Recently I found this video where the acclaimed polyglot, youtuber and native Afrikaans speaker Lindie Botes reviews the new Afrikaans course.
Without being mean or intentional Lindie leaves LingQ in a disastrous light and gives the LingQ team more than just one reason to be seriously worried about the user-friendliness of their product.
How can it be that an experienced language learner fails so clearly to understand even the most basic features of LingQ?
For me using LingQ has become something really natural, but I also see that none of my friends and family members, I recommended LingQ, has become a user of it.
What LingQ needs, in my opinion, is a streamlined getting started course that step by step introduces the various features, so that by finishing this course you are ready for the “open world” of content. Experienced users obviously can go their directly if they want.
I propose to take a language like French and try this approach with a roadmap that could be:
A: Ministories, Who is She, Eating Out + other Beginner content (grammar, pronunciation)
B: Inner French, graded reader +
C: Importing feature (Youtube, Netflix), Lesson and course creation
I know that this sounds as a lot of work but for the main learning languages LingQ would definitely benefit from this.
What do you think?
Yes I agree, an actually guided course with a clear progression and hand-holding could help a lot. I think I suggested something like that previously: https://forum.lingq.com/t/why-isnt-lingq-more-popular/67533/134?u=bamboozled
Watching the video I think there are at least three problems here:
- LingQ in free mode is literally unusable due to the 20 LingQ limit
- The UI doesn’t seem to be self-explanatory, e.g. you have to turn the page instead of scrolling
- most people don’t understand that the content on LingQ is provided by volunteers, only some content like the mini stories are maintained by LingQ, after they have been contributed
I think Lindie’s video shows why LingQ will always have a minimum requirement for adding new languages. Lindie seems to believe that the Afrikaans was added by the employees of LingQ, as opposed to by the community (often driven by one individual). Even though it’s very easy to add new languages, removing the minimum requirement for a new language looks bad for the brand.
With regard to hand-holding as a beginner, Mark mentioned it in a recent interview that it’s one of their key issues to solve.
I saw this video too. I was really a terrible review of LingQ. It was also very unfair: most of the time when one reviews something they do do a very basic read up on the thing they review, they don’t go in blind… for example, had she even done the slightest research beforehand she wouldn’t have been surprised to learn that the onus is on the learner to upload their own content.
However, people will not always be fair, and they will not always be reasonable… and as demonstrated by Lindie’s video, even the most experienced individuals will not do the most basic research outside the app and instead expect to be hand led throughout the process. There are so many ‘how to’ videos on YouTube concerning getting started with LingQ, but they need to be linked in the actual app, (and almost a mandatory watch) before anyone will watch them.
The other hurdle for LingQ is that the idea of one being in control of their own language learning journey, from the hours spent learning to the content they choose to learn from, is just something so alien to most newbies that I think it’s actually (surprisingly to most of us here) quite a hard sell. Unfortunately, that means there either needs to be a minimum content requirement for new languages that is higher than the current minimum, or languages in beta mode need to be available only to experienced LingQ users. Let’s be honest, the people driving a new language on LingQ are usually just one or two people, and they are always experienced users of the app. If LingQ followed this route, then there could be a secondary threshold for when there is enough content in the language for it to be made ‘public’ so to speak.
Either way, LingQ needs to cater to these people, because they are the majority.
I feel like the beta languages should have a pop-up disclaimer when first entering the front page saying something like “Help us grow - the lingq library is created by the community. Please use the import feature to learn with content you enjoy, and share it with your fellow language learners”.
This way there is full transparency, and it helps to convey how lingq works. I think many newcomers believe that the library is hand picked by staff, or believe that they are limited to the content on the site. For me, importing is the main draw of lingq. I wish it was even more obvious to the people considering the platform.
Either a pop-up or displayed at the top of the library as a banner. Transparency plus it’ll help grow the library. Exactly.
I have just watched the video and here are my thoughts.
Lindie is a well-known and respected polyglot, but that doesn’t mean you have to take everything she says at face value. I checked the comments section and it sounds like she had tried to use Lingq before, but wasn’t a fan, so her review might not be fully objective. I felt she gave a review without really researching what Lingq does and how the platform works. Had she known some of the videos she was complaining about were uploaded by users and not the team, she might have sounded more credible.
That said, she is a UI/UX designer and clearly was struggling to navigate the website, which is a clear indicator that the user interface needs improving and simplifying.
Her video also shows that 20 lingqs are virtually useless and people who register on the website have no way of finding out how good/bad it is. Premium accounts are currently being offered to all Ukrainians, so a full week of free premium membership should be possible. I really cannot get my head around why it has not been addressed yet.
One thing Lindie also mentioned in the comments is that she had tried reaching out to the team in the past with suggestions for improvements, but that they were not receptive at all. That’s also sometimes the feeling I have too. The team develops new functionalities as they see fit, but users’ pleas often fall onto deaf ears.
Lindie’s review sounds quite harsh and that’s without her experiencing all the bugs we face on a daily basis.
I have not watched the video but it doesn’t matter, by your answers I can already understand what happened.
I don’t think, based on what Mark also said recently, that this is an easy issue to tackle.
There are 2 main problems, probably:
- Understanding the concept behind LingQ
- Understanding the software and platform
Understanding the concept
I don’t know if this has been well explained in the tutorial material but it is true that some guidance is necessary.
The fact is that, for example, I have changed quite a while the way I use LingQ in these years and I don’t think it is so easy to guide a user to do things in one way when there are actually a lot more ways to achieve the same results.
Probably the risk is that in one direction LingQ would risk to oversimplify and in the other to overcomplicate.
I have learnt by trial and error and by discussing a lot with fellow forum members like you. Sometimes by conflicting idea I have learnt to change my own ideas and methods. It is not so easy to write a roadmap because there are many.
