A humble feedback (the bad and a little bit of the good)

After a year of learning Japanese on LingQ I am reading articles on websites. Yes, they are hard for me and I struggle a bit - but how many years would I have to spend going to classes before I believed I was ready for “real” Japanese?

Ok, I think I I’ll answer some questions here :slight_smile:

2Steve:
Imho smart.fm’s services (as they are now) are worth about 30-40$\year. I’d pay that money for the service (as it is now - or rather was a month ago).
What they’re trying to promote as new paid service is ‘yet another’ flashcard app. And who needs plain and simple flashcard app for 144$\year when we have Anki?

2Skyblueteapot:
Your logic is easily understood - you try to make money without risks, so you want payment before you start doing something. But there’s more to selling services than just telling people “give me money today and I’ll do it tomorrow”.
Selling services means assuring people payment meets services of required quality.
They didn’t invent portfolio just for fun. You don’t give your money to someone who only says “I know how to paint” without asking for examples.
The same goes for this site: if you say you provide quality services and you want people to pay for them (yes, you want), then at least provide good examples of how stuff works - in this case put at least some effort in organizing lessons. It’s not as hard as you make it sound.

2SanneT:
You missed my whole point there. I never said children don’t learn efficiently - in fact, they do. What I said was “adults shouldn’t learn the same way children do”, because adults are not children anymore. It’s a matter of efficiency.
A child’s brain is like a sponge absorbing everything it meets, that’s why children learn so many things so quickly. When we grow up we lose that ability, because our sponge - our brain - gets stuffed with too many things and has trouble letting more in. Memory structure and comprehension ability change with age and living experience, that’s why each age group should use different methods of study.
There’s even a science - andragogy - that is built on the basis of study ‘how to teach adults’.

Aylowar,

You have been a member here since Jan 29 and have not created one LingQ. You seem to want more structure than we provide at LingQ. I believe that only independent learners will make significant progress, whether they attend class or not. Studying at LingQ will help you become more independent in your learning style. I suggest you give LingQ a chance.

I have looked at the Japanese library, and how the lessons work. I am very impressed and only wish I had had LingQ when I studied Japanese. I was forced to scour book stores looking for appropriate material, and here it is all at my fingertips and graded to my level at LingQ

As for the rest of your post with regard to your views on sales strategies and how a child learns, I will refrain from commenting.

To Aylowar and Steve,

What I’ve noticed about LingQ is that to use it well, you have to understand the method behind it. And I’m not sure if that’s really clear on the website. Shoot, now I’m going to have to go back and take a look at this more closely. But I do think you have a good point, Aylowar. I am wondering – and I think this could be useful information for the site’s designers – just how LingQ is presented to a language learner who knows absolutely nothing about the process.

The reason why I’m a member here is because I’ve been reading Steve’s blog for the last couple of years now, and I agree with this language learning philosophy about learning vocab over grammar, and not speaking too soon. And I think if you can go into LingQ with that mindset, it makes a lot of sense.

But is that clear for first time users? Would a language learner, with say a pre-set understanding of how to learn languages (i.e. the traditional classroom, textbook, being force fed rules, blah blah) understand right away that this is different? Now I’m goign to go log out and check this out with fresh eyes.

LingQ’s evolved since I joined so I can’t really comment about how easy it is for first time users to understand. I must admit that it was not entirely clear when I joined what you could do and I ended up skyping Steve with my questions.

In particular it wasn’t clear that you weren’t restricted to studying what was in the library, but could use it to study any material you could get your hands on, and why it would help you read, for example, an article on chemistry in Japanese. (Yes, I am that geeky, and yes, I have used LingQ to read Japanese chemistry articles. And yes, it is an enormous help.)

The second thing that was not terribly clear was that this system will help you from day 1 until, well, er…you die. You don’t ever outgrow LingQ. There are people who are talking at practically native levels who still sign up for discussions, and are adamant that LingQ is still helping them with their learning.

The third thing that was not terribly clear is that you don’t sign up for learning one language - you sign up for learning languages. You can learn 2, 5 or 10 foreign languages for no extra cost, and switch between them as it suits you.

The fourth thing that wasn’t clear is that there is no commitment - you pay $10 a month as you wish, and downgrade to free when you need to take a break. When I joined I was unemployed and $10 sounded like a lot of money (actually I didn’t know how much money it was, not being used to thinking in foreign currencies). It took a lot of persuading to convince me that I wasn’t signing away all the housekeeping money.

Providing ready-made beginner courses, setting out what homework you have to do and which tutorials you have to attend, wouldn’t have attracted me, although they might attract a number of learners with different ideas about learning.

We have to find a way of explaining how the site works and all the possibilities to people, most of whom are not interested in reading explanations. We are working on it. Thanks for all the advice. It all helps.

There could be an interactive animation with some mascot like Og or Thag leading you through the process. At the same time, you would be able to download audio, make LingQs etc. I don’t know how difficult that would be though.

One thing they taught us in marketing classes was to categorise (ie stereotype) your target customers, even to the extent of making up fictional ones with names.

Eg Mary is a high-school student in Scotland, using LingQ to help her with intermediate level French.
Danielle is a university professor teaching linguistics (LingQuistics?) in Paris. She is a French tutor and a Japanese student on LingQ.

It’s common to have, say, 4 different profiles, so you could have old vs young, advanced vs beginner, native English vs non-native English etc. Then you could write a little bit about what each uses LingQ for, and which lessons they pick in their first month, how many LingQs they create etc. Even have a cartoon of each one?