Our Review of Linguistica
We found Linguistica360 to be a useful product both for vocab-building and listening. With a super user-friendly interface, strong content, and excellent narration, we recommend this language-learning app to anyone as a core method of immersive practice.
Ease of Use10
Engagement and Motivation7
Value for Cost10
Linguistica360 produces language study material for intermediate and advanced level learners in Spanish, French, Italian and German.
Their podcasts, News in Slow Spanish/French/Italian/German, cover current events with simplified vocabulary and sentence structure as well as slow, easy-to-understand audio voiceover.
Table of Contents
- What is Linguistica360 (News in Slow Spanish, etc.)?
- How much do Linguistica360 products cost?
- Our experience using Linguistica360 products
- An excellent source of comprehensible input
- The bottom line – can you learn a language with Linguistica360 products?
What is Linguistica360 (News in Slow Spanish, etc.)?
If you’re studying Spanish, French, Italian or German at intermediate or advanced level you’ll likely want to practice reading and listening using realistic study material. It can be difficult to find the right material, however, especially if you’re not advanced enough to understand TV shows or read books. Using Linguistica360’s products can be an effective way of exposing yourself to native-speaker study content that’s not too difficult and also not frustratingly easy.
Linguistica360’s articles feature slow, clearly-articulated audio voiced by native speakers. As you listen and read along, you can hover your mouse over the red-font “Keywords” to see an English translation of some of the more complicated words or expressions. In the screenshot below, we’re hovering our mouse over some unfamiliar words in a German article title (here “ob ihre Besitzer”) to see the English translation: “whether their owners.”
By listening to the news articles at a slower pace with easy-to-understand audio and hovering over difficult words to see their translations, you can get more exposure to your target language and more efficiently expand your vocabulary.
How much do Linguistica360 products cost?
Linguistica360 is one of the most straightforward and transparent language apps when it comes to pricing. As stated on their website, subscriptions cost “$14.90 USD billed monthly, no commitment, no extra costs or contracts.”
There’s only one subscription option available so you don’t need to worry about what options or subscription levels to choose; your monthly subscription includes access to all materials.
Our experience using Linguistica360 products
Linguistica360 products feature current events podcasts (both for beginner and intermediate learners) as well as grammar lessons and “Series” covering various cultural topics.
We used Linguistica360 to practice German at upper-intermediate level using the News in Slow German product. We found it to be a very useful product both for vocab-building and for listening practice. In general, we like to read through the episodes/articles and define any unfamiliar words, then listen to the audio while driving or doing chores around the house.
There isn’t much material for absolute beginners, however, so if you’re just starting out we’d recommend checking out an app better suited to beginners (check out the other language learning apps we’ve reviewed). If you’re at intermediate or advanced proficiency in your target language, however, Linguistica360 products make for a fantastic listening and vocab-building resource.
Throughout Linguistica360 articles you’ll notice certain words and expressions in red. The red-colored font indicates that these are Keywords you might want to pay attention to. You can hover over them (or tap on mobile) to view an English translation.
In the screenshot below, we hover our mouse over the German word “verfassungswidrig” and can see that it means “unconstitutional.” If we wanted to memorize this word we could add it to our vocab list and turn it into a flashcard later on.
We recommend taking some time to read through the articles and check all the Keywords before you listen to the audio. If there are words you still don’t understand, you can search for more context sentences using Reverso’s Context dictionary.
News in Slow German Podcast: Current events for beginner and intermediate learners
If you enjoy politics and current events then you’ll absolutely love Linguistica360’s slow news podcasts. In these podcasts, released once per week, you’ll listen to two narrators go over some of the biggest topics happening around the world this week.
The Beginner-level podcast features content at around B1 level of proficiency, meaning you’ll need to have an elementary understanding of the grammar and sentence structure in order to understand (more on the CEFR scale here).
