Lingopie Review: The Affordable Video Platform For Language Learners
In this post I’m going to give an in depth Lingopie review. Anyone who’s read my content before probably knows that I’m a big advocate for learning languages by watching TV. So when I heard about Lingopie I was really excited to try it.
After reading this review you will know:
- What’s included with a Lingopie subscription
- In depth details about the benefits & features
- How much Lingopie costs
- Thousands of hours of shows & films
- Familiar layout
- Instant translations
- Accurate subtitles
- Flashcards automatically created
- No spaced repetition flashcards
- Best suited to intermediate levels
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Lingopie Review: What is Lingopie?
So what is Lingopie? Think of Lingopie as a Netflix style streaming service, for language learners. Suitable for all language levels, from beginners to advanced. Lingopie streams a wide selection of TV shows with interactive subtitles and flashcards.
Lingopie currently supports the following languages, with more being added all the time:
If you subscribe to Lingopie you get access to all the languages on offer, great for aspiring polyglots.
All the content is created locally, in the country of the target language. This means you get access to authentic content, genuine everyday speech and a tonne of cultural insights.
The first show I started watching on Lingopie was SOKO Hamburg, and I noticed right away the ZDF logo appearing at the beginning of the show (ZDF is a major German broadcaster).
Lingopie Features: What do you get?
Lingopie is an online TV and film streaming service, so let’s take a look inside at what you actually get.
You’ll notice the home page of Lingopie has that familiar layout of the mainstream streaming services. You select your target language at the top, and Lingopie will display the shows available, divided into genre categories:
- Beginner friendly
- Sci-fi & fantasy
- Travel & food
- Historical Dramas
- Nature & adventure
When you find something you’d like to watch, you’re given further information on the show, including the kinds of vocabulary you’ll learn in the show.
When you actually hit the ‘play’ button, the really special features of Lingopie come alive:
Subtitles & Instant Translations
One of the best things about Lingopie, for me at least, is the subtitles. Sure you can watch TV shows online with subtitles in your target language, but often they’re inaccurate and don’t match the dialogue.
From my experience so far with the German Lingopie subtitles, they’re pretty much spot on. You get subtitles in both English and your target language. I never advocate using English subtitles, as your English speaking brain will always take the easy option and read the English subtitles whilst ignoring your target language subtitles and dialogue.
You don’t need to switch on the English subtitles anyway, because Lingopie offers something I’ve been looking for since I got into German TV, interactive, instant subtitle translations.
This is a game changer. You watch the show, with your target language subtitles switched on, and whenever you find a word you don’t understand, just pause, and click on that word. Lingopie then gives a translation.
If you find ever yourself watching a show, hearing a word you don’t understand and can’t work out what it means using context, so you have to pause, grab your phone, open up your translator and type it in. Really annoying.
Lingopie is worth is for this feature alone.
So I’ll stop raving about the subtitles for a minute and tell you about another interesting feature. The scripts.
If you prefer to read a script alongside watching the show, you can do this too. The script scrolls along line by line with the dialogue. If you want to repeat a line, just click on the ‘play’ button next to the line and the show will jump back to that part and repeat that line.
Whenever you use the instant translations and click on a word in the subtitles you don’t understand, Lingopie will also add this word to a flashcard deck.
These flashcards can be reviewed when you’ve finished watching the episode, and follow the normal flashcard layout. The word in your target language on the front, within the sentence it was used in the episode.
You can play the audio and Lingopie also includes a screenshot of the scene where you heard that word, to help jog your memory. You can click on the screenshot to play that particular section of the show.
One thing that Lingopie could improve on, is the use spaced-repetition software for their flashcards. At the moment when you get a flashcard wrong it is shown again later, but as soon as you get it correct once, you won’t be shown it again.
Sadly there’s no spaced repetition there to help you actually memorise the word, which is a shame. Lingopie are constantly adding new features so hopefully this will be on their list.
Lingopie claims to have shows suitable for beginners, intermediate and advanced. Now because I only tried out the German shows, I can only speak from my own experience, the other languages might have a different suitability for various levels.
There are a number of shows rated as ‘beginner’. However many of these are children’s cartoons*, and as I’ve mentioned on this blog before, if you’re not feeling engaged and entertained watching children’s shows as an adult, you’ll struggle to concentrate and learn.
Personally I feel that watching TV to improve your target language is something that is more beneficial for intermediate and advanced levels. I’m around B1/B2 in German, so I found a lot of shows on Lingopie which fell into that sweet spot where they weren’t too easy, but weren’t too difficult.
