What is the problem with LingQ.com?

Hello. This is my first post here, so please be gentle :wink:

I’m an English teacher from the UK living in Sendai, Japan. I am interested in independent learning, student autonomy, and effective language learning techniques. I have studied several languages to a greater or lesser extent, and very much enjoy teaching and learning foreign languages.

I have been a member of this site for about three years, but only started using it seriously last week or so. I have become addicted to finding new content, reading and listening to it, and making LingQs out of it.

However, the fact that it took me, a multi-lingual person interested in language learning, who agrees with almost everything Steve Kaufmann says about learning languages, and living in Japan (ie fairly motivated to study Japanese) three years to actually start using the site indicates that there are serious issues with the site’s presentation and interface.

Compared with something like smart.fm, which in my opinion is much less powerful than LingQ but much more accessible (new users tend to jump in and start using it almost immediately) I believe that changes are needed if LingQ is to reach the larger audience it clearly deserves.

I think the area most in need of change is the way content is organised and displayed on the site. I find it difficult to find new items, and it is unwieldy to click through thirty-odd pages to find things in my saved items. A better way to filter search results and scroll through them would help this considerably.

Any thoughts on areas that could be improved to make the site more user-friendly (and newcomer-friendly)? After all, there is little point in referring people to LingQ if they are going to find it hard or nonintuitive to use.

Alternatively, if you disagree and think that nothing needs to be changed, please say so!

All the best


It took me months after I found out about LingQ searching for language podcasts on iTunes to actually start using it, even though I was actively learning a few of the languages available on LingQ at that time.

It wasn’t until I saw Steve’s video post ‘(In Praise of) Passive Vocabulary’ and his posts on Krashen (and then read Krashen’s book Principles and Practice in Second Language Acquisition myself) did I realize the power of LingQ, at which point I quit the advanced French course I was paying dearly for at the Alliance Francaise and starting using LingQ habitually.


I really appreciate your comments and prefer to hear what others have to say.

I meant that I prefer to hear what others have to say before I comment.

For me the issue with LingQ has always been a certain slowness in downloading that comes in various stages of exploring the site. I tend to access LingQ from forum posts that I get in my email because for some reason it is much faster than clicking on the LingQ community page that I have in my bookmarks. We have already talked about slowness in switching languages and whatnot. It is not a big issue when I am motivated. But when I am idly passing time and I think about doing LingQ, I sort of get a emotional reaction of …o-k-a-y-t-i-m-e-t-o-b-e-p-a-t-i-e-n-t. Even though it is not always borne out by facts.

I also think a rating system for the library items would really make things more interesting. Every time you use an item there should be a way of rating sound quality, interest level, and overall quality. It would also be great to somehow display the number of times the item has been indicated as “listened to” as a measure of its quality. THis would establish what takes to be a podcaster and raise the overall quality of the already good libraries.


I wonder if we should open up to the Library page since that has been sped up now?

We still need the Home page to get people started, but perhaps we can arrange for the site to land on the Library thereafter. Maybe that is not feasible but it is just an idea.

In my case it was the other way round: I was able to plunge right in the very day I joined LingQ; OTOH, it took me a while to figure out what to do with Smartfm. And considering how complex the system actually is, I find LingQ’s interface to be clean and intuitive.

I do agree that finding content at LingQ can be difficult at times. The main issue, the way I see it, is Steve’s belief that people should study content that is interesting to them. Steve doesn’t believe in imposing anything on anybody. Thus it is up to the users to find the right content for themselves. The fact that a lof of the content is generated by users also makes the task of organizing the content in a more structured way rather difficult. The result is that finding interesting lessons can be a hit-or-miss affair. For example, I only chanced upon Serge’s excellent History of France collection when I read about in an old thread; otherwise I would probably have missed it.

In contrast, Smartfm offers a more structured approach. If you want to learn Japanese and don’t know where to start, you can always try Japanese Core 2000: Step 1, Step 2, etc. Or if you want to learn more about verbs, there’s the transitive verb collection and the intransitive verb collection. In other words, there’s more handholding to make newcomers feel comfortable. From a language learning point of view (at least to those of us who believe in LingQ’s approach), it’s debatable whether the Smartfm approach makes sense. Do you need to learn all those verbs in such a sequential manner? Do you need to learn easier materials before tackling more difficult ones? When I first started my Spanish lessons at LingQ, I tackled some lesson that were quite difficult and were beyond my level. I studied them anyway and enjoyed what I did.

