John Fotheringham's review of LingQ

I just found a new review of LingQ at “Foreign Language Mastery” (, written by John Fotheringham.


If I would write such a review, it would be nearly the same.
“The Good” and “The Bad” … John hit the nail on the head.
Great review.

Unfortunately, John forgot to mention that the whole library (text + audio)
is free for all.
And this is very important to know.

What a review. Great find, hape.

Great stuff, thanks.

I have read his review, one question, why does lingq insert spaces in Chinese text anyway?

@Friedemann - It was done to help identify word boundaries. You can hide the spaces if they bother you.

Is it best to study chinese with or without word spaces?

@Friedemann - It was exactly the same thing I asked when they launched Chinese.

I was wondering, can’t we treat each character as a word. So if 3 characters make up a noun, we just treat them as a phrase. We highlight them all and create a single LingQ to refer to the noun.

Somehow, they said it did not work well that way. I am not sure why.

For the blue popups to function requires that the text be split into words since the blue popups are attached to words. If we split into characters, blue popups would only appear for individual characters and you would have to know enough to highlight words with multiple characters yourself.

Edwin, aside from the technical issues that Mark can comment on, I would not favour treating a character as a word.

Words as we know them in most languages correspond to groups of two or three characters in Chinese, most of the time. That is how the dictionary deals with them. That is how we want to deal with them in our LingQ statistics.

I believe that the spacing was done to make it easier to LingQ, at least for some people, and especially beginners. It is done by an algorithm which automatically decides where the word boundaries are. It is not always accurate. It does help some people. I don’t mind it either way. It does not bother me. In fact I don’t know what the fuss is all about. It can be turned off. The same is true in Japanese.

One day we may be able to find a better solution for these languages.

I didn’t ask because the spaces bothered me, I don’t import my Chinese content into lingq anyway. It is just that I wasn’t aware of that function and think that it can even be confusing in some cases.

I don’t know which Chinese dictionary lingq uses, but I am pretty sure the spitting algorithm is based on the dictionary’s entries. As Steve said though, this process is not fail safe especially with somewhat more complicated texts.

I agree that learning words in Chinese is probably the most important aspect of vocabulary acquisition, however knowing and understanding the characters a two or three character word is composed of is also imortant. The last time I checked the Google “hover over text” instant translation function for Chinese it was based on single character translation which is pretty much useless in my opinion.

Thank you for linking to my review of LingQ, Hape.

Jolanda, good point; I did forget to mention perhaps the greatest feature of all: free audio and text content. I will add this in my next update.

With regard to the word boundary issue, I think it is a helpful feature for new learners in Japanese and Chinese, but I think most people will just turn it off once it becomes unnecessary. There is no easy way for a computer (or non-fluent human for that matter!) to parse Chinese word boundaries; it just takes lots of exposure, lots of practice, and lots of interest.