How do I get started

Yeah, it was the method of learning that I was getting lost on. I didn’t realise I was supposed to click on all the purple words.

Just a couple of things I am unsure about at this point:

  • There is a review option and part of it is speaking the phrase. From the video I watch it writes the word as you speak it. If this works how it looks like it should work it means that it means I get better feedback than Babbel on my speech accuracy. (Babbel just basically gives you a pass/fail grade on speech and you don’t know which word failed you.)

  • How do I get to the vocab review option if I just want to review my vocabulary. I am not quite sure that it does exactly what I am hoping it does. I prefer learning by listening where possible.

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There are three review options:

  1. Use LingQ’s artificial spaced repetition system (SRS): simply click on the card icons at the bottom right and select the appropriate options.
  2. Natural SRS: rely on reading (while) listening alone:
  • Read the text first, mark the word groups you don’t know, translate them and create “lingqs” for them.
  • Read the same text again while listening (you can adjust the speed, BTW: 0.9x, 1x, 1.25x, etc.).
  • Re-listen to the text 2-3 times.
  • Go to the next lesson: rinse and repeat.
  1. Use the natural and artificial SRS options in combination.

BTW, / chatGPT might be helpful in this context as well.


Ich kann ich dir sagen das du russische Grammatik nicht einfach so lernst. Du hast es sofort vergessen. Du kannst diir die Grammatik nur nebenher beibringen. Hier ist noch eine russische Quelle. Das ist ein überarbeiteter Kurs von der Lomonosov. Time to speak russian.

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I’m not german tho, that’s OP. I’m a frog.


“PS If you’re a native speaker of English, you don’t need material for absolute beginnners … simply start with the Mini Stories on LingQ”

I am a native speaker of English with a high level of comprehension of French. I did a Babbel course in German for beginners, then the mini stories here. Looking back I think they were far too advanced. I found German very complicated, far more complicated than French. English is far closer to French in terms of grammar and word order. There are plenty if A1 and A2 videos on YouTube which I would have used instead. I know Dutch is less complicated grammatically than German, but the German stories had complex sentences. Even having done a Babbel course, I needed simpler sentences and lots of them to build a base of vocabulary. Of course it might be that the Dutch short stories are easier, that I cannot comment on. But if not, then I would not recommend them for beginners.



  1. If I’m not mistaken, the Mini Stories seem to be (more or less) identical in all (?) languages on LingQ.

  2. From the perspective of native speakers of Germanic/Romance languages, these Mini Stories are only “difficult” for more distant L2s such as Russian, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, etc. because the pronunciation/intonation, writing systems, grammars, word order and vocabulary of the latter are very different from the Germanic/Romance languages.

  3. Yes, French is easier than German for native speakers of English, but mainly because of the many lexical similarities between English and French (ca. 1/3 of all English words - and maybe even more - are of French origin: Influence of French on English - Wikipedia).

  4. Dutch is closer to English than German, so it’s a bit easier to learn.

  5. If you need grammar for those L2s to be acquired, check LingQ’s grammar guide and light grammar approaches such as Michel Thomas / Language Transfer. That’s usually more than enough to get a feel for the beginner levels in close languages.

  6. Notabene: You can simplify the German grammar a lot by focusing on three tenses:

  • Present Simple
  • Present Perfect Simple (ich habe + past participle)
  • Future Simple (ich werde + infinitive)

You can skip the “imperfect” (ich tat, ging, aß, etc.) because it’s used less and less in the oral dimension and will probably die out in the future.

In short, the three tenses above alone will get you a long way in everyday German. And that’s also much simpler than the tenses in English and even French (with its distinction of passé composé - imparfait - passé simple, for instance).

  1. However, the “separable verbs” (trennbare Verben) in German are a real challenge. On the other hand, the “Konjunktiv” in German is quite primitive compared to the sophisticated Subjunctive Mood in French.

  2. Moreover, you can always

  • Ask ChatGPT for particular grammar points.
  • Use for translations and
  • the outstanding Deepl Write (for German).

And if all that isn’t enough, you can also create simplified text versions using Ling’s AI.

