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Live Lingua Review: My Experience With Their Lessons

Quick Review

3.8 

Summary

Live Lingua is an online language school that pairs students with certified teachers for one-on-one online classes. The platform aims to provide a more personalized service than online tutor directories by assigning a personal class coordinator and a customized curriculum for each student. Certificates are available in 11 different popular languages and for a variety of different courses.

Teacher Quality

All teachers are native speakers and receive additional training through Live Lingua.

Platform

Lots of extra free material, but with mistakes. There are specialized course options, and video lessons happen on Skype.

Value

More expensive than other online classes and less flexible, but more personalized.

Price

The hourly rate for classes on Live Lingua ranges from $11 – $39 depending on the certificate, language, and number of classes you purchase. The first lesson is free.

Languages

English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Arabic, Korean, Japanese, Mandarin Chinese

In the words of its founders, Live Lingua is a “boutique” online language school.

What makes a language school boutique? In this case, it’s the desire to keep things personal. It’s written all over the Live Lingua website; they claim to have no interest in becoming a massive language-teaching mill with nothing but profit in mind.

Instead, offering a personalized and high-quality learning experience is what’s most important. Do they deliver?

 

The Live Lingua language school is entirely online and utilizes Skype lessons along with personalized curriculums to teach languages to learners all over the world.

Learning a language with a digital resource is often an impersonal experience, and that’s precisely what Live Lingua tries to avoid. They provide their students with a personal class coordinator and a personalized study plan.

For this review, I tried out Live Lingua to get some practice with speaking Spanish. I don’t live in an area with a lot of Spanish speakers, so I was excited to connect with a qualified native speaker.

In addition to the Skype lessons, I discovered that Live Lingua offers a host of free learning tools on their site as well as an awesome library of free language materials known as the Live Lingua Project.

Overall, I found that the paid portion of the resource seems best for someone interested in taking one of the more specialized courses and that’s willing to commit to purchasing a significant amount of hours.

First Impression

Honestly, my first impression isn’t a great one. The website design feels cheap and a bit scammy. It also uses some bizarre stock photos that don’t add any sense of credibility.

A stock photo from the Live Lingua website, showing a smiling girl wearing a headset.

Call center employee or language teacher? A real photo of one of their tutors here would have put me more at ease.

Then again, maybe the site doesn’t feel so slick because they really are focused on the learning experience instead of a flashy product. At this point, I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.

Registration Process

The registration process for scheduling a Live Lingua class involves a multitude of emails, providing some personal information, and the assigning of a personal class coordinator.

After choosing the language you’d like to learn, your level, and the accent you’d like to learn, you get to choose which course you’d like to take.

A drop-down menu of the Spanish courses available in Live Lingua.

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Spanish for Priests? Mexican Cooking Class? I was surprised to see these, but they seem pretty cool. I went with the Standard Spanish course.

After signing up, you wait for a response from your personal class coordinator. While you wait, you can take a survey that’s supposed to give Live Lingua a better understanding of the best way to teach you.

Example survey question from Live Lingua that asks,

The survey questions didn’t feel all that personal or even relevant. It’s doubtful that questions such as, “How did you hear about us?” provide useful information to your teacher.

Next, you receive a series of emails. This doesn’t feel like the most efficient way to schedule a class. I received seven emails before I was supposed to have my first class. They went something like this:

Email 1: This is a welcome email that asks you to reply with days and times that work for your trial lesson.

You’ll then receive a reply that thanks you and supplies you with links to three different teacher profiles. You’re asked to reply with the name of the teacher you’d like to have the trial lesson with.

Email 2: Now you’re given a free Live Lingua student account and your login information.

Email 3: This is a confirmation of the date and time of your trial lesson. You’re asked to please cancel or reschedule with at least 24 hours’ notice.

Email 4: “Getting ready for the lesson” — this email details how to install and set up Skype for the lesson.

Email 5: One of three reminder emails. You’ll receive one the day before the lesson, the day of, and 15 minutes before the lesson.

I received all of the emails in the image below before having a single lesson with my teacher.

Screenshot of an email inbox showing 10 email conversations with Live Lingua.

Some of these emails showed up in different folders of my Gmail account and I’m not sure why, which is something to look out for.

I want to mention that, while there were a lot of them, the emails didn’t feel spammy. They were all focused and they weren’t selling anything. The number of emails won’t be a problem for some people, but others could easily be frustrated by the inefficiency.

Language Levels

Live Lingua offers assessment based on the ACTFL (American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages) evaluation system. They go into great detail on their website describing the levels for speaking, listening, writing, and reading proficiencies.

