Importing YouTube videos with auto-generated captions: fast import option, please!

For those who import a lot from youtube (where a lot of videos only have auto-generated subtitles), many of us just want to log into the computer, import a lesson and start learning. With the changes made, it now puts lessons into a queue, and the user has to wait for the lesson to be available. I think it will be very good to have the option to import the auto-generated subtitles YouTube has already put into the videos, just like it has been in the past.

The new feature seems like a cool idea, but it really hinders the learning experience for some of us. I don’t want to think ahead of time on what I want to learn about. I want to come online, surf youtube just like I do in my native language, and find whatever interests me and import that into my lessons.

This is much more natural and motivating to stay engaged with the target language, which to me is the whole purpose of methods like LingQ (natural comprehensive input, not pre-planned learning).

I am currently going on 30+ minutes to import a 5 minute video…


I want to add to this, I just went on a youtube channel I like, and I scrolled through 86 videos not knowing which one I wanted to import, knowing they would take a while to upload and I wanted to make sure I chose the right one. If I didn’t have to wait, that’s 86 potential videos that I could have watched and kept engaged with LingQ.

Now I know, that’s something I can easily change by saying “let’s just pick anything and enjoy it”, but then the user is making a conscious effort to do that. Any time you introduce an additional step for your users, or another obstacle such as this, what happens is the pool of users who will actually go through that shrinks.

For lack of a better example, you can see this type of behaviour in video games where the achievements are visible to everyone. So you will see something like, 53% of people have completed the story, 70% of people have completed the half-way point of the story, and 92% have completed the first chapter.

The goal is always to keep your users as engaged and active with the site as possible. One of the key components to achieving that, is ease of use on your site. If you look at the cost of adding in the previous functionality as an additional option, versus the cost of people tiring of using the site due to the accessibility of the site and content, I think this is a definite win situation to add the option to “quick import” based on the existing auto-gen subtitles (on top of the option of the improved, but time-waited, method of subtitle imports) .

A simple implementation for the user on the front end (I know the backend there is work to do), at the time of import, if it’s an auto-gen-only youtube video, have a checkbox on using enhanced subtitles (or viceversa, all depends on which one you want to use as the default, and then the non-default one becomes the checkbox option).

I hope you take hopeful consideration and look at the benefits of adding this, not only for the users, but for the success it can maintain/enhance of the LingQ name going forward. It would certainly at the least stay level with any competitors who are out there doing a similar import-and-learn concept site.


@zoran are you able to confirm whether or not we can get this feature back? is there anyone else we can send this request too? I am injecting javascript into youtube for now to get the auto-generated subtitles from youtube, but it would be much better if your users can have this functionality back (since writing this, I actually have found Youtube’s auto-generated subtitles to be better, there’s no typos in the words which can lead to false-additions into someones word count).

This would tremendously benefit the user experience, please consider it.

The massive delay in importing a lesson makes practically wrecks LingQ IMHO. It also puts the lesson in a quasi-undeletable un-interactable state. It’s pretty thoughtless for how someone would use LingQ, e.g. set some time aside (or whenever you have free time)/do some studying. Now you have to plan lessons in advance so they’d be ready for you when you want to start learning. What are, we teachers planning our own lessons for the week? C-r-a-z-y.

There’s no reason to be running an AI (or whatever is going on) in the case where the user didn’t ask for it and there are already subtitles in the target language.


It’s not that hard to get the transcripts. You don’t have to use any code.

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I appreciate that Willow, but with code for me it has been faster, I copy the function from a sticky on my desktop and then it does all the work to click on the tabs and copy the text.

Though my point is, we used to pay for the functionality to do this all in 1 click (instant imports for the video and everything for us). I would like this functionality back from the devs, so I’m wanting the devs to know we would like this back.

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Thanks DankBaker, I completely agree! The whole point of lingq is the immersion of finding content that intrigues us and importing it and starting to consume that content immediately. I hope the community gets behind this, because this feature is so important.

Your way is clever; I’m sure some of the more technologically inclined folks will appreciate it.

