"dabei" literally means "next to it", while "zugleich" literally is "at the same time". There is a subtle difference, which may be hard to grasp at first. "dabei" I would use when I'm describing two simultaneous actions (like in this sentence), while I would use "zugleich" when describing two facts, states of being, etc.
I actually would say (although I'm a non-native) that that sentence describes a skill "He (can) read and write simultaneously". Although, it's not incorrect to use it to describe current actions. See for example this stackexchange: http://german.stackexchange.com/questions/11746/what-is-the-difference-between-zugleich-and-gleichzeitig
My former statement is indeed incorrect per se (definitely, "zugleich" can be and is used with actions), it was more of a gut feeling.
According to my understanding "zugleich" makes the two simultaneous actions equal, but "dabei" makes the first action primary and the second an accompaning action.
- Er isst und trinkt zulgeich = Er trinkt und isst zugleich = he is eating and drinking at the same time;
- Er isst und trinkt dabei = He is eating and (in addition to eating) he is (also) drinking at the same time.
"She walked and spoke as she went (along)" should be a viable translation for this German. The handy phrase "dabei" is not so easily translated as simply "at the same time." "Simultaneously" is another possibility, yet awkward? We English speakers currently might put to use some bizarre form of multi-tasking implications. "She spoke as she walked."
My druthers would be to put both verbs into past progressive forms, implying that both actions took place together over time: "She was (went along) walking and talking." Then "at the same time" sound like it belongs to those actions, and should not even have to appear in the phrase.
Would that perhaps mean, "She spoke like she walked." ??? Because that would indeed make no sense. But then "als" is also used like "when" e.g. "Als ich Kind war, . . . " = "When I was a child, . . . " So maybe it could make sense as "She spoke when she was going." ??
(Ok, I should shut up. I'm just guessing, anyway.)
Your guess is as good as mine.
For what it's worth though, when I wrote "she spoke as she walked", Google translated it to "sie sprach, als sie ging", and when I wrote "she spoke while she walked", it gave me "sie sprach, während sie ging".
Now Google translate is far from perfect in providing us with what is considered acceptable German, but that's what I got.
If you want to refer to the one specific moment when she walk and talk or on one special and precise moment in past you can use als,but it change the sentence (als+subject+rest of the sentence+verb in past+coma(,)+verb in past of second sentence+subject of the other sentence+rest of other sentace). Als ich diesen Beitrag geschrieben habe, war alles in Ordnung. / Alles war in Ordnung, als ich diesen Beitrag geschrieben habe.
But als in sentance can't be use in that way
That's a distinction of meaning I find somewhat difficult to make. vinaysini's (and my own) suggestion of 'as well' would seem to express some degree of concurrence. The assumption is that going to the place preceded the speaking action, directly related but not strictly concurrent activities. The prior suggestion 'while doing so' does indeed express true concurrence. But is that what the source statement really meant? That is, did she really do the speaking while on the way there, or was the speaking done during the same trip but after she arrived? Yes, I know it's pedantic, but it's important to understand these distinctions. Good discussion.
Whether two actions occur concurrently or one after another may be pedantic in some circumstances, but it is a fundamental distinction that all languages make — part of what linguists call ‘aspect’. The word ‘dabei’, in this context, really really really means unambiguously that the actions are concurrent. Speaking after she stopped going just doesn't cut it. Sometimes ‘dabei’ can be used in the sense of “as a result”, as in “Sie ging zu Fuß und nahm dabei ab.”=“She walked and thereby lost weight.”, but only when the resulting action occurs concurrently.
»Ich war beim Fußballtraining*« means “I was at the soccer practice**.”
In standard English dialects, “there”=‘da’ is a location pro-adverb meaning “at that place”, which can be used to replace the adverbial phrase “at the soccer practice”=‘beim Fußballtraining’; “at” is a preposition which needs to be followed by a noun, not an adverb, so *“at there” would mean “at at that place”.
In some nonstandard English dialects, the location pro-adverbs “here”, “there”, and “where” have been (or are being) reanalyzed as pronouns, so the noun phrase “at there” means the same thing as the adverb “there”. The analog change has not occurred in German dialects.
The German adverb ‘dabei’ can also mean “present”, as in »Ich war dabei.« = “I was present.”, or »Ich war beim Fußballtraining dabei.« = “I was present at the soccer practice.”.
It's in German as it is in English, you have regular verbs and irregular ones. You have to learn preterit and past participle individually, just as you have to in English. As a native speaker of neither languages, i have the impression that they kind of match across the two languages (eat-ate ; essen-aß | be-was/were ; sein-war). Surely you can lean on your proficiency in English at least to take a guess as to whether a verb will be regular or not? Not saying it will always work...
"let's walk and talk" is the idiom in English....'at the same time' is implicit (but could be added for emphasis as could 'while'). The DL translation here seems very literal. I translated it as 'she walked while she talked' and got the thumbs up but I'd prefer to actually say 'she walked and talked'.