LingoDeer Review: An up-and-coming language app?

Updated: June 24, 2022
Fact-Check & Editorial Responsibility: Kris Broholm

Today we’ll be taking a look at LingoDeer, a language learning app that specializes in the big three East Asian languages. With an in-depth look at its lessons and other features, this LingoDeer review will equip you with the knowledge of whether the software is right for you. 

Our Verdict

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LingoDeer is a language-learning app and desktop platform that has remained under the radar for a while now. While it excels in it's Japanese, Mandarin and Korean courses, LingoDeer still has a lot of work to do on it's European Language offerings.

For now, at least, it offers a fun, inexpensive alternative to some of the bigger names on the market and will provide the fundamental basics you'll need to learn a language.

TL;DR LingoDeer Review

In a hurry? Here’s a quick rundown of the pros and cons: 

PROS

  • Clear and thorough explanations of writing systems
  • Lesser-covered East Asian languages get the spotlight
  • Grammar-focused lesson plan encourages true mastery
  • Affordable in comparison to other competitors

CONS

  • Repetitive, unvaried lessons
  • Not all features available on the desktop version
  • Not all languages have full-feature coverage
  • LingoDeer and LingoDeer+ have separate subscriptions

What is LingoDeer?

LingoDeer focuses on teaching you a language in its entirety, suggesting that fluency is more than just the sum of its parts. Its grammar-based structure is designed to bridge those essential gaps, while the traditional lessons help to build your understanding of vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation, and sentence structure. What’s more, each lesson includes a little bit of everything, so you get a more rounded view of the language as a whole. Read on to find out more in this LingoDeer review.

What Can You Do On LingoDeer? 

LingoDeer’s curriculum is broken down into four basic functions: the lesson itself, where you are given vocabulary and tasked with constructing sentences; learning tips, where the grammar points for any given unit are thoroughly explained; story mode, where you are given a video clip and complete reading and listening exercises; and vocabulary, where you can practise the words you’ve learned.

Lessons

If you’re familiar with the Rosetta Stone approach, then the lessons in LingoDeer will come as no surprise. You’re often given pictures and tasked with choosing the picture that associates most closely with the word you’re practising.

In the case of languages which do not use the Latin alphabet, you’re given romanizations alongside the language’s script to assist you with your pronunciation. This is until you get a better command of the writing system. These romanizations can sometimes be misleading (Korean is a big offender of this), but the accompanying audio more than makes up for it with its crispness and clarity.

Other exercises include multiple-choice, complete-the-sentence, matching, and—something you don’t see very often—typing the sentences out yourself. In the case of languages with non-Latin scripts, you’ll have to both install the appropriate keyboard as well as be familiar with the alphabet enough to be able to input it. 

Thankfully, LingoDeer does provide a workaround for this in case it poses an issue for beginners: simply press the “Help me!” button, and it turns the exercise into a point-and-click complete-the-sentence exercise.

Learning Tips

Learning Tips is the closest thing you’ll get to a textbook from LingoDeer. Each unit has an accompanying Learning Tips page which explains the grammar points in great detail, providing charts and examples for you to refer back to. The explanations are concise, and the examples clearly-defined, to maximize its use as a learning aid.

Story Mode

In this section, you’ll be given a short video to watch, followed by two types of exercises; reading and speaking. In the reading portion, LingoDeer gives you questions in your target language. You may not be able to read the question in its entirety, but from context, you’ll be able to figure out the answer based on the lesson. 

The speaking portion tasks you with recording yourself speaking following the audio examples. You’ll be able to play your audio back to back with the example audio to improve your pronunciation. 

Vocabulary

Functionally the same as the Lesson portion, the vocabulary portion of Lingodeer allows you to see a full list of the words you learn in any given unit, and go back to review them in case you’re having trouble remembering them. 

Character Drills

On the mobile version of LingoDeer, Chinese and Japanese lessons have character drill exercises to help you learn not only to read the characters but how to write them in the proper stroke order. 

Travel Phrasebook

All languages offered by LingoDeer except for Vietnamese offer a travel phrasebook. This feature is a mobile app exclusive but covers a wide variety of essential phrases from self-introductions and greetings to travel, dining, shopping, and more that you would need. Best of all, this feature is free to everyone; no need for a subscription! 

LingoDeer+

Something unique that LingoDeer offers is LingoDeer+, a mobile-exclusive app which provides a different approach to language learning. LingoDeer+ offers a wide variety of games to switch up the curriculum while still offering the same thorough explanations offered in the base programme. Its colourful design and fun games make this a great language learning alternative for children. 

What Does LingoDeer Look Like?

With its cute deer mascot and simple design, LingoDeer makes it easy to navigate its programme. Upon login, you’ll see your dashboard, where you can keep track of your lesson progression as well as the points you’ve earned along the way toward your daily goal. 

