My Online Polyglot "Method" and Tools [beyond LingQ]

Today marks a major language-acquisition milestone for me. I just did my first 90-day streak–in three foreign languages.

  • English: My mother tongue.
  • Japanese: Got to the equivalent of about a B2 level in the 90s and am now refreshing.
  • French: Worked with some over the years, but have focused on since the pandemic and am at B2.
  • German: Started three months ago, working on A1.

Here’s my approach and online tool set. With all the advances, especially in AI, I’ve refined and redefined my approach and am open to more ideas.

Comprehensible Input (Reading) - LingQ plus online content

For my most advanced language (French), I don’t really use any content already in the LingQ library. Instead, I use the web plug-in to import whatever interests me. Often, it’s an article or other online piece of content I’ve come across that I simply want to read where the reading experience is a) aided by LingQ and b) I keep my vocabulary up-to-date in LingQ. For my beginning language (German), I don’t find LingQ at its best at the A1 level, however, I’m going through mini-stories and similar, believing that keeping my vocabulary up-to-date in LingQ will pay off later when I get to an intermediate level. For my refresh language (Japanese), I’m mostly using content already in the LingQ library just to bring vocabulary back from the recesses of my mind.

Comprehensible Input (Audiovisual) - YouTube plus Netflix

For my most advanced language (French), I mostly consume native content in YouTube and Netflix. Often, I import the content into LingQ to read and work through the vocabulary either before or after listening. I find it productive to read the content first as a LingQ lesson when the content is more conversational in nature. When the content is more informational in nature, I tend to import into LingQ for reading after listening to and watching first. For my beginning language (German), I think I’ll start using more YouTube language learning content creators’ channels (e.g., Easy German) when I get to the A2 level. For Japanese, I’ve found a few podcast-style language learning content creators’ channels (e.g., Bite Size Japanese). Often, I listen to this kind of content when I run my dog.

Structured Classroom Learning (Grammar, Writing, and Multi-person Conversation) - Lingoda plus ChatGPT

Having learned Japanese years ago with traditional methods, a few years ago I was very open to comprehensible input-based methods. I went all in. This though had downsides. French grammar has complexities of subjunctive, plus que parfait, conditionals, etc. that it would take HUGE amounts of comprehensible input exposure to acquire through immersion. I signed up for Lingoda six months ago and attended all of the B1 grammar classes. I’m now participating in all the B2-level classes. As such, I’ve shifted to being an advocate of comprehensible input as a primary method, but not an exclusive method, of language acquisition. With this experience, I started German Lingoda A1 lessons three months ago. I do typically five or six French and/or German Lingoda lessons a week and spend usually one hour in prep for each lesson. This prep includes drafting responses to the discussion prompts of the next class. Much of what I write I will ask ChatGPT to “confirm the grammar and suggest modifications for improved native expression or fluidity.” I’ll evaluate and try to learn from the feedback ChatGPT suggests.

One-on-one Conversation and Pronunciation Correction - iTalki

The final online tool I use is iTalki. It takes some effort to find teachers you enjoy spending time with and that they enjoy spending time with you. Initially, I used iTalki for one-on-one conversation. I think I had too much conceived language learning as being about to “talk” in a language. Now, more and more, I think it is quite proverbially important to “seek to understand before seeking to be understood.” Anyhow, I spend much less of my iTalki time in conversation and more in fairly structured correction of my pronunciation. I pick a text to read and have the teacher provide me real-time correction of the feedback. Naturally, much small talk and other one-on-one conversation occurs, such as in discussion of unfamiliar vocabulary. Right now, I do this mostly in French because French pronunciation is rather difficult and the French have such an innate love and need for good pronunciation. I also do it in German too, my beginning language.

There are so many online tools now and each have their unique philosophies and thus strengths and weaknesses. [In my fantasy world, private equity would acquire and partner with the above and fuse them together in more seamless language acquisition.]

Anyhow, I’m glad to share what I’ve cobbled together with others and am also more than open to new ideas, suggestions, and recommendations as such incredible innovation is occurring in virtual language acquisition.