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Thanks Willow, I’m hoping my way is gone eventually because it is so much faster to just hit the import button on the LingQ extension and then it imports everything for me. I have another post that has the steps if you want to give it a try. It looks like a lot of steps but when I log on now, I just copy the code from the sticky, and then whatever youtube video I want to import I paste the function in the console, grab the transcript and then do the next part of filling out the LingQ Import page, so basically 2 steps on youtube, but then all that copying and pasting from youtube to the import form (I still have to go back and fourth 3 times, once for the text, once for the title, once for the link).

Hoping LingQ makes this easy and instant again!

The thing I miss is how you could auto-translate to your target language any video that has subtitles available. This process with the delay makes it a pain, especially since my target language does not have a lot of channels that offer subtitles that I can just copy and paste. When I found out I could switch the subtitles to my target language and upload quickly it was a game changer.

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I’m creating a python command line app that you basically just open and paste in a youtube video and it’ll do all the work necessary and as I learn more about the backend, yeah I see YouTube gives the ability to also translate the subtitles to ones not even shown on screen, I agree, that is a huge feature to remove!

Replying again, there’s a bug in LingQ where the last person replied to does not get the “replying to” flag applied to them

I’m pretty sure this chat was not programmed by LingQ but by a 3rd party…

If you read the forum’s “terms of service” you’ll see what I mean.

Hey Willow, sorry, just wondering what you mean? I looked at the FAQ and was skimming through the terms of service but didn’t pick up on anything

Earlier I got a badge and moused around and found a different company name (not LingQ) but now that’s been cleaned up. (It was on the page explaining “trust levels”). But when I looked just now at “terms of service” I noticed plenty of places where there was a placeholder instead of the actual information (for the contact information, for example, and in the section where it says which state/country’s laws will prevail) and continual reference to “company name” but nowhere does it say that the company name is LingQ - usually in a legal document if “company name” is used in place of the name of the company, then at the top it will clearly name the company and say that in the rest of the document “company name” refers to that company. So in other words, this was a template “terms of service” and they forgot to fill in some of the details (oops!).

Edited to add: I think the page I found linked to from the forum before was this one: Understanding Discourse Trust Levels

Oh ok thanks Willow, though I think I was confused on why you had mentioned this originally, I thought I was breaking the terms of service lol.

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Hi everyone, I’d like to add that I also miss this feature and it would be great to just be able to import the autotranslated captions already available on YouTube. It’s great that the LingQ devs are adding new AI features, but please can we just leave the old ones available too? In many cases, a simple import of the captions is all I need and can actually work much better and faster.

Unfortunately Willow’s method of using the Show Transcript button only works for videos that are originally in your target language - you can’t select other caption tracks.

@andrewdaniele would you be able to share the javascript code you’ve written to pull the captions from youtube? I’m sure many others would also be interested

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Also, after a bit of looking around I’ve come across this website,

This seems to let you easily access the autotranslated subtitles as a .srt or .txt

I haven’t looked at it in depth, but it seems good and could be used to manually import lesson in LingQ

hey Obi, yeah thanks for your input, I completely agree on the productivity, I actually wrote a python script (much better than the javascript code I was using before) which you just paste a link into the command line and it does every single step to import it from YouTube, let me know whichever one you want, the python script doesn’t require any coding experience or anything like that, just an install of python and a command to install some other things to allow the script to run.

Back to the productivity, yes this is huge, to me, it is much more important for me to maximize my time spent IN the language, than to get a bit more quality subtitles. I’ve been averaging x20 on my daily streak whereas before I was x1-x5 a day.

I’m at work at the moment but remind me and I’ll set up a post to share my python script. Also, there is a poll I put in the Open Forum (left side of this forum site), it’s a bit down the list now. If you want to voice your opinion on that chat too, I’m hoping it’ll inspire the devs to listen to their users. The script is perfect for my needs, but I know there’s people that will be overwhelmed at the thought of installing Python (though it is easy to do) and I really want them to be able to import lessons as quickly as I can if that’s what they want.

This might or might not be useful but if the captions from “transcript” are in the wrong language, they can still be copy/pasted into Google Translate or Deepl and translated into TL and then copy/pasted from the results into the lesson text - not going to win any nobel prize for accuracy, but still save time over having to wait all night as I’m hearing some folks saying.

Again, kinda low-tech but I’m mentioning it in case it helps some.
And hats off to you folks who are finding higher-tech solutions. Very clever.