I'm going to go to the friend's home today, and I have an opportunity to present LingQ to her

What should I show her and what should I tell her about it?

I would show the library and the lesson page. These two pages are the heart of LingQ in my opinion. To see the white, yellow and blue words in a lesson is always fascinating for me. Also you should show the integrated dictionaries. And don’t forget to mention that she can import every text into LingQ and work on it.

I think it is important to explain the principles behind our way of learning. In other words, it is the massive exposure to the language, through listening and reading, that will enable a person to learn. If the learner can become accustomed to the language, improve comprehension, acquire a large vocubulary, even if only a passive vocabulary, then everything else will be easier. The grammar, the ability to express oneself, the ability to really engage with native speakes, is built on this foundation of comprehensiona dn vocabulary in my view. LingQ is an efficient and portable way to build up this base. A base built up this way, through massive exposure to meaningful input will be more solid than if we attempt to do so based on learning grammar rules. There is considerable research to back this up.

So tell you friend that she needs give LingQ a try and forget about how languages were taught in school.

I have recommended LingQ to many people and they usually seem quite interested, but then they never get into it. I have no idea why not. I think there are a few things about the website that put people off when they first see it.

For example, the complexity of the front page is horrific for somebody who has never used the site before. Sure it is clear for me now, but imagine coming here for the first time, getting to the main page expecting to be guided into the first lesson and then seeing all this complexity. I don’t have any suggestions for how to improve this since it is a difficult problem.

Another thing is that when people finally manage to pinball their way into their first lesson, excited to try reading with the mouse over dictionary function, hover the mouse over their first word and get three strange looking user hints, one of which is in the wrong language, and the other two have horrible formats and contradictory translations of the word, they are going to be very disappointed. I remember back in December when I first saw the user hints, my enthusiasm for the website plummeted and I quickly gave up and went to use Learning With Texts until the tediousness of that software got the better of me and I realised the hints are not so bad after all. One suggestion I have is that some of the more dedicated members, if they had the ability to delete hints, could spend a bit of time in the main beginners lessons deleting and remaking the hints for the main language combinations. These hints could be based on a standard format that was agreed upon before. For example, for German → English, one could go in to ‘Who is She?’, delete the LingQs that exist for the words in those lessons, and reLingQ the words with this standard format. Anyway, this is just a suggestion. Maybe it would not be worth the effort.

Yes we have to find ways to simplify and I appreciate these comments, or any others that people may have.

I do not find the the front age horrific but then I am used to it. We should do some tests with people and watch what they do.

The User Hints are very useful, even if confusing at first. How to avoid confusion is a good question. People are used to certainty, whereas language learning is about uncertainty. Even the translation of a word is only a hint since even a dictionary definition may not be relevant to a particular context. It would be difficult to go through all of our beginner texts in all languages and ensure that only relevent dictionary translations are available into all languages.

But all suggestions are welcome, and I agree we have to make the site seem more welcoming and simpler.

@ColinJohnstone

Yet again I think we had a similar experience. I joined the site in October, but I don’t think I actually used it until January or February because there was no initial direction given to me by the site. After a few months of use, I’d gladly say, now, that I like that Lingq leaves us to our own devices. I don’t know how I was able to get past the initial learning curve for the system, and I might just attribute it to luck. A smoother transition into understanding the fuctionality of the site should be looked into.

I think it should be made more clear at the start that Lingq is a tool for language learning, not a course for language teaching. I think there are a lot of people who come on here expecting another Rosetta Stone or Pimsleur, and are put off by the do-it-yourself aspect of the site. I see a lot of frustration on the forums from recently registered members.

I do like that in the tutorial video Steve says “We don’t teach you a language: We can’t teach you a language.” Maybe this idea should be better elaborated upon.

I’d gladly edit beginner lessons to make the hints more friendly. That’ll be more productive than how I spend my time, currently, when I have to give my mind a rest from French.

@Steve
I like the idea of editing the hints, but only to delete the Hanzi and over-thought explinations. Personally I prefer vague hints. For example, all forms of a verb have roughly the same definition, in my mind, so I don’t mark the person. I’d remove anything that says “2nd person formal” or “vous form.” If a learner saw “love” for “aimer” instead of “infinitive of to love,” I’d think it would be way more welcoming, as well.

Geez, I’m becoming a radical Krashenist.

1 Like

@ steve

It would not be feasible to edit the hints for all of the beginners courses for every language combination, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done for the main beginners lessons for the main language combinations. Do you guys keep track of which language combinations are the most used? How dominant are the top 10 language combinations, and in each language, how dominant are the top 50 beginners lessons? The top 50 lessons for the top 10 language combinations would only be 500 lessons.

Regarding the complexity of the site, here are a few comments based on my own experience from back in December when I first started using LingQ. I don’t know how well my own experience can be generalized to other people, so for this reason, I don’t know how good my suggestions really are.

The biggest problem, I think, is the main screen (the one you get to when you click on ‘Learn’). The top bar of the screen is dominated by three options: ‘Learn’, ‘Exchange’, and ‘Tasks’. I still have no idea what ‘Tasks’ are and have never clicked on it, and I doubt that a newbie is going to know what ‘Learn’ and ‘Exchange’ mean. The page itself is dominated by three columns (I now see it as two columns and a sidebar, but that is not how a newbie is going to see it). The right hand column has no real function on this page since all it does it give statistics. It was only after several months of using LingQ that I started looking at these statistics. My suggestion is to move this column somewhere else so that experienced users who know their way around the site can find it easily, and inexperienced users are not bothered by it.

