How to use LingQ

Firstly, I know there is video on this by a user called Toby, but it’s an hour long, and I’d rather not spend so long watching it only to find that it does not answer my question.

So, as the title says, how should we use LingQ?

I see two distinct methods, which can be combined of course.

  1. Open a text. Open the single line view. Work through the individual lessons for that single line i.e. translate words to and from the target language, then reassemble the phrase from components, and lastly speak the line. Repeat for the following lines. This method is in my opinion rather close to Duolingo, an application which I really did not like. It is too close to traditional classroom instruction. Even worse, it encourages translation.

  2. Open a text. Read through the text, looking up words as needed, the aim being to understand the meaning. Listen to the audio while reading the text. (This can be done line by line, or all at once.) Then listen to the audio without referring to the text. (This can also be done line by line, or all at once.) Regularly revise previous texts, reading and listening, followed by listening. This method seems more natural, and encourages direct understanding, rather than translation.

I use method 2) for French, as I can understand a lot of native podcasts, and method 1) is too slow. For German, where I am A2, I was using method 1) but I became disappointed by my slow progress. It also seems as mentioned earlier to be rather like Duolingo, Babbel etc. I have recently moved to method 2) for German, as well as French. I have the impression that my comprehension and vocabulary are progressing more rapidly, probably because it increases the number of times I see and hear each word or phrase, rather than having to mess around with ‘lessons’.

It seems to me that Steve Kaufmann’s YouTube videos (which publicise LingQ) implicitly promote method 2), rather than method 1). And that leaves me a bit confused, for obvious reasons. Do successful language learners on this forum ever use method 1) ?

I do like LingQ, but it can be very unstructured, which is daunting/confusing with a new language.

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Hi, I agree with you, the second method you highlight seems best and closer to Steve K’s advice. There is so much on LingQ that it is overwhelming, also the word translations ‘though excellent’ but give multiple meanings for each word and can confuse.


To be honest, it could be worth to invest only 1 hour to watch a video that will give you some insight and not all the answers. I have spent way more hours to understand how to study a language, and still haven’t found any perfect solution!

The fact is that LingQ is much more flexible than one could thing. In these years I have seen people using this platform in a lot of different ways, and to me, the best scenario is to use LingQ for at least 1 year and understand YOUR way to learn.

I use Lingq for 4 languages right now, and I have changed a lot the way I was using it years ago. I don’t even use it in the same way for all languages, because you might have different goals for each one of them, different levels, different materials, different interests. And I don’t even use it in the same way with the same device, because some things are more adapt to a computer, others to a Mobile platform.

I know this is not much helpful, but others will give you their own perspective if they have time to do so. Here in the forum there have been many discussions on how to use this platform, you might want to dig a bit to find some inspiration.


Great thing about youtube is you can change the speed setting and watch it at 1.5 or 2x speed or faster (assuming your English is good). At least it will allow you to skim a little. To davideroccato’s point, it may be worth your time.

HOWEVER, as he also points out, there are an infinite number of ways you can use LingQ. You outline two ideas. I’ve never done either in my language learning. This is not to say that these two ideas are worse, or mine are better or that any are even optimal. Even Toby’s methodology…may or may not be optimal, and it may or may not be optimal for you or me. There are also some aspects of what he does that aren’t entirely clear.

So you really have to work out to some degree what works for you. Even what I’ve done over the course of learning German, or Spanish, or a smattering of Dutch has changed. You may find something is beneficial in the beginner stage, but may not be as practical in the intermediate or advanced stages. It also depends on what your goals are at a given stage.

For Lingq. The focus is really input. Reading and Listening. You will need to, at some point, add in speaking or writing in some form or fashion and is a different topic altogether.

For myself…
I prefer to work in sentence mode and have from the beginning. I generally read the sentence and try to understand on my own. If there is a blue or yellow word that I understand from this context, I will mark it known. If I don’t quite understand the sentence as a whole, I’ll click the translate sentence button. Then I’ll select or give a translation to any of the blue words and may or may not adjust a yellow word.

If I’m being more “intensive”, I’ll read the sentence again with the new information and see if I can work it all out. I don’t belabor this, if it all works out in my head great, if not, I move on to the next sentence. In the beginning stages of a languages I would certainly play the audio when I can. I don’t always do it though, depending on the circumstances. I go through the lesson sentence by sentence in this manner. It’s much faster than your option #1 or option #2.

