Getting started at LingQ

One of the problems we have at LingQ is to get people started, especially beginners. I would be interested in your ideas on what we could do better.

Vera has developed an email to send out to newcomers. We do not have the programming time to automate it now, although we could eventually. I would like you to take a look at tell me how you would react to this, if it would help you and if you have any other ideas.

I feel that such an email is helpful. It indicates personal attention and might just push someone who is hesitating and maybe confused, to start doing something. Eventually we could translate this into many languages.

Here is Vera’s email, for comment please.

I’m a German tutor, and I help with the German part of LingQ. Let me help you!

You are starting to learn German. Maybe you are unsure about what to do now.Let me give you some hints about which Material you can choose as a beginner on LingQ.Then I will give you some tips about what is important in order to succeed as a beginner and to overcome the problems you will experience at first.If you have any questions use the “Ask your tutor” forum on LingQ! The German tutors and members are glad to help you.Kindest regards,VeraP.S. Is this email helpful? Please give me your feedback! Or do you have some suggestions? What have you experienced?

Material to start with:
You can explore the library on your own, or you can follow these collections:

No Knowledge:
Ab jetzt lerne ich Deutsch! German Now!

Beginner 1:
Simples dialogues

Greetings and goodbyes

Vera’s diary for Beginners

Anfänger ohne Vorkenntnisse - Satzbildung - Fragen
Meine Tochter und ich

Who is she?

Eating out

Alltagssituationen für Beginner I und II (Daily situations for beginner I and II)

Beginner 2:

Sprachhilfe mit Irene - Fragen und vieles andere

Sprachhilfe mit Irene - Alltagsbereich

Anfänger ohne Vorkenntnisse

Essen + Trinken

Veras Tagebuch

If you feel more comfortable:
Explore the library on your own!

Keep motivated.
Enjoy learning. Choose activities you like!
Develop a daily routine

  • How often will you study German?
  • It is best is to have regular times dedicated to your study.
  • How much time do you have every day?
  • Which activities will you do?
    Don’t focus on grammar. Use the shortest grammar book (or advice on the internet) that you can find. Do not expect to understand or remember it all. Use it as reference or for occasional review.Mostly try to enjoy your listening and reading and above all - be patient!

Assignments for beginners:
Regularly review the LingQs on the LingQ of the day email. Do not worry if you fall behind.Choose a lessonListen to the lessonRead the lessonCreate LingQs from this lessonUse “+Comment” to ask questions related to the lesson on the forum!

Other activities:
Make friends, write on their walls, and follow their activities.Read on the forum.Write on the forum. There are forums for a lot of languages. Try it out!Don’t stress yourself. Only try to speak if you feel comfortable. First acquire some vocabulary.

I’m a beginner here at LingQ, and I’ve joined this site to be able to take foreign job opportunities. It’s a great learning tool, but you’re right when you say that it’s hard for beginners to know what they can do with the platform and what the platfom offer to them. The mail sounds good to me, but I’d keep more focused on the methodology to adopt (how often to study, which activities to do, ecc…) rather than provide a list of collections to start with.

Hi Steve,
Getting people started is not a problem only for beginners. I think people who have some knowledge hesitate at the idea of speaking. Thus they just listen to contents, they save words and phrases, and they learn vocabulary, that is of course good per se, but they can do that for free. In the long run they are more likely to give up and leave LingQ by lack of motivation or outcome.
My idea would be to give new members an incentive to fully subscribe to LingQ and to buy points or to upgrade their subscription level. As a french tutor, I would be willing for instance as a welcome offer, to provide a correction for a short written introduction - roughly 100 words - and a one-on-one conversation to each of the new members. Everybody will find it his own advantage. New members will discover the whole system in practice and fully appreciate it and maybe involve deeply in it, tutors will correct more writings and host more discussions as the number of members would possibly increase and LingQ will grow bigger and improve in developing new material and new features.
I assume that it would be difficult to convince beginners - I mean people with no knowledge - to directly subscribe as a plus member. It was just an idea we could think about.

