Belarusian

Lang Workbooks

Price: $5.99

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For learners of languages that use unfamiliar writing systems, the Lang Workbooks series can be a helpful and practical way to master the intricacies of writing in their target languages. Among numerous other writing systems, the series includes the Korean, Russian Cyrillic, and Armenian alphabets; Persian and Thai script; the Hindi Devanāgarī abugida; Chinese characters; and Japanese Hiragana and Katakana. The series also covers languages that use the Latin alphabet with diacritical (accent) marks, such as French, German, and Portuguese.

Many books in the series have been translated into other languages, such as Italian, French, German, Spanish, and Portuguese. The series also covers writing systems that may have fewer available resources for learners, such as Lao script and the Cherokee syllabary.

Each book in the series presents its featured writing system with suggested pronunciations. The practice pages in each workbook have useful features for each letter, symbol, or character, such as a recommended stroke order, font variations, example words, and a “Trace and Learn” section.

Each workbook is relatively inexpensive. In addition, the publishers of the series have granted teachers and students a license to make photocopies of the workbook pages for personal use, so you can get unlimited chances to practice. Considering the depth of information in each language’s workbook, the books in this series can provide great value for learners.

The current rating is our best estimate. We haven’t had the opportunity yet to more thoroughly evaluate this resource, as we do for our full reviews.

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LingQ

Quick Review

Summary:

LingQ is a language learning platform that makes it easy to read and listen to interesting content at varying difficulty levels. As you read, words will be marked as known and LingQ tracks the total number of words you “know”. The content comes from lots of different places with very little of it being original. They also make it very easy to upload your own content.

Quality

The LingQ reading app is enjoyable in most languages, easy to use, and can expand your vocabulary. However, I found the user content frustrating to navigate.

Thoroughness

With the import function, users can choose to study almost anything they want.

Value

Now that other apps provide similar functions, the monthly subscription may be a bit overpriced. However, the yearly subscription seems fair.

Languages

Japanese, Chinese, Spanish, English, Korean, French, Russian, German, Portuguese, Italian, Swedish, Dutch, Greek, Polish, Esperanto, Belarusian, Latin, Ukrainian. There are also 20 additional languages in Beta.

Price

Premium membership costs $12.99/mo, $71.94/half-year, $107.88/year, $191.76/2-years; single-language lifetime membership costs $199

When I first signed up for LingQ, I wasn’t very impressed. Its seemingly random lesson library, filled with custom cover photos and inconsistent title formats, made me want to click on just about anything to get away from that page.

However, after exploring every function I could find, I realized that the reading tool has several useful functions for anyone trying to learn a language through extensive reading. Most importantly, it makes reading in other languages feel manageable.

The site has three main pages: Lessons, Tutors, and Community. Within them, you can find free and purchasable lessons, coins, an avatar, writing exchanges, a community forum, audio playlists, and challenges.

I mostly used LingQ for reading in Spanish and dabbled in French, Chinese, Japanese, Swedish, and Korean.

Choosing a Lesson

Three of the first articles that appear on the application's homepage with the percentage of unknown words highlighted in red.

Judging by how LingQ advertises learning a “language from content you love”, I assumed that the lesson library was where the gold is. However, I felt like I was looking at a pool of random content rather than curated texts and struggled to identify lessons that sparked my curiosity.

Although LingQ lets you browse the lessons by topic, the lessons didn’t always match the topic I had chosen. I eventually chose a guided course, which consisted of a more organized series of lessons within a specific theme.

Each title in the library displays the percentage of new words within the text plus the number of words from which you have created LingQs (we will get more into that in a moment).

As you read and differentiate between known and unknown words, you will be able to assess which content is most suitable to your level.

You can also see how many people liked the lesson and the level category (although these are determined by whoever uploaded the text, so they are not always accurate).

It seems that users contribute most of LingQ’s content and source it from podcasts, books, magazines, news sites, textbooks, and more. Sometimes I found high-quality lessons uploaded by paid resources themselves to advertise their products.