The Intermediate-level podcast tends to feature more articles (usually five or six compared to the two or three in the Beginner podcast) and the difficulty level is a bit higher. The Intermediate podcasts also include back-and-forth dialogue between the two narrators as they discuss each current event.
You’ll find the narrators use lots of useful expressions and everyday sayings, which will usually be marked in red as Keywords. Whenever we read an article we try to view and understand every Keyword, then we usually make note of four or five of the most-commonly-used ones. For example, “ein verregneter Tag (a rainy day)” is a useful vocab word we’ll want to memorize and incorporate into our everyday vocabulary.
Grammar and Expressions
The “Grammar and Expressions” section of the product is made up of several dozen Topics, each of which contains a handful of Lessons. The Grammar Topics are helpful for reviewing grammar at an advanced level and gaining a deeper understanding through real-life context. The Expressions Topics introduce colloquial expressions you’ll want to be familiar with once you reach intermediate and advanced levels of proficiency.
At the time of writing, News in Slow German has 23 Topics within the Grammar section of the product. You’ll find there’s quite a lot of material within each Topic. For example, the “Future Subjunctive & Imperative” Topic contains three Lessons. The first Lesson, “Conveying the Future with Werden” has two Dialogues, a Lesson Text and two Quizzes.
We’ll note that all of the Topics within Grammar and Expressions are designed for intermediate or advanced learners. The Dialogues are generally at B1/B2 difficulty level and it is assumed you already have a basic grasp of the elementary concepts of the language.
If you already have a strong command of your target language you’ll have no problem going through the material on your own. However, if you’re just starting out learning the grammar concepts of your target language, you might find it helpful to find a tutor to go over the lesson material with you.
At the time this article was published, News in Slow German contains 172 Topics within the Expressions section of the site.
Each Topic contains a Lesson and a Dialogue. The Lessons explain how the given Expression is used (along with a handful of examples) and the Dialogues feature a short exchange in which the Expression is used multiple times.
Linguistica360 recently began introducing “Series” as a way to practice foreign languages while immersing yourself in the culture. Each language has a handful of different Topics to choose from. For example, News in Slow German currently includes:
- Auto-Klassiker: Hop in, buckle up, and check out a captivating collection of the top ten classic German cars. Join our host, Johannes, as he shares fascinating facts as well as his personal experiences with each one of these iconic machines.
- Kinderlieder: Jana and her son Eli explore the magic and wonder of Kinderlieder – classic German nursery rhymes and songs. A whimsical journey with poetry, laughter, sadness and, of course, music.
- Meditation für Anfänger: Take a deep breath. Slow down. Meditate… in German. Intrigued? Join our host Robin, your guide through an original introductory meditation course. Designed to help German learners “get out of their own way” and quiet the critical voice that can be a roadblock to deeper learning, this 12-part series is entirely in German, integrating vocabulary and listening skills with mindfulness practice and relaxation.
- Im Wandel der Zeit: Hans and Günter are separated by WWII. This is the story of their lives on either side of the Berlin Wall, divided by ideology but united by friendship.
- GRIMM: A woman revisits her childhood through the spellbinding fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm.
- Dein Albert: An imagined series of letters written by Albert Einstein to a lifelong friend, sharing details about his personal life, his work in physics, and his political views.
- Alternatives Deutschland: Reflections on German history, and the personal story of a woman raising a multiracial family in modern Germany.
- Kindness in the Time of Coronavirus: Isolated at home, our host Jana is reminded of our deep need for connection and reassurance. For as long as we are in this crisis together, she will continue to share this journal containing stories of kindness from near and far, to inspire hope and resilience.
We worked through two of the above-mentioned topics, “Im Wandel der Zeit” and “Dein Albert.” It was particularly interesting to learn more about the life of Albert Einstein through this 11-part series documenting his life and achievements.
Each language has its own collection of Series intended to help you practice while also giving you insight into the relevant cultural events and themes of your target language. Series episodes tend to be a bit longer than the other material on the site, usually between 750-1000 words per part, so you’ll have no shortage of study material to help you improve.
