In this week’s episode Elle is joined by LingQ co-founder and polyglot who speaks 20 languages Steve Kaufmann. Find out how LingQ has changed for the better and how Steve uses the system to study languages.
Hi there and welcome to the LingQpodcast with me Elle and my beautiful,
gigantic corn plant in behind me here.
Remember you can study this episode and all past episodes of the podcast.
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We really, really appreciate it.
Anyone listening or watching who has never used the LingQ before
today’s episode is all about LingQ.
I’m joined by LingQ co-founder and polyglot who speaks 20 languages, Steve
Kaufmann, we’re going to discuss the new version of LingQ, version five,
which was just released on the web.
So stay tuned if you are a language learner who’s interested in hearing
about how LingQ has changed, the improvements, how Steve is using the
new version to study languages also.
Steve, how are you?
Good morning Elle.
And Where are you…
yes, me too.
We have something very special to chat about this morning.
Uh, where in the world are you joining us from?
Well, you can see my bookshelf behind me.
Yeah, it’s my, uh, portable bookshelf.
No, I’m in Palm Springs and my wife and I come down here in the winter during
the sort of rainiest months in Vancouver.
And so I’m in Palm Springs.
I’m going to chat with you today about LingQ version five.
So a brand new, all new LingQ, which was just launched.
It has been launched for a little while on the iPhone app now and was
launched two weeks ago on the web.
So we’ve of course, within the LingQ team we’ve been using version five for over
a year now, just testing it, figuring out, you know, getting rid of all the
bugs and making it as good as it can be.
So what would you say first off are the, the major changes that
anyone who was using the old LingQ and will now start to use the new
LingQ will notice in version five?
The biggest thing is to me, the initial thing is just uh, I find
that the look, the look and feel the environment that you are in when
learning languages is better, it’s more pleasing, it’s graphically better.
And I think he’s worth thinking about LingQ, like LingQ…
it’s not a product that is sort of stationary, stable, uh, ever since
we started and things keep changing.
Um, you know, user interface, standards change they’re
influenced by different things.
So our library has more of a Netflix look because Netflix didn’t exist
when we started LingQ back whenever it was 15 or more years ago.
Um, I think is an amazing project.
I think people don’t realize how many people are involved.
We have developers and other people, uh, on our team who live
in Ukraine, who live in Macedonia, in Korea, in Bolivia, in Ghana.
I’m sure I’ve left a few countries out, Canada of course.
So it’s, it’s, it’s an example of the world we live in, which is very
international with lots of different locations and people collaborating and we
all follow the technology as it changes.
And I think what…
let’s start with what people won’t notice.
They won’t notice the fact that LingQ has been completely rewritten, uh, because
we needed a platform that makes it easier for us to make changes going forward
because everything is constantly changing.
And so that’s, to me is the biggest thing and think it’s a different
look and it’s a new platform which will enable us to more easily add
functions and improve functions.
I think that’s the biggest thing, but I can get into more detail on
functionality that I particularly like.
Please do what, uh what’s, what is your favorite change?
My favorite change is the library because language learning starts
with content, comprehensible input, compelling input, content.
So we have more content available now, not only in our libraries, but
also through these external links, which allow us to bring things in more
easily from YouTube or from podcasts.
Uh, and it’s easier to find things in the library and not only that
it’s easier to import things.
So if you have something of interest to you, again, it’s easier to bring
it in and slot it into a course.
So to me, one of the biggest improvements is it’s just easier and more attractive
to handle content, and content is…
that’s the curiosity.
That’s the thing you want to learn about that pulls you into language learning.
So I think that’s very important.
I have to agree.
I really, really love the way the library looks.
And it is…
the way the category categories are, which you can customize, you can choose
which categories you’d like to see.
And there’s just so much content.
A lot of people don’t like to, or don’t want to import, they don’t want
to find content online themselves.
And that’s fine.
Because within the library, it’s so easy.
There’s just so much, so, yeah.
That’s, I think that’s probably my favorite change too.
Yeah, I think that’s tremendous.
The, um, now the lesson page, now you said we, we had it for a
year and worked out all the bugs.
Of course not all the bugs.
It’s so difficult to anticipate, there are different screen
sizes, different browsers.
There’s so many different combinations.
So while we had a team of QA people working to iron out the most obvious bugs.
