This year, one of my main resolutions was to improve my mastery of Spanish. However, learning a foreign language abroad can be quite harder than it seems at first, especially if you’re in a country that speaks something else.
When I’m travelling, my first priority is to enjoy the places I’m visiting. So adding daily vocabulary practice and listening to grammar podcasts was pushing my time to its limit already. Live coaching sessions are impossible in noisy hotels with free WiFi. What I needed was a stress-free way to keep learning Spanish after reaching home from a long hike, at my own pace.
Now that I found Lingopie, I don’t need to keep looking. And since I want you guys to learn from my experience, here’s my review of Lingopie.
What is Lingopie?
Lingopie is a fun and intuitive language learning tool that uses TV shows and movies to help you learn new languages. It does this by immersing you in native content, which puts all the words and nouns and verbs in context, without the need to drill any vocabulary.
The site itself is pretty easy to use and took me no more than a few minutes to get the hang of.
How Does Lingopie work?
The idea behind Lingopie is called “binge learning”: you can learn a new language by simply watching TV in a foreign language, using same-language captions. The more you watch, the more you learn!
Wait – Does This Actually Work?
Don’t worry about the fact that learning a language by watching TV sounds too easy. This is actually backed by academic research. Their main academic consultant, Dr Robert Vanderplank, first tested this method with subtitled Finnish TV.
According to Vanderplank, watching TV shows in a foreign language, with simultaneous foreign and native-language captions, provides a very welcome development for autonomous learners.
This also exposes you to a very “real” way of speaking. Incidentally, if you want to read about how people really talk and curse each other in 40 languages then read Dr. Vanderplank’s best-selling “Uglier Than a Monkey’s Armpit: Untranslatable insults, Put-downs and Curses from Around the World.”
Why Should You Use Lingopie instead of just TV?
So learning Spanish by watching TV definitely works – but then, why do you need Lingopie TV instead of the Netflix you already have?
The guys behind Lingopie consulted with linguists in order to find ways to exploit the way our brains learn languages naturally. First, it offers double subtitles – both in English and in your target language. While watching, you can also access a lot of extra tools:
#1 Instant translation
While you are watching, you can click on any word or phrase that you don’t understand in order to pull up its translation. No looking at dictionaries or awkwardly trying to find where you were!
#2 Flashcard sets
Every word or phrase that you click on is then added to your list of visual flashcards and, once the show is over, you can review your new words and test yourself.
#3 Slow replay
To make it easier to understand, you can slow down the speed of the video to four different levels – which can go as slow as 75% of the original speed. This still sounds natural, but makes it a lot easier for beginners to catch what is being said in the language they are learning.
#4 Different levels
Content comes in all levels, from beginner to advanced, and there are 1000+ hours of TV shows – currently in Spanish and Russian, with several other languages, including French, Italian, Portuguese and German coming soon.
#5 Repetition tools
Have you ever found yourself waiting on the phone line for a customer service representative to answer? While waiting, you’ve probably been listening to a repetitive and slightly annoying jingle. Well, it may be annoying, but it’s also useful – repetition is one of the best ways to learn.
If you’ve ever had to listen to a customer service message in a foreign and unknown language, you may have found that by the time you actually get to speak to a human, you picked up a couple of new words. This is because you had to hear them over and over again.
This is why Lingopie offers a Subtitle Auto-Loop tool that helps you practice words by automatically replaying the sentence over again via clicking on the auto-loop icon in the video player while you are watching.
Learn Spanish with La Casa de Papel
Another great feature on LingoPie is its La Casa de Papel (Money Heist) flashcards and quizzes in Spanish. While the brilliant Spanish TV series isn’t available yet for viewing on LingoPie, professor Tokyo and the rest of La Casa de Papel’s cunning band of criminals will teach you Spanish words, phrases and slang, through flashcards that accompany each episode.
Each episode comes with around 100 key vocabulary words to study, along with fun quizzes to test your Casa De Papel knowledge in Spanish.
New shows, all the time, all across the board
There is one final perk that I got from Lingopie and that made it a particularly great way to learn a foreign language while abroad. They are routinely expanding their collection, but you can access any of their shows no matter where you are.
That way, you won’t have to lose your progress just because you’re in a country where Hulu is not available, or certain shows are blocked.
So How Did It Work For Me?
No review of Lingopie would be complete without extra details about my experience with it. When I first heard about Lingopie, I was instantly on board with the idea of binging on your favorite TV show or movie. Plus, you can do so on the go, on your tablet or phone. There’s a Lingopie app about to be launched that sounds perfect for long bus rides.
To get myself started, I chose a Spanish language Argentinian TV show called Guerra de Cervezas (Beer Wars), a black comedy in which four girlfriends set up a craft beer bar on the same block as a local family that has produced traditional craft beer there for decades. Events quickly spill into the absurd as the contest is on to find who makes “la mejor cerveza” – the best beer.
By the time I was done with the series, I had picked up lots of new words and phrases. Next time I’m in Spain, Argentina, or anywhere else in Latin America, I’ll be able to talk about craft beers, love or business rivalries because I picked up all the vocabulary by watching Guerra de Cervezas.
Lingopie is not even expensive. If you want to try out Lingopie, you can sign up for a free 7-day trial that will give you full access to all Lingopie content with no obligation whatsoever.
A monthly subscription is $9 US per month, while the annual one is $60 US. This works out at $5 per month, and both can be cancelled at any time.