I would say that once you have a basic grasp of your target language, say A2 level, Lingopie would definitely be helpful for leveling up your abilities.
*Of course, if you have a child who is learning a second language, Lingopie would be great for them!
Lingopie give you the option to record yourself saying any of the subtitles in a show. It then runs it through voice recognition software and scores you. You can also listen to your recording to perfect your pronunciation.
Another customisable feature is being able to change the playback speed. Something that is fairly standard on video streaming but can be helpful. The options range from full speed (1x), advanced (0.9x) down to beginner (0.5x half speed). Of course the sound does get a bit distorted at this speed so I wouldn’t really recommend it.
I’m a big advocate for hearing a language spoken at a normal speed, but found myself sometimes slowing it down to 0.9x speed for particularly fast talking Germans.
iPhone & Android App
You can take Lingopie with you on your smartphone. The app is available on both iPhone and Android, and with it you can stream videos, review flashcards, and all other Lingopie features.
How much does Lingopie cost?
Lingopie costs $12 / month if paid monthly (cancel at any time), or $72 / year if paid annually (that works out at $5 / month).
If you can get a group of language learners together, you can grab the Friends & Family plan for $99 / year which allows up to 4 people share one account.
With a Lingopie subscription you’ll get access to all the languages they offer, great for aspiring polyglots.
There isn’t a free version, but you can try Lingopie for free for 7 days with no obligation.
Lingopie Review: My Personal Experience
Now I’d like to offer my personal Lingopie review. When I first heard about Lingopie, my first thoughts were ‘this is what I’ve been waiting for’. As a big fan of improving my listening skills by watching German TV but struggling to translate words I didn’t understand on my phone, Lingopie felt like it was made for me.
With thousands of hours of TV and film to watch it seems like I’m not going to run out of shows to watch for a while.
In terms of price, I think it’s good value. You can watch TV in your target language for free if you know where to look. But in many cases you’ll need a VPN to access these, and at $12 per month, Lingopie gives you access to all those shows, plus their extra features and amazing subtitles, for around the cost of a VPN subscription.
I really feel that Lingopie is worth it for the money. But although they are aimed at beginners, intermediates and advanced, I think people in the intermediate level will get the most benefit. I said earlier that I’m around around B1/B2 German, and I feel Lingopie is aimed at my level.
How to get the best out of Lingopie
So you’ve decided to sign up with Lingopie or try the 7 day free trial. Great! But to get the most out of it, what should you do?
Pick a topic that interests you and is at the right level
Firstly, decide on the kind of content you like. On Lingopie it’s easy to find something you enjoy, and if you find a subject interesting, you’ll learn without even realising it.
Try out a few shows and work out which suits you best level-wise. It’s important to find a show that isn’t so easy that you understand everything, but isn’t so hard that you have no idea what is going on.
Look for that sweet spot where you can follow the plot of the show, but you’re encountering words that you need to stop and translate.
Don’t translate every word
Don’t be tempted to translate every single word you don’t know. Sometimes it’s better to let the language wash over you and try to understand what is being said using context. This is where a visual medium like TV is great for language leaners.
If a word keeps coming up, you might work out what it means after a few encounters with it. But if it’s still a mystery, go ahead and use the instant translation on that subtitle. And don’t forget that word will be added to your flashcard for you to review later.
Resist switching the English subtitles on
Speaking of subtitles, avoid switching on the English version. Trust me on this, your English speaking brain will always go for the easy option. You’ll end up ignoring the actual dialogue and just reading the English subtitles.
Review your flashcards
At the end of each episode, go ahead and review your flashcards while they’re still fresh in your mind. You can always go back again at a later time and review the cards again.
If you’ve got this far, well done! I can tell you’re ready for some serious immersion into your target language, so go ahead and sign up for Lingopie’s 7 day free trial now, and take a look around.
What I don’t like about Lingopie so far is that at least for the first tv novel that I watched, the translations were awful. They are obviously machine-generated. So making flashcards is pretty useless. I was hoping to use Lingopie to learn other languages that I don’t know so well. But now I see that I can’t trust the translations. Yabla I don’t think has as much content as Lingopie but it is much better for learning a language as they have native speakers who do the translations. It also has much better activities for learning what you watched. The platform is far more sophisticated than Lingopie. Otherwise, Netflix or Hulu is better for language learning because the subtitles aren’t machine-generated.