a client on curriculum pieces for his Chinese-English school. While most of them are quite good, and use the iPad’s gesture recognition to improve muscle memory for writing, none of them are quite what the doctor ordered. The problem with flashcards is that they aren’t random enough, and the “honor system” is how they check against your knowledge- not ideal. I should probably write an app review on Language Requirement.

Talking to a Chinese-American coworker the other day, she kept arguing with me that she didn’t know Chinese well enough to play. After going back and forth, she admitted she was “advanced intro,” which of course, is ideal for this game.

The thing that’s tough in marketing this game is that it’s for adults, and it’s not for beginners. It’s not impossible for beginners- I created a Pinyin version if you can’t read the characters- it’s just oriented for those with already an A,B,C, 1,2,3 working knowledge of Chinese.

I took Chinese a few years ago, advancing up to intermediate, but currently am quite rusty. I noticed, during the progress of this app an almost incredible leap in ability. At a meeting maybe a month ago, I wrote down all the characters I’d memorized. I could write 1, and vaguely remembered 5. This is from knowing 500 in my final year of school. After working on the game and playing it a few times a day, I now know 75 and can probably write by hand 50 from memory.

The real trippity trip is to download all the games and switch between them rapidly. I’ve had to do that to test some functionality, and it makes me boggle at the mind’s language capabilities. That might be an interesting game- cross-language.

Notes From A Developer On Her 1 Year App Anniversary

12 Sep

I wrote up this blog post, reflecting on the Bingo code base, which I’ve been upgrading and maintaining for (gulp) an entire year! Wow. A Year In The Trenches..”

New Look!

Old Look

1 Year Annivesary of Le Bingueau- Free Until 9/16

11 Sep

A year ago, Mary McArthur and I managed to get the French Bingo game, Le Bingueau, approved in the Apple Store. Since then we’ve made 4 other titles in Russian, Swedish, Spanish, and Chinese. To celebrate the auspicious day, we’re putting Le Bingueau in the store… for free!

A new version is coming out soon- it’s “In Review” with Apple. Hopefully it’ll get approved before the free date expires.

Thanks to everyone who downloaded one of our apps in the last year, it’s been super fun.

Follow us on twitter- @bingueau- or drop us an email, We love feedback! There might be a free promo code in it for you, as well.

El Bingo- Spanish Bingo- In the Store!

10 Sep

We launched the Spanish Bingo – El Bingo – and it’s currently in the store, for $0.99. Our native speaker, Celeste Lindo, has a gorgeous accent. Be sure to write us a note, too, at if you do download!

Check it out- and of course we’d love to know what you think.

Here are some screenshots to wet your appetite:

Words around the house- El Bingo

Notes on Swedish Bingo

16 Nov


Now that we’re on our 3rd app (wow!) we have some traditions! One of them – and one of my favorites- is to talk about how we selected the words for each board. From language to language, we select different words, based on the same theme. We take into account cultural aspects. We’re not telling you, for instance, how to translate your current American apartment into Swedish, but how a Swedish person would describe their apartment, in Sweden. Mary and I discussed this at a party recently (where some of our very important Bingueau discussions occur). Most travel apps and language guides help you discuss your Western life in foreign language. What it leaves out, or what it leaves the student to learn later, is how the culture describes itself.

Me, coffee, wifi in Gamla Stan, Stockholm

For example, in Sweden, coffee is very important. Documented various places, but mostly I’m reminded of this on my Facebook feed, when around 10PM Pacific Time, my Swedish friends start bragging about their lovely steaming cups of kaffe. So in the “in the kitchen” list, I made sure coffee maker, coffee pot, coffee, etc. were all there. I also think that in learning a foreign language, seeing the root, endings, and compound words with a common root help learn a grammar lesson almost imperceptively. Kaffekanna, tekanna, and kaffebryggare, teaches you through practice and repetition the endings for adding “pot”, “machine,” the differences between tea and coffee, and other suffixes, includign identifying the root. And, in later lists, this is apparent with clothing, clothes washing machine, dryer, dishwasher, etc.

As I also did for Russian Bingo, for climates that have serious winters, I made sure to include a set of winter clothes- heavy coat, light coat, etc. Tights, vs. nylons.  This is a classic example of why we include words that are important to Swedes vs. describing our life in Swedish. I live in San Francisco, I never have to wear a serious winter coat, nor tights, hats, unless it’s a fashion choice. The reality of living through a Swedish winter without good boots, or a Ukraine winter, would be ridiculous. Being able to describe that is key to knowing the language.

To be honest, adding the audio was an afterthought, but now it’s my favorite feature of the game. At one of our favorite SF cafes, Chameleon, Mary suggested recording sounds for our budding iPhone game. She recorded and added the sounds to our code repository, I integrated them with the touch events, and the next time we met, I was eager to show her the resulting app. I felt it had improved the whole experience almost twofold. With Swedish, this is even more apparent. Because it is so similar to English, we can lull ourselves into thinking we know it. more than any other language I’ve shown my friends- Spanish, Russian, and Chinese (all in development)- Swedish is the one they are the most confident about, without any schooling. It’s the audio that tells them they don’t know it, ha. Of course they initially point to “kök,” “what does that mean?” thinking it’s…. that c-word. Our native speaker Håkan says, “shoohk” and they are chastened.

