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In this episode, Steve and Jill discuss some Frequently Asked Questions related to the new LingQ language learning system.
Steve: Hi Jill.
Jill: Hi Steve.
Steve: You know, we’re of course, very much involved in getting LingQ up and running and you know, I’ve been in business a long time and a number of different businesses but I must say that the level of complication, difficulty, frustration, no not frustration, it’s not frustration but certainly patience on my part to try to get all the pieces of this thing working, it is tremendously complex. And, of course you’re the one who has to deal with all the complaints and questions and stuff that we get from our users. How are you finding that?
Jill: Ah, so, I guess, yes, there are a lot of problems with the transfer of data, problems we didn’t anticipate, didn’t foresee with people getting their data and correct number of points and things like that so that was a source of frustration I think for some of our members. Not for all.
Steve: I should point out we’re talking about LingQ.com, which is the website that we have now started up in beta version where at the present time you can learn other than English, is of course the main one but, German, French, Spanish, Italian now and we will be adding other languages including Japanese and Chinese and so forth. But, in getting it set up and in transferring our existing the Linguist members who are learning English and transferring them over to the new LingQ there were a lot of problems that we didn’t foresee. So, justifiably our users say what’s going on here? How come this doesn’t work? How come that doesn’t work? And, of course they contact you.
Jill: Mmm hmmm.
Steve: What were some of the major concerns?
Jill: I think initially a week ago when we made the switch, initially the major concern was just have people, getting their data, their words and phrases and the correct number of points. I think we’ve mostly resolved those issues now. I hope so anyway. But, other than that we just are getting a lot of questions about different functionality, maybe stuff that we had on the Linguist that we don’t have on LingQ right now and I just, you know, want to assure people that we are continuing to add functionality all the time to LingQ. It’s just it doesn’t take one day to add something. It takes a lot of time to build all of this in to make sure, we’ve got to test it, make sure it works properly before we put it up, there’s bugs that need to be fixed, there’s lots of things that need to happen and none of it’s quick. So, you know, people would really like to see the forum and Ask Your Tutor function working again which is a priority to us and should be working within the next week we hope. And, other things like there is no Pronounce section yet. I think that maybe a ways off, maybe like a month off. I don’t know if that’s a priority right now but it’s coming.
Steve: And, we should point out that I think a lot of people would agree that what we have put up in LingQ is an improvement over the Linguist so that the Writing section is improved, the Events section is improved, the Reading, the Listening, the Vocabulary. Everything has been improved and in the same way that Pronounce section will be improved so yeah, we apologize for the delay but when we finally do get these things up they will be improved.
Jill: Right. And, certain things right now, that maybe you don’t think are improved in the Event section for example, it’s a big, long list of all of the events which is quite confusing. It’s not going to stay that way. We are going to add filters so you can just see the discussions for a particular day or with a particular tutor. We’ll have it paged like it was in the Linguist so there’s only certain amount per page and you have to click on the arrows to see more pages so it won’t be a big, long list so that’s going to be improved. You’re going to be able to receive a recording of your corrected writing submissions along with your corrections which we never had in the Linguist.
Steve: In other words, the corrector will record, the native speaker will, after doing the corrections will record the corrected text which I think is tremendously important for you to review, to read again and then to listen again to something that you thought through but didn’t necessarily express quite correctly and it’s now been turned into basically native speak or English or eventually other languages and you now get it back and that’s very rich for you to work with. It’s very useful for you to work with.
Jill: So you can continue to read it and listen to it and work on it. And, just lots of little things like the audio player staying at the top of the screen so if you’re reading a long content item and you’re scrolling down and you’re reading and listening at the same time and you want to stop it, it’s right now not very good. You have to go back to the top of the page but that is going to change. It’s going to move with you as you scroll down the page. All of these things are, we know they’re concerns to our members and we have them in a big, long list of things to do, for our programmer to do so they’re coming and just please try to be patient.