An excellent source of comprehensible input
Linguistica360’s suite of news podcasts, grammar lessons and series makes for a top-notch source of comprehensible input. Comprehensible input (CI) is a term used to describe language-learning material you can understand even though you might not know a few words. For example, you might read a news article and understand the majority of what’s written, minus a few words or phrases you’d need to look up.
As language learners we want a steady stream of new comprehensible input study material to help us learn new words and reinforce the things we’ve already learned. Additionally, comprehensible input material helps our brains learn more effectively since we’re paying more attention to context.
Stephen Krashen’s hypothesis on language acquisition
In the 1970’s and 1980’s Stephen Krashen, a linguist at the University of Southern California, developed a set of five hypotheses collectively known as the input hypothesis.
Krashen argued that language learning is most effective when you use study material one difficulty level higher than your current proficiency level. We learn languages best when studying material at i+1, where i is our proficiency level and +1 means we’re adding a bit of difficulty. When we study material that’s just a bit beyond our current understanding, our brains are given a bit of a challenge and we pick up new material through observation.
Comprehensible input also gives us the opportunity to practice what we’ve already learned. When we hear a vocabulary word we learned recently or read a sentence using a particular verb tense, our understanding expands and our memories become stronger.
Plus, we’re much more likely to remember something that was challenging and interesting to us. At intermediate-level German, a video about Oktoberfest is likely to introduce us to several new German words and will be considerably more memorable than simply playing games on Duolingo.
Comprehensible input can be difficult to find
Finding the right comprehensible input can be pretty tough. Every learner has a different proficiency level and their own unique needs, so there’s really no one-size-fits-all study content. A podcast you can easily understand might be too difficult for us, meaning we wouldn’t get much out of it.
CI becomes increasingly important as you reach intermediate and advanced levels since you need to practice a lot in order to reinforce what you’ve learned and keep your momentum going. It can be hard to find study material that’s right for you.
As a language learner, TV shows, movies, podcasts and books might be beyond your grasp until you reach an advanced level. At the same time, the easier-to-understand material found in textbooks or apps might be too simple, or it might feel unrealistic.
Linguistica360’s study material is a perfect solution for this type of scenario since it’s easy to understand, yet also authentic and realistic. The narrators’ slow and clear pronunciation makes it much easier to understand the audio segments, and the hover-to-translate Keywords provide more clarity for difficult vocabulary.
The bottom line – can you learn a language with Linguistica360 products?
Can you learn a language with Linguistica360’s News in Slow Spanish/Italian/French/German? The short answer is – yes, absolutely!
We’ve been using News in Slow German to improve our listening skills while commuting to work or cooking dinner since the audio is much easier to understand compared to other podcasts. The interface is designed for language learning and the hover-to-translate Keywords save us the effort of looking things up in the dictionary.
News in Slow German has three primary product features we’ve incorporated into our daily study routine:
- Intermediate News podcasts introduce us to new vocabulary while keeping us up to date with current events.
- Grammar & Expressions are a helpful way to review grammatical topics we’re still working on mastering (particularly helpful for the German case system).
- The Series are a fun way to explore German culture through bite-size snippets of real life topics, like the German automotive industry or Albert Einstein’s personal life.
To get the most out of Linguistica360, set a weekly study goal and incorporate some of the above-mentioned activities into your language learning study planner. For example, listen to the audio 15 minutes per day and spend 30 minutes per day using flashcards to memorize the new vocabulary you encounter.
The more you listen and read, the better you’ll get at understanding and using your target language. And likewise, the more you practice, the more fluent you’ll become.
– written by Drew Grubba for Smarter Language. Drew has ACTFL-certified proficiency in Swedish, German, Portuguese, French and Spanish. He’s also studied Mandarin Chinese, Norwegian and Dutch, and is currently learning Russian.