I don't get the LingQ idea

HI all! New user here.

I am coming from Duolingo, who really gets you by the hand and guides you through everything, and I am having a hard time understanding the basic concept of “LingQ-ing”.

I want to learn Japanese. I know literally a dozen words, tops. So when I go to the tutorial, it tells me to keep clicking on words I don’t know, and just on the first lesson I am already over the 20 LingQ limit for free accounts, so I cannot even finish the tutorial because the “LingQ limit” popup.

Is it possible to learn something from scratch with the free account? I am willing to pay, but when the paywall is so high I always get a bit wary of the platform. I mean, I cannot even finish the tutorial to be able to proper evaluate the product.

Am I doing something wrong?

Thank you so much for your input!

Yeah, you can’t do much with the free version. It’s really just enough to figure out how the program works. I think it lets you import a lesson which is worth trying out.

IMHO, LingQ is much better for learning vocabulary in context compared to Duolingo. It’s probably drier and less fun, though.


Basically Lingq is just a reader "with benefits’.
I don’t think it should be the only thing what you’re doing with your target language.

It doesn’t really help with grammar studies, and listening mostly TTS content is not a good idea (although you can also work with videos on Lingq).
If you’re just a beginner and have little experience with foreign languages, you’d probably be better with some more structured course, before engaging into extensive reading. Lingq doesn’t really “gets you by the hand” as some other apps.
But as a reader Linq is very good. It lets you upload your own content, allows you to look for any word and mark it easily, as well as keeps your word database for you, so you can know have you ever met this word before.


I completely agree, very well said. I have enjoyed LingQ but of course it’s not an all-in-one product. I use it probably 50% of my study time.

  • It’s great for building vocabulary.
  • Keeping track of your stats.
  • Importing content as that is the main benefit.
  • It’s a great reader for multiple forms of content.
  • Practicing and learning to read.
  • Socializing with the community.
    I do wish I didn’t upgrade so quickly, as I don’t remember getting any pop-ups or anything. I seen something before about how it basically makes it almost unusable but I find that hard to believe.

“It’s drier and less fun”

Import, Import, Import. This allows you to study what you like. Also, you can make playlists for all of your imported lessons.

After you make Lingqs for your lessons, listening becomes a little easier.

The free account is very limited, but for the material you gain from using Lingq (especially learning more known languages) 15$ a month isn’t much.


With Duolingo, I clicked what I needed to to get to the next screen.
With LingQ, I’ve read 1,000,000 words in my target language with audio and English subtitles. I can use a version of the Comprehensible Input approach to lanugage earning where you read what’s very interesting and in a way you comprehend it (normally graded readers, but in my case, subtitles). Modern research supports this far more than traditional methods might indicate.


After trying to learn Hungarian for months, trying a dozen apps, buying lots of books and a language course, I came across LingQ. I quickly realized that it was exactly what I was looking for because I had previously read alot about the Birkenbihl learning method. I wanted to get away from the dull vocabulary using flashcards and wanted to find something that was really fun.
In my opinion, the free version of LingQ is not enough to get to know the platform. I recommend buying at least one month and using it intensively during that time to decide whether you want to pay longer or even buy an annual subscription.
I don’t think you can say that LingQ is THE solution for language learning, but it supports very well and is more fun than many other solutions. But you should always decide that for yourself.


This is one of those scenarios that I think pops up all of the time. I really don’t understand why LingQ hasn’t changed the LingQ limit for people that just want to try the site out. A 20 LingQ limit is just not enough for someone to really get to know how LingQ works and if it’s worth their time and money. The LingQ limit should be around 1,000 lingQ. That way people can finish quite a few lessons and start to notice themselves learning new words, and really get a taste of what lingQ is all about.


It’s monthly so you don’t get sucked into a big annual purchase and you can still try it out. But it is a big drawback that there isn’t a good free option to really try it first or like DuoLingo where you can actually do the whole course for free. Most people like LingQ after they’ve learned the basics somewhere else. But some people like it even as beginners. It doesn’t hold your hand at all. There is some beginner content and the app dictionary will probably give good definitions for it as opposed to looking up words from randomly imported content - it fails a lot but it facilitates using Google Translate or other web dictionaries.