From your dashboard, you can proceed into the individual lessons or, if the lessons you’ve currently unlocked prove too easy for you, you can opt to test out of certain lessons and move on straight to the content you haven’t learned yet.

For those more inclined to learn on the go, LingoDeer also offers a mobile app. It functions nearly identically to the desktop browser version, except that it offers some features (such as character drills and conversation practice) that are not available on the desktop browser. 

What Languages Does LingoDeer Offer?

Currently, LingoDeer offers the following 11 languages:

  • Japanese
  • Mandarin Chinese (simplified characters)
  • Korean
  • English
  • Spanish (European and Latin American)
  • French
  • German
  • Portuguese 
  • Russian
  • Italian
  • Vietnamese 

LingoDeer offers instruction in several languages other than English, and their website claims that more languages are on the way soon.

The caveat here is that LingoDeer has a clear focus on what we call “the big three” East Asian languages. Chinese, Korean, and Japanese all offer the most features and the most course content. Most of the languages they offer do have at least one full level of official courses, and what courses they offer for the other languages do not want for quality in comparison to the aforementioned big three.

Who is LingoDeer Best For?

Because it does offer more content for the East Asian languages, LingoDeer is best for those students hoping to learn Chinese, Korean, or Japanese. Or all three! That’s not to say you can’t learn other languages besides those with LingoDeer, though. 

At the time of writing, LingoDeer offers Level 1 (beginner level) and Level 2 (intermediate level) courses for all languages except for Vietnamese, which has what LingoDeer calls “essential beginner” lessons. Whether you’re starting from scratch or you need a little more of a challenge, LingoDeer will help you on your fluency journey.

How Much Does LingoDeer Cost?

Unlike many other programmes, LingoDear doesn’t require you to pay or input a payment method to try it out. In fact, it doesn’t even require an account. All of the alphabet and pronunciation guides, as well as the first unit of each language, are free to everyone

Should you decide you like the programme and want full access to all of its features, you can purchase lifetime access for a one-time payment of $199.99 (or $99.99 if you catch a sale). If you prefer the flexibility of a subscription instead, your options are $11.99 monthly, $29.99 quarterly, or $79.99 annually. In all honesty, the cost is quite affordable in comparison to others on the market!

However, this subscription does not include full access to the LingoDeer+ mobile app. That will run you either $59.99 for lifetime access, $8.99 monthly, $17.99 quarterly, or $71.99 annually. You’ll have to decide if you want one or both programmes based on your learning needs.

What Are The Pros and Cons Of LingoDeer?

Pros

  • Clear and thorough explanations of writing systems
  • Less-covered East Asian languages get the spotlight
  • Grammar-focused lesson plan encourages true mastery
  • Affordable in comparison to other competitors

Cons

  • Repetitive, unvaried lessons
  • Not all features available on the desktop version
  • Not all languages have full-feature coverage
  • LingoDeer and LingoDeer+ have separate subscriptions

Are There Any LingoDeer Alternatives?

LingoDeer vs Babbel 

For those looking for a similarly serious approach to language learning, Babbel may be an alternative option for you. It also features in-depth grammar lessons, as well as games and activities, making it fall somewhere in the middle between LingoDeer and LingoDeer+. 

We took a closer look at Babbel in our review.

LingoDeer vs Duolingo

While Duolingo certainly has a wider range of languages to choose from, LingoDeer is certainly the better option for those hoping to learn Japanese, Mandarin and Korean. However, Duolingo is a free platform that can help you to achieve the fundamental basics of a language through its quiz-like structure.

For more details about Duolingo, check out our review.

LingoDeer vs Memrise

LingoDeer and Memrise are perhaps a match made in heaven. While LingoDeer will, quite successfully, teach you the basics of a language, including grammar and sentence structure, Memrise is ideal for keeping up with your vocabulary. For the all-around package, we'd recommend using both.

We took an in-depth look at Memrise in this review.

A Round-Up of Our LingoDeer Review

Where many programs focus on more popular languages such as Spanish or French, LingoDeer’s offering of East Asian language curriculum is quite refreshing. Sure, the lesson exercises aren’t groundbreaking and can feel repetitive, the LingoDeer method of teaching all facets in a single package makes it one of the more thorough programs on the market. 

Of course, if you’re looking for something other than Chinese, Korean, or Japanese, LingoDeer may not provide what you’re looking for. The quality of the lessons are the same for the smaller languages but just don’t provide as much coverage. 

Will LingoDeer help you attain actual fluency? I believe it will lay the groundwork and give you a good headstart, which is more than most programmes can claim.

Kris Broholm

Kris is the founder of Actual Fluency, and has spent the last 8 years becoming an expert in language learning software, methods, and techniques.

Originally from Denmark, he now lives in Portugal and speaks 5+ languages at varying levels. His other interests are Wine, Online Marketing, and Travelling.