Although LingQ does its best to delete copyrighted content, they do not seem to be actively filtering through the lessons and courses. Therefore, you may occasionally find plagiarized books or other media on the site.

LingQ has a series of guided beginner courses whose lessons build on one another, introducing a limited number of new words each lesson and continually reinforcing them in each section. Unfortunately, after you go through the basic lessons, you will mostly be on your own to find content appropriate for your level.

Several words in Swedish from a beginner lesson with words highlighted in blue and yellow.

Finally, the “Lesson Store” tab includes paid material. At the time of this writing, they were only available in Spanish and included material by popular products such as Linguaphone and Spanish Stories by Olly Richards.

Importing Your Own Material

Page for importing lessons manually

The best part about LingQ is that they make it easy to import almost any ebook, blog post, news article, YouTube video, and even Netflix subtitles into the app.

Space to import ebooks into the application

With the LingQ browser extension, it gets even easier — I could import blog posts and news articles in seconds and open the lesson directly from that page.

And that’s not all.

Quick-Import screen from the LingQ Chrome Extension

The LingQ browser extension can also import any YouTube, Animelon, or Viki video with subtitles. Then, it will create a downloadable audio file from the video that you can sync with the subtitles. Sometimes it takes a bit of tinkering to get the audio and text to sync, but the platform makes it relatively straightforward to do.

YouTube video from EnchufeTV with highlighted subtitles

I enjoy watching YouTube videos in Spanish, but I’m often not sure how much I actually understand. My favorite way to use LingQ was to import a video, then read and listen to the subtitles one by one. After several repetitions, I was able to listen to the audio without the text and identify words that I had originally only understood through context. A similar tool is available on Yabla, but it doesn’t let you import your own content, nor does it highlight your unknown words

Lessons: LingQs and Definitions

The first page of El Principito in the LingQ reading tool with all the words highlighted in blue.

The first lesson that you open, whether it be from LingQ, another user, or personal imports, will have a mass of blue words. Your goal is to turn all of those words either yellow or colourless to complete the lesson.

By clicking on blue words or phrases, you automatically turn them yellow and create a LingQ. These LingQs earn you coins and also appear in SRS flashcards for later review. You can then choose a common definition from the community or write your own from a dictionary of your choice.

The Spanish word, náufrago, highlighted in dark yellow The Spanish word, náufrago, highlighted in yellow The Spanish word, náufrago, highlighted in light yellow and underlined The Spanish word, náufrago, underlined

Although there is also the option to identify how well you know the word on a scale of 1-4, this is only relevant if you consistently use the SRS flashcards or if you want to see your words appear in different shades of yellow.

A page of definitions and choices for different dictionaries within the LingQ reading tool

Once you have chosen a definition, you can see a list of common questions about the word or ask a community tutor in the forum.

A series of community questions and a text box to ask your own question

Flipping to the next page will mark all blue words as known, while the arrow in the bottom right-hand corner allows you to review all of the LingQs from the current page through SRS flashcards.

Page with user's chosen definition of a given word

A neat feature in English, French, Portuguese, Italian, German, and Russian, is that verbs will automatically generate a series of tags to identify who is speaking, the infinitive form, and the verb tense. Keep in mind that identifying one verb tense as known does not identify any other conjugation of that verb as known.

Many lessons also include an audio file with adjustable speeds, which will be added to a playlist after you have completed the entire lesson. I found it helpful to listen to the audio after reading the text to test my listening comprehension.

Page from the book,

Of all the functions LingQ’s reading tool provides, I was primarily motivated by watching blue words decrease in frequency as my LingQs and known words increased.

Flashcards

Adjustable settings for flashcard review

There are several types of SRS flashcards that you can use for reviewing LingQs, either with specific words at the end of each page of a lesson or in the vocabulary section at any time. These include regular flashcards, reverse flashcards, cloze deletions, multiple-choice questions, or dictations. They are based on the definitions and contexts from which you chose each word.