I’m hearing impaired which makes conversation and listening difficult enough in my native language (English). So my emphasis is primarily reading and writing. I have come to the same conclusion as you in my own limited way. Comprehensible input is my primary method of learning Norwegian. I stay motivated by reading only what I find of interest and importing it into LingQ. Daily articles from newspapers and other websites, novels and a few histories of the Viking Age.

The more specific the material (crime, history, science/technology), the more technical the language and the less frequently the words occur elsewhere so novels tend to be the best mix of familiar words and less frequent but useful words. Scandinavian crime series on Netflix is what got me interested in Norwegian in the first place.

That said, it is very time consuming and inefficient to make comprehensible input through reading the only method, even though my goal is almost exclusively fluent reading at a college level. I usually read a chapter all the way through in LingQ. I don’t worry too much about vocabulary, grammar and expressions as long as I think I have a clear sense of understanding what I read. We do that in our native language as well. Sometimes authors say things in a way we haven’t seen, but we can easily get the sense and move on without wasting time to look it up.

But since I’m trying to learn more grammar and expressions in Norwegian, I often go through the chapter again sorting out the specific grammar I don’t clearly understand or deconstruct a word choice that looks to be an expression, etc. I may actually spend an hour or so doing that, but not every chapter and not every day. There are still words and expressions I’ve seen a dozen times in many dozens of different contexts and they are still yellow in LingQ. I just can’t remember them from one reading to the next. I don’t worry about it. Eventually, they will stick, and if they don’t, I don’t care because I’m still understanding the material with everything in context.

I enjoyed your post.


Keep up the good work. French people (myself included) will love you when you produce good sounds. They are amazed !!


I wonder adding Assimil German as a resource will improve your learning and will start reading sooner rather than later. Unfortunately, grammar guide for German is not that extensive on LingQ. Outside Lingq you have to take care of it. Olly’s 30 mastery books will come handy around A2-B1 level. He teaches grammar concepts through 30 short story parts.

Yes, consulting a German grammar is important for making german text comprehensible to read through.

We need these tools until we hit C1 mark beyond that we are becoming independent learners. Unfortunately, you need these tools in the beginning stage of the learning.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts.


Zizilangues, I’m greatly appreciating how valued pronunciation is to French people.

As an English speaker, I have such a different originating frame of reference. I work in a globalized work environment. Every day, I hear English as used, taught, pronounced, and misused around the world. Yet, it works and nobody really cares. One can be quite successful in many professional roles in English with actually fairly limited vocabulary and a really thick English accent. Globalized English speakers just deal with it. We don’t expect everyone to sound like either Hollywood or the BBC.

Speaking French though feels almost some like going to rural America (or England or Ireland or Australia or [God-forbid] Scotland) and speaking with people who only care to interact with others from their own quite provencial dialect.

In learning Japanese, my biggest regret is that I wish I would have sought becoming fluent yet illiterate. I spent soo much time learning hundreds and hundreds of characters. There is huge daily-life value in being able to read a little bit and large value in being able to read anything yet such limited value in being anywhere in between.

In learning French, I now think my biggest regret is that I wonder if I should have sought becoming perfectly pronounced yet with limited vocabulary. Yet, I’m reminded of a Paul Taylor video where he describes being often treated as if he’s an idiot. French is very tough, especially for the online learner. I’ve spent a lot of money with Lingoda and am now doing iTalki lessons where I focus on just pronunciation correction. As much as Dr Stephen Krashen and Steve Kaufmann have inspired me, comprehensible input has profound limitations.

Anyhow, it seems the relationships that different cultures have toward their aspects of language greatly vary.

For all those learning English, I hope though this offers a very positive element. Outside of rural and other disadvantaged geographies that have socioeconomic insecurity, we otherwise have practically zero linguistic insecurity and this creates an ability for us to interact rather well with imperfect and improper use of our language.


asad100101, I recall politeness levels in Japanese were a HUGE initial hurdle as a beginner. You couldn’t simply parrot back the nouns and verbs used by the other party in any conversation. You had to transform the vocabulary and grammar to honorific or humble “equivalents” to be able to say, really, ANYTHING.

I’m finding that German I’m having a quite large initial hurdle of simply in dealing with articles and their different genders and cases. You have to use articles to say, really, ANYTHING.

