My experiment: Learning a language from scratch with LingQ only

I have seen this question pop up a few times: Can you learn a language on LingQ from scratch? or Has anyone learned a language on LingQ from scratch?

If you have some knowledge of a language before starting LingQ or you know a similar language well, you can’t really say you would be learning it from scratch. Until not too long ago that was the case with all the languages I had been learning on LingQ, but last year I started learning a bit of Polish here and that counts as being from scratch, since I knew no Polish or any other Slavic language. Already being a polyglot is still an advantage but it’s from scratch nonetheless.

It seems to me a lot of people who try using LingQ from scratch give up because of lack of visual aids and game elements to dumb the learning down and a lack of independence. People aren’t really told what to do on LingQ in which order, which lessons to begin with, whether or how often to repeat them and so on and thus just give up. I of course have experience with LingQ, years of learning independently etc. so I’m not going to have that problem.

My learning has been and is slow, despite being a polyglot. I have lots of other things to do, including improving and maintaining other languages I previously learned on LingQ. It was certainly a lot harder to start with a language where I hardly understood any words on first sight.

What has been a big difference is mainly how much I repeat lessons and that was more true at the beginning than it is now. When I learned languages similar to ones I knew before, I didn’t like the repetition in the mini-stories, where it’s 1. story 2. story again from a different perspective 3. questions about what happened in the story. I found it very helpful when learning Polish though. At the start I would also re-read the mini-stories several times.

When learning a language from scratch it is very slow and tedious at the start. Because you hardly know anything, you won’t understand the context so well, so context won’t help you understand new words. It gets a lot easier once you have put in more work and more of the common words become known and you start getting the gist of some of the sentences you see without looking up the translations. I anticipate the speed of learning only going up and up until I start having a really good understanding of the language, at which point I expect it to slow down. I don’t expect to have much capability in the language any time soon. I am really going to handle this like a slow marathon, little by little as I learn the other languages, I’ll learn some Polish and maybe have some real capabilities in it years down the road.

I would say the key is just grit, patience and repetition. Balance repetition with not getting too bored with the same content. Use more difficult content sometimes but switch levels, use some easy content and some more difficult content, depending on your level of energy and interest. Going back to easier content might also make you see how you have progressed and thus motivate you.

At this point, with just under 5000 known word forms, I am having a small breakthrough where reading really simple content has become a lot easier and enjoyable, but if I look at some more complex material, I am totally lost. I realize there will have to be a lot of small breakthroughs before I have any real mastery of the language.

It is very important to not just read and remember to listen too, but I think it’s ok to have periods where you just read or just listen and thus work on one skill. It is also not bad to click on words as you read to hear how they are pronounced, even if you don’t listen to the whole audio.


I have found the lack of structure in LingQ a problem with German, I had A1 before using LingQ. I meandered around the built in content, which I didn’t much like, before settling on a modus operandi that I like. Basically I import lessons from YouTube consisting of simple conversations. There are loads of them, so I get loads of simple content. Is this the best method? I don’t know. Is there a universal one size fits all method, or do we all need a tailored approach? I don’t know.

I’m not sure I could have used LingQ from scratch - I did a Babbel course first - because the grammar would have confused me no end. Babbel introduced the basic concepts of the case system.

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Using LingQ from scratch is tough. It helps me to already be a polyglot, independent learner and long time LingQ user, but I can see why it would be hard for a monolingual person learning their second language. I remember one youtuber who compared Duolingo and LingQ and said it’s good to start with Duolingo and then move on to LingQ right around the time Duolingo gets boring, because that’s the point when you know enough to start using LingQ. I think it was this video, if I can remember correctly.

I find programs like Duolingo and Rosetta Stone easy to use when you are tired and don’t have a lot of focus, but ultimately they won’t take you far. You can get to at least fluent literacy in LingQ with enough work.


I’d say I’m doing pretty well after a year and a half of Persian (with some downtimes). I’m nowhere near “speaking Persian”, but I’m confident that I know it enough to get to whatever level I choose by putting effort in. When I started, I didn’t even know the Persian alphabet - I used the Mini-stories to look the letters up one by one on Google and Wikipedia, if you want to count that as “cheating on LingQ” :wink:

I don’t think I can get fluent in speaking and writing; LingQ doesn’t claim otherwise, as far as I know. But I know that my reading and listening ability is a solid foundation for working on those whenever I choose to!

