This is not just another LingQ Review.
Because it’s not just about what I think about LingQ.
I’ve also included the opinions of other bloggers in it.
That way, you’ll get a better overview of what, and how good or bad LingQ is.
For those of you that don’t know: At its core, LingQ is a reader app with audio, but it has many more features. You can even have conversations with native speakers over Skype.
But are these features any good?
And is LingQ worth your money?
Let’s find out.
Learn Through What Interests You
One of the best ways to learn a language is through content that interests you.
By doing so, you feel a lot lighter while studying your new language. It doesn’t feel like “work” so much.
There are several language tools out there that can help you with this. Apps like FluentU and Yabla, for example, let you watch interesting videos and then pick them apart with their learning systems.
LingQ is very similar in that regard, except that the focus of the app is on reading and listening. And while FluentU and Yabla have pretty large databases, LingQ crushes them in that department. If you can’t find enough content that interests you on LingQ, I’m afraid all hope is lost for you. 😉
Each lesson consists of a reading and listening element. Here’s a screenshot of a LingQ lesson:
As you can see, some of the words are color coded.
Here’s what those colors mean:
Words with a white background are words you already know. You can let LingQ know this by clicking the I know this word button.
Blue words are words that you don’t know yet.
By clicking a Blue word, and picking one of the definitions LingQ’s dictionary presents to you, you create a LingQ. Once you’ve created a LingQ, the word will turn yellow in all your lessons. The word is also sent to LingQ’s vocabulary building tools. You can use these tools to further learn the word.
The idea is to review all blue words of a lesson, and either pick a definition and create a LingQ, or indicate that you already know the word.
By doing so, LingQ keeps track of how many words you know in your new language.
The best part?
LingQ tells you how many words of a new lesson you already know, so you can pick the one that has a fair share of unknown words, but not too many. This is how your learning path becomes clear.
But there’s a catch.
Language blogger Shannon Kennedy warns against just focusing on the blue words. Learning individual words isn’t as effective as learning them through the context of a little story, or even just a meaningful sentence. She says that by focusing solely on the blue words, you lose the context of the lesson. You have to actually read or listen to the whole story of the lesson to keep learning the words in context.
And you can do so by making sure you pick lessons that interest you. If the lesson bores you, you’re much more likely to only “see” the blue words. So keep this mind when working with LingQ.
Btw, you’re not limited to individual lessons with LingQ. You can also take courses. These are collections of lessons on a similar theme.
There many courses to choose from. This is what David Masters, from Fluent in 3 Months, says about that:
Whatever you’re into, you’re likely to find a course that catches your interest and keeps you coming back to learn more.
What Languages Can You Learn with LingQ?
There are LingQ courses in 14 languages:
There are a further 10 languages in beta development.
LingQ’s Vocab Tools
Once you create a LingQ, the word is automatically sent to LingQ’s vocabulary building tools.
- Multiple Choice
What do language bloggers think about these tools?
Shannon Kennedy from eurolinguiste, says that she prefers the vocab tools of Memrise over those of LingQ. But she doesn’t see that as a problem since LingQ has a vocab export function. So she exports her LingQs and imports them into Memrise.
Nicholas Dahlhoff, from All Language Resources, is less forgiving:
Reviewing words that you’ve “learned” is a nightmare. Everything just gets added to a pile, forcing you to either spend far too long reviewing or ignore it completely.
Here’s the response from Mark Kaufmann, son of super polyglot Steve Kaufmann and co-founder of LingQ:
Yes, you will end up with a ton of LingQs and that is what we recommend. We don’t recommend trying to learn all of these by using our review activities since this is not an efficient way to learn a significant amount of vocabulary. You are far better off continuing to move on to new lessons where you will encounter the LingQs that matter frequently, and by looking them up as you encounter them in multiple contexts, truly learning their meanings and growing your vocabulary, all the while being exposed to the language, the grammar patterns and so on. This is the most efficient way to drive your vocabulary growth and language ability. We offer review as a way to mix things up and tackle tricky grammar in a more concentrated fashion.