The reason I came here was because I read about the cool reading interface elsewhere online and wanted to check it out. There are other great things about LingQ, such as the library, the teachers, and the new exchange stuff - plus a great forum of course - but the main thing about the site is the reading interface. It is not obvious for a beginner where exactly this reading interface can be found. I don’t know how this can be improved, but maybe somebody else has a suggestion.

I had a similar experience to Colin and djvolumebass. I have a small suggestion for this problem. LingQ is about directing yourself, but I think lots of people want to have training wheels at first. So when they first register and have selected a language they can be given a simple choice right at the beginning, before they get overwhelmed with other choices. The screen can ask which they want:

  1. Let me look around the library (Sends to library)
    or
  2. Start me at the beginning

Now, us longtime users know that there is no exact ‘beginning’. But lots of people want there to be. So option 2) could send them DIRECTLY to Who is She? (or whatever course you guys choose it to be)

Then, at the bottom of the page have a DIRECT link to the next lesson in the course that says ‘Next Lesson’. Give the people that want a 1, 2, 3 exactly that.

@KCB

That idea is great. Maybe there could be a series of starting points based on the users (self determined) level. As in have a beginner option, an advanced option, and one somewhere between them. I say this because a lot of people don’t like being pushed into the “beginners corner” Especially after years of hard work in school language classes. I think Assimil calls these people “false beginners.” Even if their level is not at all advanced, they might have a framework that will enable them to kind of comprehend the more advanced work, while not yet understanding how the system works.

Also, I never noticed that about my username! It is simply my initials and the instrument I play. I am unfortunately not a DJ ;( Maybe I’ll change my name to something more phonetic.

@djvlbass All this time I was thinking how cool that username was. I’d embrace it if I were you. DJ Volume Bass :stuck_out_tongue:

I agree with the different entry levels. I was thinking it should be a simple a choice as possible, but maybe that wouldn’t be too much. It could be:

  1. Let me browse the library
  2. Take me to the beginning
  3. Take me to somewhere in the middle
  4. Take me to somewhere closer to the end

@ Steve

I have one more comment. My suggestion to edit the hints is not about making them more exact for new users who can’t handle uncertainty, it is about making the site look better for people when they first start using it. This is only based on my own memory of the first time I saw the user hints. I expected nicely formatted dictionary style definitions and was very put off by what I saw (it was several days before I realized the difference between the user hints and the dictionaries). Now I like the hints and don’t care about the lack of formatting and I don’t think the inaccuracy is a genuine problem, but you have to get the punters in the door to begin with before you can get them used to the user hints.

Thanks for all the input and please keep it coming. We really want to address this issue.

Okay I have an observation… what is the point of a hint?? Why not simply find the best dictionary for each language and strip out the meaning for the noun form, verb form, adjective, adverb and display that? When I find words in German with no hint (granted very rare) I go to Babaylon, copy the definition word for word, and paste it into the hint field. I mean… if the purpose is to provide extra info or context wouldn’t that be better off in the notes section? Also most hints I come across fall into 3 basic categories:

  • Incomplete, lazy (one word from the dictionary)
  • More complete (the same word plus maybe 2 or 3 extras)
  • Straight dictionary copies (and the best ones have der/die/das)

One possibility might be to come up with a standard hint format for people to use when they make hints and some basic guidelines for how to do it (e.g. what to do when they come across a word with many meaning, what to do when they are not sure about the definition,…). These would just be guidelines and people could still make hints however they want, but they could be encouraged to follow these guidelines and probably a lot of people would.

Most hints are pasted from a dictionary. The most often selected Hint is usually the best. We could just show one Hint, and call it Hint, not User Hint. Users can check other User Hints inside the LingQ box for additional user hints if they want. Users can also go to dictionary for more info.

It might also help to show the Search Dictionary Option on top of the Google Translate option. This mght encourage people to go to dictionary more often if they are not happy with the Hint. The Hint and Google Translate are often the same.

As to guidelines, I am not sure. Different people may want different things, and use different dictionaries. Some want a quick Hint, some want lots of information, which can be found in the dictionary of their choice.

What do others think?

@kcb

“1) Let me browse the library
2) Take me to the beginning
3) Take me to somewhere in the middle
4) Take me to somewhere closer to the end”

We could have set courses in each of the 6 levels and offer the following choice.

  1. Start the first Lesson at my level

This would open up Lesson 1 in the first lesson of the selected course for that level.

Of course we would have to decide on the course. We could do this arbitrarily or base it on Roses.

  1. Browse the library at my level.

The library is not easy for most people, I think. Nor does it always work as it should, despite our efforts. Any advice re organization of the library is also welcome. This is an extremely complex problem by the way, but we may be missing something on how to make it easier or simpler.

Before redesigning the site, consider just making more screen movies about how to use various things. This is probably more cost-efficient, and doubles as an advertisement.

Probably best to do that after redesigning the site!

Hello! nice to meet you!

We are not planning to redesign the site, but rather to make some minor adjustments that would make it easier for newcomers. it is difficult to do because of the inherent complexity of what we offer. I think a few minor changes is all we need, and yes I agree that we should make more demo vidoes in different languages.