There are still a few things there that have to be ironed out.
But, uh, the other thing I think right up front that I really like is we
have replaced the avatar with coins.
And not only that, we, you now get credit sort of on a granular
basis for so many more activities.
Uh, you know, for every page you’ve read for, uh, listening, even down
to, uh, you know, not having listen to the whole, uh, of the lesson.
So I found myself in the old system in order to maintain my streaks, I had to
go and create X number of LingQs, but very often I have so many saved LingQs.
I want to go back and read something again.
Where there are no blue words uh, just yellow words.
In other words, words that I have have previously met and looked up,
but still don’t know, but I wasn’t getting any credit for doing that.
Now, if you go in there and read again and you find a, a word that’s a yellow
word, that’s maybe status one and you move it to status two or sad as three
a you’re getting credit for that.
Or if I go into the vocabulary section, and this is something that I like to
do, and that I recommend to people.
Uh, I’m not a big fan of flashcards.
Other people like flashcards.
I like going through lists of words.
So I go to the vocabulary section and typically I’ll
choose only status three words.
These are words that I’m somewhat familiar with, but not yet confident
that I know, but typically in amongst those words, a certain percentage,
maybe 20% are words that I already know.
So typically if I’m reading, I eventually come across these
words and I’ll move them to known.
But if I go into my vocabulary section and say, I just want to see
status three words, then all those words will show up in one list.
Then I can go through the, those words and move them to known.
And as I do that, I get lots of coins for doing it.
And just as an aside, I can filter, I can either see these words in
alphabetical order, which is very helpful because you’ll find three
or four or five words that have the same prefix and others begin with the
same letters or with the same letter.
And you’ll start to see connections in meaning between words that have similar
beginnings very helpful, or I will review these words in order of their frequency.
And so there obviously aren’t going to have a higher percentage of known
words in those status three words where the words are higher frequency, not
always, but that tends to be the case.
So doing all these different activities or even, uh, you know, listening, I’ll
be listening on a, say a playlist and I’m getting credit in the form of coins.
Now, some people would say, what are the coins good for?
You can’t spend them.
You can’t buy anything with them, at best you can repair a streak.
But it’s just that.
It’s just an indicator of where you are.
Uh, you know, there’s so many things in life where we get
points or we get a score, a grade, you can’t do anything with it.
It’s just a measure of what you have achieved.
What I think is important about coins is it measures your activity level.
And I always say, it’s not, it’s difficult to measure how good you
are at any given time, because you might be better one day and not as
good the next day for any number of.
But as long as you are active, you are heading in the right direction.
And the coins is an indicator that you’re being active.
And you mentioned the avatar there.
Just want to say that some people did like the avatar.
We will be saying a farewell in our special way to the avatar and allowing
people to share what their avatar looked like at the end of version
four, but, um, yes, I agree coins much better way of tracking activity.
We can’t satisfy everybody.
You know, there are people who prefer the look of the old LingQ, prefer the avatar.
At some point, though Mark and his team have to decide going forward
what’s in the best interest of most people in our learning community.
Now importing, you, you do a lot of importing on LingQ,
uh, what do you think…
cause this is another favorite part of aspect of the new version
for me personally, what do you think of the new import page where
you actually add your content?
Whether I’m using the browser extension or whether I’m using, you
know, actually import, you know, and dragging something in, it’s so
much easier to find the course, you know, where you want to put this…
I can’t, I can’t explain in detail why it’s easier, but it’s just so much easier.
So I go to the import page, I just find it so much easier to manage.
I can drag and drop audio files.
I kind of go through all of it, but it’s just so much less of a chore to import.
And that’s important because in language learning, every time we
simplify things, every time we make it easier to do something where,
you know, we’re increasing the intensity of the learning experience.
If I spend all kinds of time looking for content, importing content,
something didn’t work, and I’ve spent half an hour/ an hour now I’m
trying to create learning content.
Whereas if it’s very easy to do and I’ve got it right away.
And this includes by the way those external links I’m into, uh, an
item of content here that is at my level and of interest to me.
And I did it quickly.
And therefore I can spend more time with the language.
So I think that’s very important.
Let’s talk about, uh, the lesson page and the improvements
that have happened within it.
What are your favorite improvements in the lesson page?
Um, well, I, I like if I’m on the browser, uh, in other words on my