Recently updated to version 5.0, LingQ has quickly become one of my favourite language learning resources. In this updated review I'll go over what's different from previous versions, and why you should almost definitely give it a try.
What is LingQ?
LingQ (pronounced ‘Link!') is an online language learning ecosystem created and popularised by Steve Kaufman that primarily uses reading and audio lessons to teach a bunch of different languages.
At its core, LingQ provides assisted reading and listening exercises on a wide variety of topics. So, should you open an account and subscribe?
Let's take a look in this LingQ review.
What Can You Do On LingQ?
Reading and Listening Exercises
You'll spend the majority of your time on LingQ working through reading and listening exercises.
Creating “LingQs” as you read is the heart of this service.
A LingQ consists of a connection between a word you don't know and its definition. That may sound simple, but I found LingQ's implementation very useful.
When you start taking lessons, most of the words will be highlighted in blue. This means LingQ thinks that you have not seen these words before. You can click a word to turn it yellow and select a definition that will be LingQed (”linked”) to it.
Notably, words you don't create LingQs for will automatically be marked as ‘known' when you head to the next page. That's useful, especially if you already have an intermediate level of understanding of the language; this saves you endless clicking.
LingQ shows you the definition other users found most useful and some alternatives. Sometimes one dictionary's translation of a word doesn't match the more nuanced definition I know from context, so this added value for me.
Second, and speaking of context, the real power of LingQ comes from learning words in their natural context, both in written and spoken communication. Because you run across all of this new vocabulary in the wild, not only do you learn definitions, you also get exposed to all of the glorious subtlety that unlocks language at a higher level.
That's a win in my book.
With hundreds of topics, resources, and themes to choose from, it's unlikely that you'll get bored either.
LingQ Mini Stories
In most languages, LingQ offer a ton of content, but by far the most useful and polished is the series of “LingQ Mini Stories” which contain 60 lessons and get progressively harder.
These are great for taking you along a predetermined trajectory, to increase vocabulary and comprehension. Plus, they go really well with the LingQ interface.
And, it's refreshing to see listening/reading materials that a beginner can get started with and actually get something out of.
Spaced Repetition – Flashcards and Quizzes
Like most modern language teaching systems, LingQ uses spaced repetition to remind you of a word just as it's starting to fade from your memory.
It will prompt you to do flashcards, fill-in-the-blanks, and other quiz-style exercises to keep things fresh in your mind.
While useful, some people might find this feature a little boring.
Most of the benefit of LingQ comes from seeing things in context as well, so there is some discussion to be had whether you actually need to “drill” your unknown or less-known words.
Import Your Own Lessons
Remarkably, LingQ gives you the ability to import texts and ebooks to create your own learning documents.
That's pretty huge. If you've got other language learning materials (even transcripts from Netflix or Youtube videos!) that you'd like to generate LingQs on, you simply need to import the file and start learning.
Some of the lessons that other users have uploaded came from copyrighted materials. LingQ seems to put effort into stopping this, so don't be shocked if your favourite book suddenly gets taken down at some point.
What Other Features Does LingQ Have?
I found this feature quite helpful. Essentially, LingQ builds playlists of material you've read so you can listen to it while you complete other low-level tasks, like driving or cooking. That's a great way to review and get more learning hours out of your day.
Many language learning apps and services offer opportunities to learn with others from around the world.
In the tutoring section you'll be able to find conversational tutors for all the languages offered on the platform. You can even sign up and make money yourself!
There are a few downsides though. There is no real selection process, and no requirements of certificates or training. Those are not essentials, but it might mean you get inferior tutoring.
Secondly, all payments are done using LingQ points which need to be cashed out to converted to real money. In the past there has been some concerns about points expiring, and other things so just keep this in mind if you want to use this service.
Alternatively we recommend italki for your tutoring needs.
Platforms like Duolingo have made gamification all the rage in language learning, and for a good reason! It's nearly universally shown to increase retention and time spent learning. Win-win.
LingQ provides some gamification elements like streaks and the ability to earn coins as you create LingQs, and furthermore you can set your own goals so if you're feeling extra ambitious you can up that target!
Who is LingQ Best For?
To me, LingQ is universally recommendable to most, if not all learners. The platform is flexible in terms of the difficulty levels of content, and you can even upload your own content.
If your text has no audio, it will use a text-to-speech engine to generate it (which can be somewhat problematic in rare cases – like Portuguese, where you might be studying European Portuguese, but the generated speech is Brazilian. No biggie though.