Steve: And, we have added some more programming you know, resources to try to resolve these problems. We are not Microsoft. We just don’t have an army of developers. We should point out though that most people have told us that even with the problems, the shortcomings, the functionality that isn’t there, some of the things that maybe weren’t designed properly to begin with, or things that we didn’t anticipate which we only now see when people start using the system, despite these shortcomings most people are happier in the new environment than in the old environment. So, even with the problems we have upgraded people’s learning environment. So, I very much, we all appreciate the cooperation, the patience of people to try these things out, to point out the problems and we can respond to the comments that we’re getting but we don’t feel that we’ve harmed anyone. If anything we have now given them, in fact, a better environment in which to learn languages.
Jill: And, certainly that’s always been our main goal. I mean, we made a new site because there were problems with the Linguist that we just couldn’t overcome so you know, we’re hoping not to have those same problems in LingQ and we’re going to have more functionality plus you can learn more languages. So, overall, it’s just going to be much better. And, I think, like you said, the majority of people are happy. And, I think those who are not, given time will become happy. They’re just not used to the new system; they’re used to the Linguist and it’s hard to change. I know, I’m the same way. It’s hard to change to something new but I think once they give it a little bit of time they’ll be happy too.
Steve: Of course it doesn’t help that all of the interface language is English. We have no instructions, we have limited help. I mean, really it’s not ideal but by the same token, given our limited resources we simply can’t afford to write a new help manual every month and translate it into ten languages. So, because things are changing, as people use the system, and as they point out that this is not convenient, this would be better, some other way, so we want to wait until version one has more or less settled down. But, people should also realize that we are committed to continuing to develop. We have lots of ideas, we think that our learners will have ideas; we want to continue to develop so this is just going to be a better and better and better place for people to enjoy languages. Were there any other specific areas where you, people have expressed impatience or concern?
Jill: Ah, I’m just trying to think now. I guess really, the points, the changing from being charged a monthly fee and being given a certain amount of events and a certain number of words for writing, the change from that to points I think is a little bit confusing for some people. And, because you are being charged points every time you sign up for an event or submit writing it seems like to most people or to a lot of people that they’re being charged every time they use something which is the case but it was the same in the Linguist. You were charged a certain amount which equated to a certain amount of service. And, we are providing very similar service in LingQ for the same amount and we will have membership levels, probably in September. They’ll still be a free level, they’ll be a few other levels, where you pay a certain amount and you get points with that membership level. So, I think people just need to get used to that too. And, the one thing I will mention with LingQ is that your points don’t expire so we may, we may put an expiration of six months, expiration at some point but right now they don’t expire where as in the Linguist if you didn’t use all your discussions or you didn’t submit all your writing in one month it was gone.
Steve: You know, it’s funny, people are going to say I’m being charged for this, I’m being charged for that and that’s fine that they should be concerned about how, you know, what they have to pay and so forth. But, from our perspective, in fact, in many ways the Linguist was unfair. A person goes away for a month or they’re traveling on holiday, on business, or whatever it might be, they can’t study and they get charged the same. This way if you do something, you know, ideally people, it’s going to be in their interest to buy a batch of points and to hold those points and gradually use them up and then go and buy another batch of points and use them up. And, I think it will end up being very similar in cost to what was happening before. But, in particular for those periods of time when you’re not doing anything, when you’re not writing and you’re not speaking to people you’re not going to get charged. So, I think on balance it’s going to work out fairer. In particular I know we had learners who never, ever spoke or wrote and they only basically used the basic functionality so they, in a sense were paying for other people. So, yeah, I think it’s going to work. It’s very difficult, this whole period, it’s difficult for us. If we had the resources, if we had ten programmers everything would have happened much more quickly. We don’t. We have to live within our means and I think you feel, we appreciate everyone’s cooperation.
Jill: Yeah, exactly and of course, keep sending us suggestions. It doesn’t mean that we’re going to be able to implement everybody’s suggestions. There’s things that we are just not going to do or not able to do but we are going to do our best to keep everybody happy and have all the functionality that we think all the members want to see.
Steve: Okay, I think that covers that subject. Bye for now.
Jill: Bye, bye.