Understanding the software and platform
Again, this is another thing not so easy to tackle because the platform is constantly changing. It is not easy to dedicate lots of time writing tutorials when something often change. Imaging only what happened in the last few months. With the introduction of TTS and Whisper my personal “workflow” completed changed. I didn’t change the core concept by I definitely changed a lot the way I use LingQ and also the material I’ve been using.
Who knows what will happen in six months.
The problem I see is that core learners, that embrace LingQ’s philosophy and are able to create their own study plan, understand how to fit LingQ to their purpose and are able to adapt to any problem, finding various workarounds to maintain their studies.
Beginners or even other learners that are not so core learners, or I don’t know how to better define them, have a hard time to understand what to do and how to do it.
It is true that you say 20 LingQs are not enough for a beginner but the reality is that you need months to understand how to better create your own study plan and understand the platform. It is better to say to a user to invest at least 1 year and don’t give up so easily, and learn step by step the software and the method before taking any other decision.
Of course, there are tons of improvements that can be done, and I definitely share many of your thoughts on this as we live them every day, but I just want to say that it seems to me that it is not a so easy task to pinpoint what exactly to say to a beginner to understand this big package of “LingQ software/concept of vocabulary/importing material/library/etc.”.
So, here we go again, ladies & gents!
This continual thread belongs to my top 5 topics list on the LingQ forum:
1 - “Zoran, please cancel my account”.
2 - LingQ’s daily bug report(s).
3 - "Dear LingQ,ers we have made improvements to the app. - Me: “Please don’t touch anything!”
4 - We need a decluttered user interface.
5 - We need a better onboarding process.
The only addition is: “Say hello to Lindie”
“What do you think?”
How about a generative AI that varies and automatically publishes
those topics on the LingQ forum?
We can then decide about the publication interval: every hour, every day, each week, etc.
And then I would like to have a 2nd AI that reacts to the results of the first AI.
Does it improve LingQ? Of course not, but it calms the nerves.
Apart from that, the LingQ forum is somehow interesting once we skip the threads mentioned above…
It’s unfair, I’ve been critisizing LingQ since before dinosaurs emerged and no one cares to write a post about me and how I’m wrong.
We already know, S.I., you’re wrong because
- Russians are always wrong - unless they’re right.
- Males are always wrong - unless they’re right.
- You’re male and Russian - what more can I say?
- Lindie is neither male nor Russian so she’s always right - unless she is wrong.
- LingQ is neither right nor wrong - it just is . So there’s not much more to say.
Now the challenge is to reverse the preceding text:
We already know you’re right because …
Big deal… Reversed one it is:
“We already know you’re right because …”[::-1]
Here’s one issue that I’ve seen several people run into:
The “How to use LingQ” (or something to that effect) course naturally advertises itself as the first lesson to open. And it does explain quite well how to use LingQ, not to get stressed out about memorizing words, etc. etc.
Only… the fact that it does it in the target language is a double-edged blade. On the one hand, it gets you started engaging with the target language right away, yay! On the other hand, such a piece of connected text (even using fairly simple language) is very intimidating to the average, say, Duolingo user trying to switch to something more effective. That, unfortunately, tends to be the kind of people who I recommend LingQ to… The ministories are a far better way to gradually get into a language from the rudimentary knowledge Duolingo etc. tend to convey.
One suggestion I would make: in addition to the onscreen tutorial, make an L1 version of that user guide prominently accessible.
And yes, the rationing of LingQs for non-premium users has got to be one of the biggest pieces of self-sabotage out there. It teaches exactly the wrong lessons: choose carefully which words to LingQ, learn the LingQs you’ve made intensively, don’t even try to get through a full piece of text (because you literally can’t).
For God’s sake, offer a time-limited Premium trial instead…
@fabbol : to be honest, I don’t know how so many people can digest those mini-stories. I have found them exhausting and boring. But fortunately there was other content available with tons of short lessons that helped to maintain me engaged until I figured out what to do.
It is also true that mini-stories rely a lot on the audio quality and the quality of the speaker and his/her capacity to engage. It might change a lot from language to language.
Mark said they tried A/B test in the past with those 20 LingQs and they chose the best strategy for them. At the end, it’s their company and they know why they are doing what they are doing or what limitations and options they can have.
I don’t think 20 LingQs or 1 month trial would make the difference. Many apps are just made for gamification and give a false sense of progress to people. LingQ needs more time and a longer learning curve but once you get there and you understand it, you stay with it for a long time (bugs included).
The only real problem I see are many bugs that we all know and there is no need to constantly talk about it + the cluttered UI and clicking experience. But this can be the only real issue why the voice is not spread so much and strongly by a lot of current users. Imho.
I import everything. I don’t use any of the prepared lessons in LingQ. However, most if not all the materials I’ve imported are copyrighted. I haven’t shared any of it for that reason. I’ve imported several novels including “naiv.super” and the first of the CLUE series in Norwegian. I don’t believe it’s legal to import it or for LingQ to provide it. I could be wrong.
Correct, it would be to share internally at lingq without permission from the owner. But you could share it as an external lesson (meaning the lesson links to the website of the content. Then users can import them privately). However I think sharing imports as an external lesson is only for librarians.
Maybe it would be better for a pop-up/banner to encourage people to join as a lingq librarian. In any case, something to highlight that the library is created by the community.
I found the UI very confusing.
I figured out how to listen to a story and how to get to sentence mode so I could see translations, so that is all I use. That is enough for what I want, and the UI seems so confusing that I just decided not to worry about how to do anything else.
I would like to say that I hate that I can’t select text & copy & paste it out to take it to a translator. That is the most awful part of the UI, to me, I think.
Are we certain we aren’t just a general adversarial network arguing with ourselves? How would we test to verify?