So, I don’t know why native speakers of Romance / Germanc languages would need more “absolute” beginner stories (for an extended period of time?) to learn other Germanic or Romance languages…

That said, if you really need such absolute beginner stories occassionally (say for understanding specific grammar constructs), you can also create them using ChatGPT.

“I needed simpler sentences and lots of them to build a base of vocabulary.”

Then just use Memrise for learning the most frequent words - in combo with the methods mentioned above.

There is one disadvantage with the Mini Stories on LingQ, though: they are simply boring. But. I’d say, that’s a problem with all stories in all languages at the beginning, esp. for adult learners.

PS -
I just checked the first ca. 10 Mini Stories in German.
As far as I can see, the only grammar point that is a bit more complicated at the beginning is the “two part (separable) verb”.

For more background info, see this thread:


I can only tell you my experience, which is as I said that having completed a Babbel German course, I found the German short stories too complex. For me simpler phrases, with lots more vocabulary, are preferable. Dutch like German shares not so many words with English, unlike French, and it has weird word order.

A frequent problem I have had with LingQ is that in German, the supposed level of the content does not match the level (long complex sentences for A2) and secondly much better content can be found elsewhere by importing. Thus I now import my level A2 content. I also import B2/C1 French.

I think part of the problem is that many of the creators of content aren’t language teachers, and don’t realise what is hard, and what is easy.

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I mean adjudicating the difficulty of content with the way LingQ organizes it simply doesn’t work. I think a better way would be to organize content by intended audience. With content intended for learners you can state if it’s intended at an “A1” or “B2” learner, or whatever scale makes sense for the language being learned. Then with Native Content you can show the intended age range, education level, and domain of the content.

Often times materials targeted at helping learn to read and write their L1 are simply not well suited for people learning an L2 because the content presupposes you can already speak and understand the language.

The best signal you’ll have within LingQ is the percentage of new and previously LingQ’d words. If you are doing a large portion of your learning within LingQ you should have a sense for how much newness is going to be comfortable.


“I can only tell you my experience”
Sure, no problem.

“I found the German short stories too complex.”
I’m not sure if it’s really a language problem here bc. I’ve
checked those stories in many Romance and Germanic
languages on LingQ - and they’re all OK (nothing fancy,
nothing terrible, just boring).

I wonder if your experience is more related to specific expectations, a
low tolerance for ambiguity (my guess: you use “sentence
mode” for all of your beginner content), and the wrong tools / approaches at the beginning…

You seem to expect sentences like in school:

  • The man eats the banana.
  • The woman eats the apple.
  • The child eats the orange.

Yes, that’s content, but completely anti-compelling :slight_smile:
And it’s more than enough to use Memrise + LingQ 's Mini
Stories to expand your vocabulary fast - at least in Germanic / Romance

And if there are complex sentences in German, you can always dissect them using ChatGPT…

“Secondly much better content can be found elsewhere by importing”
Exactly. Interest-based content hunting is the way to go. This is why LingQ is so awesome for independent learners who are actively looking for interesting stuff to import!

"I think part of the problem is that many of the creators of content aren’t language teachers, "
Yes. But with the tools I mentioned (esp. genAIs), it’s quiite easy to solve this problem nowadays.

Another problem is that learners often seem to start with a passive “don’t make me think” attitude (which is also the cornerstone of Duolingo’s “success”, but deadly on LingQ). And they don’t really know what to do when obstacles/challenges arise in their language learning process…


"Often times materials targeted at helping learn to read and write their L1 are simply not well suited for people learning an L2 […] "
But I’d say generative AIs can solve this problem nowadays.
Just create more simplified versions of texts / paragraphs / sentences.


I do think AI simplification or reformulating of content is viable for making more compelling content accessible to learners faster, and would readily argue this is a better path than trying to teach teenagers or adults with content aimed at 6 to 10 years old learning to read.

I have seen for many adult learners how sites like 8 sidor or “lättläst” books help them, but this type of content needs to be produced somehow. AI can make this on-demand from content the reader has already deemed compelling.


You’ve ascribed to me numerous negative characteristics without any evidence. I do not have a low tolerance for ambiguity. I do not expect very simple sentences. I do not have a passive “Don’t make me think attitude”. You’ve suggested I use the wrong tools at the beginning. I find your post rather condescending and offensive.

