How has LingQ helped you with language learning? Is it your main source for language learning? What other sources of language learning do you use? I am a frustrated learner of the French language who has a difficult time sticking with language learning, but wants to learn French.
In my opinion using Lingq will take you from beginner to fluent/very advanced. The only time I wouldn’t recommend Lingq is for complete beginners i.e the first few months of learning the language, in that case I would use other popular language learning apps i.e Duolingo, memrise and youtube videos. I have just hit advanced 2 and over 1,000,000 words read in French and the improvement I’ve made is palpable. I can now really enjoy reading books and fly through them and can also enjoy radio, films and TV shows without subtitles although I must stress I don’t understand 100% of the series and films. I am planning to get 2 million words read and the famous 40k known words this year so can report back then on my level of comprehension.
For me personally, the tool category “content-flexible AudioReader” à la LingQ, Readlang, or LWT is crucial because such tools can take me as a language learner from the beginner to the highest, i.e. native-like level in terms of listening and reading comprehension. But, I usually group other approaches and tools around this “tool hub” when learning a foreign language.
However, in your case, if I’m not completely mistaken, it isn’t a good idea to begin with the “tool question”. It’s probably better to start with some basic questions first. See:
Entrar - LingQ
In my experience both as a language learner and language coach, success in learning something that is challenging (languages, math, programming, AI, data science, etc.) boils down to five things:
- A strong why, i.e. a purpose: Why do you want to learn XY?
- A strong identity: How can you make XY a part of your identity, value system, and lifestyle?
- Good learning habits (see James Clear, “Atomic Habits” or B.J. Fogg, “Tiny Habits”). And one of those habits should be the metacognitive skill of “getting comfortable with the uncomfortable” because it can raise your tolerance for discomfort and frustration. But, what isn’t needed is some kind of internal mental quality like “grit” (Angela Duckworth), “volition”, “motivation” or “self-discipline” because these are rather “post festum” attributions for good habits that belong to the Western tradition of voluntarism (see Francois Jullien, “A Treatise on Efficacy”).
- Good learning strategies/methods. The input-oriented approach à la Krashen, for instance, is a good strategy, but you can couple it with other strategies, esp. at the beginning of your language learning journey.
- Good learning material/tools (books, software, etc.): LingQ is a great tool, but you can combine it with other tools like spaced repetition systems, grammar sites à la Busuu, MP3 Players, Netflix, AI translation tools like Deepl, etc.
Points 1-3 are must haves.
Without them you will probably fail. Or to put it differently, no app on this planet can save you from yourself, i.e. your “why”, identity, values, life style, and habits. On the other hand, if you have points 1-3 under your belt, virtually nothing in this world can stop you from being successful
I wouldn’t recommend Lingq is for complete beginners i.e the first few months of learning the language,
It’s no problem to start with LingQ as a beginner if your target language isn’t too distant from your L1 or the L2s you’ve already mastered. For example, an English native speaker who wants to learn other Germanic or Romance languages can use LingQ from day 1.
If the gap between the languages you already know and your target language is too big, it’s probably smarter to use some warm-up approaches (à la Michel Thomas) first before starting with LingQ.
But, even in this case, it’s possible to use LingQ as an absolute beginner if you have a “high frustration tolerance”.
I would use other popular language learning apps i.e Duolingo
Sigh: Duolingo SUCKS!? ( ft. Prof Jeff Brown @poly-glot-a-lot6457 ) - YouTube
For myself, it has helped immensely. I believe there’s no better way to really add to your vocabulary and learn a language and once I started on LingQ, my comprehension really took off at a much quicker pace than what I had been doing before. I wish I had started with LingQ much earlier, but it took me awhile to find it.
It is my main source for language learning. 95% or higher.
For tools…I do play around with Language Learning with Netflix. I started on the Babylon Berlin series with that. I’ve been really busy lately so I actually haven’t touched it in about a month. I am a patron of Easy German, but I primarily just import the content into LingQ and read there mostly. I’ve not used any of the apps. Prior to LingQ I was using Memrise for a couple of years and found it very useful in the beginning, but eventually found myself spending too much time catching up on “Review”. When I found LingQ then I eventually dumped Memrise. I do think it can have its place in the beginning to get you up to speed, but I think once the basics are covered it’s best to use LingQ. When I got turned on to LingQ I imported Assimil German into LingQ (another language learning resource) and read and listened to it there. A very good combo for the beginning stages.
What kinds of things have you been doing with your French learning? What is making it difficult to stick to language learning? As Peter has asked below, why are you interested in learning French?