LingQ is ideal for learners who are pursuing multiple languages. Its broad offerings and ability to import custom lessons can help you gain fluency across various languages based on the same base material, a very effective strategy.
Plus, your membership subscription gets you unlimited access to all languages.
What Languages Can You Learn on LingQ?
LingQ has a total of 18 languages in “stable release” with an additional 21 languages in “beta” to be developed further.
You find the usual suspects, but there are also some more exotic languages like Belarusian, Esperanto, Ukrainian, and Latin in the stable releases (plus a ton more in the beta releases!)
That's a lot!
And they're all included in your membership.
How Much Does LingQ Cost?
LingQ's free plan is quite limiting to say the least. You only get 20 lingQs and 5 imported lessons.
However, the upgrade is very affordable and unlocks all features so this isn't a big deal.
Just don't expect to get a free ride with LingQ, as you are quite limited.
The Premium membership on LingQ is where the value shows. Premium allows you to create unlimited LingQs per day on any of the languages on the program, as well as import as many lessons as you'd like.
You also get some perks like offline access on mobile and some advanced statistics.
The Premium Plus plan essentially just gives you 3,000 points (for an additional $30) to spend on additional services (like tutoring) – I wouldn't really recommend that, as it would lock you in for that every month whether you needed them or not.
What Are The Pros and Cons Of LingQ?
- New version 5.0 update really improved the UI and user experience.
- Mini Lesson Courses are fantastic for beginners in all 18 main languages
- An endless variety of lessons on every topic to learn from
- One price for as many languages as you want to learn
- Ability to directly import material you find interesting and create your own lessons
- Statistics give a play-by-play overview of just how much you're learning in the language.
- Playlist feature for learning while doing other tasks like driving or laundry
- Amazing value for money
- The interface, even after the update, can seem a little clunky at times. It can be difficult to find the content you're looking for from the homepage without a lot of clicks.
- The free plan is minimal, and really is only for trying out if you like the method/software.
- Clicking a word in a lesson with audio uses the text-to-speak generator instead of playing the bit of the original audio
- Each language is different (apart from the mini-lessons which are more or less standardised) – this means you can find varying quantities and quality of content for each language.
Are There Any LingQ Alternatives?
LingQ is quite unique in the way that it works with transcripts to build your language skills and vocabulary in context.
There used to be a freeware online script called “Learning With Text” with did something similar, but not nearly as elaborate or fleshed out as LingQ
LingQ vs. Duolingo
The 800-pound gorilla in the room, Duolingo, dominates the world of teaching languages, especially for beginners. However, the experience with Duolingo couldn't be more different. It's essentially flashcards with constant “tests” that can quickly get quite boring. The only benefit of Duo is that it's 100% free. You can find out more about Duolingo in our in-depth review.
LingQ vs. Busuu
Busuu, like the other two above, offers games and exercises as their primary form of teaching. In my opinion, the style of courses Busuu offer is inferior to LingQ (and frankly, quite boring!) It's a lot of typing and sentences taken out of context. I.e not much better than normal flashcards.
However, for some people this will be much easier to put time into, so in the end it will be much more effective.
If you'd like more info, read our in-depth review of Busuu.
LingQ is one of my favourite language learning resources right now. I think the study method is flexible, but powerful, and it's easy and fun to get through a lot of text.
Comprehensible input is the key to success, and LingQ is one of the best platforms out there for it. Even for complete beginners!
The proof is in the pudding. Steve Kaufmann is one of the world's most succesful
The ability to work on any of the 35+ languages on the platform makes it especially useful for those learners working on a wide variety of language goals.
So, get a premium subscription. You won't regret it.
- 60 Lesson Mini-Courses are excellent, especially for beginners
- Easy-to-use platform with lots of flexibility in learning
- Affordable membership (about $10 USD per month)
- UI/UX has come a long way from earlier versions, but there is still room for improvement.
- Text-to-speech when marking a word or a sentence, even if the lesson has "real" audio
- Can be an acquired taste to learn from text
LingQ is a market-leading platform that integrates transcripts with a robust spaced-repetition system, where you're able to keep track of your known and new words as they come in the content.
On top of this, they've recently gone all out and produced 60-lesson beginner courses in a variety of languages, that feature bespoke audio recordings to use with the software's tools. This content alone is worth the price of admission, but with the interactive repetition and flashcard features you really get an excellent product.
Plus, LingQ is priced extremely reasonably at around 10 USD per month, depending on how long you commit for.
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.