Let's talk about the courses

Courses are a new development and we will learn as we go along.

Some tutors have expressed an unwillingness to commit the time so far forward. However, I have already changed one time slot. Once we have made contact with our learners we can always change the occasional time slot for whatever reason.

Some tutors are concerned that they do not know if the content they choose is in the correct order of difficulty. This is not a major concern. We have a general idea of the difficulty. I suggest we choose content of roughly similar difficulty and on one subject area so that the learner can get into an area in some depth. In any case the learners will also be studying other content items.

What other questions or concerns do you have?

Some people feel that members are now given the impression that they have to buy a course. However, if you log out and create a new “test” account you will see that for the newcomer it is made very clear that he/she can simply study on their won in a self-directed course.

My very first impression was that the format was too restrictive, but thinking a little bit and with the aid of some hints you gave, I think that with creativity, is possible to use this same format in very different ways.
For example, Vera has commented that for beginners, a limit of 12 lessons is low, because the items are so short. But if you are the author or the items, you can include links to other items, as suggestions for further study. Or, if you can’t edit the items you want to use, you can create items with some explanation and links to those other items.
Following similar lines, if the LingQ team agree, we could create bilingual items for beginners. By the way, I’m becoming more and more convinced that the best beginners tutors would be those which are natives in the student native language, or at least are very good at it.
Well, these are my first impressions, when I have the occasion to use the courses I’m going to have more ideas, for sure!


thanks for your usual thoughtful input. 12 items is too low, especially with the short beginner items. However, the system does not allow the flexibility to have a different number of assignments per student or tutor. It is easy enough for the tutor to assign additional lessons by email or while talking, or even better as you suggest by mentioning this in the introduction to the course. “We will be covering all the items in the collection” or"i will be assigning additional lessons" etc.

At present we do not want to have languages other than the target language in the content item, it messes up our statistics. However, we intend to add a notes section where tutors can put in notes, other language text, explanations, versions in other writing systems etc.

Tutors could also put notes and explanations on the Forum for that item, in other words anticipate learners questions. This would mean taking the item as an item to learn and posting comments to the Forum for that item, in whatever language the tutor wants.

Ana, I agree that tutors who speak the native language of the learner will be ideal beginner tutors. Please submit courses for teaching English to Portuguese speakers.

Yes, Steve, I can think about this idea of offering a beginning English course. Nevertheless, this is more likely to happen only in 2009… My year is closed for new enterprises… I have a bunch of old ones to finish…

There seems to me to be no actual limits to what can be provided as a course as long as student and tutor agree. There is no reason in principle why a student can’t draft a course and ask a tutor to run it just for them.

Anyone want to run a course teaching me Russian Int 1 using only the works of Tolkien as source materials? Or a course teaching me German Int 2 using satirical podcasts? I’m game!


Full of creative ideas as usual. Why not start a thread on the Forum asking learners what they would like to see a course on. Different tutors can ask for the different languages.

Helen we have to persuade Vladimir, Cakypa or Tana or someone to set up a Russian course for us. I am not interested in Tolkien, but would be interested in Soviet era movies, current events (Echo Moskvi) and classical literature.

Helen, I thougt about such a course and I know the satirical German podcasts well. My problem is the fixing of 12 weeks. I would like to start with a shorter one, maybe 4 or 6 weeks, but that is not possible with the cource system. This would work good for me.
But I’ll think more about it. Please can you tell me, what are good time slots for you?


Yes, you have to fix times initially but once your course starts and you are speaking to the course participants each week, you can adjust the schedule as you like. Have two conversations one week if you are going to be away the following week or switch the time for a session. You will have your learner’s emails and you will be talking to them each week. It shouldn’t be a problem to adjust things to meet your schedule.

All you are really doing is getting a commitment from the learner to participate. Details can be worked out later.

Hi Vera!
6pm or 7pm GMT are good times for me, also 11am GMT. You pay for 12 sessions with your tutor, but we can schedule them how you like. I do lots of reading and listening in German, but shyness means I need to be forced into regular talking and writing! My goal is to get as fluent in German as my German friends are fluent in English, and after many years I am still nowhere near.

Hi Steve,
I figured I’d be on my own with Tolkien…but Russian films, history, books, magazines, satire, popular music etc would be good too. The Soviet era was so important and fascinating historically, and I only realised when I started befriending East Germans that there was a lot of culture going on under the surface that we Westerners never got a sight of. The film “Goodbye Lenin” is a good example. Wessis and Ossis all laugh at it, but at different points in the film!

Hi Helen, 6pm is dinner time for us. I’m available from 7:30pm GMT or later on most of the days. On Saturday 11am GMT is possible, but not each week.
I’ll think about such a course in the next days.

7:30 then Vera - that’s 8:30 for you. I forgot that in Germany dinner is usually later. I have eaten by 6pm!

Helen, it is not usually late but my partner isn’t earlier at home. We eat at 7pm. And then there is a little bit family time until by daughter is going to sleep. I try to create a course next week.

I have a cunning plan…

I think that the course schedules should be shared in the language libraries.

For 5 reasons:

  1. To make them freely available to students to read before they buy the course;
  2. To make them freely available to tutors who might be willing to teach a course but are overwhelmed by the idea of creating them;
  3. It sounds to me like we have some creative thinkers who could design courses but who don’t have the time to teach a course and so don’t see the point of creating them; if they created them and shared them they would be rewarded with points when other tutors select them;
  4. As a central backup for LingQ-critical course materials;
  5. To make it easier for all tutors and interested students to compare, evaluate and quality-control the courses.