Let me give some bad news…Language learning is difficult no matter what you’re using. It will take some time, a lot of frustration, a lot of wondering if you’re making progress or doing the right thing. Peter hits on some points in his post to understand why you’re wanting to learn French…if you’re frustrated now, will it continue to be a frustration if you know you have a long ways to go, or feel you’re not progressing? However, it could also be you’re just frustrated with how you’ve gone about learning…if you are doing lots of drills, SRS and are extremely bored, then maybe LingQ might help you out of the doldrums.
Having said that, I think tools like LingQ and the concepts behind it (using reading and listening) make it very enjoyable. It’s still hard work and it’s going to take a long time, but I’m reading and listening to things I find interesting and so it’s a lot of fun. No drilling exercises or SRS. If I come back from vacation I’m not coming back to 1000’s of words to review in Anki.
I think you will like LingQ if you like to read and listen. I think if you are able to find content you enjoy (news articles, articles from online magazines, youtube channels with transcripts, books) to import into LingQ you will enjoy it a lot.
I was using Fluenz, but found it so boring. Every lesson in the same, in the same order. They just change the background. It was expensive and really turned me off. I had used Rosetta Stone and still listen to Pimsleur cd’s in my car.
I am learning German. It helped me a lot in increasing my passive vocabulary. Also, allowed me to look up words effortlessly no way I can look up 58000+ words in an online dictionary or some other way.
Today I finished up listening to an audiobook of 2000 common words in German available on Audible.
To my great surprise, not only I knew those 2000 common words but also knew so many extra words that were used in example sentences. In fact for me at least it is clear-cut proof that I am learning words by creating lingqs right here and making them known. Therefore, I am not going to worry too much about not using an SRS app like Anki. I will just keep reading and listening.
Apart from Lingq, I daily watch Television series, listen to a radio play or an audiobook.
I wish I could spend more time on LingQ but my academic studies are in the way so I need to allocate few hours to that as well.
However, I make sure that I get some study done here on a daily basis to keep my streak alive and to get some systematic language learning done.
LingQ is not my main tool but one of many and language acquisition is not some straight line 2 +2 = 4. It is a very highly complex process done by our subconscious mind. Our best bet is to give a lot of exposure to it.
And, for more exposure, you need to combine a lot of tools like listening to an audiobook/radio play or watching television series and reading short stories, books, and so on.
I have not done speaking at the moment I can not afford it on italki I am a full-time student and at some point, you need to convert all this passive knowledge into active mode. And, you need speaking practice for it. You will make huge progress if you combine intensity+consistency+Good night sleep altogether.
If you’re new to language learning AND you have a hard time sticking to it. I’d recommend maybe starting with Assimil French with Ease and then phasing into LingQ as you progress.
LingQ has been my primary method for a long time and it has been extremely effective, but for absolute beginners, it may take a while to get used to the site and the method, and develop best practices, etc.
One big advantage of Assimil for beginners is specifically the fact that it’s NOT web based – though a web version is available, its “native” life form is books and recordings.
I strongly believe that one reason people have a hard time sticking to a routine is because web based solutions are too easy to try out and hop off of the first time of hardship. A book you shelled out money for makes it harder to dismiss and hop to the next one. Assimil is great for French and it will prime you to jump to LingQ once you finish working through the book.
For a complete beginner, it might be hard to feel confident about what you are doing. I think experienced language learners can look at LingQ, and decide how they want to use it and how it will benefit them. Steve’s videos are helpful and other reference sources might help a complete beginner understand the theory of language acquisition and how to go about learning how to acquire a language. LingQ is a good tool, but a complete beginner might need help with direction, learning habits, and methods.
LingQ has been very helpful for me, mostly in terms of:
Seeing progress when one wonders if or feels they aren’t making any progress (usually at intermediate levels). The known word count may be debatable and inaccurate (taking into account things like conjugations of verbs and different words forms), but just seeing the number go up is nice because you see a kind of ‘rough progress indication for time spent’.
The notes you make as you go—the ‘lingqs’… If you ever made notes in the margin of a photocopy given to you by a teacher for assigned reading, it’s like being able to have the same note pop up again any time it appears again in ANY OTHER thing you read. If you forget what you looked up for your note, it’s there again and all you have to do is click on it. You can change it, add to it, ignore it, whatever you like… I find it saves a lot of time and avoids the frustration of having to look the same word up again in an online dictionary.
