Lingvist 2.0: thematisation of vocabulary

  • Hi Folks, I found Lingvist just a month ago and I am hooked! It's the most fun I've had practicing french in my life (aside from real-life conversations)! And my vocabulary is increasing rapidly - very effective learning tool.

    Here's my wishlist for Lingvist 2.0: Have a series of Topic Sections, for example: all the words one would encounter in the kitchen (or any other room in the house), all the words one would encounter in any subject you find in a newspaper (politics, art, science, news, drive, crime, etc...). I would happily pay $10ea for permanent access to all those sections.

    What do you think? Is this possible?

  • @lisa-lingvist said in Lingvist 2.0: thematisation of vocabulary:

    We are building a medical module

    Oh. My. God.

    You have no idea how happy I am now. You just made my week. I'm learning Spanish because I'm an ER doc in California. I've done Duo to the end, then sort of 'graduated to Lingvist' after trial and error with other options (never got in the Memerise groove) and I needed something more than just consuming media.

    The best part of this for me will be use of terms in sentences. That's what I loved in Duo and now in Lingvist, because I find that while my medical vocabulary in Spanish is decent, it's mostly nouns, some adjectives, and hard for me to use outside of the present and future tense. That is because I've largely picked it up listening to translation from others.

    To the extent that this is for medical professionals (not people travelling who get sick) to focus on what we call the history of present illness (HPI). Getting a past medical history is actually pretty easy (Ha tenido XXX, where X is the medical problem you are asking about). However people telling you about what's up that brought them in today is a bit harder. That is, earlier on in my learning I could get that they have chest pain, but I want to know does anything worsen the pain? Is the pain constant or coming and going, have they had it before, how long has it been going on. Does it radiate anywhere? Do they have associated shortness of breath.

    Also please please please please make sure you teach people the difference between medicinas y drogas. Nobody needs to be asking your Abuela if she's been snorting blow when trying to determine if she takes BP medicine. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Thanks again for doing this! And please if you ever do one that is really focused and extensive for medical professionals, charge. We can afford it (and deduct the cost if not get our CME allowance to pay for it.)

  • @lisa-lingvist

    Hi Lisa,

    At first, I was skeptic. The first set of words could be more or less useful, the second could also be improved (though I am starting to study data analysis, hence some words do not make sense for me to use them right now because I don't know their meaning), but everything changed by the third set. The third is pratically perfect because you actually included a lot of very important words I didn't think when I gave my set of words to you. I don't know if you could make your algorithm improve with time, in the sense that, the student could select some words that are more important than others as they appear and the algorithm would select those as the new keywords to extend that wordlist towards an even more personalized wordlist, but this could also be a good feature.

    More importantly, regarding the second set, this could turn things a little around and students could learn the meaning of some words in these courses and improve their knowledge on their own interests. Since most students come to lingvist to learn, I am sure that no one is coming just because of language if they could learn something else they like. So, it's a win-win, where they could learn language as well as something from their interests.

    Regarding the last point, I agree that this is crucial for you. Continue to include translations because these words may be too different from the native language; as for synonyms, I am not sure you should work on that (and if you do, be careful), because at least for my sets I am afraid that would not make sense in the first set (although some words can have similar meanings, sometimes, words are not completely interchangeable and it can mislead (kind reminder: students still don't know the target language, so they will believe anything shown by you)); definitions would make your website a few levels above any other: students wouldn't be learning just a language, they would be learning two things they want to learn at the same time.

    As a last remark, don't forget how you will show words to the student. Basic vocabulary and grammar continues to be more important than these sets. Words like the ones on my sets appear, let's say, every 1 in 1.000.000 words for most people. To me, it will probably be around 1/1.000. But words like "I", "you", "and" can appear as much as 1/10 or 1/100, which is still 10-100 times more often than my set of words. For instance, I cannot create a sentence with just "water", "training", "marathon" and "performance". For instance, to say: "Water intake as well as structured training will lead to a good marathon performance", I will need also the words "intake", "as", "well", "structured", "will", "lead", "to", "a" and "good". Personally, if it would be possible, I would even go a little further than what you have done so far. I would start by showing the student basic vocabulary and grammar for about 100/200 words. Then, maybe start with a few words from these sets. Lastly, start mixing the words: sometimes asking the learner for a word from these sets, other times asking for common word. And, here's the novelty, as the user goes by these sets and the common words from the target language, sentences could increase a little in length, requiring a little more from the student in terms of language comprehension, while asking for both "sets" of words (by sets here, I mean my sets the a set of the common words of the language).

    Let me just finish by saying that what you are trying to accomplish is outstanding to say the least. Specially if done well. Thank you for letting me be part of this experiment (I look forward to be in others, by the way ๐Ÿ™‚ ) and good luck with this project.