I must say that, being a new tutor for German, I had a similar idea to Serge’s:

“…I would be willing for instance as a welcome offer, to provide a correction for a short written introduction - roughly 100 words - and a one-on-one conversation to each of the new members…”

I just wasn’t sure if it would be okay to offer new students such a possibility. Maybe it isn’t directly possible through the system, but individually this could be arranged by email. What do you think about this?

I think Veras email is excellent. Having that in other languages would be great too. I would’ve found it really helpful when I started to have a plan like that to work through, at least at the beginning anyway, while I was getting used to using LingQ. Even now, if I say started learning Japanese, having an email like that sent to me would help greatly with my learning at the start.

Serge, I think the most common scenario is that the newcomers do nothing. Those that start reading, listening and saving words and phrases are a small minority, I can assure you. Many of those tend to stay and often convert to paying members.

I am certainly in favour of offering a free discussion and free writing correction. We have not offered it because we know we will get a lot of frivolous people . However, if tutors are willing to help out by providing newcomers with a free discussion, that would be great. It is just a matter of figuring out how to set up.

We have to bear in mind that the vast majority of people who will sign up for a free discussion have no serious intentions of continuing at LingQ or of buying points. It would be better if we could quality people first. Maybe the free discussion and free writing sample should be available to people who save at least one hundred LingQs.

I agree that we need to get the message out about the methodology, about why LingQ can help them. That is best done in a discussion. We also have to improve our explanations, and get them all translated. However, most people do not like to read. We have a new brief video explaining our learning principles and we will be showing it to you soon.

At any rate please keep the ideas coming.

I agree Nathan. Everything in Vera’s email is available on the site, but many people like to have their hands held.

Hi Steve,

It is kind of insecure for some good new learners who would be willing to stay since everything is so new to them.

There was a trial before. That made me stay. Also the introducing of familiar people did. The blog of Tony’s which kept lots of learning experience at LingQ made me stay. In addition, Steve’s interview by the radio program in Canada which was posted by Tony made me stay.

Having a video of a tutor’s explanation or a testimony of a learner would probably make new leaners be confident to stay.

Maybe you could have the members not only the tutors response so that you could collect more ideas.

I’ve been more busier since I need to help my students to be with LingQ. They have to come back to me so that I could monitor them if they input more, not only output so they would be with LingQ closely. It has been a long time that I didn’t come to the forum. I just knew the good function of the new homepage last week from Mark. That’s why I am here.

I hope that there will be more and more people here with us at LingQ.

Emma from Taiwan

Hi Steve,

It’s true that for new people, LingQ is somewhat hard to start with, especially when they are not good at using PC.
I myself did not find it difficult when I started to join the Linguist, though…

Like ejlife, I am teaching English in Japan (not as professionally as her though). I have a class for mommies where they can participate with their young children and enjoy learning practical English through reading, listening and speaking.
At the class, I always recommend that all of my members should use LingQ to imput ample real English. However, out of 20 people, only a few started to use LingQ. In reality, only one of them became a constant user.
I asked why many of them even did not give it a try. They said to me that they looked at the LingQ website and felt that it looked difficult to use and did not figure out how to start with. Also they did not even know how to use mp3 players and even worse, they did not know exactly what mp3 players are.

Then I decided that I should demonstrate how I use LingQ in my everyday life. (By the way, that is before I found this thread in this forum.) Downloading mp3 files and listen to it over and over, after listening enough time reading the script and saving phrases, joining speaking sessions, etc…
That will be tomorrow. I will collect their reactions and report to you.

It is kind of similar to demonstrate face-to-face, but I come up with another idea that is available on the internet.
You can do some interviews from successful or avid LingQ users from different countries and make some friendly articles in English and the member’s native languages.
For example, I can tell you how I use LingQ, squeezing my learning time into my rather busy mommy-with-three-children life and how I enjoy it. I can name other avid users like Yuko in Japan (yukoxoxo2000).
That will give more detailed information for people who are new at LingQ and they might feel more comfortable to take their first step. Also you should make articles about elementary level learners in case people might think LingQ is suited only for advanced learners.

