This makes for an often fun experience, but is Lingopie the best way to learn French? I tried the app for a few days and here’s what I think of it.
What is Lingopie?
When you log onto Lingopie, or even if you look at their website, you’ll probably feel like you’re browsing through Netflix. The app uses videos as its teaching tools, many of which are from Netflix itself, and its interface also mimics Netflix’s, with videos divided by categories. Where Lingopie differs from Netflix is that its subtitles are interactive. As you watch a video, you can click on words to get definitions, loop sentences so that you hear them again and again, get grammar explanations for certain phrases, and work on your pronunciation.
Depending on your taste, this may all sound great to you, or maybe like a gimmick. You may also know that several other apps, including FluentU, focus on and offer similar features to Lingopie, although most of them use YouTube videos, not necessarily ones from Netflix.
So, is Lingopie ultimately a good way to learn French?
What’s good about Lingopie
One thing I liked a lot about Lingopie was the variety of videos it offers. You could watch a French Netflix series, but you could also opt for French YouTube offerings. The app also includes French music videos in several genres. It’s always better to watch something that interests you and will keep you motivated, and Lingopie can probably offer that to most language learners.
The other advantage to including a variety of videos is time. A learner could sit down for a nearly hour-long episode of a French series, or watch a music video that lasts only a few minutes. Of course, you’d have to add in some time to examine the subtitles and stop to learn and practice new words and phrases, but even so, whether you have a lot of time to practice French every day or a little, you can use Lingopie.
One of the things I liked most about Lingopie’s offerings was their selection of songs from Disney movies. These can be great learning tools because the words tend to be pronounced in a clear way, and if you’re familiar with these songs in your native language, that can make them an even better learning tool.
And of course, Lingopie’s concept in general is a really pleasant one. It’s fun to watch videos, especially if they’re a genre you like, as a way to pick up vocabulary and practice learning French. And watching videos in French is something that I recommend across the board – it’s not only a way to learn vocabulary and train your ear, but also a great way to learn more about French culture.
Lingopie takes this to another level by letting you personalize your video language learning experience. For instance, you can choose to watch videos with French subtitles or with subtitles in both French and English. You can watch the videos straight through or pause them to learn more about individual words and phrases, including definitions, pronunciation, and so on.
Learning is also personalized, based on the words you click on and save. There are a few different types of exercises, including flashcards that feature the video clip with the word or phrase you chose. This is charming in a way, and also very helpful for memorizing vocabulary; context can often make things better stick in your mind.
What’s not good about Lingopie
Lingopie lets you explore lines of French dialogue in depth, but unfortunately, the app’s translations aren’t always accurate. This is my biggest issue with Lingopie.
In just a few days of browsing through videos, I came upon a number of bizarre translation choices. For instance, the common word désormais is translated by Lingopie as “From now”, rather than “from now on”. Personne, another common word, is translated as “Who is”, rather than “nobody/No one”.
Often, the issue is that words and phrases were translated within a particular context, rather than by using their common definitions. And that brings up another issue: You only get that one definition, even if a word has multiple uses and meanings. There are no footnotes or ways to click on a word to learn more about it.
This is also a problem when it comes to wordplay. Words only get a literal (and not always correct or common) translation, even if the way they’re used in a video or song includes a double meaning. To be fair, if you were watching French videos on your own, you also wouldn’t get some sort of flag or notification that wordplay was afoot. But for a learning platform, it’s especially problematic, since it influences the way these words are written on the flashcards and in the exercises you’ll be doing.
While this isn’t an issue all the time, it’s frequent enough to be a concern. I was shocked, in fact, that even Lingopie’s French preview video in the Google Play store features an incorrect translation of wordplay. We see a cartoon animal that the transcript shows as saying À l’attaco. I personally would have thought this was À l’attaque, with the final “e” pronounced euh, a common way French people emphasize sounds at the end of words. But even if the character is supposed to be saying attaco for some reason, that’s not a word in French. And yet, the app translates this word as “attack”, which means that someone using this app will be writing and saying “attack” in French completely incorrectly.
Add to this that even if the correct word, attaque, had been used, in this particular case it’s part of the À l’attaque, which does mean “Attack,” but as a command or plan, rather than just the general word that could be used in all sorts of contexts. There is no way for the app to specify or teach this.
In terms of teaching, in fact, even though Lingopie has a feature that’s supposed to explain the grammar behind different sentences and phrases you can click on, these are just AI-generated explanations that are usually pertinent to the specific word or phrase. For instance, you might get a translation or brief explanation of a phrase with a verb, but you won’t have any kind of introduction or overall explanation of usage or verb tenses (this is especially important when you’re dealing with tenses like the imparfait, which doesn’t exist in English). The same goes for other parts of speech, like articles, adjectives, and prepositions.