A flashcard with the Spanish word, A flashcard with an English definition A flashcard with a word in Spanish and multiple choice options A flashcard with an audio file and a text box to type a response

If you are a beginner or intermediate learner, you may be intimidated by the numerous LingQs that appear for review by the end of a lesson.

Button showing 171 words for review

But, fear not — LingQ explicitly states that the purpose of the platform is to learn words in context, and it is not necessary to go back and review hundreds of LingQs at a time.

Personally, if there were 6 – 7 LingQs on a page I was reading, I reviewed them for extra practice, but any more than that and I moved on.

Lessons in Chinese and Japanese

LingQ’s structure is not necessarily a best-fit for all languages. I found LingQ enjoyable, motivating, and effective for my Spanish studies, but far less so for Chinese.

Unless you want to read as much of your own content as possible, I think that Chinese and Japanese learners will find more specialized support from graded readers. Typically, these provide context-specific definitions and explanations.

For example, The Chairman’s Bao identifies grammar, keywords, and proper nouns, in addition to providing writing practice, stroke order diagrams, and flashcards. Satori Reader for Japanese also identifies key grammar points and vocabulary explanations for how words are used in specific contexts.

Given that LingQ serves so many different languages, it’s understandable that most of these very helpful features are not available on the platform. However, LingQ’s lack of specialization does make it difficult to recommend for these languages.

Other Features

Combined with the SRS flashcards, the reading tool was the only part of the site that I enjoyed using. The rest of the platform seems to mush features from several other resources together, most of which detracted from my overall experience.

Community Features

In theory, it can be motivating to have a community of fellow language learners who interact with the same resource. However, I found LingQ’s approach to integrating these features less effective than with other apps.

There’s a community forum for language learning discussions, a series of language learning challenges, and an area for writing exchange.

I found the writing exchange feature to be less interactive and customizable than those in LangCorrect or Busuu. This could be because users can’t filter the language they want to provide corrections for. Therefore, whether or not you receive a correction may be dependent on if a native speaker is looking to correct someone’s work at the exact moment that your sample appears near the top of the writing feed.

Tutors

Anyone can become a community tutor and set a rate for both speaking and writing corrections. Like Verbling and italki, LingQ takes 15% of the charged fee. Unlike Verbling and italki, there don’t seem to be any student testimonials, and I couldn’t see how many students contributed to the tutor’s star rating. Ultimately, I prefer to use iTalki or Verbling, where the application process for tutors and teachers requires more verification.

Avatar

The purpose of the reading tool is to create LingQs, which in turn earns you coins. However, the only way to spend these coins is on your avatar’s clothing and background. Therefore, one might assume that the avatar would be an important feature on LingQ.

Not so much.

Judging by the outdated Comic Sans font in the avatar store, and everything else about it, I don’t think it has been updated in several years.

The way users can interact with the avatar items is limited. Each clothing item is attached to an outfit, so as much as I tried, I could not make my flamenco dancer wear soccer shoes.

Additionally, several background items require the purchase of a previous background item, but these items cannot be used simultaneously.

A small blue creature with feet but no arms A blue creature with arms and legs, flamenco dancer hair, and high heels

I was pretty disappointed that I couldn’t use my LingQ coins for anything useful, or at least enjoyable. Hopefully, LingQ will change this in the future.

LingQ Does Not Provide the Same Support as Graded Readers

LingQ’s approach to providing level-appropriate content is based on the user’s experience using the app and not on pedagogically curated material. Therefore, I would only use it at times when my goal is to read as much content as possible. Otherwise, I would still prefer graded readers or graded reading apps.

Du Chinese, the Chairman’s Bao, and Pleco’s graded readers are still my first recommendation for Chinese.

Beginner and intermediate German learners with Android devices may prefer Readle, which has reading comprehension questions at the end of each level-appropriate lesson.

Although I have not tried Satori Reader, our team’s review paints it as an ideal app for advanced Japanese learners who are nearly, but not yet ready for native speaker content.