You can assign different learning statuses to your vocabulary so you can then review by status, or by importance or by using tags. We recommend tagging for verb forms or really anything that is giving you trouble and then filtering by those tags on the Vocabulary page so you can focus on specific words only. Or, you can filter by phrases, lessons to refine a more targeted list for dedicated review.
I guess that it comes down to LingQ being purely an input tool, and that the exercises of vocabulary building tools are merely extras.
Helpful extras, yes. But the whole reviewing process could use some improvement.
The Import Option
With LingQ you’re bound to find lessons that interest you.
They have a huge searchable database.
But as if that weren’t enough, you can also import your own texts and learn from them.
You can even upload your own audio file for an imported text, so that it also has a listening element to it.
In other words, you can turn your imported texts into LingQ lessons.
This is a feature that lets you customize your language learning, and it receives its fair share of praise from other bloggers.
Shannon Kennedy, for example, says that this feature is just incredible and totally sold her on LingQ. She was able to import her Spanish, French, and Chinese ebooks into LingQ and this has made her language learning that much more efficient.
LingQ Keeps Tab on How Many Words You Know
When you create a LingQ, or click the I know this word button, LingQ remembers that you know this word. It keeps tab on the number of words you know.
This is useful when selecting the next lesson to learn from. In the lesson feed, it says how many new words a lesson has. New words, as in, words you don’t know yet according to the LingQ system.
But it isn’t just helpful when choosing your next lesson, it also works as a motivational tool.
Even Nicholas Dahlhoff, one of the few bloggers who didn’t write a positive review of LingQ, acknowledges the value of this feature:
It’s pretty cool to see the total number of words you “know” and see that number grow.
Gamification is hot.
Many language apps have followed Duolingo’s example and added game elements to their learning experience.
LingQ is one of them.
In LingQ you have an avatar. A funny looking creature you can style and dress. In order to do so, you have to earn coins through the LingQ learning system, and then buy the upgrades with your coins.
It may increase motivation in some people, but to David Masters (Fluent in 3 Months) it feels gimmicky. He adds that kids would probably enjoy it.
Something that might work better are the challenges. You can take part in a variety of challenges.
Your aim during a challenge is to reach a specific target of known words, LingQs, LingQs learned, hours of listening and words of reading.
Most of the challenges have a duration of 90 days, but some of them are monthly as well.
With LingQ You Can Work On All Four Language Skills
With LingQ you can also converse in your new language, and have your writing corrected.
These features are not included in a premium LingQ subscription, but premium account holders do receive discounts on them.
Most reviewers are not too fond on these additional LingQ features.
Jill Duffy from PC Magazine says:
LingQ offers tutoring, but it’s not at the level of what you get with most paid language-learning programs. It’s basically the same kind of ad-hoc tutoring via Skype that you can arrange with strangers you meet on language-learning forums.
To me it looks like LingQ wants to be a complete learning solution, so it doesn’t miss out on potential customers. However, its strength lies in the reader app and the accompanying learning system.
Apart from the web version, LingQ also has apps for iOS and Android.
I haven’t tried these apps, but the Android app has a 4-star rating on Google Play. The iOS app scores 4.5 stars.
Shannon Kennedy, who wrote a positive review of LingQ, says that on the mobile apps you have to click on every single word to make it a LingQ. And that this is a bit annoying, especially when there are a lot of new words on the page.
However she also says that this feature is redeemed somewhat by the fact that scrolling to the next page marks all the unchecked words as known.
Is LingQ for Beginners?
Short answer: not really.
Thomas, from My Love of Mornings, thinks that it’s possible that LingQ could be useful to complete beginners. But he’s a little reluctant in recommending LingQ as a primary language learning tool when you’re just starting out.
LingQ is a tool for intermediate learners. Unfortunately, some reviewers don’t understand that for different stages in the learning process, you need different tools or methods.
Jill Duffy, for example, says LingQ is weak for learning a language from square one. And she’s probably right, but she goes on:
Granted, Mandarin is a hard language, but it’s not impossible to pick up some basics from a few online lessons, as I learned with Fluenz. Fluenz only teaches pinyin (that is, Mandarin written in the Roman alphabet), but it focuses just as much on hearing and speaking. You learn greetings, ways to say goodbye, thank you, excuse me, as well as some handy phrases like, “”I want this one.”” After just a few lessons with Fluenz, I felt like I could at least be polite among Chinese speakers. After a few lessons with LingQ, I learned nothing.
