LingQ (pronounced “link”) is a language learning platform that I’ve been using for over a year now and since I often recommend it to other people, I thought that it was about time to provide an explanation on how I use LingQ to learn Japanese so that people can see how it works.
I’ve included a YouTube video of this same topic directly below this text, so if you would rather watch the LingQ walkthrough rather than read about it, you can do so by scrolling down and clicking on it.
In fact, the video probably does a better job of explaining everything since you can actually see what I’m doing rather than just looking at some screenshots and reading my explanations, but I’m giving you both options so that you can choose which one works best for you.
If you would like to try out LingQ for free, you can do so by clicking here.
How To Find Interesting Lessons
When you first log into the website you are taken to the main lesson feed that displays a lot of lessons that you can pick from and begin reading and listening to.
There are three ways that you can sort through these in order to find something that is right for you.
Method 1: Select the right difficulty level.
You can see in the picture right above the big square “1” a section that says “Intermediate 1 – Advanced 2” which is the current difficulty level that I have set for lessons. You can change this slider to include the lower two levels (Beginner 1 & 2) in order to get access to everything. You can also filter out lessons that are too hard for you so that you don’t get overwhelmed.
Method 2: Filter by category.
On the left of the lessons there are several options for you to choose from as far as types of materials go. There are graded lessons that are great for when you’re new to the language, there are sections that are devoted to books for when you’re ready to read fiction (or non-fiction), there are sections on current and old news, and so on and so forth.
Method 3: Search by lesson name or author.
The final method that you can use is to type something into the search bar at the top right part of the lesson feed and then hit enter. This will allow you to search for a specific topic (such as particles) or for the name of a book/anime, or for an author’s name.
The thing to keep in mind when searching is that it will only show results that are consistent with the difficulty level you have selected. So if you have it set to beginner stuff only, and then do a search for Natsume Sōseki’s books, you probably won’t see any results, despite the fact that some of his works on available on LingQ.
How To Adjust Page Settings
When you first go into a lesson, the page looks pretty clunky because it doesn’t know what your preferred settings are for things such as “furigana” and “font size” and “text to speech” etc. The first thing you need to do is click on the cog icon in the top right and then customize it to your liking.
Here are the changes I make from the default settings:
- Increase the Test Size once.
- Turn the Asian Script Settings to off.
- Uncheck the “Show spaces between words” box.
- Uncheck the “Auto LingQ creation” box.
- Uncheck the “Review LingQs when paging” box.
- Uncheck the “Auto play text-to-speech” box.
I do these particular settings so that it’s easy for me to read the lesson smoothly and without being interrupted by some of the features. If you’re newer to Japanese, then you might prefer to leave some of them on such as the script settings or the text-to-speech.
Really the best thing to do is simply to mess around with it yourself until you find something that works well for you.
How To “LingQ” New Words
When you go into a new lesson, each word will be one of three colors:
- Blue = New Word
- Yellow = LingQ Word
- White = Known Word
When you first start out, all of the words will be blue because you haven’t yet added them to your profile’s dictionary, but the process of doing so is pretty straightforward.
The first thing you do is click on a blue word, like I’ve done in the above picture (hint: red arrow). This brings up some community created definitions on the right-hand side that you can choose from. If you find one that you like, you simply click on it and it will attach that definition to the new word and then change the word to yellow.
As you continue reading, you are likely to run into this same word again, but of course this time it will be yellow which reminds you that you’ve seen it before. If you can’t recall the meaning or reading of the word, you can just click on it and the assigned definition will appear on the right for you to review.
Personally, I always like to have the reading right next to the meaning of new words, so in this particular case I would choose either the first option, or the third one.
If you don’t see any that you like, you can also create your own with the help of several online dictionaries that are available through the interface.
After a while, you will re-encounter a yellow word (a “LingQ”) and you will naturally remember what it is. When this happens it is a good time to change the color of the word to white, indicating that you now know this word.
How I Learn Japanese On LingQ
The process that I personally use to learn Japanese is to read an entire page from start to finish, creating any new LingQs that are necessary and then to listen to the native speaker read that same page (you can do this by clicking on the big blue play button in the top left).
The reason why I always like to read first and then listen to the same material is because there are often times when I think a word should be pronounced a certain way, but then when I hear the native speaker pronounce it a little differently, due to the structure of the sentence, I can learn how it should actually be said.
This is a nice form of reinforcement, and then I can also try pronouncing the words and phrases myself a few times after listening to the native if I feel so inclined.
Once I’ve completed all of that, I then move on to the next page in the lesson and continue the same process until I am finished.
When I use this method, I will often come across yellow words and just know what the meaning and readings are for it, which then lets me move them to white and count them as “learned words.” It’s kind of a weird feeling since these words are, as Steve Kaufmann puts it, “learned incidentally rather than intentionally” but it seems to work very well for a large volume of words (thousands).
Try It Out Yourself
If you’d like to try out LingQ for yourself, you can do so for free by clicking on the link below:
The only bad thing about the free trial version is that you are limited to 20 LingQs, which in my opinion isn’t nearly enough to let you realize the true power of the system.
So hopefully this blog post (or the YouTube Video) will do a good job of explaining how you can use the platform to learn Japanese.
If you have any questions on anything, just let me know with a comment below! Thanks!