After every 20 hours of Skype lessons, your Live Lingua tutor will evaluate your language proficiency based on the ACTFL criteria.

Regular, standardized assessment is a nice touch and makes the lessons more valuable — it’s important to be able to see progress while learning, and using a metric like this makes it easy.

Skype Lessons

My first Skype lesson experience wasn’t the smoothest, but it worked and my teacher ended up being great.

The first hurdle was the cancelation of my trial lesson. The teacher emailed me and said it was due to IT issues and requested to reschedule the lesson. This was a minor inconvenience, but these things happen.

On the second try, the teacher said she was having IT issues again with her camera and asked if we could just do an audio call. I think this would have been especially difficult for a beginner student — learning a new language entirely with audio is less than ideal. It also robs Skype of its potential for screen-sharing and the chance to interact with a teacher in a visual way.

I think this experience is the exception to the average Skype lesson through Live Lingua. Fortunately, I’m not a beginner of Spanish, so I still got a really good lesson out of it. The teacher was a skilled listener and I got a lot of speaking practice.

The next lesson I scheduled with this teacher worked without any complications, video and all.

This is a screenshot of a Skype lesson, showing the PDF of a Spanish language book.

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This time, in addition to conversation practice, the teacher and I went through some exercises in a PDF of a Spanish book. It was nice to have some structure this time around.

Live Lingua doesn’t provide their teachers with material for the Standard Spanish course. Instead, they are responsible for sourcing their own materials.

After the trial Skype lesson, Live Lingua sends your “Trial Class Report” via email.

Screenshot of an email from Live Lingua showing the speaking, listening, reading, and writing assessments from the trial class.

I think the trial class is actually quite valuable. Receiving a standardized assessment and feedback from a certified teacher is great, especially for speakers that aren’t absolute beginners.

If you decide to pay for additional lessons with the teacher, scheduling is straightforward. You’ll have access to the teacher’s availability and can simply “pencil yourself in.”

An example of a Live Lingua teacher's schedule that shows available and unavailable times.

This is easy enough, but it’s curious that you don’t have the chance to see this before you are assigned to a teacher and pay for classes.

Learning Tools

In addition to the Skype lessons, there are a handful of language practice tools available with a free student account.

This is the drop-down menu of Learning Tools available on Live Lingua for practicing Spanish.

These tools are all fairly basic, but they do add some value to the resource.

Verb Handouts

This section of the website is essentially a verb dictionary.

It has a large selection of verbs that can be grouped by type and includes definitions, all verb conjugations, and any extra information that could be useful.

Verb conjugation table for the word

This isn’t the only place to find this information online for free, but Live Lingua does a nice job of keeping things organized and easy to navigate.

Verb Conjugation Practice

This is a simple multiple-choice practice activity for practicing the conjugation of up to 600 verbs.

First, you choose which verb tense you’d like to practice. Then, you take a 20 question quiz.

Screenshot of the verb conjugation learning tool on Live Lingua.

Again, it’s a pretty simple exercise, but it’s free! At the end of the quiz you get to see your score and which answers you got wrong.

There’s also the option to listen to Spanish-style music while you’re studying. A quirky touch.

Grammar Explanations

This is something I wish more language resources offered. This part of the website is well-organized and easy to access.

List of all verb tenses with grammar explanations for Spanish.

I was excited about this part of the resource but, unfortunately, it’s not that great. While the organization is nice, the content seems to have been hastily put together.

I found several spelling errors and missing accents (which are important!) as well as information that was simply incorrect. Luckily, this is a supplementary resource that they offer for free and not their primary product.

That said, no information is better than bad information! I think they should have done this well or not at all.

Vocabulary Builder

This is a simple collection of vocabulary words and translations. They’re sorted by topic and each list can be downloaded as a PDF file.

Learning Style Quiz

I didn’t expect to find this feature on the website. It’s a quiz that aims to tell you what your learning style is, along with your Myers-Briggs Type.

Screenshot of a table outlining the benefits of the free Spanish learning style quiz: it's

The quiz consists of a series of statement pairs, and you’re supposed to choose which one you identify with more. If you’ve ever taken an online personality test, it’s very similar.

Here’s the result I got:

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The idea is that you can share this information with your language teacher so that classes can be tailored to your learning style. At the very least, it’s an interesting quiz to take.

Free Courses

The Free Courses section of the website links to that language’s section of the Live Lingua Project, which we’ll talk about next.

Live Lingua Project

Live Lingua has amassed a significant amount of free material for language learners. This is pretty cool. Material is available for just about any language you could be interested in (seriously) and includes PDF texts and audio MP3s.

A list of the languages with free study materials available through the Live Lingua Project.