Only the Premium Version is Worth It

Given that the best part about LingQ is being able to identify known and unknown words at the glance of a page, the free version is pretty much useless.

It only allows 5 imported lessons and 20 LingQs total — whether or not you delete them from your vocabulary list. Exceeding this limit prevents you from looking up definitions, marking words as known, or identifying unknown words. To me, this completely defeated the purpose of the app.

Text describing how much 1 on 1 conversations, group discussions, and writing corrections cost.

On the other hand, the Premium Plus version at $39.99/mo adds 3000 points each month, which allows you to purchase live classes, writing corrections, group discussions, and lessons from the lesson store. All of these features can be easily replaced by higher quality services, such as italki and LangCorrect.

So, I would only recommend the premium version, which costs $12.99/mo or $107.88/year.

Downgrading to the Free Version is a Pain

One frustrating part about LingQ is that the developers make it very difficult to downgrade to the free membership.

First, LingQ will try to entice you with several different offers to make you stay. One of them gives you 50% off three months. Another offers you the “Vacation Plan,” which costs $2/month to store all of your data. Lastly, it will offer you a lifetime plan for one language.

Once you get to the last offer and click “delete my data,” you will probably encounter a popup that informs you to delete all but 5 of your lessons.

It is impossible to downgrade unless you go back and manually delete your lessons, which is disappointing if you were planning on using them for the remainder of your payment period.

Similar Resources

OPLingo has many similar features to LingQ, including allowing you to import your own text, embed YouTube videos with subtitles, and identify unknown and known words. The free version allows you to look up unlimited words, but like LingQ, it also limits users to adding 20 unknown words.

I am a huge fan of OPLingo because of how they use their subscription fees for international outreach projects, but LingQ currently has a more intuitive and developed user interface.

Readlang also has a similar, limited free function, which allows you to identify words you are learning across texts. It also rates the difficulty of each text in the library based on the CEFR scale (although the accuracy of this is questionable). Unfortunately, it only supports .txt and .epub imports, and it takes far more effort to sync YouTube subtitles compared to LingQ.

Final Thoughts

I found LingQ most effective and enjoyable for Spanish, which I can read at an intermediate level. It was least useful for languages in which I have no background or am mostly fluent.

Although I did not enjoy the lesson library, I’m sure that others would see it as a goldmine for interesting content. I was more than happy to use the import functions for my own material without sifting through community content.

I would not use LingQ for any feature except for the reading tool, but this feature is so useful that it would be worth the subscription price.

The SRS flashcard system is great for reviewing vocabulary on specific lesson pages, but I would never try to learn all of my accumulated LingQs through regular review. I prefer to learn new words through paying special attention to those I had previously highlighted and incorporating some words into writing for correction by my Spanish tutor or the LangCorrect community.

Overall, I have a lot of criticisms about the platform as a whole, but I think the reading tool is great. If you don’t need to look at a fancy user interface or import PDF files, Readlang and OPLingo are fine alternatives.

Our top picks for language resources vary by language — you can find our favourite reviews for the language you’re learning at the bottom of this page.

MOST RECOMMEND RESOURCES BY LANGUAGE

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Internet Polyglot

1.3 
Price: Free

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Internet Polyglot is a website for memorizing vocabulary words in dozens of languages. It has 44 “lessons” that cover topics like cars, time, religion, politics, feelings, measurements, and more. Each lesson is essentially a word list with native speaker pronunciation, an English translation, and a link to a picture to help you remember each word.

There are picture games, matching games, guessing games, and typing games, plus a word search and a slide show that reviews all of the words in the lesson.

Given that none of the vocabulary words in Internet Polyglot are taught using example sentences or context, learning vocabulary using this site may not be the best use of your time. You are probably better off using Anki to curate personalized vocabulary lists and downloading native speaker audio files from Forvo to accompany your flashcards. Nevertheless, you may find it useful if all you are looking for is a site that already has lists of vocabulary words with native speaker audio.

If you are looking for audio files for less commonly-studied languages in context, you can check out iLoveLanguages.