Now, given, that Japanese, for instance, has no articles, genders, or cases at all and does just fine without them, one can’t help but waste a few moments wondering why anybody long ago thought they’d be a good idea. :wink:


My advice: try not to get too caught up in grammar at first. No German is going to get confused if you misgender a chair, or a stove, or a piece of cutlery. Just try not to do it with people. :grinning:

If you just keep getting input, and practicing, the grammar will come, just as it did in your native language.

I’ve been speaking German poorly for 30 years, and no German speaker has ever become confused when I mess up. Usually they know exactly what I mean, and they either ignore my error, or they tell me the proper grammar for it.

“We should learn languages because language is the only thing worth knowing even poorly.” - Kato Lomb.


I agree with Pr0metheus. Don’t get too hung up on the genders of the articles. Yes, try to notice them, but you are really not going to remember them at beginning. It will take many iterations and really you’re not going to be misunderstood in general.

BTW. An online course you might like is Nico’s Weg done by the folks at Deutsche Welle.

There is an A1, A2, and B1 course. Someone has also imported all these into LingQ.

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Thanks Eric! Nicos Weg is one of the content sources I’m using. Right now, I’m using Lingoda lessons, LingQ ministories, Easy German, and Nicos Weg.

Through my company I also have access to Udemy. I’ve yet to review their beginning content available.


Great! I’ve been even going back myself to Nico’s Weg and listening and reading (sometimes I do the exercises). I find it more interesting than the mini stories and the conversation speed more realistic.

Another source you might find interesting if you aren’t aware of it is the Dino lernt Deutsch series. The are books (physical and e-books and audio books). I found them very entertaining, especially when there isn’t much entertaining at the beginning levels around:

If you like news, this was great for A2/B1-ish? levels:


Thanks, Eric.

I’ll be using some of those for what’s next, later. With this being language #4, I have so much more comfort “knowing what I don’t know.” :slight_smile:

I’ve got a 2025 trip planned to Germany, to the ancestral family farm to see distant cousins. Despite more than a century and a couple world wars, my family never really completely lost contact.


Very cool gmeyer! Thanks for sharing. We’ve got quite a similar language mix. I have English, Japanese, Spanish and am just starting German because I expect to travel there as well.

I became aware of a site called “Language Transfer” while learning Spanish, and found it intriguing but I was too far along for it to be useful. Just to experiment, I am trying it with German now as a superbeginner. I’ll report back my impressions later when I can properly evaluate it.

Is Lingoda your primary tool for German currently? What are your initial impressions of it?

I absolutely agree with this. I would enjoy reading these even if they were not teaching me German! André Klein injects some mild humor and suspense into his stories, making each one much more interesting than the usual stories for CEFR A and B levels. I’m currently re-reading the series (for the third time) here on LingQ, because LingQ really helps me to get the more pesky bits of vocabulary into my long-term memory.

I just talked with André Klein a couple of days ago, asking him about the CEFR levels of each series. He said that my assessment (see below) was “pretty accurate”:

CEFR A1: Dino Lernt Deutsch 1-4
CEFR A2: Dino Lernt Deutsch 5-8
CEFR B1: Dino Lernt Deutsch 9-12
CEFR B2: Baumgartner & Momsen
CEFR C1: Aschkalon

He clarified further, saying " Baumgartner & Momsen is listed on the site as B1/B2 with Aschkalon somewhere at B2/C1" and added “…while it can generally be helpful to categorize texts with the CEFR system, there are also strong individual aspects that influence perceived difficulty, especially from B1 and upward.”.

When I suggested Südtirol as a potential setting for a future Dino Lernt Deutsch episode, he told me that “New episodes [of Dino Lernt Deutsch] are already (and always) in the works. I’ve actually had my eye on Südtirol for quite a while…”

André Klein’s website is below, and it’s well worth signing up for his blog and his email list, as he’s prolific and very responsive.



I’d say Lingoda is indeed my primary tool. I’d say its main drawback for an A1 beginner is that it’s pricey.

I do though like that it’s not gimicky with travel phrases nor does it play to little endorphin hits like so many beginner apps do. It seems to be oriented toward people who actually want to learn the language.

