When comparing Lingvist Vs Duolingo, most people would recommend the second one. The main reason is that Duolingo is ranked 1st while Lingvist is ranked 6th.
However, I will share with you my honest opinion on which language learning option is better.
So, let's dive in.
Unfortunately, Lingvist offers only 5 languages (French, Russian, German, Spanish, and Portuguese) for English-speaking students. And fewer if you speak another language.
On the other hand, Duolingo offers 95 different language courses in 38 languages.
What I don't like about Duolingo is that it seems like they are trying to do too much. Like they have a smartphone app and the web app. They don't seem to fix bugs. I have sent few bug reports over the past year and never received a response from their part...and the bugs I reported are still there. I also witnessed their apps break, sometimes temporarily and sometimes permanently. Various aspects of the app and the website just break down.
The number one thing that has broken is the spaced repetition system.
Remember my last blog post where I talked about how awesome their spaced repetition system is because it takes the burden over you for having to decide what to practice next. Well, that's gone down the tubes. I hope they will fix it. But honestly, I'm not very hopeful they will do that because of the pattern I have seen over the past year.
Lingvist on the other hand has an awesome spaced repetition system. And it seems to become even better. Which is great!
I just want to highlight what I think is better at Lingvist as a whole – the team who runs it seems to know what they are doing. Or that they just limited the scope of what they're doing. Or Duolingo is trying too much.
Basically, Lingvist has fewer languages and has a much simpler app. It doesn't do much at all. The only thing it does is this: it has these simple cards which have a sentence on them and one word is blanked out. Your task is just to type that word. And that's it. So, you probably would say: "How can I get a lot out of it, if it's just a really simple thing? ".
I think that Lingvist offers one simple jet the most valuable thing (and Duolingo doesn't) in language learning: learning words in context. Basically, it's a vocabulary system, but the vocabulary system that puts every word in context. So, you're not just memorizing words and trying to recall them. You're also getting exposed to all sorts of other aspects of the language. And, it simply combines this active recall with a kind of passive exposure. The total experience feels very immersive.
At Lingvist, there are English translations of the sentences that you can turn on by pushing the up arrow, and then you can turn them off again. And I like to use those only if I don't know what that sentence means. I find though that very quickly it pushes me to start thinking in the language. And I think it does that more effectively than Duoling in spite of being a lot simpler.
There is another thing though about Lingvist that I think is just way ahead of Duolingo - the order in which it teaches words and the words it teaches. Duolingo is kind of random with its vocabulary. It teaches you a lot of everyday objects, types of people, family members, and things that they seem like would be pretty useful. And a lot of them are useful. But it doesn't really follow the distribution of frequency of words in typical use. And Lingvist does. Lingvist teaches you words in the order in which they are most frequently used in the language, which has some really compelling benefits.
When you're learning a language there are certain words that you're gonna hear over and over and over again. Like in English, it starts with common words like "the", "and", "for", etc... all those little connecting words. And then there are certain nouns that you use a lot. And then there are other more esoteric words - the word " esoteric " is a good example. You're not gonna hear it all the time. But it's also more common than a lot of other words. There are other words that are archaic that you may never hear at all or that you'll only hear really rarely.
Lingvist focuses on the most common words and it teaches you the most common words first. And I noticed some really compelling advantages of that. One of them is that if I go out in the real world and expose myself to the language, I am going to hear the words I've learned, and I'm going to hear them frequently. So I naturally get practice in them. And if I listen to a news broadcast or I go to YouTube and look up videos on a topic that I'm interested in, or if I just go out and hear people speaking the language, I'm gonna hear a ton of the words that I've been learning on Lingvist.
Duolingo, on the other hand, doesn't cover as many words, which I think is a deficiency, and it throws a lot of words in there that might be kind of fun to learn but that aren't used very frequently. For example, it has a section on animals and so you gonna learn elephant, and tiger and stuff like that. But, how often do you say " elephant " in your daily life? You might, but you might not. And there are a lot of other words that are more important for you to learn than " elephant ", and that would be easier for you to get practice in it. The thing I really love about Lingvist is the fact that it prioritizes the language like that.
Another thing that I like about the Lingvist method is that it's really different from traditional classroom learning, and I think far superior. In languages that have different forms of the words (verb form in Spanish or in Russian there are cases so the ending of the word changes), it teaches you the forms based on the frequency of occurrence in a language. So, for common words, you're gonna learn all the forms very quickly. But for the more rare ones, you'll only learn a few of the forms which are gonna be the forms that you're more likely to hear in typical use. So again, it's more useful.
I think it's the best way to teach a language because it gives you the skills that you gonna need most and it allows you to get exposure to them by just exposing yourself to the language. I think that's wonderful!
Basically, if you want to learn one of these languages or you already learning them: Spanish, French, Portugees, German, Russian, I highly recommend checking out Lingvist. It has a free version. I have subscribed to the paid version. I actually was, for a brief time, a paid subscriber at Duolingo as well. I canceled my subscription because I was really frustrated with how that site is being run.
I kind of hope that people who are running Duoling will make things better and maybe fix the spaced repetition system and consider teaching the words by priority. That would be awesome because Duolingo is a great site that offers a lot more language courses in comparison to Lingvist. Still, I encouraging you to try using Lingvist. I find it much more effective because you don't need to put in as many hours and you get a lot more out of it. As an alternative, you should consider using some language learning apps like the Ling App.
Duolingo is too repetitive and sometimes boring, had a huge impact on the language learning community. So, Duolingo was a revolutionary app and Lingvist is an evolution.