Our Review of LingoDeer
LingoDeer is perfect for beginners but can feel frustrating trying to find the appropriate level as an intermediate learner. The game-like learning environment helps make studying feel more exciting, and LingoDeer is a great resource for people learning Asian languages. But a locked curriculum and the need to “Test Out” to access more advanced lessons makes LingoDeer a limiting experience.
Ease of Use10
Engagement and Motivation6
Value for Cost8
LingoDeer is a fun and easy-to-use language app featuring 10 languages, four of which are Asian languages (Korean, Japanese, Mandarin and Vietnamese).
It’s a great app for beginners with no prior experience, though there isn’t a lot of content available for intermediate or advanced learners.
In our review of LingoDeer below, we share our experience using it to learn Korean and provide some key details on how learning a language on the app works.
Table of Contents
- How does LingoDeer work?
- How much does LingoDeer cost?
- What languages are available on LingoDeer?
- LingoDeer’s learning structure: three parts to every Lesson
- Our experience using LingoDeer for Korean
- The bottom line – can you really learn a language with LingoDeer?
How does LingoDeer work?
LingoDeer teaches users language through Lesson units that encompass three tools: “Learning Tips” introduce you to new grammar concepts, “Stories” employ the concepts in a video/dialogue and “Lesson Activities” help you learn through interactive study games.
You can work through all of the Lesson material at your own pace in order to master it, then continue on to the next Lesson in the course progression.
How much does LingoDeer cost?
Your first lesson on LingoDeer is free. To continue past that you’ll need to create an account and pay for a subscription. LingoDeer’s subscriptions unlock all of the lesson content as well as offline downloads and access to the mobile apps.
LingoDeer has several subscription options, including a Lifetime access subscription. The prices at the time this article was published are as follows:
- Monthly: $14.99
- Quarterly: $39.99
- Yearly: $79.99
- Lifetime: $159.99
What languages are available on LingoDeer?
LingoDeer has a strong focus on Asian languages, and the company itself is based in Hong Kong. A number of popular language apps offer only Indo-European languages, so it’s refreshing to find that LingoDeer users can find great study material for languages like Korean and Vietnamese.
As an English speaker you can study 10 different languages on LingoDeer:
Additionally, quite a few study languages are available for speakers of other languages. For example, Japanese speakers can study six different languages (German, French, Spanish, English, Chinese and Korean).
LingoDeer doesn’t limit users to a certain number of languages either; your subscription includes access to all study content on the platform. Some language apps like Babbel and LanguagePod101, in contrast, limit monthly subscribers to one language, which can be limiting if you’d like to explore a new language or even study two simultaneously.
LingoDeer’s learning structure: three parts to every Lesson
Every LingoDeer Lesson has three parts to work through in order to master the subject material:
- Learning Tips
- Lesson Activities
It’s unclear how users are intended to work through each item, and in what order; it appears that users are left to decide on their own. We found it most helpful to review:
- Learning Tips first, then
- Take a brief look at the Story, followed by
- Working through the Lesson Activity.
You’ll want to refer back to the Learning Tips and Stories to make sure you recognize and understand new grammar points.
Learning Tips are short grammar explanations that introduce you to new language concepts you’ll be learning in the Lesson. They’re generally concise and easy to understand, so don’t worry about feeling overwhelmed by tons of complicated grammar.
For example, the second Lesson in LingoDeer’s Korean I course introduces us to two new grammatical concepts. The first one is shown in the screenshot below. In this Learning Tip we learn three words for identifying something as, “This,” “That,” or, “That over there.”
Each Lesson has a Story that employs the newly introduced grammar structures though a brief text or dialogue.
The Story in Lesson 2 of our Korean 1 course, for example, uses the “this/that/that over there” words from the Learning Tips section to talk about a Korean man and his wife.
LingoDeer Stories are a good way to pair the grammar concepts you’re learning with real-life scenarios. You can watch Stories as a short video and work through each line with Reading and Listening activities. We recommend working through the Stories several times, paying particular attention to the grammar concepts.
Stories usually introduce a few new vocabulary words as well. LingoDeer doesn’t offer a way to memorize or quiz yourself on specific vocabulary, so we recommend taking note of any particularly interesting words or phrases and memorizing them with flashcards (find out how using our guide).
After reviewing Learning Tips and Story, jump into the main Lesson Activity to start practicing the new Lesson concepts. Each Lesson has 2-3 Lesson Activities you’ll complete before moving on to further Lessons.
Lesson Activities are pretty short – usually just 10 or 15 questions – and you’ll train your listening, reading and writing skills. Activities include multiple choice, fill in the blank, typing (or building sentences) and so on.
Users aren’t penalized for incorrect answers; if you make a mistake you’ll just see that question again in a little while.
It’s easy to simply work through the Lesson Activities and continue onto further Lessons, so you’ll want to have a decent grasp of key concepts before moving on. It’s up to you to make sure you understand each concept well enough. Make sure to put in some study time and get a strong grasp of each concept since they build off each other. You can always go back and review previously learned material if you find yourself getting stuck.
