First Impressions & Why I Probably Won't Use Lingvist

  • Hello,
    First of all, I really love the idea of Lingvist, and I really wish I had it when I was FIRST learning French. I think an app that teaches you the most useful 5,000 vocabulary words in a language, IN CONTEXT with sentence examples, is fantastic. However, I am not a beginner and before I found Lingvist I have been using two big (5,000+ each) French noun and verb courses on Memrise. I don't like the interface of Memrise very much, but after trying out Lingvist I think I will return to Memrise. Here's why, and hopefully this might help you improve Lingvist for Intermediate learners like me:

    1. I took the placement test and tested around 40%, ~250 words. I started learning and I have already learned, by heart, literally every single word it is giving me. I'm filling in things like "man" and "woman"! I think there needs to be an easy option to re-take the placement test without making a new account (I don't like wasting time), but to be honest, I really don't like the idea of a placement test in general. For intermediate learners, I think it'd be best to, along with the placement test, be given the option to see a big list of words and mark what you do and don't already know. Or, every time a known word shows up in Learn, instead of having to type in "woman" and being marked correct and having the card show up later in spaced-repetition (that's how it works, right?) I should be able to mark that I already know the word by heart and that I never want to see it again.
      As an intermediate learner, I just don't like the idea of a placement test being my only option. If I test into a high level, what if there are lower-level words that I miss out on? If I test into a low level, I will spend time filling in words like "man" and "woman." In Memrise I am able to Ignore any word that I already know as soon as it is presented to me in the course, and I'm able to see the entire course's list of words and mark off words I want to Ignore all at once. That's what's effective and efficient for learners who aren't complete beginners.

    2. I really like the way Lingvist presents words in sentences, however, there have been several sentences in the French course that do NOT include the article of a noun. In cases such as this, I would have to go to a separate French dictionary website, look up the word, and learn the article. And then hope I never forget it, because Lingvist's sentence won't test me for it. Articles are very important in romance languages. I know it's a pain to re-do extant sentences, but in the future for romance languages I think it's important to make sure every noun has its article in the example sentence. In Memrise, I learn the "un/une" article along with every word, and I'm tested every time for the article.

    3. This last one is a minor thing, but it makes a significant difference when you're typing a ton of words in a romance language with an English keyboard. Special characters such as รฉ , รด , etc. Need to be on-screen at all times. I shouldn't have to click a button to open the on-screen keyboard, press the character, and then press the button again to close the keyboard. The characters should just be displayed near the bottom of the sentence or the screen. This is how it is in Memrise, and even though it's such a minor thing, it really does make things MUCH more efficient and less time-consuming.

    These are the reasons I will continue using Memrise to learn my French vocabulary despite the fact that I don't like the interface and I have some problems with the Memrise system. Despite the problems, it simply meets me needs much better as an Intermediate learner. However, if I ever want to learn a new language from scratch, I WILL come back to Lingvist. And when you release the French video/audio content, I will definitely check that out.

    Keep up the good work guys, and thanks for reading these suggestions. Right now your app is amazing for complete beginners - I'm just telling you how you might want to change things in the future to better accommodate those at different levels.

  • Lingvist graduate

    Here some thoughts of mine on points 1 and 3, although note that I studied German rather than French but I presume the courses are set up similarly.

    1. In my experience, if you get a word correct first time round, it never asks you for that word again. So that's essentially the same as telling it that you definitely know that word. I also found that after spending a lot of time on the course, I suddenly got a lot of really easy words that I must have skipped because of the placement test so you do still get tested on whether you actually know the words that were skipped. Although I was given a lot at once, and I think it would have been better to mix them with the harder words.

    2. I highly recommend setting up your keyboard to 'English (International AltGr dead keys)', which makes it very easy to type accents and suchlike in any program, at least for romance and germanic languages.

  • Lingvist graduate

    1. I think a middle ground would be easier to implement - either go from the zero, or do a placement test. I agree that we should have the "easier" words on the repeat stack at least, but I don't think we should skip any easy ones on the way up. For example I lived for a year in France a couple of years ago, I am reasonably fluent, and I find Lingvist great for refreshing.
      Another thing, those easy words might seem trivial to an intermediate or advanced learner, but not all people are there yet. I got to about 70+% on my Spanish, German and French placement tests, but started Russian from the start. Now I'm about 1200 words from the start and only now those "trivial" roots and words are STARTING to sink in. I'm even a native Slavic speaker (of Serbian), and fluent in Slovenian, but what can you do, everybody is different.

    2. You don't need to type in the special characters, just type the regular e, o, c etc and it's all mapped correctly (except the German I-forgot-its-name-"beta" sign and those French "joint" vowels). I don't think it's critical to be nagged by special characters by Lingvist, because it's not just that it's annoying, but when you achieve a reasonable level of fluency, these things sink in by themselves.

    But hey, whichever you like and/or find more effective, stick with it.

  • Hi,

    As a fellow user, as for your third bullet, I would recommend configuring your keyboard so as to be mapped to your target language, so that you can type like a native regardless of the stickers you can see (on your phone of course the letter names also change, which is a plus).

    The added benefit is that if you ever need to type anything you will already be set to go it, and it is much faster than clicking a button for sure!

    I do it like this also for Memrise and believe me, it is much better! Of course, this is just my advice, feel free to do it the way best suits you!

    I fully agree with you in the other two points expressed ๐Ÿ™‚


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