I’m going to put my course schedule in the English library. I’ll create a collection initially. If other authors add to my collection, do they retain authorship? Or should all tutors create their own course collections?

More thoughts on courses…

I spent a while studying the structure of language degree courses, and reached these conclusions:

  1. The first year is spent getting all students to a common level corresponding to a good intermediate 1. So those with no previous knowledge have to trot brisky through beginner 1 and 3, whereas those who are already beginners can stroll at a sedately pace through beginner 2 and some of int 1. Other than pace there is little choice of content.

  2. Year 2 is spent getting students to a good intermediate 2. This means building breadth of vocabulary, accuracy in grammar, fluency and confidence in speaking. There are different ways to reach the same end, so many options are offered in this year, chances to study culture, media, politics, history, pop songs, whatever seems interesting and appropriate.

  3. Year 3 is spent turning the students into very proficient, self-directed learners. This will consist of really advanced, specialised modules, a lot of independent study, travel abroad if possible and an independent project of some source. At the end of year 3 students should be at advanced 1, i.e. nearly as good as an educated native.

How this relates to LingQ courses is this:

I think that a student could go from complete novice to speaking like a native with the following courses:

1 12-week course for “no knowledge” (Who is She?);
1 course for beginner 1 (can be the same for all languages, covering the basics)
1 course for beginner 2 (everyday vocabulary, clothes, food etc)

1 beginner 1 and 2 beginner 2 courses.

For intermediate 1 and 2 each student could choose 4 to 6 12-weeks courses from a selection covering politics, media, society, history, plays, novels, humour, poetry, rock music, etc.

For advanced 1 the student will have very much their own ideas of what they want from a course which they can discuss and negotiate with the tutor of their choice.

My point is that we could do with standardised courses for complete beginners, plenty of choice of courses for intermediates, and a lot of flexibility for advanced students. We also need the ability to compare courses and check that they are at the advertised level, which we would have if they were all in a shared place in the library.

What do you all think?

I am not sure I understand. Courses typically consist of content that is in the Library and which has been selected by the tutor. Of course the tutor can create new content and put it into the library in which case others can use it.

Do you mean that we should collect all items that are planned to be used in a course into individual collections? That is not a bad idea. It might mean that we have the same item in several collections. I do not know how that would work. In future we hope to use tags in the Library which would give us more flexibility. We’ll see what Mark has to say.

We could have these “course collections” in the Library, with a description. We could say “begins the first Monday of the month” for example.

One problem we have now is that in a three month course, if no one signs up the course disappears from the site. If one person signs up the course begins, but if another person wants to sign up the following week, she cannot join because she is one week behind, or the tutor has to create a new course and devote a time slot for that person, when in fact they might have been happier being in the same course. None of this is a problem with one on one courses.

Can you apply your imagination to this problem and how best to resolve it, and does this relate to your suggestion in some cunning way. This question is not limited to Helen.


My previous post was in response to your first post. As to the second post, I largely agree. We would like our learners to move to authentic content as soon as possible. The idea of having a variety of courses residing in our Library, identified by level, is a good one. Students are still free to choose content outside the courses. How much of this we can do prior to our planned reorganization of the Library I cannot say.

Mark and I will be discussing your ideas today and I welcome input from others.

Helen you are right, but do you mean create a collection with the name of the course and the items are the lessons or do you mean something other? Let me now, if you have an example.

I also think it is not good, that the students can not see what they are buying. Your suggestion gives the students the possibility to work with this course without booking the course, that means without speaking and writing. Nevertheless the students have an orientation and can later decide what is the best way studying with LingQ.

I’m not sure yet how this can possibly work for complete beginners. I did some French from scratch, and I should say it is very difficult not to go back for a more traditional format, because the first weeks are tough, very tough for complete beginners. After this crazy period, I guess the difference among levels is more a matter of content size. Smaller items for intermediate students, bigger items for advanced ones.
I just had an idea for the problem of items number for beginners. We could create a new version of the “who is she” series in twelve “chunks” of 2 or 3 episodes joined together in a single file. It is easy to create a single audio from 2 or 3 of them with audacity, just a matter of copy-and-paste the waves there. Yes, it takes a while, but I think it is worth the effort, since we could provide more realistic beginner courses.

I agree totally with Anapaula. I have the same experiences with the French language in LingQ. After studying “Greetings and Goodbyes” ," Eating out" and imported easy content from www.podcastfrancaisfacile.com I tried “Who is she”. After series four, where the male speaker changes, I was frustrated, nothing understanding. Though, I know LingQ and I am going ahead, but I believe a beginner would give up. In addition, for a beginner with no knowledge, the content is to difficult. It would be a pity, an French beginner book this course and give up after some lessons.

Steve and Mark, it is really important for the system to have exact 12 lessons (not more and not less) and to have 3 month? I would like offer a short course for testing LingQ with one writing submission and one 1-to-1 speaking on the end of the course.

Steve, I didn’t understand your information about booking later. It is not possible to join a course later, although we have one to one’s? In that reason, we always have to create new courses.

Back to the courses in the library: At the moment it isn’t possible to have an item in more than one collection, or is it?

I started French with several beginner collections, to deal with the easier episodes first. Right now I have got a sense of French and can read intermediate items less painfully. But I should mention I’m unusually sttuborn… otherwise, I would have given up too…
About late courses already started:
I’m subscribed to a course conversation with Mark without being in his course. I think this is a natural way of engaging later in a course. Just go there! I could even have booked all the subsequent events, this way I would knew I had my place garanteed. Of course, the sense of commitment is smaller.