Here it’s clear that she doesn’t understand what LingQ is. It’s not a tool to that you use from the start of your language learning journey. But rather, from the low-intermediate stage onward.
Now, LingQ isn’t perfect, but it deserves to be reviewed for what it is: an input tool for intermediate language learners and beyond.
Then again, maybe it’s not her fault:
The marketing strategy of companies like LingQ will not allow them to miss out on the big pool of beginner language learners.
Most language learners never even get to the intermediate stage, so if they marketed their products as tools for intermediate learners they would probably sell a lot less.
How to Use LingQ Effectively
Let’s get it straight from the horse’s mouth.
Here’s what cofounder and polyglot Steve Kaufmann says:
If you’re a beginner, you’re limited to what you can read and listen to. That’s why LingQ has created beginner content that use common patterns, start with those. As you progress, discover new content in the library feed and most importantly, import content from the web that you enjoy, into LingQ. Read, highlight words (aka LingQing), listen to the audio, and do this for an hour a day to achieve your goals.
LingQ is generally received positively around the Internet.
David Masters states he loves LingQ and that there are so many good things to say about it.
Fresh learning materials are important in keeping me engaged in learning. And with LingQ, there’s always something new to discover. 5 stars. David Masters – Fluent in 3 Months
Shannon Kennedy is also enthusiastic about LingQ:
I love the versatility of LingQ and I especially love that it supports most of the languages that I’m learning. It’s definitely one of my new favorite learning tools. Highly recommended. Shannon Kennedy – eurolinguiste
Nicholas Dahlhoff, though, doesn’t see much value in LingQ. In his own words:
LingQ is a popular platform for studying a language, but not one I particularly like. They try to do a bit of everything and end up spreading themselves too thin. 3,25 stars. Nicholas Dahlhoff – All Language Resources
Jill Duffy also rates LingQ 3 stars:
LingQ lets you build your own path for studying a language. The material can be adequately challenging for practiced speakers, but it’s weak for learning a language from square one. Jill Duffy – PC Magazine
Thomas, from My Love of Mornings, is much more enthusiastic:
I’ve used their program for learning French and Arabic, and am beginning to dig into Spanish and German now. So far, LingQ has been my main tool in language learning, and even though it could have been done with other methods, I keep coming back to LingQ. I warmly recommend it to everyone who is serious about studying a foreign language. Thomas – My Love of Mornings
What Does LingQ Cost?
A LingQ Premium account costs $10/month.
For this price you get:
- Unlimited Imported Lessons
- 50% Points Discount
- Unlimited import/export vocabulary
- Access to Android and iOS apps
- And all other LingQ features (except the Skype lessons and text corrections)
There’s also a Plus plan, and it’s exactly the same as the Premium account, except that you also get 3000 points a month. You can spend these points on the additional LingQ features: Skype lessons, text corrections, and on upgrading your avatar.
The Plus plan costs $39/month.
What About the Free Plan?
You can also sign up for a free LingQ account.
Problem is: it’s pretty limited in the amount of LingQs you can make: 20. You can also only import 5 lessons.
With the free plan you can get a taste of what LingQ is like. But don’t expect it to be of much value.
What Do I Think About LingQ?
Since this is my blog, I can’t keep hiding behind the opinions of others.
So here’s what I think about LingQ:
I was actually pleasantly surprised by it. When I started checking out LingQ, I didn’t think it would be very good.
But it actually is…
Not perfect…but very good.
The way you can always find (or import) something interesting to learn from, is a huge plus. There’s no need to be bored with LingQ.
I don’t care about the extra features, like the Skype tutor lessons, and especially not about having to pay an additional fee to obtain them.
But LingQ really is an assisted reader.
That’s its strength and what you’d want to buy a subscription for.
I recommend LingQ for language learners that are—at least—at the low intermediate stage of their language learning journey. But I do think that beginners best get some basics under their belt, first.