You’ve also stated that you’ve checked romance and germanic stories, and they are all OK. It sounds like you are saying “I’ve checked this, I’m an authority, and you are wrong”. You do realise that is your opinion, not fact? Are you a native English speaker? I suspect you are not a native English speaker, so you don’t appreciate the challenges.

My language learning experience goes back 50 years. Over just under two years I’ve got my French to a level where I can understand native content as long as it is not too ‘street’. Thus a French soap would be hard, but a current affairs debate easy. German is a new language that I started a year ago.

I’m a fan in the broad sense of Stephen Krashen’s theories, as they agree with my own experiences. Thus he states that one learns by having input that is mostly comprehensible e.g. 95%. Having a story where the learner understands almost nothing requires that the learner spends large amounts of time deconstructing the text word by word. I find that tedious and it’s not a good way to learn. That in my opinion is the problem with using the German short stories as a new beginner. I don’t agree with Krashen that the material needs to be 95% comprehensible, but the key is quantity. Huge amounts of largely comprehensible input is key. I have listened to countless hours of French input where my comprehension was low, maybe 50%. That can be useful. If the issue is the pronunciation, then listening can tune the ear to that speaker. Thus it can be useful to listen to a text while reading a transcript even when one does not understand much, in order to train the brain to recognise the (largely meaningless) words. But in general I have found it far more useful to use input with a higher level of comprehensible content.

Thus I am not saying someone needs lots of simple sentences, rather I am saying they need large amounts of material which gradually gets harder. I am pretty much putting forward Krashen’s approach, which is hardly controversial these days.

As regards apps such as Duolingo, well my view is that Duolingo is [censored]. Tools such as Babbel are okay, they have the advantage that they guide the user, but my experience is that they are not very effective for countless reasons I won’t go into here.

LingQ is very powerful but it’s very unstructured, which makes it hard to use for complete beginners to language learning. I suspect LingQ is not suitable for someone with little or no experience of language learning. That though is an opinion, it would be interesting to hear from anyone who has used it as a beginner, and if so, how they went about learning.

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Hei eric,

… should then click and mark as 1, 2, 3, 4, known, or ignored as you click on them to look up the meaning. Setting to 1, 2, 3, 4 will mark them as some shade of yellow. You are still learning these.

EDIT: just some added comments to your excellent overview.

Mark “k” for known and also 4 counts as known. The difference is, that with 4 you are not completely sure, but you think you managed to learn. In other words in the count for known words, 4 is counted. Also, 4 is shaded like 1, 2 and 3 and the arrow pointer lands on any 4-word too. When you are confident, you can always move to “k”. The known count though will remain the same (or should remain the same).

Also reversing from known to 4 or less, is not shame. I do that especially often where words have different meanings in differing context. And of course one could easily forget if a word only appears in certain content areas. The other areas will then often not use this word, so you forget.


FWIW I agree with @LeifGoodwin. At one point, LingQ have asked me to review the German mini stories and I found them to be quite awkward and unnatural - not at all representative of the German I know. In addition they don’t seem to be particularly didactic. New words and grammar structures are introduced haphazardly. And there seems to be an emphasis on rare verb tenses like Futur and Plusquamperfekt. Personally, I find it much more natural to express the future using the present tense, e.g. “Morgen wird Tobias seine Hausaufgaben machen.” → “Morgen macht Tobias seine Hausaufgaben.”

What I would like to see in beginner content:

  • only a limited set of vocabulary is introduced, then shown in multiple different contexts with lots of repetition
  • one grammar concept is introduced at a time (i+1), e.g. introduce the present tense and stay with it
  • the language should be conversational rather than abstract or academic, the idea being that one can actually start using it in early conversations thus activate the language

Unfortunately I have found LingQ’s beginner content to be consistently frustrating in this regard. For example the “Patterns” courses tend to introduce quite advanced grammar very early on and LingQ 101 mainly tries to teach the hypothetical future which I find hardly useful as beginner. Ultimately, I believe this is mainly of problem of translation, since the translators are expected to stick as closely to English as possible. Interestingly, this is by and large not a problem in Chinese languages, possibly because those languages lack the equivalent grammar concepts entirely (e.g. verb tenses).
The courses “Who is She” and “Eating out” are much closer to what I would expect in the Beginner 1 category.

