LingQ encompasses many different elements, from our vast library of audio and text lessons, to SRS review system to our friendly community and tutoring exchange. But at the core of our learning system is the LingQ Reader, the page on which you read your lesson text, create and review LingQs and listen while reading along. This is the page where most users spend most of their time and “where the magic happens” so to speak.
Click to watch a video walkthrough: Lesson Page Tutorial and review of the new LingQ reader. - YouTube
Over the years, the LingQ Reader has gone through a number of iterations. This is version 4.0. We have been hard at work on it since last fall so it has obviously been a major project for us. In general, we don’t like to make big changes but prefer to make smaller changes more frequently. However, in this case, we wanted to make a clean break from our old technology and old interface and start fresh. We wanted to redesign the user experience of the Reader to make it more reliable, more intuitive, and more motivating with a fresh, fun look.
We want users to understand that we want them to read a lot, create many, many LingQs and review those LingQs in future lessons until they are learned. The goal is for users to learn more and more words and we want to reward users for increasing their known words totals. For this reason, we are emphasizing creating LingQs and making words known by giving coins for both these activities. These additional avatar coins can be used to outfit your avatar like before.
We also wanted to make sure it was easier for users to bookmark their location in their lessons. In the past, when studying longer lessons especially, it became difficult to track your location especially if you did the lesson in stages. That is why, in Reader 4.0, we have switched to a paged interface. That is probably the first thing you will notice in addition to the new fresh design.
As you read, you complete pages by removing all the blues on the page. When you page, any remaining blues become known words automatically. You will notice that the progress bar at the top of the lesson fills in as each page gets completed. You will also notice that the progress bar also functions as a pager and that you can click on any completed sections to go to that page.
In addition to delivering your lesson in bite sized segments instead of an overwhelming page of text, the paging system also allows us to know exactly which page and which word you are on. This makes it possible to pick up where you left off at any time on any device. This bookmark will also be used by our mobile apps to provide the same seamless experience across platforms.
The next obvious change is the automatic playing of the text-to-speech audio for each word as you land on it. This is a simple yet powerful addition that just helps reinforce and emphasize the sounds of your new vocabulary and make learning more efficient. Even if you know the word, it’s helpful to hear it a few times before moving on just to reinforce that word on your brain.
Another major improvement is the handling of phrases. You can select phrases still by clicking and highlighting, or you can click the first word and shift+click the last word to select a phrase in a tricky spot. You will notice that once you create a LingQ for a phrase, it is now highlighted in orange to differentiate it from your word LingQs. This is important since you can now still see and click on your blue and yellow words within the orange phrases. To open a phrase LingQ, just hover and click on the expanded area above or below the text.
You will also see that Related Phrases are much more convenient now. In the previous version these were often overlooked in their location in the sidebar. Now, when you click on a word, you instantly see the grey highlight surrounding it and any other words contained in related phrases. Hover and click on the expanded hover area to see a list of these related phrases in the sidebar. Click on a phrase to create a LingQ for it.
One last thing to notice is the new streak tracking indicator at the top of the page in the navigation. It shows your activity apple which is an indicator of your activity in the last 30 days along with the number of days in a row (your streak) you have met your LingQ creation goals. How many days can you go? Make sure to keep your streak alive!
I would be lying if I thought it would have taken us 10 months to develop this new version. In fact, we have been working with a prototype since January. And, even then, in its Alpha stage, we preferred the new version to the previous one. That’s why it has been so hard to resist pushing it out there for everyone these past many months while we made the update production ready.
The fact is there are so many features in the Reader that it just takes a lot of time to design and implement them in an optimal way. We know there is always resistance to change so we wanted to make sure, all the existing functionality was in place and well tested when we launch. We have made the mistake in the past of pushing updates out too early and we didn’t want to do that again.
For months we have had a group of members helping to beta test the new reader and their feedback has been invaluable. We have hopefully worked through most of the initial growing pains that you get when launching essentially a new product. I thank all of you beta testers for your help and hope you will continue helping us as we continue to refine other elements of the site along with our mobile apps. This is by far the most well tested update we have ever pushed.
In addition to the new lesson interface, the activities have changed significantly. When you click on the LingQs button to review now you no longer see individual buttons for each activity. We have merged all activities together and give them to you randomly. We feel this is more interesting and removes having to choose all the time. Of course, if there is an activity you don’t want to do, you can always remove it in the settings.
You will also notice that you can control the size of the review session in the settings. One other thing to know is that by default, only those cards that are due for review in our SRS system will appear in the sessions. When there are no more LingQs due for review you can continue on with your reading and listening and with other lessons.
We are super excited to launch this update. We hope you like what we’ve done. Please let us know what you think. There are still plenty of other updates to come over the next few months so stay tuned.