If you enjoy reading and really want to try I say go for it.

I don’t know about other users but I don’t use any of the provided learning content on LingQ (or anywhere even… I hate content designed for learners). I import my own books and articles to read. I’m a bit of an experienced language learner though.

A lot of Japanese learners like the Genki text books. I would recommend that if you’re a complete beginner and feeling lost.


This is a perfect solution

We’re a mixed bunch here.

I wouldn’t dream of wasting my time importing material - too time consuming, and time I could be spending learning - and much prefer to use the already existing content than to make an effort to bring in my own material. Albeit my LingQing days are long gone.

As for 20 Lingqs, some of us easily get the idea after a single LingQ.

If LingQ gave away a 1000 LingQs, there’d be many that would end of using the system for free forever.

grizzlyfoxcat, I think you’ve already got a slight grasp of the LingQ idea, what you really mean is you don’t want to pay a month’s fee of less than $15 thoroughly exploring it :slight_smile:

If you don’t wanna pay, you don’t wanna pay!

Ya this 20 LingQ limit is probably why I can never get my students to purchase even a monthly subscription to try it more. For me and many, LingQ is valuable, but it’s hard to know if it’s worth it for you without letting you try it more. I know the first time I tried LingQ, I immediately closed the site because I already hit the paywall limit in 2 seconds and didn’t know how LingQ gave me any value. I can’t imagine how many users have been lost with this odd strategy. Completely shooting themselves in the foot. Raising it to 1000 LingQs or 100 Known words or something would do LingQ wonders to experiment with. The only reason I came back was when I was struggling in the beginner stage forever, and I thought, “man, if only there was some tool that does (what LingQ does)” and found lingq again with my google search terms, came back and THEN it dawned on me how useful it is and I signed up. From there I saw all the other excellent features. It is odd how we humans don’t blink to pay $10-20 for a single language lesson, a single meal, a single drink, but then we have this gut reaction and scoff at even being forced to pay for a $1 subscription if we don’t get to try an app/website for more than 7 Days. But LingQ is very stubborn to change and this is just the introduction to that. So, welcome to LingQ! A great tool with lots of odd quirks!


“But LingQ is very stubborn to change” regarding the trial period.
Yes. And Mark Kaufmann has responded countless times on the forum that they have done (AB) testing that showed that learners were more willing to subscribe to LingQ when the threshold was 20 rather than more LingQs.

Either there is something wrong with the tests or the learners are even more quirky than LingQ :slight_smile:


I first stumbled upon LingQ about 15 years ago. I’d seen a video of Steve’s and thought I’d give it a go - the free version anyway.

I really just didn’t get it. Ran out of LingQs almost immediately, and thought it was a complete waste of time. Any time I saw one of Steve’s videos pop up on YouTube I thought “I’m not watching that, it’s just the guy who likes to plug that weird, annoying app that serves no clear purpose”.

I’m not sure what changed. I did eventually watch Steve’s videos and something chimed with what my language learning experience had been up to that point. Maybe because I was no longer a poor student I didn’t baulk at the idea of paying for a subscription for something. Either way, I gave it a go just over a year ago and can confirm it is very useful. I use it to top up my French and Spanish which are already quite good, and I started Italian from scratch and am now on my second novel in Italian. I plan to dedicate more time to Greek in the coming year, and wouldn’t think of not having LingQ as my go to tool for doing that.

So, in short it’s a fantastic tool. Very effective. But the limitations of the free version are pretty much the main reason why LingQ didn’t have over a decades worth of business from this customer


I agree, allowing a little more for new users would increase the amount of paid accounts. Doing something like you stated, allowing 1000 LingQ’s would at least allow them to try it out for a bit, I could do 1000 LingQ’s a day if I’m using new lessons.

I could understand your statement about $10-20 for many things without blinking but I think the main thing is the fact it’s a “subscription”. I would be more willing to drop $50-100 on a course I can review over and over. But $12.99/mo, over $100/yr, it adds up quickly and I think subscriptions are starting to get a bad rap, there’s a lot of people with several every month already so they think of the impact more.