The current rating is our best estimate. We haven’t had the opportunity yet to more thoroughly evaluate this resource, as we do for our full reviews.

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Glosbe Dictionary

3.5 
Price: Free

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Glosbe is a dictionary that serves over 6000 languages. Most words have a list of definitions, conjugations, declensions, and similar phrases (although these phrases are hit or miss when it comes to how relevant they are to the initial entry). Many of the entries are created by community members, who can add and edit translations, example sentences, pronunciations, and images. Also, the site does not use text-to-voice pronunciation — as a result, some words may not have any pronunciation.

It’s important to note that some of the content is not checked by the creators, such as the example sentences. Be careful if you are trying to learn new phrases from these lists, as although many of them are correct, there are a few that may lead you to learn inaccurate vocabulary or grammar. Additionally, less commonly studied languages may be listed as available, but only contain a few lines of content.

Overall, Glosbe may be a helpful tool if you can’t find dictionaries that specialize in your target language. However, SpanishDict is a far more comprehensive option for Spanish learners, as is Pleco for Chinese learners and Kanji Study for Japanese. You can also check out Forvo, a dictionary resource for native speaker audio files that has strict rules on community contributions.

The current rating is our best estimate. We haven’t had the opportunity yet to more thoroughly evaluate this resource, as we do for our full reviews.

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My Language Exchange

4.2 
Price: Freemium, Gold Memberships start at $6/mo

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My Language Exchange has been growing since 2000. Although the website seems out of date, it still has an active community of millions of language-learners who speak almost 200 native languages (including less commonly studied languages).

You can choose a pen pal by reading their bios, or there is a chat room available for you to instantly connect with a language exchange partner — note that if you create a Gold account, you can initiate chats with other users, but as a regular user, you will have to wait to be contacted.

Using the Cormier Method, the website provides tools to help intermediate speakers effectively practice with other learners. It advertises a Chat Companion with lesson plans to accompany your exchange, or lesson plans developed by teachers (although the quality of these resources varies drastically). 

You can also find language teachers on the site, but given that the transactions take place directly between you and the teacher, you may feel safer using a 3rd party platform like italki or Verbling

Although there are outlines on how to participate in language exchanges, how these outlines are followed depends entirely on you and your partner(s). My Language Exchange will help you build connections with other learners, but it’s up to you to plan how to practice. The concepts can also be used with any language exchange platform, such as Lingbe, italki, Tandem, and Amikumu.

The current rating is our best estimate. We haven’t had the opportunity yet to more thoroughly evaluate this resource, as we do for our full reviews.

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Master Any Language

0.2 
Price: Free

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Master Any Language has a counterintuitive interface with activities that are frustrating to navigate. Its only perk is that it supports less-studied languages, but even if you do find yourself lacking resources in your target language, this website will probably detract from your learning. You will jump through hoops trying to find the audio recordings by native speakers, so you may want to try ilovelanguages or Learn101 instead; they have low ratings, but they won’t make you lose your motivation to learn altogether.

Most of the activities on Master Any Language are matching games that require you to click on two identical characters, words, or letters: the purpose of this is unclear because it tests neither recall nor recognition. Another activity asks you to form or match nonsensical sequences of words (Ex. Find the sentence identical to “el el el el tchèque tchèque tchèque el el tchèque tchèque”….).

Ultimately, you would probably be better off trying to decipher a page of text with absolutely no guidance than to even attempt to wrap your head around MAL’s activities.

The current rating is our best estimate. We haven’t had the opportunity yet to more thoroughly evaluate this resource, as we do for our full reviews.

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Tatoeba

3.3 
Price: Free

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Tatoeba is a sentence-focused reference dictionary, not word focused. Therefore, by searching for a word in any language, you are searching for examples of that word in context. The site is community-driven, but you don’t have to be multilingual to contribute to the site — it needs native-speaking writers to expand the example database and proofread user sentences.

All of the translations are interconnected: even if there is technically no direct translation from Zulu to Chinese, an English translation for the same sentences in both languages will provide direct translations between them.

