Fact-Check & Editorial Responsibility: Kris Broholm
In this review I’m taking a look at Lingopie.com – a video platform designed for language learners, offering native content with a host of tools to help you get the most learning out of each minute watched.
By the end of this review, hopefully you will know if Lingopie is worth it for your language learning.
What is Lingopie?
Lingopie is a streaming service, similar to Netflix, that offers language learners a way to immerse themselves in native-speaker video content for learning purposes.
Lingopie offers content in 8 different languages. The languages are: German, Japanese, Korean, Russian, Portuguese, Italian, French, and Spanish.
The Portuguese language videos are mostly Brazilian, and the Spanish videos are from all over, but mostly South America.
Additional “From” Languages
In addition to English, you can also use the following language pairs on Lingopie.
- Spanish to French, Italian, or English
- Portuguese to French, Spanish, or English
- French to Spanish, Italian, or English
- Hindi to English
One idea for this, would be to use “laddering” – i.e using a secondary foreign language to learn your next. If you already speak French, you can use it to learn Spanish or Italian instead of using the English source language.
What kind of content can you watch on Lingopie?
Let me just be clear from the beginning, you’re not going to find Hollywood movies, or blockbuster tv-series on Lingopie.
That would be completely unsustainable in licensing fees, I’m sure.
Instead, they have content licensing agreements with a lot of different content owners, from tv-channels to indie film makers, and others so you can find a great mix of content to suit most moods and personalities.
For Russian I found a lot of indie short films, which were actually quite fun to watch, and for German I noticed crime shows (a la CSI).
Common for most languages was FOOD VIDEOS, which I think is great. Who doesn’t like food, and learning how to cook in your target language is surely a very enjoyable way to pass the time.
There were also a fair few travel-based videos. For example, I was able to find a walking tour of Porto (the city where I live) in European Portuguese (the language I’m currently learning)
In short, the content provided by Lingopie is very diverse, so everyone can definitely find something to enjoy.
There’s also a growing kids section available for some languages. While I wouldn’t recommend children’s content to adult learners, this could be a good resource for parents.
How does Lingopie work?
So, you watch some videos in your target language and suddenly you’re fluent?
Well, not quite!
In order to actually study with the content, you will need to take advantage of Lingopie’s advanced learner features.
They are divided into two categories:
- Player-related features (enhancing the viewing experience)
- Post-viewing features (for learning and revising)
Lingopie Player Features
The Lingopie player is very advanced and comes with a lot of features for language learners:
- Loop Sentence
- Speak Sentence
- Say Sentence
- Subtitles: Target Language/English/Mashup
- Repeat Sentence
- Auto-Pause at the end of each subtitle
- Shows bolded upcoming words to learn
Next to the video, you’ll see the transcript. The current “subtitle” is highlighted, and you can use the features above to manipulate the speed or repetitions of each line.
You can also select if you want target language subtitles only, English subtitles only, or a mix of both.
When you click an individual word in the subtitle, you will see a translation of it and it will be automatically added to your flashcards (which I’ll talk about in a second below.
While you can reduce or increase the speed of the content, I would not recommend this for learning purposes.
It’s not natural, and you don’t want to learn some kind of weird slowed-down version of the language.
When you click a sentence, you will hear it as text-to-speech (robot voice.) It’s a shame that they can’t extract the audio from the video directly, as this is much lower quality, and it may use the wrong country’s pronunciation.
For example, if you’re watching a Portuguese (PT) video, the text-to-speech generated is still Brazilian. I assume this also happens with Spanish, although I did not test this expressly.
A really cool feature is the loop feature, where you can repeat a subtitle over and over again.
This will be especially useful with those tricky words and sentences in your target language. Just keep repeating the same over and over until it makes sense!
When you mark a word in the subtitles, it is automatically added to your flashcards.
These flashcards can then be drilled like a normal flashcard software, or studied in two similar, but different mini games (explained below.)
Not much to say here.
Except that it’s very cool that you can see the clip from the movie where the sentence from the flashcard comes from (context is so important.)
Game 1: Word Master
In Word Master you get shown 3 target language cards, and 3 English cards. Your job is simply to match them with their correct meaning.
I’m not sure why this game is added, as it doesn’t really differ much from the flashcard shown above.
Game 2: Pop Quiz
The second game is called “Pop Quiz” and features multiple choice. Again, not sure why this is in here, as it’s very similar to the flashcards and the other game.
A little variety, I suppose.
Bonus Feature: Audio Books
Some languages also feature audiobooks, like German here. It doesn’t make a huge difference for the overall experience (as you want to pay attention to the player and script anyway, but again, nice for variety)
Lingopie Pros and Cons
I think Lingopie is a nice, affordable, tool that language learners can use for immersion. It’s more fun and exciting to watch content in your target language than many other study methods.
By having multiple tools and games to enrich the experience, you improve your learning accuracy and speed.
They also have a wide variety of videos, and with 8 different languages there is a good selection for the aspiring polyglot as well.
The biggest drawback to Lingopie is the fact that the translations are generated automatically and it uses text-to-speech in places.
The generated translations generally come out accurate for a full subtitle, but problems arise when you click a single word.
Here, the translation engine simply doesn’t have the context to translate very well, so you might end up more confused than if you didn’t have it, which gets even more complicated for some languages more than others.
LingQ – which is a similar tool, just without video, solves this by letting you select multiple words and thus improves the contextual translation (although not perfectly, either.)
What does Lingopie cost?
Lingopie costs $12 on a monthly subscription, but you can get a whole year for just $67 which is more than 50% off.
They also offer a free 7-day trial, so you can explore the content catalogue and determine if the site is useful for your target language and use case.
In general I would recommend giving Lingopie a try. It has a wide variety of content, and the learner tools are highly useful and easy to use.
It’s affordable as well, with a 7 day free trial so you can have a look and give a try before you commit.
For visual learners, this might be one of the best tools out there.
Who is Lingopie best suited for?
I think you need to have developed at least an upper beginner level in your target language, before you can really get the most out of Lingopie.
The content is really made for native speakers, so complete beginners will struggle way too much to enjoy it.
When you’ve built a basic understanding, and you want to improve your listening and vocabulary, then Lingopie is one of the best places you can go.
LingQ is one of my favourite tools at the moment, and is a text/audio version of Lingopie, but it comes at a steeper price. It has a very sleek interface, and a lot of bespoke lessons created by the LingQ team.
FluentU is a direct competitor to Lingopie, and are more established with more content. However, their pricing is extraordinarily expensive compared to Lingopie with a yearly subscription starting at $240 (or almost 4 times the price of Lingopie.
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.