Sites/Apps like Readlang, Lingq, Lingua.ly, etc.

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Cainntear
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Re: Sites/Apps like Readlang, Lingq, Lingua.ly, etc.

Postby Cainntear » Thu Oct 20, 2016 2:09 pm

neofight78 wrote:
Cainntear wrote:But that word -- subscriber -- is what I really dislike about LingQ. $10 a month -- for what? There's practically no ongoing development costs for the site


That's simply not true, the site plus iOS and Android apps do get updated, and developers don't come cheap. I'm quite happy to pay $10 a month not to mess around trying to install LWT and for the convenience of having a proper iOS app. For other people it may not be worth $10 a month, but the price is not unreasonable.

OK, I'm seriously overstating. But all they seem to be doing is tinkering with the appearance. The underlying functionality appears not to have changed in at least the last five years. The assumption is that it's done, finished, complete; and that the only ongoing development goal is to make it visually more appealing to consumers.

What's there seems incredibly basic. Crowdsourced glossaries that are short on information (eg "mora" in Portuguese as "live", but no information on which conjugation it is); flashcards based on these glossaries; "cloze" tests (a misnomer) that just pluck out bits of a text and drop out a word. None of that's particularly difficult or particularly clever.

Even the basic idea of "i+1 comprehensible input" is very poorly implemented. They have a vast database of texts, and it would be pretty straightforward to suggest what to read next, but the user is left to choose, and the only real data available is "number of new words". Choice seems like a great thing, but you can't make an informed choice until you know what it is, and you don't know until you've read it. The number of new words is done per lesson and per course, but there's no clear and unambiguous indication of how much repetition and reinforcement the reading is going to give -- this reinforcement is a key part of comprehensible input theory, and Kaufmann has just hacked around the problem and put the words into SRS instead, which is essentially the opposite of CI.

Given how little direction is given to the user (n.b. "choice" is often synonymous with "enough rope to hang yourself") and how little scope there is for meaningful control of variables, there's really no data Kaufmann can draw on to prove the effectiveness of the technique or to help him refine the algorithms.

With no path for continuous improvement of the service, it all falls back on whether Kaufmann was 100% right first time, and no-one in history ever was. Kaufmann certainly isn't the exception.
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Re: Sites/Apps like Readlang, Lingq, Lingua.ly, etc.

Postby Serpent » Thu Oct 20, 2016 2:45 pm

Cainntear wrote:What's there seems incredibly basic. Crowdsourced glossaries that are short on information (eg "mora" in Portuguese as "live", but no information on which conjugation it is); flashcards based on these glossaries; "cloze" tests (a misnomer) that just pluck out bits of a text and drop out a word. None of that's particularly difficult or particularly clever.
Ugh. Nevermind that this only makes sense in the translation of "you live", where Portuguese can use the third person conjugation in several ways. (or also the imperative technically :o) Otherwise it means either "lives" (sg verb), or something completely different like a delay or, well, mora.

In what way are cloze tests a misnomer?
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Re: Sites/Apps like Readlang, Lingq, Lingua.ly, etc

Postby Cainntear » Thu Oct 20, 2016 3:09 pm

Serpent wrote:In what way are cloze tests a misnomer?

Cloze tests, as proposed by Gestalt psychologists were a very specific thing. (I had a blog post on this and was going to link it, but I've just looked at it and it's not very good.)

The gestalt school said that when we look at part of something, on some level we perceive the whole. For example, looking out of the window right now, I can see roughly half of a car. I can't see any of the 4 wheels, but I know they're there. In fact, I could point to all four of them with reasonable accuracy. They called this idea "closure" -- the brain completing the image. Another example (credit to Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud) is a man standing behind a low wall -- you can't see his feet, but you assume he has them. If he isn't an amputee, your mind will even be able to make a good estimate of where they are (hence estimating the height of the wall on the other side) based on your internal model of average human dimensions.

The "cloze" in cloze test comes from closure, and it's a test of reading skill in your native language. It's about using your intuitive knowledge of the language to fill in the gaps unconsciously. And for that to work, it has to be a reasonably long passage of continuous prose, with something in the region of every tenth word blanked out. As I understand it, the original cloze tests were done by reading aloud, in the presence of the psychologist.

Most fill-in-the-gap exercises are conscious exercises, and calling them "cloze tests" is just self-deception. It's a means of diverting attention from the fact that what you're doing is generally mechanical and based on explicit declarative knowledge of language. It's a way to pretend you're learning from exposure and input.
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Re: Sites/Apps like Readlang, Lingq, Lingua.ly, etc.

Postby Serpent » Thu Oct 20, 2016 3:25 pm

Oh I see. Well it's become a synonym for filling in the gaps imo, it's also used in Anki and other similar tools.
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Re: Sites/Apps like Readlang, Lingq, Lingua.ly, etc.