As you might have guessed, all of this points to the fact that Lingopie has no particular order or structure. There are no grammar lessons – it’s all about you just exploring the videos on offer (many of which are categorized as being for beginner, intermediate, or advanced level) and learning on your own. It’s like choosing which Netflix series to watch next – you get some guidance, but by and large, you’re on your own.
Another issue I had with Lingopie was that it was difficult, if not impossible, to use on any other device besides my computer. Like French Together, Lingopie is a web app, meaning you’re supposed to be able to log in and use it on any device (computer, phone, etc.). But when I tried using it on my phone, the app wasn’t able to access my microphone, which is exceptional. The interface is also very cluttered when you use it on a small screen, and it’s not as easy to click and use features like the grammar explainer.
Lingopie is also available as a mobile app, so I downloaded the mobile version onto my phone. But the mobile app wouldn’t let me log in, despite numerous tries. It wasn’t a password error or anything like that; the app simply didn’t move from its landing page. Interestingly, Lingopie doesn’t advertise its mobile app as much as other language learning apps I’ve seen. For instance, it’s hard to find a Google Play or iTunes store logo on its webpage. This may be why.
So, with this in mind, if you don’t have access to a computer, be sure to try out the app first, with a free trial offer, to see if it would work on your mobile device(s).
Although it’s not played up much on Lingopie’s website, the app also offers lessons and tutoring sessions with real, live teachers. Unfortunately, these cost extra. The lessons offered seem to follow a theme, so they may not cover the French grammar and other basics that are missing from the app.
The best and worst things about Lingopie
To sum it up…
Here’s what I liked most about Lingopie French
- the concept of learning French with videos
- the sleek, Netflix-like interface
- the variety of videos available, allowing learners to watching things that interest them and/or fit into how much time they have to practice French per day
- the ability to customize learning features
- the flashcards that include a video clip that goes with the word or phrase, making them both fun and memorable
Here’s what I didn’t like about Lingopie French
- subtitle translations can be inaccurate or give a definition based on context as opposed to the most common definition of a word
- inaccurate or context-dependent word definitions are also used for flashcards and vocabulary exercises
- no order or structured lessons
- grammar explanations are AI-generated and too brief
- the app is difficult to use and even access on mobile devices
- the app’s tutoring and lessons are an additional cost
Will Lingopie make me fluent in French?
Whenever I review a language learning app, I’m careful to say that using it alone probably won’t make you fluent in French. This is because language learning apps tend to be limited, often focusing on one or just a few aspects of French. In the case of Lingopie, you’ll get good listening practice, limited or no speaking practice (not only is the app’s speaking function limited; personally, Lingopie couldn’t access my mic, no matter what device I used it on), some reading practice, and no writing practice. Add to this the facts that some of the vocabulary you’ll learn with Lingopie won’t be accurate and that using the app won’t give you an understanding of how even basic French grammar works.
Because of its lack of structure, progressive levels, and basic information about the foundations of French, Lingopie probably isn’t a good choice for absolute beginners. But it could be a helpful tool for intermediate and advanced French learners.
That said, even if you have a base knowledge of French, it would probably be best to use Lingopie with other apps and learning tools in order to really practice and improve every aspect of the language. For instance, you might want to use French learning books or an app like Rocket French for more thorough grammar lessons and explanations, and hone your conversational French practice with the French Together app. As your French improves, you can continue watching, reading, and listening to things in French, and try to find a French conversation partner on a free language exchange website.
How much does Lingopie cost?
As of this writing, Lingopie has three different subscription plans. The 3-month plan costs $36 or $12 a month, and includes access to videos in one language. The one-year subscription to Lingopie is currently available at a discount, costing $71.88, or $5.99 a month, and gives access to all of the languages the app offers. A Lingopie lifetime subscription includes access to videos in all of the app’s languages and is currently available at a discount, costing $199. Check the local version of Lingopie’s website for prices in your currency, and to see if the discounts are still applicable.
How to cancel Lingopie?
Whenever I review language learning apps, I like to check how easy canceling is because that’s something that can be difficult with some apps.
The good news is that canceling Lingopie is easy and can be done by clicking on the “cancel” button in your account. There is a downside though, if you are on the free trial and cancel, you lose access immediately. Not a huge deal but not ideal either.
Lingopie’s method of teaching with videos makes for an interesting way to review your French. But keep in mind that’s “review”, not “learn,” since the app won’t teach you the foundations of French or essential grammar and structure, and its vocabulary translations can be incorrect or dependent on context.