By the way, I think this fear of translation is overblown and those that say that you should never translate…imo this is b.s. First of all, I really don’t think it’s possible…maybe with certain tangible things ok…but unintangible things it will be next to impossible and frankly counterproductive imo. Translation is HELPFUL. It is an aid to be able to associate another word to another word you know. With time, and enough repetition, your translation will get faster, and eventually for the words you’ve come across the most, you won’t have to translate. Ultimately the goal is to not have to translate in your head, but this comes with time.

I think it makes sense to do some reading and listening at the same time. This is helpful to associate the words to the sounds. You can do this in sentence mode. Or you can additionally go through the entire lesson (not sentence mode) and read and listen to the whole thing. So perhaps you go through the lesson sentence by sentence and then after word to the reading + listening exercise.

This is really the way I flow the majority of the time. I do also do a lot of listening and watching in the target language. If I’m in the car, I’m generally listening to something in my target language. It could be the lessons from LingQ, a podcast, or audio book. When I’m home my gf and I watch a lot of German documentaries and tv shows. As much as you can fit in will always be helpful.

On top of all this, you could add SRS or Anki to the routine. I don’t personally use it, but some do. I did use it at the beginning of my German journey using Memrise, but I think any new language I do, I probably won’t bother, but will seek out, in general, material for my level. Exception to this so far is Spanish. I’m currently reading things in LingQ that are waaaaaay above my level. This is fine, if you can tolerate it. I find in sentence mode, using the translation…it helps you to stay engaged in the story. I’m totally not getting some aspects of grammar and word usage in many of the sentences, but that’s ok. I am picking up individual words along the way, and the translation keeps me engaged. Eventually the patterns will work themselves out. You just have to trust it…and every so often maybe look up a grammar point, or ask chatgpt to explain a sentence in detail.


Thanks for the feedback.

Your approach is much closer to my method 2) than method 1). Like you I do a lot of free listening (podcasts and videos) i.e. listening without a transcript, and not worrying if some of it is not understood.

I use Anki. I did not mention Anki as it is not part of LingQ. However, I have gradually figured out that Anki is best used for nouns with well defined meanings, such as die Ernährung, and in the case of verbs, with short phrases which demonstrate usage including the preposition if required, and the context such as Er achtet auf seine Ernährung.

LingQ does have a form of SRS, which I should have mentioned in my original post. Unfortunately it works on individual words, which in my opinion is not useful, in fact it can be detrimental. Verbs can have many meanings, with many nuances, and they may work alongside one or more prepositions. Thus Je tiens à mon père is quite different from Je tiens de mon père. And there are countless French verbs that loosely translate as to ask. Using the wrong one could be offensive, or overly submissive.

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I agree on your usage of Anki (handling of nounds vs verbs). If I were to use it I would definitely be using sentences or phrases in context like you are.

I would even suggest it for at least some nouns. Perhaps there are certain collocations that are used very commonly with certain nouns so it might not be a bad idea to incorporate those kind of things. Up to you of course. At some point we only have so much time in a day and need to focus on the things that provide us with the most benefit.

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Yes, some nouns can be learnt alongside other words, thus La nappe phréatique, la dissuasion nucléaire and le cheval à bascule. Some such as Le merle are best on their own.

There are definitely several ways you can use LingQ, such as in Sentence View, in Page View, reading first, listening first, straight to reading while listening, and a few other ways, etc.

I’ve tried out multiple ways to use LingQ and after the many hours on LingQ, I’ve decided what I do, based on my preferences, my experience, and what I think works well.

How I use LingQ mainly depends on competence in the language. I prefer to use Page View, because it’s faster, requires less clicks, and allows for reading while listening. I only use Sentence View when I don’t understand the sentence, even after I’ve looked up the words (this would be mainly due to grammar). Once I get to a place where vocabulary is the obstacle to understanding the sentence, as opposed to the grammar, I ditch the more fiddlesome, click-demanding Sentence View. In some cases, I might just go into Sentence View to read one sentence, as I can confidently use Page View the rest of the time.

Whether you read first, listen first, or go straight to reading while listening depends on a few factors. Personally, if possible, I go straight to reading while listening. But this is only possible when the content doesn’t have too many New Words. This generally means I need to be at an intermediate level before I can do this. If I’m not at such a level and the amount of New Words is too high, I read the text first, lingQ the New Words, then go back and read while listening.

Just try out a few different methods yourself and see what you prefer.

P.S. I also don’t do any repeating out loud with LingQ. Each to their own.


Thanks for the feedback, that sounds very similar to my approach for French. Thus far we don’t seem to have anyone who uses the line by line lessons.

I am happy with the way I now use it, but I was and am curious as to how others use it, in part because there might be a trick or two that I have missed. Thus far noone has mentioned any special tricks, which is a relief.