In French, I’ve done B1 grammar and am now doing B2 all lessons. What I don’t care for as much on Lingoda at the more advanced level is the content. They tend to take up advanced content (climate change, artificial intelligence, etc.) but in superficial ways. But maybe that’s because I’m a globalized 50-year-old professional and not a bright-eyed youth discovering the world!


That would be interesting for sure on your suggestion for the next installment. I love how all of them feature a different location, interspersing interesting tidbits about the location as well as some local dialect.

I did not get into Baumgartner & Momsen. Not sure if it was the different format with much much shorter chapters, or the story just didn’t grab as much.

I’ve not checked out Aschkalon either. Rereading Dino sounds fun though =). I think there’s been at least one book come out since I finished that series too, and I’d certainly be interested in a continuance of that series.


Yeah, Baumgartner & Momsen is a bit less humorous, due to the subject matter. Also, I find the stories a bit too formulaic. Germans love “Krimis”, so I guess maybe André Klein figured we would too. But (although I do read and re-read B&G) I kinda wish he had stayed with Dino.

Aschkalon I found unreadable, but maybe that’s because I was well beneath its level when I tried to read it.

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I’m hearing impaired as well, but I still have been trying to learn Ukrainian by listening and reading at the same time. I haven’t been using LingQ for that much. I’ve found that listening (with earpods particularly) to a Ukrainian text can make me feel a dizzy. It’s too concentrated for me, maybe. I’m not sure, but it makes getting comprehensible input difficult. This happens also when I’m reading the text at the same time (I believe that might have something to do with the small Ukrainian print on the pdf I’ve been using). Do you listen while reading much?

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With regard to YouTube and Netflix, I’d recommend giving the Google Chrome extension Language Reactor a try (or @roosterburton’s extensions, if you want word highlighting according to your LingQ data). Dual subtitles is really a game changer. If you find content just a bit above your level with only one or two unknown words per sentence (i.e. per subtitle), you merely have to glance down at the translation to find the definitions of the unknown words without even having the touch the mouse. And if this doesn’t suffice, hover of the word to the individual definition. Personally, after the Mini Stories and a few other Beginner 1 courses, I moved onto using Language Reactor on YouTube as my primary means of Russian study.



I have both Language Reactor and Rooster LingQ tools installed.

Very little of my LingQ use is working with content that has already been imported into LingQ either by the LingQ teams’ curation or as user-contributed content.

At this point, I find myself using Language Reactor as my primary tool to watch Youtube and Netflix content.

As you point out, the Rooster tools make it easier to keep sync’d with the LingQ vocabulary database. When I find it of enough importance (a sizable amount of new vocabulary in the content), I’ll likely then use the LingQ plug-in to import the content as a lesson.

Anyhow, I find it very interesting that we’re kinda of converged on the same tools. Part of why I made this thread here is keep up on the latest-and-greatest. Online language acquisition is accelerating at a rapid pace–almost faster than a traditional semester’s duration!


So what do you use lingq for? Seems to me that most of the capabilities are replicated elsewhere. I just signed up for lingq, since for the $$$, I thought it would offer a more polished, integrated experience but I’m a little disappointed in it. The interface is klunky and often very buggy.

I’ve settled on:

  • anki for spaced repetition. Lots of great word decks publicly available so I can splice together a deck that suits me.
  • calibre + translator plugin for reading ebooks. Reading some A1 / A2 level compilations of German short stories for language learners right now. I tried importing the same into lingq and it loses all formatting and pictures. This is way better than reading in lingq. I can get translatations an word, phrase, sentence, or paragraph simply by highlighting it.
  • trying out language reactor right now. This is very slick so thanks for the reference!
  • Using the free readlang plugin to browse German websites. I really like how this interface works.
  • And, to get me jumpstarted, I am using the much reviled duolingo. There’s a lot that could be better about it but its giving me some much needed repetition and daily motivation. I am a terrible procrastinator. Eventually, I’ll wean off it.

Like you, I learned Japanese back in the early nineties. I had the opportunity to study abroad for a year, and though I wasn’t really focused on acquiring the language too intensely at the time, I did manage to get close to B1 level. I would like to revisit Japanese after German.