Also, I don’t know why but I feel like it’s encouraging to progressively see more white on the page as you start progressing more and more. I also find that noticing a word or phrase that I ‘lingq’ed’ before feels useful. At least it feels that way, even if I don’t click on it or need to check what it means. It’s sort of like a little highlight saying, “You’ve encountered this word before.”
The big quality of life improvement for me was the importer being able to bring in YouTube videos and Netflix content. While it’s nice that the community library offerings are there, I find that 99% of the time what I practice listening and reading with is ‘private lesson’ (not shared) imported copyrighted material. Of that, I occasionally find a good article to read, or a transcript for an audiobook, but lately 90% of my imports are YouTube videos and Netflix content. And being able to get the latter into LingQ effortlessly really got me back into using LingQ a lot more.
If for some reason, something is still too much effort to get into LingQ at a given moment, I will still read and listen outside of LingQ.
I often practice listening and imitating what I hear when learning at home. I’m one of those people who loves things like accents and the way people speak, so when the urge strikes me I open my mouth and repeat as best I can. It might not be for some people, but I enjoy that sort of thing. I like to be fairly sure that I’m ‘hearing the sounds correctly’ before I do, but… You know, like sometimes when a language is new you might have trouble hearing certain things (like Japanese people having a hard time telling the difference between an ‘R’ and an ‘L’ sound in English).
Yes, ex-ESL teacher here… I still miss Japan to this day.
I speak when I get the chance but I don’t worry about it. I sometimes practice with tutors on iTalki, but I always find that the usefulness of my speaking sessions—my ability to really benefit from it—correlates directly with the amount of time I spend exposing myself to and consuming the language through listening and reading during the rest of a given week, etc.
I do use the Google Chrome extension ‘Learning Languages with Netflix’. I tend to use Firefox more these days, but I still open Chrome just for using that. It’s not absolutely necessary but it does make using Netflix for language learning easier. They’ve updated it in recent months so the translation (and even the target-language subtitles) can be blurred out (if you want) until you choose to mouse over it and reveal it, and it makes it super easy to save a transcript to your computer if you want. And that’s the free version…
I have a strong dislike for flashcards. For some reason… Perhaps many reasons…
I tried them, but despite all the praise and how they might be good for certain specific things (ie: prepping for something artificial like a written test at a school, or for creating ‘memory hooks’ when you are a beginner so you might notice those things more in your listening and reading ‘immersion’, etc.) , I just have an aversion to them most of the time. I would just rather spend that time doing more listening and reading and increase the chance that ‘natural/accidental’ spaced repetition can occur.
However, I have reluctantly but still willingly used Anki for only two other things:
Heisig’s book ‘Remebering the Kanji’
Which I only saw as a means to just recognizing (and not knowing) a kanji character, in order to calm my brain from the shock of a mass of lines. I intended to eventually learn the characters through reading and my only goal was to calm down and be able to say, “I’ve seen that character before somewhere”, or “that’s not that character, it’s some other one,” etc.
I only got so far with that, but I hope to get back to my beginner Japanese some day.
Reviewing corrections and notes from tutors, corrected writing, etc.
Essentially feedback on actual ‘real output’ I’ve attempted…
Even then, my goal is only to keep the corrections fresh in my mind so I’m more likely to notice these things in my listening and reading. After a certain amount of time, I delete any such cards. For me, I feel their usefulness wears off after the intervals start getting really huge, and at that point if it doesn’t pop up in my reading and listening at an equal frequency then it doesn’t really matter. Credit to Matt versus Japan for saying this, but I agreed with it as soon as I heard him say it in one of his videos.
Yeah, so I use LingQ a lot these days, at least when I have time for reading at home.
I don’t use the automatically created flashcards for French. I think it’s great that a user doesn’t need to spend any time making those ‘cards’ themselves AND that they come from your reading in LingQ, but like I said I dislike Flashcards and only reluctantly use them for a few select things.
Since I don’t currently use the LingQ flashcards, I streamline how I use the system:
I only check the accuracy of lingqs if they come up AGAIN in my reading and even then I try not to worry about every lingq. I can get an obsessive tendency to want to check every single one for ‘accuracy’, and that’s something that I need set guidelines on myself for. It was my biggest problem when I first started using LingQ and I had to reign myself in.
I’ll just put anything in the ‘notes’ section of a lingq to indicate that I have checked it before, because if it’s a community generated lingq and you haven’t edited it, there will be nothing in the notes section.
