A Farewell to Lingvist

This is my farewell to Lingvist.

I received an email from Lingvist yesterday, saying that they had sent an email 3 weeks prior announcing changes in 2020. No surprise that the changes were that they were doing away with the free tier entirely.

I had seen this coming, even back in 2015 when it was still a new app, its UI much less refined. I first used it to revise my French vocabulary, the only course they had. This tool was too good, too polished, to be able to sustain itself if it remained free indefinitely. It was unpleasant only because they claimed to have sent me an email 3 weeks ago, but the last email I received was from April 2019.

Last year, they introduced limits on the number of new words free users can learn and revise. By then I'd largely finished with both the French and German, and somehow, their spaced repitition algorithm wasn't working out for me very well.

I started with Lingvist in 2015. I did it every day, 150 cards a day. Back then, the encouraged daily goal was 150, which has since been reduced to 100. (In the latest iteration, it is divided in 2 sets of 50.) I finished the course, and then, I think I didn't use it as much, since the number of cards that I got daily were only a couple. I recall a friend (acquaintance is probably more accurate) being shocked that I'd finished the course. I remember; this was when I was on exchange in Switzerland, and she was there too.

Lingvist released their Spanish course, and I recall receiving an invite for testing it out in beta. I didn't use it very much, since I wasn't learning Spanish. Eventually it was released, I think that was around 2016, possibly late 2016, as I know I recommended Lingvist to an ex-colleague who wanted to learn Spanish. It was at the company's D&D, I recall it well. My first year working.

Later on, they released their German course. When I started with their French course, I was probably around B1. I think for German I was at least done with A1, so it also worked out well. I think if you are learning from the beginning, it doesn't help as much as you are ramming repeatedly into a brick wall (as it was with Spanish). I don't know if I ever finished the German course (at any point, that is, since new words are periodically added) - but I got pretty far. I know I learned (according to them) over 4800 words.

Once Lingvist started to introduce paid subscriptions and limited some features (such as your learned words list), and then later started to slap the limits on the words, I figured it was only a matter of time before they decided to take away the free tier entirely. The day has come - it will be so in March 2020.

The previous year, I almost bought a subscription when it was on 35% off for Cyber Monday, but in the end, decided against it. The price tag is too high in my opinion (even with the discount). If you pick the cheapest option (which is to pay annually), it's still US$80 a year. With the discount, I think that's US$52 a year. Do you realise how many books and other resources you can buy with that amount of money?

Lingvist is convenient, but if you are serious about your language studies, you could (should) make your own cards in Anki. Which is free.

The audio that they have is a nice but not completely necessary feature (especially as it's a machine that reads it, as far as I can tell). I can't justify the price tag in my mind. I know they added some new features like challenges, but I've not used them much (partially because it's off-limits to people who are using the free tier). The course wizard seems somewhat promising, but it looks like it's not available for German.

I know Anki isn't the most user-friendly. For the longest time, I just couldn't use it. I couldn't start. The UI is bad. It's ugly. It's clunky. I know. I was there. I started to use it for a course I was taking, and the results were extraordinary. I honestly feel that Anki's SRS algorithm is much better than Memrise's and Lingvist's (and Duolingo's, if you count that too). There's more control - you can say how easily you remembered something, and that ease factors into the time the review comes up. A typo won't kill the review schedule, either. Yes, you can cheat too, but that's on you.

Again, I digress.

This is just a farewell, my farewell to an app that I used to use.

We had some fond memories.

Stats

French

  • Total study time: 58 hr 25 min 46 sec
  • Total words: 5104

German

  • Total study time: 113 hr 3 min 5 sec
  • Total words: 4831

Spanish

  • Total study time: 2 hr 27 min 18 sec
  • Total words: 374

You can clearly tell that I started with French when I was at a higher level, since in about half the time I'd learned more words, though the number of words is also limited by how many there are in the course. I think when I first finished the French course, it had under 5000 words as well.

And yes, I wasn't kidding when I said I barely used it for Spanish. As a reference, doing 100 cards (with the audio on) takes about half an hour. That means I likely only did it for 5 days.


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