Now of course, I think it’s worth it, for now. But at some point it’s not going to be as useful as it is while very actively learning.

And apparently, whenever I decide to downgrade my account all my premium data is deleted, so I’ll probably be several hundred in and it’ll all get deleted. That’s really the biggest thing I disagree with. But it is a great service still.

Hi grizzlyfoxcat,

Here a few suggestions for your challenges / issues:

  1. Ask Zoran (the LingQ support) to raise the threshold to 100 or 200 LingQs.
    However, this may not be sufficient for Japanese. In this case, you could use ReadLang (https://readlang.com/) for a while to learn the ropes about (Audio-)Reader based second language acquisition.
    If I remember correctly, Japanese is implemented as a beta version in ReadLang. Unfortunately, I don’t know how user-friendly this beta version is. I’ve used ReadLang only with Spanish and Portuguese.

  2. The more interesting question is if you should use LingQ for Japanese as an (absolute) beginner.

I’ve been learning Japanese for about 2.5 years and I’d say no. Starting with LingQ immediately and from scratch is great for close second languages (in my case - as a native speaker of German - other Germanic or Romance languages), but Asian languages with pitch accents (like Japanese) or tones (such as Mandarin, Vietnamese, etc.) are different L2 beasts (at least from an Indo-European native speaker perspective).

After testing countless apps and approaches with Japanese (Duolingo, Assimil, Anki decks, Memrise, Skritter, Michel Thomas,JapanesePod101, LingQ, etc.), I’d say you’ll probably be happier with AudioReader software such as LingQ if you lay a solid foundation first.

Here is my list of recommendations for Japanese as a beginner:

The rest is straightforward for me (at least from a reading while listening point of view):

PS -
I’d add

ChatGPT for Japanese to the tool zoo mentioned above.

See, for example:


People might not upgrade for many reasons. When you really get down to it, it really just helps track and put everything in one place. Plus the reader is really helpful. But like for me I could pretty easily use my Google Pixel to read similar to the reader, just no LingQs. It’s just a convenient service.

Reasons they might not upgrade:

  • Don’t like reading, most people I know wouldn’t use it for that reason.
  • Don’t want another subscription.
  • Already paid for or have too many other resources, as is I have a hard time managing my time between resources and lingQ – most of which I can’t even use on LingQ like language exchange, paid course or protected ebooks from Google Books.
  • Too complicated, when I joined, there wasn’t a walk through or anything that was obvious. It took me a couple days to figure out the benefits and if it was really worth it. Which I submitted as my first suggestion.
  • They just don’t have enough time to offset the cost. I doubt most people sign-in daily. The monthly sub is $12.99/mo, $3.25/wk, $0.46/day.

And I don’t really like the fact of advertising a “free level” if it’s as usable as people keep saying. Yeah, restrict it but at least allow them to read and it would build the community and imports. Or they might as well just provide a free 7 or even 3 day trial, preferably no card required.


“I agree, allowing a little more for new users would increase the amount of paid accounts.”
Well, there are “opinions based on gut feeling” and there are “opinions based on AB testing”. I trust the latter. And it seems Mark Kaufmann does the same :slight_smile:

Please check my other post right above this one where I talk more about it and put some bulletins points.

I really think they should listen to these new users who are explaining they can barely test the product. And there are many articles out there talking about issues with A/B testing, it’s not a sole way to base everything on.


Hi krisnd,

I agree with most of what you wrote - and, personally / from a business point of view, I’d change quite a few things in LingQ (esp. the “cancel” option, which is so frustrating for many learners who just want to downgrade their accounts).

However, we’re just LingQ “users” and don’t have a say in how LingQ is run as a business. So the discussion about the low LingQs threshold is just a waste of our precious life time.

Or, to put it differently: If Mark writes again and again that the 20 LingQsthreshold is far more effective reg. LingQ subscriptions than higher thresholds (100, 200, etc. LingQs), then I believe him.

Yes, it’s “counterintuitive”, but AB tests don’t lie (until they do :slight_smile: )…

Have a nice WE,