  • This is so exciting! LOVE your approach to developing personalized vocab themes. I can see that you're working on English only for now, but please know that I'm waiting in the wings for you to create the equivalent in French.
    My first topics:

    *All the vocab of every room in the house
    *travel (including way-finding, documentation, planes, trains, and other *transport, speaking with a concierge, etc...)
    *restaurant language
    *business language
    *financial language
    I have a huge list to add to this of course, but that's a good start,


  • works@Lingvist

    Hi @Fernando-Silva!
    Thanks for giving us a glimpse into your passions and interests.

    So these would be some of the words that you would learn in your personalised course on Lingvist, based on the keywords you gave for running, biochemical engineering and data analysis.

    0_1506591270186_Screen Shot 2017-09-28 at 11.33.07.png

    I am also attached an image of a glimpse of the vocabulary, split into the three individual themes. The fourth column, shows you a mix of the themes. (Sorry, the forum doesn't allow me to upload excel or pdf documents. ๐Ÿ˜ž )

    Note that this is just a screenshot of the first 30 words you would learn; the whole course is of course much longer ๐Ÿ˜‰ .

    0_1506591586725_Fernandos personalized Lingvist course .png

    So, question for you (and any other users that have input, of course):

    1. Is this vocabulary helpful? Would this be an interesting feature of Lingvist, to learn language around your interests?
    2. Is the vocabulary generated around your keywords what you expected?
    3. What other information would you like to see with these keywords (i.e. translations, example sentences, colloquations (words frequently used with these terms), synonyms, definitions?)

    This third point is probably the most important to me! If anyone has the itch to say 'all of them, please' then please rank them in order of importance. If something isn't needed in your eyes, say so!

    Looking forward to replies and feedback guys!!

  • @lisa-lingvist


    • Shoes, marathon, training, carbohydrates, record, race, water, schedule, long run, cadence, plyometrics

    Biochemical Engineering:

    • polymer, bioreactor, substrate, enzyme, catalyst, research, conference, project, fermentation

    Data Analysis:

    • Python, matrix, array, integer, boolean, indexing, random, statistics, operation, package

    Let me know if they are enough, or you need anything else. Thank you for the chance.

  • works@Lingvist

    @fernando-silva We can definitely give it a try Fernando! It would help us to experiment and improve this pilot.
    Let me know what two or three things you are interested it, if you can provide some keywords (words that come to mind when you think about your given topic). I will generate your personal module and post the vocabulary you would learn here!
    Still open for others that are learning English as a target to try it out!

  • works@Lingvist

    @nick-gorton Glad to hear it Nick! What's your target language you are learning?

  • I'd pay A LOT more than $10 if they had a medicine module.

  • @Lisa-Lingvist, sorry for the late reply.
    I will make my answer shorter this time. I partially agree with you. Although I still stand by what I said, I agree that I am not exposed to the same environment as you are. As the different people we are (although we like sports, you enjoy climbing while I am runner, among other things), we will surely need different words and will encounter different circunstances when speaking both native and target language.
    In a nutshell, I agree that if it is possible to create courses targeted to someone, that would be perfect. However, there are 7 billion someones in the world and that can make the task almost impossible, if not actually impossible. I think that making the courses as general as possible, the way you have been making, is already a difficult job for you. At least, making them in a way that the vocabulary will actually be assimilated by the student. And this is key, because I believe most courses on-line do not achieve this as you have been achieving. And, in my opinion, that's what you should stick with: creating courses that helps the students acquire language as effortlessly as possible. Because, after the student gets a very good grasp of the language, it will be fairly easy to learn the new vocabulary.
    However, if you manage to create targeted courses for each student (through machine learning somehow, no?), that would definitely be awesome!

    I'd like to try this new feature, but there's probably plenty of people more suitable for the trial.

  • works@Lingvist

    Hey, we wanted to update you guys about the new personalized courses that we are working on. We donโ€™t even have screenshots available yet(!)โ€”so it is a very raw demoโ€”but we are ready to show you a preview of words you would be learning if you tried out our personalized courses.

    I invite you to think about why you want to learn English (for business, going to medical school, space travel, moving to the US with your family, learning music industry jargon to pitch your talent at Sony Music and become a rockstar ...?) Tell us a few keywords that come to mind when you think about your topic and we will generate a preview for you.

    Attention! Since at the moment it is only tuned to work with English, we would like to give room to people who are learning English and donโ€™t yet feel confident in it. Those, who already speak it well, wonโ€™t enjoy it as much. Since itโ€™s a preview, we are capping the demo to 3 first comers.

    So post below, if you would like to try out this new feature! Looking forward to first impressions ๐Ÿ˜‰ .

  • I agree with what you're saying about different meanings of 'people'. Unfortunately, there is no explanatory text at the bottom to give shades of meaning to the words. I've frequently encountered words where I would have liked a slightly expanded definition rather than a one word translation.

  • FWIW Leute is a mass noun for "people" and Personen is a plural for "person."

    LIke if you say "my people" or "the American people" that's the type of "people" that is Leute, while "there are two people over there" is Personen. When you're counting people, Personen (or Menschen I guess). Leute is just a word for a group of people.

    Hallo, Leute also. "Hi, everyone/people!"

