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LingQ Exited Beta October 15, 2007

Posted by Edwin in French, LingQ, Reading.

LingQ finally exited its beta last week. Congratulations, Steve, Mark, and your team!

I have been using the LingQ system for my French study since its beta launch in the beginning of August. During the last 2 months, I have been reading a lot. The LingQ system simply facilitates my reading activity, making it something very enjoyable to do. Indeed, I have noticed my French reading comprehension has improved substantially in this period.

What I find most fascinating about the system is its ability to give you a good estimate on the difficulty of the texts you read. It records all the words you have previously read and tells you the number and percentage of the ‘unknown’ words present in the text you are about to read.

The term ‘unknown words’ could be somehow misleading. I prefer to call them ‘un-encountered words’. The number only gives you an estimate, since you might know many words you have not encountered so far. Sometimes you would skip looking up some words you encounter, but they would still be unknown to you.

The most natural and efficient approach to absorb new vocabulary, suggested by Master Steve (and some others), is to pick the materials which are slightly above your current level, but not too much. You would then be able to absorb the new vocabulary with the help of the dictionary, or simply infer their meanings from the contexts.

I have been trying this method in the last 2 months, and honestly, I don’t know how I can do it without the LingQ system. From my experience, everything with less than 10% ‘unknown words’ are no-brainers. Everything with 10%-25% ‘unknown words’ are acceptable, and they are the ones I usually encounter and put my focus on. I should try to avoid everything with more than 25% ‘unknown words’. This is sometimes unavoidable though, as I might be reading a book and certain chapters might go beyond the 25% mark. Note that this percentage guideline is for French. It might be different from language to language.

I don’t need to worry about those texts which go beyond the 25%. As I read more and accumulate more known words on my way, I notice the marks get lowered. This indeed gives me a very satisfactory feeling.

Reading with the LingQ system is also very addicting. When I see some texts with low percentages of ‘unknown words’, I would want to read them right away. Even those with high percentages, I would just watch the the marks get lower and lower as I read other texts. I believe I have read more in the past 2 months than in the past years!

Besides being a valuable aid for reading, I have not yet found comfortable using other parts of the system, such as the vocabulary builder, writing, and speaking sections. I think they still need some improvement. Meanwhile, I am happily using other tools to cover those areas.



1. asad - October 15, 2007

How many total words of reading have you done with the lingQ system for French? My total words of reading was “100,000” for English language in the last month. 5,000 known words. And 100 lingqs were created.

I agree with your impressions regarding the system. It was an enjoyable experience to read something at lingq. Flashcard is a feature I think is a nuisance and ineffective. It does not test your knowledge of vocabulary is an effective way. It is just there as a filler.

2. Edwin - October 15, 2007

As of today, my total words of reading is 196322, and I have 14578 known words and 974 LingQs created.

Contents for English should be good, as they have been adding since version 1. Contents for French and other languages are still weak.

3. Milan - October 15, 2007

Edwin, does that mean you now have enough vocab to speak French fluently? 14578 known words is a mighty lot of words. Didn’t Steve mention you only need to know 10-12K to be advanced and fluent?

4. Edwin - October 15, 2007

14578 words are the number of different words I have encountered so far. These words include names, places, and foreign words. Then each conjugated form of a verb is counted separately, as well as singular and plural forms of a noun. Besides, I have not learnt all my encountered words. They are just marked as ‘known’.

I think I know about 3000 French words so far, which is far from being fluent in reading.

5. Steve Kaufmann - October 18, 2007


I would be happy to discuss our system with you over Skype if you have the time.

Our Help is certainly not as good as it should be.

With regard to the other sections of LingQ that you find less useful, I must say that our Write section and the online discussions with native speakers are both very popular with many of our learners.

The vocabulary section can be effective but might require some explanation. I certainly use a variety of its functions for my Russian studies.

In any case, let me know when you would have time for a discussion about LingQ and language learning in general. I would like to record this discussion and we could both make the recording available at our respective blog sites, if you agree.

6. Rmss - October 18, 2007

Hm, for what I’ve seen so far I think it’s an impressive system. But I’m still a bit overwhelmed by it, as I don’t exactly know how to use it’s vocabulary section.

By the way; are you only adding loose words to your flashcard system or sentences too?

7. Edwin - October 18, 2007

Sure, Steve. Let me contact you directly. Thanks.

8. Edwin - October 18, 2007

I usually record single words, and sometimes phrases, but rarely complete sentences.

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