I just select one shade of yellow (usually numbered ‘3’) for ALL lingqs that I create now. I don’t waste any time thinking about how well I know a word: it’s either ‘new’, ‘seen it before’ or ‘known’.
Even things I move to ‘known’, I don’t care about how well I know it. For me the determiner is just the keyboard shortcuts for going up and down quickly through your lingqs. If I know it well enough that I want using those shortcuts to skip that word or phrase, I move it to white/‘known’. And that’s all…
Yeah, so I’d have to say that even though I sometimes contact tutors through iTalki, have reluctantly sometimes touched Anki with a 10-foot pole for a couple of limited select things, sometimes read and listen outside of LingQ, and go outside of LingQ for almost all the content I do use in LingQ…
Out of all the online tools or websites I’ve used, I use this one a lot.
Without a doubt, for me LingQ and the concept behind it (listening while reading) will continue to play a huge part in my journey to fluency in Spanish.
As a Russian beginner of about 3 months so far, I’ve found LingQ to be a a great tool in my arsenal of learning.
I use it as a sort of brute force, whenever I’m not doing something else, I listen to one of the mini stories, or any of the other beginner content on LingQ / import videos from YouTube videos. I have combined LingQ with taking a formal class (Where they focus on Grammar a little more, and I get to speak in front of a teacher, meaning my pronunciation is cleaned up.) And I’m simultaneously with this using a Russian program which supposedly takes you from Beginner to conversational lower intermediate, over the course of 5-6 months (You study at your own pace). I try to do one of these lessons every day, and when I feel that I’m not grasping something well, I take an extra day off and review the difficult content.
This trio of activities has had me making some crazy progress of 3 months. I also notice that when I learn words in class I’ve already been exposed to them on LingQ therefore they become cemented into my mind much easier, and then I can use them in conversation better too.
I think tackling a language from multiple different angles at once is key, as I don’t think there is one particular good method of learning. However, it depends what your goal is. I’m feeling very dedicated, but if I was more of a casual hobbyist, I would be more inclined to just use one learning method.
Also just to add on to the end, once my level becomes higher and I can start to enjoy the content that I want (rather than just the lesson based content.) I think LingQ will really start to shine and become the key element of learning.
Great insights. Thanks for sharing!
Have a nice weekend
web based solutions are too easy to try out and hop off of the first time of hardship.
No, t_harangi, just ask Luca why he gave up learning Japanese with Assimil.
Or to put it more emphatically: Assimil couldn’t save even someone as accomplished and experienced as Luca in this case!
I’d say it’s the completely wrong approach to focus on tools first. This goes beyond language learning, but also applies to the acquisition of other challenging skills such as math, programming, calisthenics, etc.
Learners who blindly go on a tool hunt without knowing their Why, without the knowledge on how to establish good learning habits, without SMART goals (which includes tracking!), etc. are the first ones to give up.
This type of learner tends to hop from tool to tool, sometimes completely haphazardly (“ah, Duolingo!”, “hey, Babbel is also cool!”, “a friend told me that Busuu is awesome!”, etc.) to find a “magic pill” that solves all his or her problems (no Why, no habits, no goals - in short: “no plan, just tools!”).
Or to adapt a quote from Ex-Navy-Seal and Calisthenics guru, Mark Lauren:
“We need a plan - and then we will be dangerous!”
And since I’ve adopted a critical attitude towards planning (see Francois Jullien, “A Treatise on Efficacy”, the Agile and Lean Startup movements, etc.)., I should add: It’s neither about the plan per se nor about the execution of the plan. It’s about the planning process!
Without a sound planning process, learners are simply ships without steering wheels on the vast ocean of knowledge and learning.
You can sigh all you like Duolingo is a good app for complete beginners, I really enjoyed slowly getting used to Russian using it alongside memrise. I probably racked up a couple hundred words of vocabulary, a few basic sentences and just got a general feel for the language. I then moved onto Lingq and am currently at advanced 1 closing in on 1,000,000 words read. I’m well aware of the antiduolingo meme but that’s about people thinking it will actually take them to an intermediate level or even fluency (lol) with just 5 minutes a day.
Well, the Duolingo case is more complicated than Jeff Brown depicts it in his Youtube video. Due to lack of time, here are just a few points:
Duolingo’s drill-based approach is definitely better than word-equation flashcards (“mesa = table”, “madre = Mutter”, etc.). The latter is just bad, i.e. single word-focused and a-contextual flash carding.
But Duolingo is really bad when it comes to communication - and that’s a result of the selected approach!