Like Emma wrote above, I do want more people to know the benefit of using LingQ system and keep using it since it really is great!!
I personally think it will be great if school systems in my country start using LingQ. It sounds too difficult for the nationwide public school system but maybe some private school might be able to try it. Or even for school English teachers to improve their English. I have no connection with any school and do not know how to implement that though.

Sorry for my Japanese way of thinking… it’s looks like a snake… my thoughts go this way and that way. Anyway I hope you understand my love for LingQ.

Hi Steve,
Vera’s email is good, but not enough. As you know, I run a PC school and teach basic PC skills to PC beginners in Japan. When I found some students (out of my PC students) who are interested in learning English, I often introduced and demonstrate LingQ to them. However, they didn’t stay in LingQ. Nobody! I believe their motivation to learn languages is not enough.

Half of my PC students are students aged from 8 to 20. I encourage them to use LingQ for learning English, but no success. They want to learn English and get good scores of school tests and they don’t know how enjoy learning English by themselves. Most of my students study English seriously at cram schools, not at LingQ. Their parents pay a lot of money.

Here is my suggestion and idea.
I think that offering free discussions and free writing correction will be effective. Because there are many Philipino online English conversation schools and mostly they offer one or two free lessons. I believe that most of LingQ tutors are excellent. If newcomers tried a good tutor, it would be a big motivation to stay LingQ. When I joined LingQ in August 2007, I became a big fan of EnglishLingQ podcasts and I could meet a excellent tutor. That’s why I became a regular paid member.

As I said you before, I strongly recommend to use native active LingQ members as a tutor or a navigator. If some Japanese newcomers find LingQ and explore it, and if they can find a good Japanese speaking tutor or navigator, they can understand how to use LingQ and what are good contents in the library. The newcomers can ask questions about using LingQ and how they should learn language in Japanese (in newcomer’s native language) by e-mails or on skype. And many of active LingQ members are advance learners. They know how to learn language and how to use LIngQ. I think most of newcomers are afraid to post questions on the forum and they hesitate to ask questions how to use LingQ. Before they find good things in LingQ, they will go out.

There are sites that offer conversation practice for free or at very cheap prices. We cannot compete with them. We have a total integrated system. It may not appeal to a high percentage of learners. It may be that it only a certain kind of learner, an open minded, confident and self-motivated learner can possibly understand and appreciate the benefit of our program. If we could identify those people, then we can offer them free tutoring. I am not in favour of offering free tutoring to everyone. But I am open to other opinions.

I have been giving this more thought. One of my concerns is the possible numbers of people who could be looking for free discussions or writing correction. We get about 100-130 people a day who register at LingQ. We are hoping to at least triple that starting in the fall. That could mean a lot of people looking for free tutor services, more than we can handle.

We cannot force tutors to work for nothing. In fact it should be up to the tutors if they want to offer free discussions. It, can be a good way to find new learners.

Maybe we can allow tutors to set up free introductory discussions for different levels. Maybe the system can ensure that no learner can access these more than once. This way we can control the availability of free discussions. If the supply does not meet the demand, it does not matter. There will be a limited number of these available, on a first come first served basis.

Something to think about.

What we might look a


Just some quick comments. (If I have to wait till all the ideas get organized, nothing will ever get written!)

  • Vera’s email is good but I’d much rather see a “Quick Start” page for each language. Don’t wait for the email which might be swallowed by some overzealous spam filters. Catch them while they are at the site: Right here, right now!