Still, I can see that many people would prefer to have a more structured “curriculum” when they first join LingQ. So maybe we can borrow from Smartfm’s idea, i.e. for each language – at least the ones with more learners – create a series of lessons drawn from existing content. For example:

English Beginner Intro 1 - 30 lessons
English Beginner Intro 2 - 30 lessons
English Intermediate Intro 1 - 30 lessons
English Intermediate Intro 2 - 30 lessons
English Advanced Intro - 30 lessons

The idea is to let the newcomers have something to read while they get familiarized with LingQ. Once they are more familiar with the system, they can look out for interesting content on their own.

I’m not so sure that we shall create lessons for all the levels (if that’s what you meant). “Who is she?” and “Eating out” are good courses for beginners, and after those, there are several short lessons such as news, letters, diaries, dialogues and so on.

I don’t know what a good “intermediate” lesson is, and definitely not an “advanced”. How can we create advanced lessons that fit all the languages here?

Once we’re past the basic lessons and have had our share of news, letters etc. I think it’s OK to go on on our own. However, I’m aware that some people prefer/need structure.

I don’t know whether we need the advanced lessons. The thing is the newcomer may be quite an advanced student already but just doesn’t know what to do with LingQ. So we want to give him/her something to read while he/she figures out what to do. Perhaps we don’t need 30 lessons and that 10 will suffice.

I guess testing newcomer’s level can help both learners and teachers
After the testing the newcomer will know what materisl is recommended
and the teachers will get more points

I become wary when we start down the road of level testing and the like. Testing in language is notoriously shaky. The best tests, like the Cambridge suite, are very long and involve essays. group and individual speaking exams. Any internet test will be less valid. On the other hand I am sure it will fire heated discussions.on the forum. :wink:

Like dooo, I am not sure about testing the newcomers because it’s so un-LingQ. It’s for the learners to decide what level they are. If they find that the materials are too difficult for them, they can always try something easier.

For those regarding the learning as a hobby, yes, tests are not necessory
But others consider learning as investing and they need a guarantee it is worth paying

I enjoy talking with tutors and posting comments on the LingQ forums. I think that the LingQ system is very flexible and versatile, and the system is always changing. I sometimes wonder if this whole system is still a beta version, which I do not dislike. If we have a wiki site that describes the workings of the complex LingQ system, we can use the site as a user’s manual. (Do not want to get a site on Wikipedia!)

There’s an idea regarding the troubles Steve was having with Wikipedia. Perhaps Wikipedia wouldn’t object to there being a Wiki entry with information about how to use LingQ, rather than an overview of the site. It could be a subtle way of getting LingQ onto Wikipedia. Unless of course they deem it to be not of ‘encyclopedic’ interest to the Wiki community?

I think tests are not necessary. There are a lot of tests on the Internet. No need for more tests. I’m lucky having no tests since I left university.

I think the lessons on the courses could help newcomers to find the first adequate lessons. Courses are graded. The student can study the lessons without a tutor. Maybe the word about this option should be more spread?

Peter: I think Yutaka is talking about an own Wiki for LingQ, and not referring to Wikipedia. You can create a Wiki about each thing you like which is not related to the Wikipedia. A Wiki uses the same software as Wikipedia, and the same principles.

I fully agree with Cantotango. I don’t see any reason why the library all the lessons have not gathered already collected according to levels. With a single click to have access to all the lessons that correspond to your level.

So you forced yourself to find yourself the appropriate lessons. Existing filters doesn’t work correctly, because they don’t choose the right lessons. What this means is illustrated by the case. I choose “Libraly” and then “Browse Full Libraly”. I’ve 158 pages with 25 lessons. With a total of 3950 lessons: mixed for all levels. The choice of “my” lessons in the first pages is not too big an obstacle. However, if you want to go to page 80 for example that means many, many, many, clicks and waiting for that specific site even opened. It’s too complicated and impractical.

The Library landing page does grade content to the level of the learner. There may be some issues with the results, and we may have to refine this as we go forward.

The Browse Full Library library search feature does allow you to search for specific items. The Difficulty Level and % new words are indicated.

Once we are past the beginner level, difficulty becomes more subjective and depends more on each learners vocabulary.

I do not see the library as a high priority item right now, although it can certainly be improved.

I think that having a few introductory lessons for different levels is a good idea. What should these introductory level lessons say. Should they describe the system? Any ideas?

What about doo’s point about speed? How much of a problem is this? I keep LingQ open in a few tabs and it does not really bother me. What about others? Where and when are you bothered by the slowness most, if at all? Is this an important problem.

Bear in mind I do not know if we can do much, given the tremendous amount of calculation and searching that goes on when certain pages open. Some of our functions just require the system to do a lot of work, comparing information and caculating.