Learn German Easily
Created by Lucas Kern
The beginners introduction to LingQ for German learning
In this guide I’ll tell you everything about LingQ for German learning.
I will show you how you’ll benefit from using it, take you through its user interface and explain how the main features work, and by the end you’ll know enough to start using it immediately.
I’ll then show you how it compares against other German learning alternatives and what people are saying about it, so you know whether it’s worth your time.
You’ll then get a chance to try it for free and see how good it really is.
What is LingQ and why should I care?
LingQ is a language learning platform for learners of all levels, and it teaches you through stories, lessons and articles while keeping track of all new words that you learn, repeating them in other lessons until you master and are able to use them.
Let’s start by looking at Viola’s experience before she used LingQ:
I took German classes for several years before moving to Hamburg.
I took a placement test on my arrival and to my despair, I scored just above a novice level! I was even disappointed because I struggled to communicate with any native German. How was this possible yet I had passed all my German classes in the U.K?
And then came her moment of realization
I came to realize that the problem was that the way I had been taught focused on memorizing grammar, instead of how to converse in real-world situations the way LingQ does.
We acquire language when we understand what people tell us and what we read, i.e. when we get ‘comprehensible input’. As we get comprehensible input through reading and listening, we acquire the grammar and vocabulary of the second language
– Stephen Krashen
The first thing you need to know is that LingQ gives you comprehensible input through stories…
But wait, it’s not just another German learning platform that uses stories to teach.
Let’s listen to more from Viola to know why…
The interesting thing was that even though I felt totally lost whenever I hung out with my German friends, I was getting something out of it that cannot be gotten in a German class.
Not even a German class in Hamburg.
I got exposed to different accents, speaking speeds and most importantly, slang, and this enabled me to understand how words get interconnected to form sentences and what those sentences meant.
And this is where LingQ is most useful.
But how exactly?
Look at the following example…
We have Mark talking to his friend Jake at a house party about a tweet he had recently published:
Mark – dude, I saw your post about Madagascar. Did you really go there?
Jake – nah, I was bluffing man, I didn’t go nowhere. You believed that stuff?
This is not anything like what you would find in a language class, because these are friends using language at liberty and for what it is – a tool for communication.
When you use real life conversations to learn a language you understand it as it should be and also as it can be
And this is one area where LingQ stands out, because you can just import any text-based conversation and learn German from it.
Whenever you import an eBook on LingQ, it is automatically split into 2000 word parts and turned into a course, and then you can learn in the context of that story.
And you are not only limited to text – you can also upload an audio file for an imported text so that you get to listen along too.
But this is for those who will not be satisfied with LingQ’s own database of content, which is far bigger than any other I have come across.
…even an independent review from the founder of smartlanguagelearner.com admits this
While FluentU and Yabla have pretty large databases, LingQ crushes them in that department. If you can’t find enough content that interests you on LingQ, I’m afraid all hope is lost for you
~ Noel van Vliet
LingQ helps you learn German the way Scandinavians learn English
In Sweden, an estimated 86% of the population speak English, and they speak it very well.
This is among the highest levels of non-native English proficiency in the world, and you can even tell from Swedish EDM music.
As of 2020 statistics, Denmark scored even higher and both Norway and Finland are in the top 5.
Why do these countries excel so much in English?
The biggest contributor to the success of Scandinavians in language learning is their consumption of English media. This is important because they are not only exposed to English early on in their lives but also regularly. The amount of exposure one has to a foreign language usually correlates to one’s level of comprehension, ability to understand the language when spoken quickly and one’s ability to imitate sounds
Consuming a variety of content on different subjects is the key here, and that’s just what LingQ offers.
This is what will help you understand German in an authentic context and grasp the language in different angles.
As in any language, German has its own slight nuances even in sentences with the same meaning, and only exposure to a variety of content can help you understand them all.
Let’s look at the following examples in English:
When I look for how to learn German in 3 months, I find a lot of tips, although mostly they are not that helpful
When I search how to learn German in 3 months I find many tips, but many of them are quite useless
When I search how to learn German in 3 months I find a number of tips, even though most of them don’t help me much
While the meaning is relatively the same, there are nuances which may be difficult to understand if you are learning English unless you have been exposed to a variety of content or different contexts where English is spoken, and it’s the same case for German.
LingQ also works in line with the following three hacks for learning German.
The 3 hacks for learning German that LingQ follows very closely
1. Study what you like
When you study what you like, you are able to stay motivated because you are enjoying the content. LingQ has a very large database to select from and you can also import your own content to learn from.
2. Learn to notice
Every time you notice something – a pronunciation, structure, spelling etc, you help your brain create patterns that lead to proper language habits. LingQ helps you to notice by shading new words differently from words you are learning and those you already know.
3. Words over grammar
The better your passive vocabulary, the more you understand. And the more you understand, the more likely it is that you can speak. I checked on LingQ forums and members’ vocabulary counts are often in the 20000+ range. The closest competitor to that was in the 12000 – 15000 range, with others even below 9000.
How LingQ works for German learning
The obvious question at this point is, how does LingQ work and how easy is it to learn German with it?
First off, the focus is on reading and listening.
Remember, the more vocabulary you know and understand, the more likely you are to speak German.
Here is a screenshot of a LingQ lesson:
Why are some words shaded in yellow?
Because these are words that you have encountered elsewhere, and now they are being repeated in a different context so that you can master them.
If you look to the right, the word ‘Hunderasse’ has been selected and explained.