  • The approach advocated by LingQ is not familiar to everyone. And probably not that many people care about all that much about Krashen’s Input Hypothesis. The credibility of the site rests to a large extent on the fact that it’s founded by Steve Kaufmann, an accomplished polyglot. When I refer someone to LingQ, I don’t want to write a 400-word essay explaining who Steve Kaufmann is and why this dude’s method rocks. I want to give them a link to see for themselves what you have achieved. A link to your Youtube channel might work; however, I much prefer to see a “Meet Steve Kaufmann” page on the LingQ site itself. On the page, there should be embedded videos of you speaking various languages. Preferably, there should also be links to PDF file of your linguist book so that people can download it and read it if they want to know more about you/your ideas.

  • I also want to see a page entitled “How I learn Russian with LingQ”. One of the reasons that All Japanese All The Time has such a big following is that, in the eyes of many people, Khatzumoto has credibility. Khatzumoto has managed to learn to speak Japanese fluently in a relatively short time without setting foot on Japan (before he got that job in Japan). He has a whole site explaining how he did it. Well, Steve, you have managed to achieve quite a high level of fluency in Russian without setting foot on Russia, so tell us how you did/are doing it. I know, you explained how you are learning Russian in one of your English podcasts, but most newcomers here would not be aware of its existence. Which was your first lesson on LingQ? How many LingQ’s did you have in your first month/year? How many LingQ’s have you got now? (A link to your profile page would be nice.) Did you use any other resources? How many hours did you spend every day? At which point did you start writing/talking? Some sceptics might say what is the big deal about Steve being able to speak French/Japanese/Chinese because he stayed in France/Japan/China for x years. I’d be able to do that too had I stayed in those countries for such a long time. In any case, he did all that before LingQ came into existence. Your experience with Russian is the strongest proof that LingQ works. You have tackled a language which is supposed to be very difficult to learn at an age which is supposed to be well past the prime for learning a new language. You have debunked all those myths, so tell us how you did it in much greater detail! Making it so compelling that people want to start learning Russian at LingQ immeidately!

I received Vera’s email and initially I was surprised by it just because I’ve been a member for a couple of months now.

Now that I found out what the email was for, I think that it’s a very good idea to have these relatively personalized emails for new or beginning users to better acquaint them with the LingQ system.

To be sure, the LingQ system is drastically different from the many online and offline language learning methodologies available, and I think people quickly lose interest or get confused when they take a look through it.

Not to mention that the majority of the people trying it out are not super motivated to learn the languages. This is my assumption, but I daresay that a small minority of the people who try it out are really motivated to learn the language.

Anyway, I think Vera’s idea is excellent.

I’ve told some of my friends about LingQ, but now they’re not very active on it. Like I said, the LingQ method of learning languages is quite different, and I feel that an adequate explanation is necessary. I was thinking that it’d be great to have more of those screencasts (made using Jing or Vimeo, etc.) that thoroughly explains each feature in LingQ one by one.

When I stumble across new and interesting websites, I often immediately check out their about page and look for any introductory texts or short videos explaining how this particular website is unique and how it works. I feel such an introductory page would be immensely helpful to give the casual surfer at least a gist of what LingQ is, how it works, how it can benefit their language learning, how it’s actually helpful, how it actually WORKS. And like others have mentioned, posting LingQ user-created videos would be great.

I think the average person would much prefer a short 1-min video that shows and explains features simultaneously rather than having to read through text.

Secondly, I believe Steve’s ideas about language learning lies at the core of LingQ; his ideas form the foundation of LingQ. For new users of LingQ, many of whom I presume have been learning languages in the more or less “traditional” way, it’s difficult to get into the LingQ way of thinking and learning. So I think it’s paramount for new users to be introduced to Steve’s ideas and methodology…

So perhaps post Steve’s language learning manifesto…or put up Steve’s seven points from the interview with…anything that succinctly delivers the what, how, and why of LingQ so that users can approach LingQ with some idea of how it is supposed to be used.

I think these are some features that could be added to get more people using LingQ. I see LingQ as having so much potential, and so many people can benefit using LingQ. I really want to get my language-learning friends to try using LingQ, but I myself don’t know how to best explain how to use LingQ and the different approach it offers.

My $0.02.