Viking building in Denmark

Viking house in Denmark, shaped like a ship

I had quite a back and forth with Håkan about “tak.” Some of my sources said “roof” with a second definition as “ceiling,” and “innertak” being a primary meaning for ceiling. He had told me “tak” was OK for ceiling, and in further discussion, he added that there is a technical word that building contractors use to define ceiling, “innertak” but in the vernacular most people say “tak.” I’m wondering if it’s because historically roofs were alpine design, with no lower internal roof because that would prevent heat from descending. Note this Danish Viking building, shows the lack of ceiling and only a roof, for heat purposes. Having toured Russian rural houses, they also didn’t have ceilings, only roofs, and were similarly within a larger barn building, to manage the heat. Of course there are debates on how much history has an effect on modern word usage.

My grandfathers’ language- Swedish

15 Nov

At the Skånan farm

I have always wanted to speak my grandfathers’ language. That’s not a mistakenly placed apostrophe.  I have two Swedish grandfathers, my farfar (father’s dad) and my morfar (mother’s dad).  Farfar was from a village not far from the large industrial southern town, Malmö near Denmark and Copenhagen, in the Swedish province of Skåne. The morfar is from a remote rural village near Härnösand, which is on the Bothnian coast. It’s so interesting having family from two very different parts of Sweden.

Härnösand from 1700s

My morfar was banned from speaking Swedish in the home, as his parents were worried he wouldn’t fit in, in America. His father had emigrated from Skåne, the eldest son of a farming family, who left for America, leaving his brother- 2nd son of 10 children- to inherit. These are the relatives I visited, Ingrid and Östin. My mother and I had been corresponding with Ingrid for quite some time, as she had done tons of genealogical research. I visited in January 2009 to a snow-less Skåne, and proceeded to speak Swinglish with her and Östin for a few days. I was very charmed by Sweden, which fueled my desire to learn the language even more, stateside.

While Ingrid spoke English very well, many times I was with my cousin who spoke almost no English. He taught me, on a train ride to Copenhagen, the vowels of Swedish, along with some phrases. As you may or may not known, Skånan Swedish has very distinct vowel differences, as well as some consonants. I admit that while I am personally interested in learning this dialect, the commonly taught Swedish accent is from speakers in Stockholm. I was teased pretty heavily by a Stockholm friend when I attempted pronouncing some words. We’re thinking of adding a few vocabulary boards by a Stockholm speaker so you can see the dialectal variation between regions. That’s another blog post, ha.

Malmö castle, currently housing the Malmö museum

One of the hardest things for me, in learning Swedish, is how it can tease you with cognates. I felt like I was constantly getting the gist of a conversation, when in reality, I couldn’t translate one word.  English and Swedish are so similar, yet that can make it harder to learn. There were periods where I listen to Swedish and actually convince myself I understand. It’s a hard area to negotiate- picking out the words and realizing that they are truly foreign. It’s almost like a dialect of English that you can lure yourself into thinking you know.

My favorite language lessons while in Sweden:

  • We had horseradish soup for dinner, and that was a very difficult word to decipher. Mostly because it’s never sold in America in its raw form. The resulting word is : pepper soup, pepparrot soppa, pepper + root. Our word, of course, makes no sense horse + radish, ha.
  • Looking out onto a beautiful winter lake, and squirrels are running around the trees. My cousin tries to find the English word for squirrel, we look it up, and it’s a cute word-  oak + black grouse (ekorre)

Proud displays of their largest catches

More blog posts I’ve written about Sweden, mostly about food:

New iPhone App in Store: Swedish Bingo

14 Nov


The developers of Le Bingueau, the French learning iPhone app, have created a new language tool- Swedish Bingo. Three boards cover vocabulary that would be useful around the house, in the kitchen and getting dressed or shopping for clothes. The app sets it apart from other iPhone apps by being only 99¢ – download now and give it a whirl! We’d love to know what you think.

If you’ve used our other apps, you might appreciate some new upgrades and features we’ve added to Swedish Bingo:

  • Rounded web2.0 wet-looking buttons
  • In-app links to other Bingueau iPhone apps
  • The winning words stay on your screen, and all other words fall away.
  • Informational bit on the architectural element we chose to highlight in the icons. For Swedish, it’s Katerina Kyrka, an important church in southern Stockholm.
  • When you switch from Swedish-to-English and English-to-Swedish, you remain with the same selected tiles, so you don’t have to start over.

To learn more about our other iPhone apps- visit the pages linked above, French’s Le Bingueau, and Russian Bingo. If you’d like to follow our news and events, checkout our Twitterstream: @bingueau. We’ll always post new developments on Swedish Bingo’s own page, linked above, and here.

Here is a sample of the response we’ve gotten so far- and it’s so great that the app is helping folks learn Swedish!

I have been trying to learn Swedish for several years now and having language learning turned into a game like this makes the learning process really fun and effective. A great vocabulary builder.

Using Bingo as Flashcards

27 Oct

I’ve noticed my retention of the words is a lot higher if I try to say the word before I click the button. It’s like flashcards, saying the word or guessing it, before flipping over the card.

So I’m learning Spanish, and with the test version of El Bingo we have, I do the following: the word is “floor” and I say to myself, “el suelo” before clicking on it, and then I touch the word. If it’s right, it helps re-affirm that I really know it. I also challenge myself a little more.

I’m surprised at how much I’ve picked up after only playing El Bingo maybe 3 or 4 times (in the process of testing functionality).


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.