Postby Stefan » Wed Dec 21, 2016 9:11 pm

The creator of Readlang, Steve Ridout, has an interesting post about the development between 2012-2014. Sadly it seems to be difficult to make a living within language learning ($1045 in 16 months) and now he's working for Duolingo. Not much valuable info for your language learning but as a developer, I found it interesting to see how it slowly grew into the current version.
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Re: Sites/Apps like Readlang, Lingq, Lingua.ly, etc.

Postby Xmmm » Wed Dec 21, 2016 10:26 pm

Cainntear wrote:But that word -- subscriber -- is what I really dislike about LingQ. $10 a month -- for what? There's practically no ongoing development costs for the site (although I see they've refreshed the site to make it look more like Duolingo... so much for rewarding the innovator!) and there's no cost to add material for existing languages while the community's doing it all for free. There will be probably be issues about adding in features to support new languages, but that's not something that necessarily interests current users, as the languages they're interested in are already there. $120 a year for storing a tiny amount of user data and transmitting a few mp3s... that's expensive. Hell, even just a one-off payment of $120 for one language would seem pretty pricey to me. If you subscribed to LingQ at that price from day one, you'd have paid, what... $900+ by now. That's a lot of money for what they offer.


I was at a doctor's office for 2.5 hours this morning, waiting. And I read Russian and Italian texts on my LingQ phone app that whole time. With audio most of the time (it was early in the morning and I was mostly alone).

The consensus here seems to be that LingQ is very low value for the money. Seriously? What kind of value do people put on their time here?

For certain kinds of learners, the "listening reading app" is infinitely preferable to FSI or Assimil or Anki. In fact, for some learners (me, anyway) learning a language would be impossible without an LR app. So what is the value of an LR app in that context? Surely more than zero. For FSI guys and Anki guys maybe the value is zero, but for people who like to read and want to learn by doing something fun it's a whole different story.


Then you need to choose an LR app. LWT has the advantage of being free, and to some people that seems to be absolutely the most important thing (why do they buy food, then, when it's available free in dumpsters?). But some have said LWT is can be a bit of a pain to install. By installing it, you're turning your computer into a server and you may or may not be opening security holes on your machine. Maybe the security on this open source one man project is airtight and maybe it's not. But you want to gamble to save $10? And if you install it, are you going to update it religiously with security patches?

Let's take Starbucks. Talk about a low value proposition. Yet people wait inline and pay $5 or whatever every day, when they could fill a thermos at home and lug the thermos around with them for 1/10th of the cost.

Convenience has no value? Metrics have no value? Large libraries of text+audio already laid out and classified for you by level have no value? Seriously?

And ... yeah ... if we imagine some hypothetical vaporware it might be a lot cooler than LingQ. All we have to do is get three developers together and they can build it in no time, and compete. And it will be ready ... when. Easy job, right? And yet, somehow it's not ready and it doesn't exist with features and convenience that are at least equal to LingQ. But we should pass on what does exist (LingQ) -- because $10 a month is going to break the bank? How much do people pay to get the garbage on cable TV?

I've used LingQ at least an hour a day for a year and paid maybe $120. Dumb, right? Even though I've learned almost all my 9000 words and read almost all my 1.2 million words on LingQ.

But I paid almost $100 with tax and shipping for Assimil and learned maybe 1% as much. And I paid $60 for a Russian grammar that I opened once.
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Re: Sites/Apps like Readlang, Lingq, Lingua.ly, etc.

Postby Cavesa » Thu Dec 22, 2016 2:32 am

Xmmm wrote:The consensus here seems to be that LingQ is very low value for the money. Seriously? What kind of value do people put on their time here?
......
Convenience has no value? Metrics have no value? Large libraries of text+audio already laid out and classified for you by level have no value? Seriously?
...
But we should pass on what does exist (LingQ) -- because $10 a month is going to break the bank? How much do people pay to get the garbage on cable TV?
.....
I've used LingQ at least an hour a day for a year and paid maybe $120. Dumb, right? Even though I've learned almost all my 9000 words and read almost all my 1.2 million words on LingQ.

But I paid almost $100 with tax and shipping for Assimil and learned maybe 1% as much. And I paid $60 for a Russian grammar that I opened once.


Some people simply don't like Starbucks, but that doesn't keep us from buying coffee elsewhere, where we consider the price/value ratio to be more comfortable. Or where the coffee is just as expensive, just either better. Or there is something else about the service that we like more about the Starbuck's competitor.

I think LingQ is not worth it, while I am seriously considering paying for Readlang. So it is not a question of wanting everything for free.

1.It doesn't have some of the functions I need, especially comfortable import of books and other long texts.
Without import of books, LingQ loses even to the uncomfortable method of writing words down on a paper and looking them up in a dictionary later.

2.I don't need some of the functions it does have. I don't need audio for those texts.
Text + audio at the same time simply doesn't work well for me. Perhaps I'll change my mind, should I learn a language like Chinese one day. But for european languages, this step belongs to the beginner course phase, not to using native input, when it comes to my learning style. And I am able to classify stuff by level on my own too. Lingua.ly was better at this, at it offered content based on already encountered vocab, but that was different.

