The Lingvist app is a pretty satisfying language learning app that, at first glance, doesn’t seem to be much different from all the rest. Seriously, I spent a good hour or two working my way through the Lingvist app feelings pretty disappointed…until I found what Lingvist is really about.
There are two sides to this language learning app, so this Lingvist review will dive into who this app is best for as well as where it REALLY shines!
Lingvist review: the basics
First things first: unfortunately, Lingvist only offers a few languages:
- Castilian Spanish
- Latin American Spanish
This is SO different from most other language learning resources; usually when they only offer a handful of languages, it’s because they go DEEP into the ones they offer. Which…is not entirely true about Lingvist. Though they’ve been around since 2014, there’s shockingly little opportunity to use it.
Anways. From the start, the Lingvist website makes it very clear what they focus on: vocabulary.
As you create an account and get funneled into the Lingvist process, you go through a few different questions and a couple tests, as well.
Y’all know I love when a language learning app asks me about my current experience in a language, or at least accurately tests me! I’m not a fan of inefficient resources that assume all language learners are the same until proven otherwise.
Unfortunately, that’s not exactly what happened.
In case you didn’t know, I definitely no more than 35 words in Spanish. So that was kind of disappointing. However, it’s obvious that Lingvist is built for beginner learners. This’ll be even more obvious as I go through the first lesson.
Lingvist then put me through almost kind of random beginner vocab. I mean, it is a perfectly valid strategy (pick up words here and there until all of a sudden you’ve picked them all up), I think this approach, in particular, was strange for me.
This feels like a distant cousin of “picking up new vocab and grammar through context”, which is, in my opinion, the best way to pick it up. I think the individual phrases threw me off a little bit. As in, it felt too close to memorization, not contextual.
And then Lingvist threw me off again. It gave me this as “new vocabulary”.
This was annoying to me for 2 reasons:
- I literally told Lingvist that I am an advanced learner. Why would you show “yo” to an advanced learner? That’s literally square 1 of Spanish!
- In the first initial quiz where it tested my knowledge, it didn’t test me on this. In other words, that test seems wildly inefficient.
For a beginner language learner, this would be great. There’s no such thing as a wrong answer (it just tells you the correct answer and waits for you to get it right) and it does honestly feel really nice and smooth to interact with it.
P.S. Stick to the Lingvist app. I started this out on desktop and…it wasn’t good. The app is much nicer!
Besides vocab, Lingvist does offer a little bit of grammar and speaking practice on the side – you can turn your microphone on to answer questions (as per usual, voice-recognition software is fairly hit-or-miss), and there’s an entire grammar section, as well.
(Seriously, stick to the Lingvist app, this section is much prettier on mobile).
While Lingvist does have grammar explanations and examples from beginner to advanced, which is a good sign that there is plenty of room for growth in your language, these sections don’t connect to any practice.
What I would love is to be able to go into the grammar section, review a concept, and have the opportunity to actively practice that concept, either on the same page or through a simple link.
I do understand that the concept is to learn the language naturally, but I feel like this grammar section is hindering my opportunity to practice; it’s not like I can’t find this info elsewhere!
If you want some one-off practice, Lingvist does offer what they call “challenges”. These challenges are more comprehensions than anything else. I do genuinely enjoy them for an easy, feel-good break, but I do also wish that they were more than one question long!
Comprehension/learning to recognize correct grammar is a real skill! I would at least like to go for 5 or so questions before switching gears.
I do honestly like how not only is it a small change from the regular courses, but they switch up the multiple choice so you can’t space out and get it right. I dig how they keep you on your toes!
Here’s one of my favorite parts of Lingvist:
Whaddaya know, I didn’t know that! That is seriously interesting, Lingvist, thanks for that tidbit!
While the initial course that Lingvist sends you through seems really random, you don’t have to stick with it. You can choose whichever collection of vocabulary you want, whether it’s a course they’ve created or ones that you create.
There are a fair amount of courses available on Lingvist, and paired with the grammar, beginner language learners do have a real opportunity to make some serious strides in their language comprehension.
Now, you know how I mentioned Lingvist offers you the chance to create your own courses?
Hold onto your pants, because I’m about to blow your mind!
Lingvist’s main idea is to have you learning vocab and grammar in context, not through memorization. Like I said, I love this idea – the way they go about it isn’t perfect for me, but I’ll give credit where credit is due.
(And boy is credit due!)
When you go to create a course, you have two options: adding your own words, or scanning text.
Honestly, both of these options are pretty cool, and I’m upset that this wasn’t the first thing I tried in this app! Let’s see what happens when you add your own words.
When you select this option, all you have to do is throw a couple of related words in there, and the app will automatically (like, within seconds) spit out a whole list of related words for you to add to your arsenal.
And, going along with the “in context” thing, it tells you the sentences you’ll be using to learn them. Don’t like them? No worries! Lingvist will give you a variety of other sentences to choose from that uses that same word in different contexts.
For the first time, I do have to say Anki has some competition!
But wait, there’s more! Say, like a good contextual language learner, you have a book or magazine in your hands that you want to read, but you’re looking at the page and you’re drawing a blank.
Fortunately, Lingvist still has you covered! And honestly? This is the greatest language learning tool I’ve seen in a long, long time.
Thaaaaat’s right! Open up the Lingvist app, take a picture of the text that you need help understanding, and Lingvist will automatically extrapolate the words, translate them, and give you sample sentences to practice.
While it doesn’t get all the words, it’s got a pretty good track record, plus it separates the words that it knows you already have a good handle on.
Seriously. Mind. BLOWN.
Surprisingly, Lingvist isn’t totally upfront about their pricing structure! You do have three payment options: monthly, quarterly, and annually.
After digging around in the FAQ, I happened upon the info that you can request a refund within 2 weeks of purchase if you decide Lingvist isn’t for you.
I was totally prepared to pay for a month’s subscription when I created an account for a Lingvist review, but I was never instructed to. In fact, I didn’t even realize that I was on a 2 week free trial until I dug around the website a little bit and found a timer.
Kind of strange but…I’ve seen stranger.
Nonetheless, this price point is just a bit higher than I expected, and can be considered a tad pricier than a lot of competitors; normally I feel like you’d find something like this in the $8-15/month price range.
Lingvist review: how it boils down
This Lingvist review definitely took me by surprise. What started out as a kind of poorly placed language learning app for beginners ended up as a resource that I’m not going to be forgetting about. At this point, I’m mostly upset that it’s only available in a few languages!
So who’s it for? To take full advantage of the Lingvist experience, you should be a beginner in the language. A little bit of experience will certainly help, but if you’re too close to that intermediate/advanced boundary, a lot of the content will just be superfluous for you.
Where this app really shines is the “create your own course” section. Even if you’re at that intermediate/advanced level, you can still take full advantage of this section by getting a little leg up on new categories of vocab or a text you want to read.
And for an app that you do need to pay for after the first couple of weeks, you really need to be using that tool for it to be worth it. As far as the base content is concerned, you can easily find that elsewhere for much cheaper.
But if you plan on using the “create your own course” feature a lot, those prices could definitely be worth it!