Lingopie: The Binge-Language Learning Method
Have You Ever Struggled to Learn a Language? Lingopie is here to help!
By Megan Mentuck
We’ve all been there, struggling over conjugations, vocabulary, and irregular verbs, in an old-fashioned textbook—or maybe digitized textbook. It can be difficult to learn another language, especially when it feels like a chore. With Lingopie, users enjoy the language-learning experience by “binge-watching” international television shows.
GoNOMAD talked to Roy Oppenheim, a founder of the language learning platform, Lingopie. He explained to me that Lingopie works by wrapping the show in language-learning technology.
How Lingopie Works
That means that while you are watching the show (which is in the language which you are trying to learn), the platform provides clickable subtitles in your native language and the foreign language you are trying to learn. These subtitles will give you the word’s part of speech, conjugation, and definition.
The program also provides flashcards and exercises related to the show that you’re watching to ensure that you are learning while watching! Beyond clickable subtitles, flashcards, and exercises, there are also functions that allow you to slow down the video so that you can clearly hear the language pronunciation.
Roy explained that “we’re building you a personal dictionary based on a show you just watched.”
Unlike traditional language learning programs, Lingopie embraces the idea that “one of the best ways to learn a language is through entertainment, engagement, having fun.” This means that because users are engaged in the show that they’re watching, they’re more likely to continue the program and develop language comprehension because of it.
Lingopie: Revolutionizing Language Learning
Despite only being available to the public for about a year starting in 2020, the program has been wildly successful and gained thousands of users who stick to the program for longer periods of time than traditional language learning programs.
Currently, there are 100 different Spanish movies and television programs available for American audiences. They also recently released a French program with between 60-70 viewing options to be available by the end of the month.
From Reddit to Now
When Lingopie user Roy Roy joined our Zoom call, I realized that it was dark out there despite it only being 10 am where I was. Roy and I were halfway across the world away from one another—I, being in Massachusetts and he being in Israel.
Roy explained that he was from Tel Aviv and had been working in the television industry prior to starting Lingopie.
David, another cofounder of Lingopie, was from New York and was fascinated at the fact that despite English not being an official language of the country, most people were still able to speak it.
How Did All of These People Learn English?
When David started asking around about how people were able to learn English, he was surprised to hear that many people picked up the language from watching television shows.
Putting this theory to the test, David started watching a popular twenty-minute sitcom. After a couple of episodes, he realized that he was picking up some of the language and having fun!
David, with a background in tech startups, and Roy, with a background in television, joined together to create the first version of Lingopie.
In the early stages of the platform, Roy and David created a simple product and put it on the popular online forum site, Reddit. Within hours, they had thousands of supporters and resounding support for the idea.
Roy and David were then able to take this trial run and use the information that they got from it to build something more mature and complex.
Average Users—You’re Never Too Old to Learn a New Language!
Like everything else in life, the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has had an impact on Lingopie, but maybe not in the way that you would expect.
Initially, Roy expected that the average age of Lingopie users would be somewhere between early twenties and late thirties, so that was the initial audience that Lingopie was aimed towards. They were also expecting to have users who had family ties in the Latin community or were interested in using the program to learn a second language for work.
However, post-Covid 19, Lingopie has seen an increase in users ages 40-60. Roy theorizes that because of social distancing measures, people who were using private tutors or attending language-learning classes in person were unable to continue those and had to turn to virtual resources instead.
I’m curious if maybe with everyone’s newfound free time, they are looking to do something productive and that’s driven the spike in older users.
Lingopie’s Top Ten
When speaking to Roy, he described Lingopie as the “Netflix of language learners.” Those familiar with Netflix are probably familiar with the category on their streaming service labeled “Top Ten in the U.S.”
Similarly, there are top shows on the Lingopie streaming service.
A lot of people using the platform tend to enjoy cartoons from Spain and Mexico. These cartoons are more high-level then what you may be thinking of and are popular both because of their easily digestible shorter form and beautiful illustrations.
Columbian telenovelas (television soap operas) have also been popular among those looking to use the platform to learn Spanish.
A lot of what is popular among foreign users coincides with what’s especially popular in the country where these programs are produced.
However, if you’re not interested in telenovelas or cartoons, there are so many other shows to choose from. Roy put it quite eloquently, saying, “We have so much to see that people find their own thing.”
Users of Lingopie have had tremendous success learning through the program. Peter S, a Lingopie user, attested to the credibility of the program saying,
“I’ve been learning Spanish and really wanted to improve my listening comprehension. I tried watching Spanish-speaking films on Netflix, but the actors are usually speaking so fast that it’s difficult for me to pick up what they’re saying. It can also be a bit tedious to keep looking up words that appear in the subtitles.
Lingopie really makes the listening experience much easier since I can easily slow down the tempo to a speed I can understand, easily translate words I don’t know by clicking on them, and it’s much easier to navigate to specific points in the shows/films when I want to re-listen to something.”
Shannon P, another happy Lingopie user, said,
“Lingopie is phenomenal, it’s hands down the best approach to learning a language I’ve seen and quite frankly exactly the program I was looking for.”
So, if you’re planning a trip abroad, looking to learn something new in quarantine, are interested in learning a new language for whatever reason, or have run out of good TV shows on Netflix, check out Lingopie!