3.I prefer one time payments, or payments for a quantity of something, not for time I may not use due to sudden life or university interferences. That is a matter of personal preference, of course. There are services I am willing to pay for monthly (for example Readlang), but I really need to be excited about them, sure about the value they add to my learning. And lingQ simply didn't convince me.

It's great it works for you, and obviously your 120 dollars were a good investment. For me, it would be waste of money.

Sorry I shortened the quote, to save some space, but I left there a few interesting points:
-What kind of value do I put on my time? That is exactly it. LingQ doesn't offer me a way to save time. Last time I checked, import of books was possible only as a hellish slow import of tiny chunks of the book. More money spent+more time spent not learning, that is not a good deal.
-And I wouldn't use it for a part of the paid time anyways. Due to my medicine studies, some health issues, and using other langauge learning resources too, I would spend those 10 dollars on one week per month (?), which is suddenly quite expensive. Readlang is different, as I find time for reading books quite often even under pressure, so I guess will use it at least three weeks out of every month.
-I don't have a tv. 10 dollars a month are not a problem. But compared to LingQ, they are better invested in a paperback novel in the target language. That is what I read in the doctor's waiting room, in a tram, or in bed. And I learn from reading novels just fine even without any apps.
-I realize how lucky I am that I can say "10 dollars a month are not a problem". But there are many learners who trully need to think about their budget and I would chose tone more carefully, when commenting prices and people's attitude towards them.
-Convience has value, that is why I consider getting the paid version of Readlang, not LingQ. Libraries are great. If they gather content I am interested in. And trying a text is all the level assessment I need.

Really, I think we are facing just the usual difference of learning styles and opinions, noone is calling your decision dumb or underestimating your achievemets, they are awesome. And LingQ has got a happy customer, that is great. Some of us just prefer to be the happy customers elsewhere.
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Re: Sites/Apps like Readlang, Lingq, Lingua.ly, etc.

Postby Xmmm » Thu Dec 22, 2016 3:52 am

Hi Cavesa,

Thanks for your courteous reply.

What I think you are saying is that at your level in your target languages, LingQ doesn't make sense because you need to consume entire books and don't need the audio. That's great. I would put you in the category of "I don't need it because it doesn't match my style", which I'm sure is true for more than half the people.

But there are people out there -- and I was one of them a year ago -- who want to learn some language that for whatever reason is difficult for them, and want to do LR. Maybe they are monolingual North American adult learners. They need audio, they need libraries of short, graded texts, and they need metrics to track progress. At least in the first year or two. For that group of people, LingQ is a unique product and a bargain at $10. That's really all I'm trying to say.

If last year I had gone from Assimil to 10,000 ANKI cards or FSI FAST or a stack of grammar books, I would have quit for sure. So the $120 I paid over the last year was the difference between success and failure.
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Re: Sites/Apps like Readlang, Lingq, Lingua.ly, etc.

Postby Cavesa » Thu Dec 22, 2016 5:39 am

Thanks to you for interesting discussion

This doesn't have anything to do with level. I've just completed an online placement test that put me to B1 German. I'd say it is a weak B1. I suppose LingQ has tons of graded articles of B1 German. But I would probably die of boredom and I would't profit from all the effects of longer texts. I 've started reading the Song of Ice and Fire in German on Readlang and it is not easy but great. Despite the fact it would probably not be labeled "B1" by anyone.

Yes, it is about the style. Which is why your post seemed a bit too angry to me. You were in a defensive, while all we had been discussing was suitability of LingQ for various styles of learners, and the fact that it is not worth the money for many people. And the fact there are several competitors trying to get customers from the same pool and LingQ simply isn't the clear and unshakeable number 1, despite trying hard to look like it.
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Re: Sites/Apps like Readlang, Lingq, Lingua.ly, etc.

Postby Xmmm » Thu Dec 22, 2016 7:11 pm

Hi Cavesa,

There is an anti-LingQ bias here that drives me a little nuts.

Here is how I'd summarize the three apps. Please correct anything you think is wrong as I've only used Readlang for about 30 minutes test driving it and have not installed LWT because I don't install servers on my laptop as a matter of principle.


LingQ

pros: lots of metrics, extensive, graded libraries (including audio) for most supported languages, phone app that works well.

cons: $10 a month. The 'avatar' thing and the recent UI makeover are a bit silly. Lots of minor, sideline features (flashcards, tutors, etc.) that aren't useful or could be obtained in a better form elsewhere.


Readlang

pros: supports more languages than LingQ. Free and/or cheaper than LingQ.

cons: no metrics, no audio (obviously one could listen to audio in a separate app and read in parallel, but it's on you to find the audio for what you're reading), no phone app


LWT

pros: free

cons: no metrics, no audio, no phone app. time consuming to install and maintain. Potential security risks that aren't present in the two competitors.


If I were learning Estonian or Basque, I would use Readlang for sure. As it is, I'm learning Russian and Italian so LingQ is the clear winner and $10 a month is a bargain.

I've also had no problem uploading large novels to LingQ. Well, one minor problem in that LingQ will automatically break it into 2000 word chunks but I can live with that.
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