I think Vera’s e-mail is a good idea. I joined at the end of February and remember receiving an e-mail from LingQ offering support if ever I needed it. At the time I was fairly overwhelmed by the site, but saw all those wonderful languages to be learnt and so stayed. I found the initial tutorial in a way too fast, I had to keep going back to it whenever I was stuck somewhere. I am one of your oldest (in age) members and not overly famililar with forum usage etc, but learnt a lot about best to use LingQ - and my own computer - from following the hints and tips you all shared in the forum. I changed my deeply engrained habit of starting with, and focusing on, grammar. The most important thing for me that I got out of LingQ is that I am beginning to overcome the fear of failure which has plagued me since childhood. I am more open to new experiences AND I am learning a language or four. My recommendation would be: 1. A short tutorial which can be accessed from anywhere in the system, whichever page I am using. 2. A “personal” e-mail signed by ALL the tutors available for the first language chosen (this way you introduce the element of personal choice), mentionioning links to material for the various levels. This e-mail to be sent out fairly quickly on signing up. Any further language would trigger the same/a similar language. 3. Steve’s links.

Is it really much harder than this?

1 Register
2 Pick a lesson
3 Listen+read+save LingQs (repeat listen+read ad nauseam)
4 Review LingQs as often as you want
5 To practise what you’ve learned, book a Skype session and/or submit writing

"Is it really much harder than this?

The problem is, it isn’t simply stated like that anywhere. It isn’t even explained on the home page what a LingQ is or how to create one. The home page is very attractive, but it makes it seem much more complicated than it is. It’s all about the “progressing further” stuff than the “getting started” stuff. Some people probably just want to learn by themselves, so all the other stuff is quite off-putting. (eg me. I might move onto the interactive stuf, but certainly not for a feww weeks or months even)

So get rid of the distracting stuff and spell out the basics:

“One you’ve registered your language and level, just choose a lesson from the selection proposed. The first time, all the words on the text will be highlighted in blue indicating that you haven’t seen them before (here). As you read the text, any words you really don’t know, just hover the mouse over them, and a dictionary definition will be proposed. This is where you have the opportunity to create your personal lingQs. The new word is stored in your personal vocabulary list, and it’s memorisation is reinforced by it always beeing linked back to the text where you first saw it…”

It is the lingqs that make LingQ different from other sites, although it probably doesn’t sound as exciting to the average novice as itactually is.


  1. personally I find the name LingQ a great title, but I would just use it in the fluff (“… creating LingQs in your mind… between freinds…with your tutor…etc”) and the actual vocabulary lingqs I would just call links. Somehow the name just grates on me a bit.

  2. the grading of the lessons is a bit erratic (on german anyway) and there needs to be a way to filter out courses I’ve already decided I don’t like.


I think it is a very good idea to send a first e-mail with how to use LingQ. This e-mail must be in the mother tongue of the student because :
One of my student has some difficulties to understand how the system works and it is very difficult for me to explain him what to do, because his mother tongue is Russian and he is learning French. So I think it is not easy for him when I explain how to use the different option of lingQ in French.
Moreover the most of the forum is in English, and my student can’t understand anything.

"So get rid of the distracting stuff and spell out the basics: "

I would second that!

Something else that is obvious but never stated anywhere is this: if you need help, go ask on your native language forum and a fellow language speaker will help you in your own language. There could be a welcome message with a link to this as soon as the newbie has picked their native language.

I would never have figured out how to use LingQ if I had had to work out how to use it in German, and I’m (supposed to be) good at German!

I created this email especially for beginners because for them LingQ is difficult to understand, and starting a new language is difficult. The main purpose was to suggest suitable lessons for beginners.

It would be great to have this email in different languages, and with tips to the languages the student wants to learn. The student should get the email in his native language. We should have for example an email written in French with tips for the Japanese library, or an email written in German with tips for the English library.

Maybe this text should appear on the start page (as a Link)?

To have a Link to the forum in the native language on the start page is a good idea too.