  • What I'm finding frustrating is that too many of the words I'm learning seem business related. I don't want to learn the German for 'editorial office'. I'd rather know more every day words.

    I also have problems when similar sounding words come close together. Geminder and Gemuse for example.

    And why have I had both Leute and Personnen (both mean people) in close succession when only one is accepted as valid depending on which one it wants.

  • Hi Lisa, actually I think there was some mix-up in the chain - I don't speak Estonian! ๐Ÿ™‚ I'm working through the French vocab (at 4950 out of 5000!). So soon I will really be hungering for more in French. Thank you for taking the time to respond to the whole topic on thematic word groupings.
    I take to heart the 'in a couple months' promise. Can't wait!

  • works@Lingvist

    Going back to your post a couple weeks ago, could you tell me (here or privately) what exactly personalised means to you? I guess itโ€™s too early to call it โ€œpersonalized โ€œ as in my mind it has very different meaning

    A couple other thoughts: Glad you like our Essential Estonian course. We have considered making little SOS courses with 100 words each for other languages but those are not on the immediate roadmap.
    And we already have TOEFL and TOEIC to prep our Japanese, Chinese and Taiwanese users for these standardised tests.

    Thanks for all your improvement suggestions! I think we all agree that beginners need more guidance and we are working to improve the onboarding to our product and make it more user friendly for true beginners. And lastly, users have been asking for a long time for Lingvist to bring back Read & Listen or offer something else instead. I know I sound like a broken record, but โ€“ we are working on it. Speaking activities for beginners are out very soon, next will be more exercises, and finally we will bring you live content to read, listen to, comprehend and be quizzed on. As you keep mentioning, we are a fairly small team with big goals, so I guess itโ€™s a good thing that we have such a patient user base ๐Ÿ˜‰ .

  • works@Lingvist

    Hi @Kira-Callahan,
    To answer your questions:

    • When will we have 9000 words in French? This is a question for @Kรคrt.

    • The medical / travel modules are planned to be launched this autumn BUT currently only planned for Japanese as a source language and English as target.

    • I am hoping to give you an answer to your question How much longer after that do you think it might take for any other topics, and how can we influence which topics come next? (months? Years?) in the coming weeks / next two months.

    Thanks for your theme suggestions - they are noted ;).

  • works@Lingvist

    Hi @Alexander-Hansson - sorry for my slow reply. Yes, I really like your idea and have +1 it on our brainstorming list (as it's already been on there but it definitely helps when users suggest or second things we are considering anyway). I actually had the pleasure of meeting Steve Kaufman (the CEO of at the Polyglot Gathering in Bratislava this past May and checked out his company quite thoroughly.

    So, highlighting text based on level of comprehension - noted and liked! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Lingvist graduate

    Lingvist is just the start of a delta towards better communication. It is not the end goal, nor should it be!

    I got to the end of the current set of French cards yesterday, and wanted more. I read a bit on this forum, and it now makes more sense to read (news, books), watch YouTube or Netflix (Call Your Agent, Castlevania), and talk to people (local meetup group?) rather than do more flashcards (as awesome as spaced repetition is, and thank you so much, Lingvist developers, for your work!). I'm visiting France in about six weeks, so I don't want to start in on German, Spanish, or Russian yet.

    I've changed the languages of all the games I play to French (particularly good for story-driven games like The Witcher, and ones with text, like Hearthstone). After France I plan to keep up some baseline practice. It is useful for my work to know some Spanish. Perhaps learning the first 5000 Spanish words via French? Rather than themes, which make the site more complicated, please keep it simple:

    Why? -- to talk with other people
    How? -- by using a common language
    what? -- sounds, symbols

    Why? -- to learn the 5000 most common words in the target language, from any* other language
    How? -- spaced repetition, supported by research (Make it stick: the science of successful learning, by Brown, Roediger, and McDaniel, 2014)
    What? -- software: website, mobile app; minimal gamified elements

    *many other languages, anyway. The X --> Y could be a very long list, but easy to understand and search.

    Lingvist is simple to use and makes my brain hurt in a good way when I use it several times a day. If it becomes a behemoth like Amazon . com I fear I'll be lost in the distractions. Keep it simple and inspire your students to move on without you.

    Does this argument make sense?

  • Lingvist graduate

    Hello guys,

    I've been doing the german course for a while, and I also have been struggling to remember some words. Like Kyle, there are some words that I reviewed up to 50 times. deshalb, particularly, i reviewed 75 times. now, as i write this, i am trying to remember what deshalb means, and i can't remember, saddly.

    This didn't happened when i was doing the french course . I don't know if french is easier, or if the fact that portuguese is my native language helped somehow.
    But what I noticed is that, for me to remember the words, i constantly search for something that can be used as a hook to the word.
    so, when i was studying french, i could use some elements on the page ( other than the translation) to use as a hook to the actual answer, since there were a lot similarities between french and portuguese or english.

    so I think anything that helps to contextualize the translation, and for consequence, to serve as a hook, would help a lot. Thematisation would be great. sections that compartmentalize greatly help to remember things.

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