@LeifGoodwin Seeing the translated sentence is very useful, when you don’t understand the grammar. I’ve used Sentence View when I was a complete beginner. The main issue I have with it and phase away from this layout (even though I would appreciate a translated sentence to glance down at at times) is because of the sheer amount of clicks it requires. My guess as to why Steve uses Sentence View is because he’s studying Persian and Arabic, which are vastly different from other languages he knows, so he’s more likely to have grammar issues. Or maybe he just doesn’t care that he needs to do 1,000+ clicks for an hour-long podcast.

The main trick is trying to reduce the number of clicks and time waste which take you away from actually reading, listening, absorbing, and rote learning the language. This includes the huge amount of faff required selecting and creating definitions on LingQ. Unfortunately, the fact that it requires a minimum of two clicks to get a definition really adds up. Just think that I have 48k lingQs in Italian. And I wrote most of those definitions myself, means I’ve clicked probably 200k times just for making those lingQs! If you use an eReader, it requires one click to get a definition, or if you are at an upper intermediate/advanced level it could require perhaps zero on Language Reactor simply by glancing down at the sentence translation. Due to LingQ’s implementation of a dictionary/look-ups, it means that low-frequency words and words in less common languages have only one Google Translated/DeepL definition. This is an issue, because many words actually has multiple definitions and you aren’t guaranteed that the Google Translate/DeepL definition is the definition being used in the sentence. This means you have to go into an external dictionary and write the definition yourself. I.e. a complete time-waste.

I was discussing this issue the other month:

The comparison for me would more be like reading while listening on LingQ at ~55 wpm, reading while listening on YouTube with Language Reactor at ~150 wpm (I just tested it with the Harry Potter audiobook on YouTube with auto-subs at 1.3x, but having to repeat sentences every now and again) or true extensive reading while listening at 1.65x/~240 wpm. In this case, using my reading while listening speeds, we would be talking about 10M words read as extensive reading while listening, ~6M with Language Reactor and ~2.5M with LingQ. As mentioned, the LingQ reading speed is so slow because of the amount of time it requires to get a decent definition (which often includes pausing the audio to open up a dictionary and write a definition). With the translation under the subtitle on Language Reactor (aka bilingual text), you can merely glance down often to get a good definition, without ever having to click anything, hence the increased reading speed.
Is extensive or intensive reading faster for vocabulary acquisition? - #43 by nfera

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Thanks, that makes a lot of sense. To be honest I do sometimes switch to sentence view to get the translation. However, I sometimes find the translation poor, and need to go to an external translator. That is more common with German than French.

I’m not that bothered by the number of clicks needed. I enter interesting phrases into Anki, and sometimes search externally for definitions. I find the act of typing out text and searching helps me learn. And I hate the LingQ SRS.

I do a lot of listening outside LingQ, and don’t worry too much about occasional unknown words.

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More clicks = time wasted, as you stop reading. A little bit every day adds up, if you use LingQ for years. Five minutes per day for a year adds up to 30 hours. What else could you do with that 30 hours? Read two extra books.

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All I can say is that it doesn’t bother me. I’m not a fan of clicking on words, mainly because in French it is usually the phrase or context that confuses me. Some words, those with a simple meaning, can be learnt in isolation, but in general learning words in isolation does not teach the deep meaning. That’s why I put phrases into Anki, and ignore the mediocre LingQ SRS. I do click on words in German, as my level is low, but I can’t say I have issues with the LingQ system. There are plenty of far more annoying bugs in LingQ that seriously impact useability.

As an aside, I dislike the game style features of LingQ, which also exist in other apps such as Duolingo. I know some people enjoy word counts, streaks, and so on but I find that they become an addiction, and encourage me to focus on achieving targets, rather than learning the language. The cynic in me thinks that Duolingo is more interested in creating addicted customers, rather than happy second language users.

The most bothersome thing about LingQ’s mediocre SRS for me is what it chooses to assign. I wish it would allow the user to choose a strategy for what is assigned. For example, I would like it to assign my lingq’s containing the most frequent words first until I master them. Instead, it seems to assign the lingq’s randomly. This originally made me approach LingQ by saving only very few lingq’s – the ones that I wanted to be quizzed on. Then I saw Toby’s great video, which transformed my usage. Now I read+listen and save as many LingQs as I can at the listening speed. I try to save useful phrases as LingQs. I put phrases into Anki – never words.

I love knowing my word count! It keeps me honest – how much am I reading? I have a daily goal for the number of words read – it is my only daily goal. I don’t work on moving the vocabulary into the “known” column because I embrace the philosophy that with sufficient reading that will happen naturally.

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