The Duolingo drills aren’t a match for deliberate writing practices that Busuu, for example, offers:
" I’d say that a deliberate writing (or: speaking) practice that
- has enough context (everyday conversation topics, etc.)
- is more free style than drill-based
- revolves around small texts, especially stories, that are relevant and interesting to the learner so that they have a positive effect on the memory function and motivation of the learner
- is geared towards oral / written communication situations
- includes (immediate) feedback from native speakers
is superior to simple word- and / or sentence-based drills (G-T oriented or not). And this is exactly where an app like Busuu “shines”.
Or, to put it more concisely:
- Duolingo makes you good at language drills, but it’s of limited use for oral/written communication.
- Busuu focuses more on communication purposes (mainly vocabulary and grammar relevant to everyday situations), so it helps learners improve their communication skills.
So for a language learner, it boils down to these two questions:
- Do you want to do well on drills because you want to succeed at a test/an exam?
- Or do you want to improve your communication skills?
My audience-specific answer would be:
- For drill-based tests, Duolingo is better than Busuu’s G-T style.
- For communication purposes, Busuu is better than Duolingo’s G-T drills."
(for more background info see this more detailed discussion about Duolingo a few weeks ago: https://www.lingq.com/pt/community/forum/open-forum/how-would-you-describe-lingq-i?post_id=289275).
The Duolingo podcasts / stories are quite good - as comprehensible content!
Duolingo’s gamification is excellent, but the result is that learners tend to completely overdo it. In other words, it’s ok to use Duolingo for a few hours to get a feel for a target language. But, it’s both ineffective and inefficient when learners use it for weeks, months, or even years!
I’ve seen too many Duolingo users who have acquired tens of thousands of XPs (my neighbor, for example, has more than 85000 points in Spanish!). But, they’re absolutely helpless even in a mini-discussion about an apple like: “This is an apple. You can eat it!”
The problem is not the Duolingo app per se. The problem are the learners who most often have no clue how to learn an L2 both effectively and efficiently (see my comment to t_harangi about the “tool-hoppers”). But, ok, maybe you really need teaching experience to understand the recurrent failure patterns.
Anyway, the belief, as another LingQer put it, that language learners just “intuitively” know what works for them and what doesn’t work is hopelessly naive because successful learners aren’t born, they’re made.
If you then add to that the fact that “attrition rates” for online education tools (MOOCs, apps, etc.) are extremely high (sometimes over 90 percent)… well, no tool can save you from yourself!
Thank you everyone for your very helpful comments!
Unfortunately, such discussions become a bit complicated and confusing very quickly
But, at least from my perspective, it’s very easy:
- Determine your Why (you should write it down)
- Read a summary on the formation of tiny / atomic habits (see the books by James Clear / B.J. Fogg)
- Set a goal by using LingQ. For example: 15 min a day reading + 10 min a day listening
- Use LingQ with one of the following resources for French on a beginner level: Entrar - LingQ
I wish you luck, success and fun in learning French!
BTW: The more languages you learn, the easier this whole process becomes.
For learners, it’s usually most difficult to learn the first foreign language on their own.
After 6 months of Duolingo and 2 months of pimsleur i decided LingQ would be my main source of language learning. I wouldn’t have found it if the YouTube algorithm didn’t show Steve’s videos.
Luca Lampariello has been a big proponent of Assimil for European languages for years. The OP was asking about French, for which Assimil is most known for being an excellent resource.
Yes, Assimil is a great resource. But if he uses LingQ with any of the following resources (Entrar - LingQ), there’s almost no difference to Assimil: So, I doubt that his frustration will go away when he just switches resources!
I strongly believe that one reason people have a hard time sticking to a routine is because web based solutions are too easy to try out and hop off of the first time of hardship.
No, I’ve had too many students who gave up on all kind of media (apps, CDs, books, whatever). Quitting is almost never a question of the wrong resources / tools. The reasons usually lie much deeper.
Or to put it differently: If you know how to establish the right learning habits, you’ll stick with the tools you selected earlier - assuming they’re effective!
It’s the same with strength training during the Covid 19 pandemic: I know several people who have complained about how terrible it is that they can’t go to the gym anymore.
My answer: “Just use calisthenic exercises à la “Convict Conditioning”! You don’t need gyms, machines, or external weights for strength training.”
Instead of choosing this option, however, many rather keep complaining about how bad the lockdowns are, how calisthenics is too complicated or too easy or…
Actually, it’s quite simple: with the right attitude you “will” find a way to succeed. Compared to that, tools and resources are secondary!