Another positive example is the content created by Evugeny40 in the Russian library. In my opinion this is basically how beginner content should work. He’s not afraid to stick to basic concepts and give them ample room, allowing for plenty of repetition. Tons of examples for basic patterns, basic grammar etc. Highly recommended, the audio quality certainly isn’t Hi-Fi though.


Good points @gbonnema, I definitely have no shame or concern of dropping a 5 back down into the “yellow levels”. I would like also to add, that one can use the various levels in many different ways that may suit them. I’ve even changed how I utilize them many times. Currently I don’t use 4 at all. If I understand a word in context I mark it 5 (does not mean I could use it in my ow output, or even that I would understand in isolation). If I don’t know the word in context, I mark it 1…next time I see it (different day, or different lesson) and I still don’t know, then 2. Next time I see it and still don’t know, 3. Then it stays 3 until I finally hopefully know it somewhere down the road. If I come across a known word that I don’t know anymore in a given context, then I drop it back to 3.

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I totally agree @bamboozled. The wording in the mini stories is very awkward. I think it can certainly help with learning the words, but one would never really use the sentences in this same structure when outputting (nor would they see them in this way).

Evgueny40 and Vera as well have great content. Unfortunately, since Lingq 5.0 their courses have gotten buried or even obliterated altogether. I’ve expressed concerns about their courses being impossible to find now (they used to be more prominently featured in guided courses in the old version). I know LingQ is concerned about the quality of the audio on some of these, but frankly, the audio is not bad. It’s clearly spoken and the content itself is much better imo than any of the other LingQ content so i wish they’d reverse their opinion on these. I think both are actual German language teachers so it’s a shame.


"putting forward Krashen’s approach, which is hardly controversial these days"
Well, a “pure comprehensible input” approach is still controversial - even in this forum (just check the discussions with Michilini).

And there are good reasons for this criticism…

Moreover, we have nowadays more advanced (scientific) tools to deconstruct the input-output / sender - model of communication, which is one of the basis of Krashen.

Nevertheless, reading / listening are still awesome activities. And every learner should rely on them - if possible.


I find you downright offensive. Rather than discuss material suitable for learners, you instead engage in ad hominem attacks by attributing to me characteristics that do not apply. I’ve asked you not to continue with derogatory personal remarks, and yet you continue to do so.

Again you misrepresent me. Here is what I wrote:

“I am a fan in the broad sense of Krashen’s theories”

Clearly you have difficulty understanding written English.

It’s great you took a look at the stories, I’m sure you are much more qualified than I to judge these matters. I don’t know anything about grammar, the little bit I picked up in school is long forgotten. So, I would never go so far and say there was anything ungrammatical in there.
I did send a list o gripes to LingQ and I know they worked with a contractor at the time to improve the stories, so maybe my information is outdated.
If LingQ ever have doubts about their German content again again, I will recommend your name. (Are you on Slack btw?)

As for something being unnatural, this is of course highly subjective and comes down to my intuition and it’s surely misleading me here. There is nothing objective I can give you, it’s just what I feel. It probably comes down to me and you having different backgrounds and influences that shaped us / our intuitions.
Anyways, the next lesson on your list (36) is a great example for what I consider awkward and unnatural, while possibly correct, I’ve never heard or used such language in my life:


36 - Philipps große Familie
Unser Nachbar Philipp hatte eine große Familie gehabt, als er jung war.
Er hatte eine Ehefrau und drei Kinder gehabt.
Er hatte zwei Söhne und eine Tochter gehabt.
Er hatte auch einen Bruder und eine Schwester gehabt.
Aber Philipp hatte seit langer Zeit nicht mit seinem Bruder gesprochen.
Sie hatten zu weit voneinander entfernt gelebt, nachdem Philipp umzog.
Philipps Bruder war vorher ein Arzt gewesen.
Philipps Schwester war eine Zahnärztin gewesen.
Philipp war ein Schauspieler im Kino und im Fernsehen.
Er unterschied sich sehr von seinem Bruder und seiner Schwester.

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