Why? Lingq is a great tool, but for me it is not the end-all-be-all for language learning. Although now that I have a fair amount of Russian vocabulary, and I took a university course in Russian grammar, I do spend a fair amount of time consuming material of interest on Lingq.

I am experimenting with how it is when you only use LingQ, because I got Icelandic into LingQ and there are not that many resources to learn Icelandic. I want to know what it is like for foreigners trying to learn Icelandic using LingQ, also when they don’t have other resources or time to do other things like chat, watch youtube videos, read children’s books etc.

It does not mean I will never go outside of LingQ to learn Polish. I most likely will, if I don’t quit learning it.


My time is a lot more divided this year with personal responsibilities, but one thing that has not changed is language acquisition. My methods in principal have not changed but the tools I am using have become a lot more varied.

I started learning Finnish for a half hour-hour every day on 1/1. I started only on LingQ, with… the first Harry Potter book. I have read it enough times I think I could write a plot summary of each chapter on command, only struggling on what the character names are in English. This time around I increased reading each chapter to 5 times. Once just reading, second time reading and listening, third time just reading, fourth time just listening, fifth time reading and listening.

I also take one sentence each day and add it to an Anki deck. One card is Finnish > English, one is English > Finnish, one is a cloze.

I would be lying if I said it was easy, but slowly it has gotten much more comfortable.

After January, I changed things up (but kept up on the Anki).

Because I have been watching Bluey with my son (one new personal responsibility), in February I would watch 4-5 Bluey episodes a day in Finnish. Mixing up with/without subs and adding random sentences every day to my Anki deck.

In March, I started with Mumin. I read Mumin på svenska with my son, so I bought a copy of each book I have in Swedish, in Finnish, and each day re-read what I read with my son, in Finnish (that is a confusing sentence). There are also all the Mumin shows that are available in Swedish and Finnish so we have been watching those as well. Each day I added a Mumin sentence to my Anki deck.

In April, I have been debating if I want to finish the first Harry Potter book or keep reading Mumin, but in some ways I do not think it matters.

My takeaways are really, even when learning a language very different from one you already know, the principles do not change. SRS or Anki are great tools, but only when backed up by lots of input. Input should vary between reading, listening, and reading and listening. Content you are familiar with will be accessible faster. Get lots and lots of repetition. Vary content difficulty to keep challenging yourself. Discipline and consistency are key.



It’s a good question. I started LingQ after a few months of Barron’s flashcards and French pop song lyrics. Not exactly zero, but nothing special. I’m now at 32k words, which I don’t claim as anything special except I’ve been doing this for a while,

Despite my modest base in French I jumped to the first Harry Potter. I used LingQ to hack my way through 40% unknown words and the attendant mysterious grammar constructions.

I don’t necessarily recommend this course. But it worked for me. For all the initial frustration, I’m making good progress today. I don’t know what I would have done had I been learning a language further from English,

In any event “grit, patience and repetition” works for me.

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I learned Polish from scratch on LingQ. Learning Polish requires a lot of time and effort, no matter what method or resource you use.
However, LingQ is actually neither a method nor a resource, but a very helpful tool for processing input and keeping track of your activities.
The input you have and the way you interact with it, is up to you.
There are a lot of LingQ users who read a lot and make quite fast the leap from beginner material to native content. Their bargain is getting compelling input for less comprehension and little listening.
Other users, like me, are more the podcast listeners. After finishing the Ministories, they take an intermediate podcast, create a course with the episodes or use an existing one and then they go from one episode to another.
And finally, there is the option to use LingQ for reviewing content like Netflix series, Youtube videos or podcasts. Using LingQ does not mean that you can’t interact with these resources in other ways.

For me personally LingQ has been very crucial in my Polish learning. Not only does it make vocabulary acquisition a lot more efficient, but it is also a hub for resources, different approaches and technological tools. Furthermore, the tracking tools have worked really well with me to the degree that I track listening and speaking activities outside of LingQ manually.