This review looks at LinguaLift, which has been around for several years now with a slowly-rising reputation in the language space.
Unlike most other courses and platforms, LinguaLift currently focuses on 3 languages only - Hebrew, Russian and Japanese (with other languages like Spanish, French and Mandarin Chinese in the pipeline). For the purpose of this review, I've taken a good look at their Japanese edition (a language I'm only slightly familiar with) but they all follow the same pattern.
From the very outset, it was clear that LinguaLift is a literacy-heavy course.
It feels like very much like a digital textbook of sorts (with audio). That's not necessarily a bad thing but it's important to set the right expectations before signing up for the course.
I've used other similar courses for Japanese before - some were terrible, some excellent (e.g. Rocket Languages are leaders in this area).
LinguaLift suffers from too much emphasis on reading, to the detriment of other skills.
It's also quite expensive for what it offers and higher than the market average for a subscription-based course.
I'll get to all this in a moment.
- Fills a market gap by covering less popular languages (esp. Hebrew)
- Quite well-designed
- Informative and content-rich
- Sarcasm adds a fun touch
- Basically just a digital textbook
- Too much emphasis on literacy, rather than conversation
- Way too much English
- Slightly overpriced for what it is
1. Excessive use of English spoils a potentially great course
The biggest problem with LinguaLift, in my opinion, is the excessive use of English in teaching the target languages.
This is an unfortunate issue you find in other courses like Michel Thomas, where 90% of a lesson is English. It's a complete waste and substracts from the learning experience.
LinguaLift would be a far better course if they managed to strip the English back and let the target languages speak for themselves.
2. Cultural lessons are interesting but not exactly what you signed up for
One of LinguaLift's stronger points is the inclusion of "culture" components or lessons.
These are interwoven into the language content and they do a good job as presenting fascinating insight into the target language culture.
3. Understand the structure of the LinguaLift courses
LinguaLift is a structured, linear course that should ideally be followed from start to finish.
In other words, it's not ideal for the autodidact who prefers to 'pick their own path'. That being said, you can absolutely learn this way if you wish (it's just that each lesson assumes you've moved from the previous one).
There 2 x 50 lessons in the LinguaLift course.
The first half (first 50 lessons that is) is aimed at "Survival", while the next is for "Getting Around".
Think of it like this:
First 50 lessons: Sets a foundation for the language's grammar, reading (e.g. hiragana, katakana and kanji in the case of Japanese), sentence structure and rudimentary phrases.
Next 50 lessons: Practical focus. This content is more about application of the language in real life contexts.
The general lesson structure is the same, and what you would expect in most language textbooks. Lesson focus is introduced (e.g. a grammar point), followed by key vocabulary and a test (multiple choice).
This is followed by a cultural lesson where key components of the target language culture are introduced along with the language's application in that context. This is also reminiscent of Rocket Languages which interweaves cultural lessons with language lessons.
These lessons end with an interesting video about Japan (kind of like a trophy or award for finishing).
Get Around Japan
This section ("Get Around...") is structured in a slightly different way to the first section.
The practical lessons here have a practical lesson followed by grammar and vocabulary lessons that help you learn what you've just covered. They're all topic-based lessons - very practical and applicable to situations around the target-language country.
Think of them as typical topic-based lessons you'd find in a textbook or phrasebook.
4. Review of LinguaLift pricing: too expensive for what it is
LinguaLift costs $29 USD per month or $204 USD per year if you pay up front for 12 months.
Frankly, I think this is overpriced for what LinguaLift offers.
The course is a glorified textbook that doesn't offer much in terms of innovation or unique methodology. Just a text-based course that largely ignores most language skills apart from reading.
That being said, the price does include all LinguaLift languages.
BUT... who's going to be learning Hebrew, Russian and Japanese? It's an unusual language grouping.
There is a free lesson though so you can partly sample before buying.
Getting a refund from LinguaLift
They offer a 30 day money back guarantee like most online courses.
Admittedly, I haven't taken advantage of this so I can't comment on how quickly they respond and process refunds.
5. LinguaLift alternatives with better value for money
I've already mentioned Rocket Languages.
In terms of LinguaLift's lesson delivery style, Rocket Languages is fairly similar in its linear, textbook delivery, and also its interweaving of cultural lessons.
That being said, Rocket Languages is, in my opinion, a far superior product in every way. The audio quality is excellent, it's more comprehensive in its scope, it has voice recognition and better testing, plus a massive community of users to engage with.
It's also less expensive.
The only downside to Rocket Language vs LinguaLift is that it doesn't offer Hebrew yet.
If you're looking for a Hebrew alternative, I recommend HebrewPod101.
It's not quite the same in its delivery (podcast lessons), but it offers a great variation of quality content, including video.
For a purely audio alternative to LinguaLift, you can't go wrong with Pimsleur (one of the most well-known language courses available).
Review summary: Is LinguaLift worth it?
I mentioned above that LinguaLift is overpriced.
I really couldn't recommend anyone signing up for it for this reason alone - it's a glorified, digital textbook that should be a fraction of its current price.
You cover the rudimentary aspects of only 3 languages, but it's a literacy-heavy course that won't prepare you for conversations. There's also way too much English used in the course.
It covers culture quite well but that's not exactly what a language course is intended for.
For Hebrew learners, it may be worthwhile given there are very few Hebrew resources available, but I'd recommend HebrewPod101 which is nearly 3x cheaper, and offers video.
All in all, not a terrible course but also not great.
See my language resources page for other alternatives to LinguaLift.
Used LinguaLift before?
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