Our experience using LingoDeer for Korean
We used LingoDeer to study Korean at the beginner level.
In our first few Korean lessons, we learned the basics of describing people and nationalities. For example, we learned vocabulary words to describe people, such as American, Chinese and Korean. LingoDeer introduced us to new vocabulary words first, quizzed us on them, and then taught us how to build larger sentences.
Each lesson includes slow, clearly pronounced audio recorded by native speakers. It felt like a breath of fresh air to have native-speaker audio since some apps, such as Duolingo, use text-to-speech audio. The consistent use of high quality voice recordings was extremely beneficial to us since Korean has quite a few sounds we don’t use in English.
Clear, simple explanations
LingoDeer does a good job of explaining new concepts in a clear and concise manner. For example, when we started our Korean language course on LingoDeer we began by learning the alphabet.
The app explained each concept in a few sentences using simple language, as opposed to the paragraphs of complex linguistic terms we expect to see in a language learning textbook. LingoDeer’s Korean alphabet lesson allowed us to click on different letters to hear the correct pronunciation.
After about an hour of browsing through all the letter pairings we were able to get a decent understanding of the Korean writing system.
LingoDeer is best for beginners; not ideal for intermediate/advanced learners
If you’re brand new to studying your target language, LingoDeer is an excellent program for getting a grasp of fundamentals. We started Korean from the very beginning and found the course material to be straightforward and organized.
However, it can be quite challenging to find the appropriate starting point if you’re at intermediate or advanced level. There are no placement tests, and users don’t have the ability to browse the app to find the appropriate Lessons. If you’re at intermediate or advanced level we recommend using another app.
Lack of flexibility detracts from the learning experience
A locked curriculum prevents users from getting ahead of themselves and feeling overwhelmed, but it’s also inconvenient for learners seeking a customizable experience.
After completing the first Lesson, LingoDeer requires you to sign up for an account before continuing on to the second Lesson. The app didn’t save our progress when we created our account, however, so we were forced to complete the entire first lesson again; there’s no option to “skip” a Lesson or mark it as “already completed.” When we finished the first Lesson for the second time, we ran into a paywall and had to purchase a subscription before moving on.
“Testing out” is a hassle for intermediate learners
The lack of flexibility may even be more frustrating for intermediate learners. We wanted to try LingoDeer for intermediate-level Russian but were unable to simply jump in to that Lesson. The only way to unlock higher Lessons is to “Test Out,” which is extremely limiting for non-beginner users.
The “Test Out” quizzes are tough to pass since you’ll be asked to translate specific sentences you’d only know if you worked through LingoDeer’s Lessons. For example, we were asked to translate “Katya rarely sleeps on the living room couch.” into Russian. We translated the phrase using the verb “спать (to sleep)” but were marked incorrect because LingoDeer uses the verb “ложиться спать (to go to sleep).”
The sentence they provided as the “correct answer” was “Катя редко ложится спать на диване в гостиной.” This sentence actually means something more like “Katya rarely goes to sleep on the living room couch.” It’s a nuanced difference, but it cost us one of our three “lives” in the quiz.
We found it difficult to pass these quizzes since we have to correctly guess the specific wording the app has in mind for each translation.
LingoDeer’s locked curriculum also means intermediate learners have to jump through tons of hoops to even view the content in intermediate-level Lessons. We wanted to study “Perfective Verbs” since that’s what we’re currently working on with our Wyzant tutor, but that Lesson was locked behind multiple Tests.
We would have to pass three Tests then complete four Lessons before being able to view the content in “Perfective Verbs” Lesson!
We believe that as paying subscribers, users should have the flexibility to decide what they want to study and when. If you’re trying out an app for the first time, the last thing you want to do is spend an hour taking tests before being allowed to start learning. In the end, we decided it wasn’t worth our time to try and unlock the intermediate-level content for Russian, so we just continued studying Korean at the beginner level.
LingoDeer is an excellent product if you’re just starting out with your target language. However, if you already have some experience or prefer an app that helps you quickly find an appropriate place to pick up your learning, we recommend using something else.
The bottom line – can you really learn a language with LingoDeer?
Is LingoDeer worth using? Can you really learn a language on LingoDeer? The short answer is: sort of. It’s perfect for beginners but can feel frustrating trying to find the appropriate level as an intermediate learner.
You can try your first LingoDeer Lesson for free without having to sign up, and the fun, game-like learning environment helps make studying feel more exciting. If you’re brand new to your target language or interested in focusing on an Asian language, we recommend checking out LingoDeer to see if it’s the right fit for you.
The beginner Lessons are an excellent resource for new learners since the explanations are clear and easy to understand. Stories provide additional context and interesting vocabulary, and overall the app teaches you words and phrases you can actually use. But a locked curriculum and the need to “Test Out” in order to jump in as a more advanced language learner makes LingoDeer a limiting experience.
If you’re an intermediate or advanced-level learner we’d recommend checking out Rosetta Stone or Memrise, as these apps are more suited to a variety of different proficiency levels. We also have a guide for using spaced-repetition software to expand your vocabulary, check it out here.
– 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.
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