So, as many other users I was frustrated with Lingq not having some less popular language on the app. In my case I wanted to learn Thai.
I’ve heard before that some people used to “hack” Lingq to make it work with unsupported languages. So I’ve tried to replicate it myself. I’ve selected some language I’m sure I would never wish to learn and decided to use its place for Thai.
Next challenge was to split text into words. That’s how the Lingq method works, but to make things harder Thai doesn’t put spaces between words. For that I had to use an external splitter on the web. I’ve also had to put some line breaks, because Thai doesn’t use dots to end a sentence.
Then, I’ve imported the result into Lingq creating a lesson. I’ve found that the auto translation sometimes detected the language wrong, so I’ve just created a translation myself using Google Translate and added it to the lesson.
Next problem I’ve encountered was TTS, which just was not working. I’ve used a tool named edge-tts, which utilite the Microsoft Edge engine to generate high-quality speech. Then I’ve added the mp3 to the lesson. But I still had to adjust time separately for each sentence. It was probably the most daunting part of work, but I hope I wouldn’t need the speech sync later, when I’ll be good enough with Thai to follow the whole text myself.
The last problem was TTS not working on clicking individual words. The only way I’ve found to circumvent it is by using the system TTS on word select. In Mac I have to right click each word and select “Start speaking”. The default voices were too bad, so I had to go to the system settings and download high-quality ones.
Unfortunately the Lingq app on IOS doesn’t show the system speech menu on select, but you can select “Look up” to show the system dictionary (it’s not installed by default, you need to do it from the system settings as well) and from the dictionary page you can finally select a word and use TTS.
So, in the end I was able to almost replicate the Lingq experience for supported languages. Translation on click or select mostly works, flashcards work, adding words works.
I could probably go even further, using Google Translate to convert mini-stories in my target language and then trying to study them. I think it could generate some rarer words compared to the texts curated by humans, but will still be acceptable in the start.
So, was it worth it?
Probably. It still easier than manually comment and highlight text in some word editor and you have the main “killer” feature of tracking the known words.
I think when I be better with the language, I will only need word mark and listening the whole lesson audio, so I will not be so dependent on other automation which could be not correct sometimes.
In the future I would really wish for Lingq to add some “other language” mode in which we could select manually the TTS and translation engine from all available on the web or local system. It would make the whole process even easier.