Although Tatoeba supports about 388 languages, about 200 of these languages have less than 100 sentences, and about 58 have less than 10. Nevertheless, the database is continuously growing, and with more community members, the less common languages may have a chance to develop further.

It is prohibited to use a translation tool or copyrighted sentences to contribute to the translation database. Unfortunately, some contributors write in a language in which they are not proficiently fluent. As a result, the site has grammatical mistakes and sentences that don’t sound natural. You may have to do some digging to figure out if the contributor is a native speaker or not.

Because of the potential user errors on the site, you may want to check out WordReference, Pleco, SpanishDict, Kanji Study , and Linguee to find words in context for more commonly studied languages.

The current rating is our best estimate. We haven’t had the opportunity yet to more thoroughly evaluate this resource, as we do for our full reviews.

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ilanguages

1.3 
Price: Free

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Learn 101 is almost identical to iLanguages; they have the same native speaker audio files, languages, and mostly identical ‘lesson’ layouts. The main differences are that Learn 101 seems to have added some grammar explanations and reformatted a bit, while iLanguages seems to have added some extra phrases.

Since every one of the languages’ “lessons” has the exact same format, including the grammar section, you will learn how to say ‘and’, ‘but’, and ‘or’, in 107 languages, but you will not learn where these types of words fit within a specific language’s sentence structure. Every page is just a list of words with a translation (and sometimes an IPA symbol transliteration).

This site could be used if you want to hear native speakers pronounce basic words in very rare languages, or if you want to look up the IPA symbols of a rare language’s alphabet — otherwise, you’re probably better off making flashcards yourself on Anki or trying one of the hundreds of other resources we recommend on this site.

The current rating is our best estimate. We haven’t had the opportunity yet to more thoroughly evaluate this resource, as we do for our full reviews.

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learn101

1.3 
Price: Free

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Learn 101 is almost identical to iLanguages, but neither of them seem to be very helpful; they have the same native speaker audio files, languages, and mostly identical ‘lesson’ layouts. The main differences are that Learn 101 seems to have added some grammar explanations and reformatted a bit, while iLanguages seems to have added some extra phrases.

Since every one of the languages’ “lessons” has the same format, including the grammar section, you will learn how to say ‘and’, ‘but’, and ‘or’, in 107 languages, but you will not learn where these types of words fit within a specific language’s sentence structure. Although there are examples of various grammatical structures, the explanations for these structures are also identical for every language, which, practically speaking, doesn’t seem plausible.

This site could be useful if you want to hear native speakers pronounce basic words in less-common languages, or if you want to look up the IPA symbols of a less-common language’s alphabet — otherwise, you’re probably better off making flashcards yourself on Anki, or trying one of the hundreds of other resources we recommend on this site.

The current rating is our best estimate. We haven’t had the opportunity yet to more thoroughly evaluate this resource, as we do for our full reviews.

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DLI Courses

4.3 

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The DLI and FSI language courses are still some of the most comprehensive resources for language learning today, and probably the most comprehensive free resources you will find. 

Although the DLI and FSI courses are comparable in quality, DLI courses focus more on military terminology in the later lessons, while FSI courses focus on everyday communication and communication for diplomats. Another key difference between them is that the DLI courses may go into more depth, and also seem to provide a more comprehensive guide to the study of each language; the FSI courses either have briefer explanations or dive straight into the content. Both of them have outdated content, which is understandable considering that they were developed in the mid-1900s and have scarcely been updated since then.

Often the DLI courses outline clear practice strategies to reproduce your target language’s sounds. Also, depending on the language, literal translations are sometimes used so that you get accustomed to each language’s grammar structure.

All the PDFs and audio files are available for download on various sites, although Live Lingua has made navigating between the material quite intuitive. If you can’t find your desired language in the DLI courses, check out the FSI courses for different options.

The current rating is our best estimate. We haven’t had the opportunity yet to more thoroughly evaluate this resource, as we do for our full reviews.

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