The above is only about a third of the languages with free material in the Live Lingua Project.

Why help potential customers access loads of free study material? From their website: “One of our missions is to make language learning accessible to everybody. Enjoy.”

What a breath of fresh air! As far as I can tell, this really is a no-strings-attached type of deal and I think it’s exciting.

I moved to Albania recently, and I’ve been struggling to find good resources to study the language. There are some brick-and-mortar language school options, and there are tutors available online and in person, but finding good self-study material is difficult.

The Albanian resources in the Live Lingua Project include e-books and audio lessons used by the Peace Corps as well as material developed by the Department of Defense.

Now, most of these resources aren’t exactly sparkly and new. You’ll see your fair share of poorly-scanned PDFs in the mix.

Sample text from a document titled,

This is from a document titled, “Albanian Language Competencies for Peace Corps Volunteers.” It’s from 1992.

If you can get past the dry appearance, the material is actually pretty thorough. Plus, it’s kind of fun to pretend you’re deep undercover, accessing classified government information.

Just me? That’s okay.

In any case, I find it a huge relief to have credible (albeit dated) study materials at my disposal to help structure my Albanian study time.

Used in conjunction with a spaced-repetition flashcard app like Anki, this free resource library could potentially be very useful to self-directed learners of less common languages.

Teaching for Live Lingua

Trial classes are free for the student. That means that the teacher isn’t paid for the class, even though it’s the same length as a normal class.

This is similar to Preply, which doesn’t pay its teachers for the first class, but Preply does charge the student for these classes. It just keeps the entire fee.

Live Lingua tries to mitigate the number of students that only sign up for a free class without paying for more by asking detailed questions in the registration process. This could also be part of the reason behind the email train that prospective students must complete.

I didn’t come across a huge number of teacher reviews online, but the few on glassdoor are mixed. Apparently Live Lingua sometimes takes a commission of up to 50% of the course fee, which is really high.

Some teachers seem to be very happy teaching with the platform, while others take issue with the low pay and lack of support.

Pricing

Live Lingua offers a lot of material for free, but it’s not all top-quality stuff. The greatest value in the free material comes from the less common languages in the Live Lingua Project.

The first Skype lesson with a teacher is free; after that, you have the option to purchase additional lessons. The price varies by language, course type, and number of people taking the lesson.

At the time of writing, lessons in Spanish are the most affordable at $16/hour. French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Korean, and Japanese are all tied for most expensive at $29/hour.

These are the prices for one-on-one lessons in the “Standard [language]” courses. You can choose to take lessons with up to two additional friends or family members for 1.5x the normal rate.

These are also the prices for purchasing less than 10 hours at a time. You’ll get a slight discount per hour for purchasing larger packages of hours. Check out their pricing page for a detailed breakdown by language and course type.

Alternatives

While there are similarities, Live Lingua separates itself from online tutor directories like italki, Verbling, and Preply by trying to offer a more personalized experience. It may succeed in some regards, but it’s generally pricier and less flexible.

It also lacks the extra features that some of the other resources offer. italki, for example, also has a social feature where you can interact and get feedback from other users. It offers this feature for free.

One resource that has a similar approach to language teaching is Chatterbug. Its aim is to provide an online curriculum that links one-on-one online classes with digital learning exercises. It differs from Live Lingua in that its video lessons take place within the program and include pre-determined exercises.

For language learners that are specifically interested in Spanish, be sure to consider Baselang. It charges a monthly subscription price that gives you access to an unlimited number of lessons with an incredible level of scheduling flexibility.

The quality of the curriculum and platform along with unlimited lesson access makes it well worth the subscription price for serious learners.

Final Thoughts

Does Live Lingua fit their self-description of a “boutique” language school? In the sense that it’s more expensive than other options and not catered to the masses, sure. But I’m not sure it’s worth it.

From what I can tell, the teachers might be of a higher quality on average than some other sites, but you’ll have to pay for it. While I lucked out with my teacher, I think the platform’s lack of flexibility in choosing a teacher isn’t quite worth it.

My favorite part of what Live Lingua offers is definitely the Live Lingua Project, and this is free. The additional grammar and vocabulary resources they include on the site are also free, but the quality of the grammar explanations library is low.

Normally I’d suggest taking advantage of a free trial to see how you like it, but remember that your teacher won’t be paid for the hour they spend with you. It’s probably only best for those that are seriously considering paying for more.

If Live Lingua lessons are for anyone, they’re for someone interested in one of the specialized courses who’s also willing to purchase a larger number of hours to bring the hourly price down.

If you’re curious about our favorite resources, they differ by language. To see what we recommend most for the language you’re interested in, find it in the table below.

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