This is because I clicked on it to get reminded what it means.
Now let’s suppose I also forgot the meaning of the word ‘schlauste’.
All I have to do is click on it, and LingQ will remind me what it means as well as how it is pronounced.
Another thing to note is that even though I am only interested in the word schlauste, LingQ always puts it in a context so that you don’t focus on individual words.
This is very important because if you can remember the 7 rules for learning German from my email course, focusing on sentences instead of individual words is one of them.
If you are however hearing about the 7 rules for learning German for the first time and you’d like to get them all, you can sign up for my free German course and I’ll give them to you.
Now you’ll realize that the context of the word ‘schlauste’ is shaded in grey, (Welcher Hund ist der schlauste?) and you can click on the grey area to get the full meaning of the sentence, along with your word of interest.
How to learn German words with LingQ
So far we have only looked at words shaded in yellow.
These are words you have already encountered previously, and so they are not new.
How then do you learn new words?
Well, LingQ’s algorithm will introduce new words to you as you progress, and these words will be shaded in blue.
You should note that according to LingQ, a new word is not only a word which is entirely new to you. It could be a variation of a word you already know, for instance in the past or future tense.
Let’s take the word ‘kaufen’ for instance:
er, sie, es kauft
er, sie, es kaufte
As much as you know the meaning of the word kaufen, LingQ is going to treat its past tense as a new word, and this enables you to take notice of how words change in different tenses.
And remember we saw earlier that taking notice of such changes is one of the hacks to learn German quickly.
If you already know what ‘kaufte’ means, just inform LingQ that you already know this word and it won’t be shaded again.
If you however need to practice more with this word then you will choose one of the definitions beneath it and this will create a link (LingQ). The word ‘kaufte’ will then appear in successive lessons with a yellow background until you master it.
The more words you learn the more LingQs you create.
With this basic introduction you are good to go, and you can just try LingQ right away
How do I know if LingQ is for me?
LingQ is for you if:
- you want to practice German using content you love
- you want to join a community of German learners and even speak with native Germans
- you want to practice German using stories with different points of view
- you want to practice listening to how native Germans speak when they speak to fellow Germans
How is LingQ better than other German learning methods?
There are many ways and methods to learn German.
Some people even claim it’s possible to learn German on Youtube.
Many things are possible.
You are however not here to know about all options out there.
You are here to know if LingQ is the best option and why.
The simple answer to that is that LingQ has the largest database of content I have come across, and I’m not the only one who agrees with this.
It also enables you to learn through content you love instead of whatever is available, as is the case with many other alternatives.
But aren’t the alternatives which use video better?
This is the problem with using videos:
If you had to learn a foreign language using a video just by watching it, it’d take forever. After watching it for the 500th time, maybe you’d understand 5 words. Not very efficient…
– Noel van Vliet
To address this problem, some alternatives enable you to loop the videos until you understand before you move on, and others offer games and quizzes based on the videos you’ve watched.
This is very encouraging, but remember you are still limited to the content that is available.
Another problem with using videos is that the videos available are not created but curated, and therefore each video is independent of the other.
LingQ excels here because it only keeps repeating words you need to know instead of random words from a random video. You don’t want to waste time watching videos of words you know while you could be learning new words, right?
Lastly, remember that learners who have used other methods often boast of learning vocabulary in the 12000 – 15000 range, while LingQ users are often in the 20000+ range.
You can verify this by checking on German learning forums.
What do other people say about LingQ?
To start with, LingQ has a 4.0 star – rating on Google Play and a 4.5 – star rating on iOS.
This means that you are still sorted if you are more of a mobile than a PC user.
And it doesn’t stop there…
Many industry experts have also reviewed it, and this is what they had to say:
Fresh learning materials are important in keeping me engaged in learning. And with LingQ, there’s always something new to discover. 5 stars.
David Masters – Fluent in 3 Months
I love the versatility of LingQ and I especially love that it supports most of the languages that I’m learning. It’s definitely one of my new favorite learning tools. Highly recommended.
Shannon Kennedy – eurolinguiste
I’ve used their program for learning French and Arabic, and am beginning to dig into Spanish and German now. So far, LingQ has been my main tool in language learning, and even though it could have been done with other methods, I keep coming back to LingQ. I warmly recommend it to everyone who is serious about studying a foreign language.
Thomas – My Love of Mornings
Is LingQ for free?
With free LingQ, you get to listen, read and practice with all the stories, articles and lessons, but there is a limited number of LingQs which you can create.
There are some extra features which you will need to upgrade to gain access to, such as Skype tutor lessons, but LingQ has been made in such a way that you get to learn a lot even without paying anything.
You can choose to go premium if you feel that you need the extra features, but I always recommend my students to try LingQ for free and see what it’s like first.
Let me conclude with these remarks from Noel van Vliet, founder of smartlanguagelearner.
He is fluent in 3 languages and is dedicated to helping others learn a new language, and thus he offers an independent view of language platforms that work and those that don’t.
Here’s what he had to say about LingQ:
I was actually pleasantly surprised by it. When I started checking out LingQ, I didn’t think it would be very good.
But it actually is…
Not perfect…but very good.
The way you can always find (or import) something interesting to learn from is a huge plus. There’s no need to be bored with LingQ.
I don’t care about the extra features, like the Skype tutor lessons, and especially not about having to pay an additional fee to obtain them.
But LingQ really is an assisted reader.
That’s its strength and what you’d want to buy a subscription for.
– Noel van Vliet, smart language learner