This post was updated November 2020.
The Lingvist app is a smooth, attractive app that does one thing really well: vocab. I mean, it also has a few other features that are just as helpful, but they’re more of an afterthought than anything else.
In this Lingvist review, I’ll discuss all these functions, what kind of language learner can benefit from it, and help you decide whether or not it’ll help you accomplish your language learning goals.[convertkit form=1363388]
For native English speakers (or those who want to practice English by learning another language with it), Lingvist offers the following languages:
- Brazilian Portuguese
- Castilian Spanish
- Latin American Spanish
However, from the sheer number of languages that Lingvist teaches English from, it’s pretty clear to see who most of their audience is.
Lingvist supports British English from:
- Simplified Chinese
and American English for speakers of:
- Traditional Chinese
- French from German, Estonian, & Russian
- Spanish from German
It’s an interesting collection of languages, I think!
Testing Lingvist Spanish
Anyways. From the start of this Lingvist review, 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 an assessment to see where your vocab and reading comprehension is. It’ll start out at the very very beginning, and it’ll go about as far as you can!
To get you started in the Lingvist mindset, this initial assessment is 50 flashcards long. It might take a minute, but be patient and help Lingvist get a good idea of where your foreign language skills are at.
Get an answer wrong? Lingvist will correct you and have you try again – even if the only thing you got wrong was missing an accent. Lingvist gets a gold star for enforcing the importance of appropriate accents!
Without making any decisions on the content you’re learning (you can, and I’ll get to that in a sec), Lingvist puts you through a 50-card set of flashcards every day. Apparently, 4 days of this and you’ll “really start feeling the difference!”.
What else does Lingvist have to offer besides their automatically generated selection of flashcards? Let’s walk through Lingvist decks, Challenges, Insights, and Grammar!
Lingvist review: decks
Basically, Lingvist decks are collections of vocab words organized into themes. You can use the ones that Lingvist generated, or you can generate them yourself.
These flashcards follow the same rules as the others: Lingvist will start you out basic and easy, and continue to push your knowledge of the language until it can get a gist of your level.
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.
All three of these options are meant to improve your vocabulary, and they all do so through sentences so as to A) not get boring and B) be much more efficient.
So, if you’re looking to work your vocabulary muscle, Lingvist gets an A+!
Lingvist review: Challenges
The second tap of the Lingvist app is labeled Challenges. You can either pick one from the whole list of Lingvist challenges, or you can filter by Conversations, Grammar, Listen, or Read.
These challenges are all very quick, very easy, very smooth activities that you can use to practice speaking, grammar, listening comprehension, and reading comprehension, respectively. They’re also all labeled by level, so if you’re at a more advanced level, just scroll down.
The Conversations challenges aren’t nearly as good as Mondly’s chatbot (which provides you suggestions on how to respond, not just a pre-made script), but they are a helpful tool nonetheless…and also really pretty!
When you finish a challenge, you’ll get a (genuinely) fun, interesting fact about the language to help educate you as well as keep you going.
Whaddaya know, I didn’t know that! That is seriously interesting, Lingvist, thanks for that tidbit!
Another handy tool for consuming mass amounts of vocab: Lingvist’s insights. Under this section of the Lingvist app, you can not only see your 5 last seen vocab words, 5 most practiced vocab words, and your entire word list complete with:
- native audio
- contextual sentence
- how long it’s been since you last saw it
- and how often you’ve practiced it
but you also get this nice little graph to help you keep track of how many words you’re practicing in how much time.
It’s similar to Anki’s statistics, but much easier on the eyes.
I do have to say that Anki’s statistics are significantly more detailed, but simply being able to see the number of cards/minutes/per day will be enough for plenty of language learners.
Lingvist review: Grammar
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.
Lingvist does flashcards really well, so I’m disappointed that this grammar section doesn’t have flashcards (or at least some sort of fill-in-the-blank practice) connected to it. I feel like it would be easy enough to collect these into their own flashcard decks, y’know?
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 with excellent practice (I’m thinking Kwiziq or Babbel, off the top of my head)!
The Lingvist app used to be weirdly mysterious about its pricing structure, but fortunately you now get the Lingvist price front and center when you first create your account.
With the monthly and annual plans you do get a 7-day or 14-day free trial, respectively. And with Lingvist free, you do get access to everything! Switch up your language all you want – Lingvist is your oyster for a limited time!
At these prices, is Lingvist worth it? I think so – especially with that lifetime membership! You’re not just limited to the vocab they’ve put together, you can also (instantly & easily) create your own vocab lists that are relevant to whatever it is that you’re working on. That’s a tough thing to put a price on, I think.
Who should use the Lingvist app?
The Lingvist app is an excellent resource for language learners of all levels who want to improve their vocab. I mean, not only do you get a variety of courses and themed vocabulary, but the extra special “Create a Deck” function that allows you to spontenously create flashcards from a theme or from a picture of a book is pretty out of this world.
The flexibility Lingvist offers language learners for getting in new vocab also means its an excellent help for reading comprehension; seriously, just open a book that’s too difficult for you, take a picture, and badah bing badah bam, you have an automatic flashcard deck!
Can you tell I’m excited about that function? ‘Cause I am. It’s a pretty big deal.
The only resource that compares to Lingvist is Anki, which is not nearly as pretty and, even though you can import vocab lists in a spreadsheet, it’ll take you more than 2 seconds to create a vocab list for your material.