By far my favorite way to learn a new language is through using LingQ. I came across them by chance several years ago and have been hooked ever since.
I’ve tried it out with Japanese, Ukrainian, Chinese (Traditional), and even English (ha!). But the one language that I really put all of my time and effort into was Japanese, so this post will be my LingQ 5.0 Japanese review.
They recently came out with a major update to their platform (hence the 5.0), so I would also like to update my old review to talk about LingQ as it is today. Let’s begin!
How LingQ Helps You Learn
LingQ is primarily focused on helping people learn a new language through lots of reading and lots of listening.
This method of learning is known as “input” and in my own personal experience it is a very effective way of learning Japanese.
I think this is because the human brain is a pattern seeking and pattern recognition mechanism.
When you feed it lots and lots of material, it has a lot of opportunities to notice those patterns and figure out the meaning behind them.
For myself I’ve noticed this when I encounter a word I’ve seen a few times before and am able to understand it, even when it’s presented in an entirely new context.
It works well with grammar too, as the same pattern occurs again and again in new situations and with new words surrounding it.
However, the main problem that I had with learning new words and phrases in Japanese was looking up the meanings of new ones and then trying to remember them.
LingQ’s platform helped me out immensely with this!
As you can see from the picture above (and the previous one too), LingQ lets you read and listen to material entirely in Japanese.
When you click on a word, information like its meaning and pronunciation are provided. Being able to look up and learn new words like this has saved me hundreds of hours (not even exaggerating).
But LingQ goes even further than that.
As you can see from the pictures, the words have different colored highlights associated with them.
Blue words are new, which means you haven’t encountered them yet and have an opportunity to learn them.
Just click on the word, and see what it means!
Once you do this, you add it to your own personal dictionary and the color changes to yellow.
Yellow words are ones that you’ve seen before and can try to remember what they mean. This sort of recall exercise is excellent in helping lock in new information.
Finally, once you feel that you know the word, you can change the color to white.
Eventually you get to the point where an entire page is white because you’ve learned all the new words, and you can simply focus on enjoying the material.
It is a surprisingly simple, yet incredibly effective way to learn new words. That, and it saves a lot of time.
Why Learning Vocabulary Is Goal #1
Steve Kaufmann is one of the founders of LingQ and creates a lot of YouTube videos that talk about language learning in general, and how people can use LingQ to study more effectively.
Here is a video of his that explains why learning vocabulary is the #1 goal in language learning and how LingQ is designed to help.
Check it out as he shows many of the tools and features that are designed into the platform.
Learn From Content You Love
If you’ve ever taking a language learning class through school, you’ve no doubt gone through the textbook learning phrases like “the apple is red.”
…which of course it something I say every day, lol!
In my opinion, there’s nothing wrong with beginner materials since they are really just meant to get you going.
But the whole point of learning a new language is so that you can enjoy the good stuff!
When it came to learning Japanese, I was primarily interested in being able to read manga and light novels, watch anime, and play JRPGs all in the native language.
The thing that blew my mind was that LingQ allowed me to do most of these while I was learning!
LingQ allows people to import native Japanese content and start using it to learn the language.
To me, that is incredible because it turns study time into play time.
In other words, I didn’t have to learn Japanese first and then I would be able to read The Rising Of The Shield Hero.
Instead, I could import the light novel and audiobook and use it as my learning materials.
Here are some of the things I’ve learned Japanese from after importing them into LingQ:
- YouTube videos
- Netflix shows
- News articles
- Light novels
- Guided courses
For me this was great for two reasons:
- I got to enjoy my study materials.
- I learn the common words and phrases used in these materials.
So instead of learning polite Japanese from a book and then trying to understand what the characters were saying when I watched anime, I could just learn those exact words in the anime I was watching and pretty soon I understood it all.
And all I had to do was click on the “import” button. LingQ did all the heavy lifting for me.
LingQ also has a large library of material for users (beginner to advanced levels).
So even if you don’t have anything that you want to import right now, there is plenty of stuff to look through until you find something interesting.
If all of this sounds cool, then you can try it out for free by clicking the link below:
There is quite a bit more that you can do on LingQ and I’d like to talk about some of that next.
Practice Speaking and Writing Too
I would say that the primary focus of the platform is reading and listening (input), but they also provide opportunities to practice speaking and writing (output) as well.
There are lots of qualified tutors that you can book an appointment with and practice having a conversation with – entirely in Japanese!
The nice thing about doing this through LingQ is that the tutors can note any words or phrases that you struggle with so that you can later review them in LingQ.
There is also a section where you can practice writing in Japanese and people can make corrections to it in order to help it sounds both correct and natural.
On Computer, Phone, And Tablet
The great thing about digital technology is that you can access it from just about anywhere. I’ve used LingQ on my computer at home, my computer at work (don’t tell my boss!), my android phone while I was out, and also my iPad when I visited my brother.
Generally speaking, I will use LingQ on my computer at home when I know that I can sit down and spend an hour or so going through new material that contains a lot of new words I will need to look up and add to my personal dictionary.
But when I’m out for a walk, driving in the car, or doing data entry type stuff at work I will typically load up LingQ on my smart phone and go to the Playlist where I can listen to the audio of my lessons.
This is nice too because all I have to do is upload the material once (usually on my computer) and then I can access it anytime I want to.
I might start reading a new chapter at home, but finish it the next day on my phone during my lunch break.
It’s pretty convenient.
If you’re like me, you are interested in seeing statistics on the things you do a lot.
For example, I like to see how many steps I’ve taken in a day / week / month. I like to see how many hours I’ve played certain video games on steam, and so on.
LingQ allows you to do the same thing with categories such as:
- Known Words
- LingQs Created
- Listening Hours
- Words of Reading
- Coins Earns
- and more
The reason why I like this is because it provides motivation to keep at it, and even to set goals for improvement.
Speaking of goals, LingQ hosts regular challenges that people in the community can sign up for in order to work on improving their language abilities together.
Which brings me to the community. There is a forum for everyone so that people can connect with one another, share success stories, study tips, or just hang out.
The people I’ve spoken with are super nice and have always been really helpful whenever I’ve had a question.
Where To Try Out LingQ
In my own personal experience, LingQ has been the best way to learn Japanese.
The cool thing is that everyone can sign up for a free account to see if they like it.
I’ve talked about using it myself and the many things that you can do with it, but the only real way to know if something is right for you or not is to try it yourself.
So if you’re interested in LingQ and want to get a good feel for how the program really works, then I would encourage you to try it out and see if you enjoy it.
Like I mentioned before, I came across it accidentally and was really only planning on giving it a shot for one month or so.
But all these years later and I still love it!
And as a person who has used it for several years, I can say that it has only gotten better over time as the company continues to improve how the platform works and as more and more content gets added to the library.
Perhaps the most important thing that I got from using LingQ was that it saved me a lot of time and frustration learning new Japanese words because of how quick and easy I found it to be.
It also allowed me to enjoy the language learning journey by studying from the things that I enjoyed most.
It’s the most effective and enjoyable way to learn Japanese that I’ve ever found.
Let me know if you have any questions or comments. Thanks!
Further Resources for Learning Japanese: