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Hi, I’m Brek, and I just successfully completed the Lingoda German Super Sprint!
I’m excited to share my own experience with you. The Sprint, offered multiple times a year by the online language school Lingoda, is advertised as “The best way to learn a language in 3 months”.
In the following article, I will discuss the pros and cons of my experience, some tips and tricks, and ultimately if the program truly is the best way to spend three months of your language learning journey. Legen wir los!
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- What is Lingoda?
- What is the Lingoda Sprint?
- Pros of the Lingoda German Sprint
- Cons of the Lingoda German Sprint
- The Sprint Rules
- Cashback Eligibility & Tips
What is Lingoda?
Lingoda is an online language school that offers live lessons with native teachers and 24/7 class availability. Classes are hosted via Zoom, and the usage of a webcam and audio provides for an immersive learning experience targeting all the principle skills in language learning: listening comprehension, speaking, reading, and writing, as well as culture!
They offer individual classes and group classes (limited to 6 people), the former being more expensive but more rewarding, the latter being cheaper and less interactive but the only option for the Sprint.
Lingoda offers classes for all levels, from absolute beginner to advanced. Even at the beginner stages, Lingoda encourages its teachers (who are all native speakers, primarily from Germany, Austria, and Switzerland) to avoid instructing in English, and the lessons are written exclusively in German, as the intent is to remain in the target language for as long as possible.
However, teachers will often instruct in English at the early levels due to necessity; grammar especially is a concept which one cannot easily learn with purely German explanations.
What is the Lingoda Sprint?
The Lingoda Sprint is a promotion put on multiple times per year which consists of attending a predetermined number of one-hour classes – 90 for the Super Sprint, and 45 for the Sprint – in a three-month time frame. The most exciting aspect of this promotion is the ability to get a refund for your studies upon successful completion of the Sprint; for the normal Sprint, learners can receive 50% cashback, and for the Super Sprint, 100% cashback!
So, what is the catch? Well, the learner must be extremely diligent, have perfect, unfailing WIFI, and always be punctual, because a single missed class (or even section of a class) will result in immediate ineligibility for the cashback. We’ll discuss the requirements for the cashback more in detail in the section Cashback Eligibility & Tips. First, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of the Sprint, and Lingoda in general.
Pros of the Lingoda German Sprint
First thing first, let’s take a look at advantages of the Lingoda German Sprint
Of course, any dedicated and determined learner can structure their own learning routine to create consistency, but it is often overwhelming and complicated, especially at the early stages in a language learning journey.
Consistency in language learning is, in my opinion, the most important factor in success or failure, as a consistent routine and good studying habits not only result in easier language retention and a faster learning path, but also boost emotional attributes such as motivation, determination, and confidence, which all make or break a journey to fluency.
Due to Lingoda’s format, learners are forced to take classes on a consistent basis, and this consistency over a period of three months will create a habit which will continue long after the Sprint.
Unlike in independent-learning or language exchanges, the fact that money is on the line for every class makes it difficult to skip out on a language learning session because you’re just too tired or want to watch the new Netflix series which was just released.
The Lingoda teachers are rarely late, and over the course of my 90-class Super Sprint, only one teacher had to cancel a class. Thus, there is a consistency in your calendar of language learning which you know will remain constant, and it’s just up to you to show up to class.
Quality of Material
One of Lingoda’s strong points is its extensive catalogue of self-produced and native-teacher-curated learning material, which serve as stepping stones on a natural learning path from A1 to C1.
One can skip certain classes or levels or pick and choose certain topics from different themes or levels, but Lingoda’s comprehensive offering is reassuring and allows learners to follow a path to fluency without having to think and plan.
Each Lingoda class is directed by means of the lesson’s slideshow. The teachers use these slideshows to guide the students through the lesson, but the students can ask questions at any time. The slideshows include pertinent vocabulary, short stories, listening and speaking exercises, and a homework section which students can complete after the lessons.
During the lessons, teachers will make notes on and highlight the presentation, and this will be shared with the students in the class report sent shortly after the lesson, in which the teacher will additionally advise the students individually on what they did well and what they still might need to practice.
Overall, the quality of the material is extremely professional, and the ability to constantly go back and review the resources (downloadable), or even review the material in advance of the class, makes repetition and practice simple.
The level of teaching at Lingoda is, in my opinion, its greatest selling point. Every teacher is a native speaker and professionally qualified. With the exception of one or two teachers who were sub-par, I felt 100% satisfied with the professionalism and class-leading ability of every teacher on Lingoda.
The teachers are very inviting, using their cameras and microphone to interact with the students, and always encourage beginning with a short introduction period where the teacher and the students will introduce themselves.
They are open for all questions and will do their best to respond most efficiently and effectively to every question. They’re very knowledgeable in their field and allow for students to get a quick and concise answer to a question which might have otherwise taken them hours to find themselves by scouring through the Internet.
Normally, teachers will call upon individual students to read or answer select parts of the slideshows in an effort to engage the class in the most efficient way possible. Sometimes short role-plays will also be included in the lessons, either between the students themselves or between a teacher and a student.
Their style of teaching allows for every student to have a chance to participate without feeling the need to compete with their classmates for speaking time.
The idea of getting three months of professional-quality classes for free is something language learners of all ages would only dream of, and beginning a few years ago, Lingoda started making these dreams come true. A successful completion of the Super Sprint results in zero financial impact, and a normal Sprint completion is still a very minor dent in the wallet considering the quality of the service paid for.
However, even in the case of a failed Sprint, the classes are very reasonably priced. At $445 USD per month, 90 classes come out to an average of just under $15 USD per lesson, which is an extremely attractive price for the offering.
For comparison, I have used iTalki to find German tutors in the past, and the same price range would get me a tutor without professional degrees or experience and without prepared lesson plans or material.
At the end of the Sprint, learners will also be offered special continuation plans to continue their learning at Lingoda at a reduced price (just over 5% reduction).
One of the key aspects of language learning is interaction. Interaction boosts not only listening and speaking skills, but also increases motivation and builds a stronger personal connection to the language by creating relationships with people who represent the countries and regions of the target language.
At Lingoda, students are obliged to interact in the lessons, both with the teacher and with the other students. Of course, the fewer the number of students, the more moments an individual student will get to interact, but over the course of the hour, the student will have ample opportunity to participate and ask questions.
There is a maximum of six students in a class, but my average class was only about three to four.
Cons of the Lingoda German Sprint
Longoda Sprint isn’t perfect. Let’s take a look at their disadvantages.
Easy to Fail
Despite the attractiveness of the offer and the clear policy on how to successfully complete the Sprint, the Sprint’s refund requirements are incredibly unforgiving, and a minor mistake could result in immediate refund disqualification.
Not only are simple errors, such as arriving ten minutes late or having a WIFI failure for five minutes during the middle of the class, grounds for disqualification, but also extraordinary situations such as a sudden family death or fire alarm evacuation.
Thus, learners should not expect a refund simply because they intent to join a class every day. Mistakes and unforeseen circumstances happen, especially over a period of three months, and Lingoda relies on these mistakes to benefit from their promotion.
The Lingoda teaching format, while good for some, is certainly too rigid for many learners.
The teachers rarely deviate from the slideshows, and there is potentially a lot of time spent with material that a certain student may already know with no way to skip through it due to the other classmates’ presence.
If you want a full flexibility on your lesson, you would need to check other online learning methods such as GermanPod101.
Additionally, there are only a set number of themes on Lingoda that a student can select, so unless a student decides to take individual classes after the Sprint, he or she will be limited to the current offerings which Lingoda proposes.
Can’t Choose Teachers
This is the aspect of Lingoda that personally turns me off the most. When students select a class more than a week in advance, they are nearly guaranteed to have a lesson at that chosen time (if not, the credits will be refunded and count toward the Sprint), but they have no choice of which teacher will accept the class.
If a teacher who you dislike accepts the class, you still have the option to cancel the class and get the credits back if it is more than a week in advance, but under a week results in no credits back and immediate Sprint disqualification.
The only way to ensure you’ll attend a class with one of your favorite teachers is by selecting a class which a teacher has already accepted to teach.
However, in this case, you will have limited selection for the time and the subject, and waiting until classes are accepted by teachers also runs the risk that on a given day you won’t find any classes which fit your schedule, jeopardizing your successful Sprint completion.
Can’t Private Message Other Students
One feature that Lingoda used to offer as part of their online class platform (hosted by Zoom) was the ability to private message other students in the class. This was a benefit for those who built a good relationship with another student and wanted to organize conversation exchanges between themselves outside of Lingoda.
However, this feature has been removed, and now students have to post on the public chat. This would likely be reported, as Lingoda wants, for both monetary and security reasons, interaction within their school to remain in their school.
Yes, interaction is actually both a pro and a con on Lingoda. While Lingoda certainly does offer more interaction than many other online learning platforms, a full class (one teacher and six students) truly limits the actual amount of time a student can speak.
This results in a lot of time spent waiting, listening, and reading, but only speaking and writing in small intervals when called upon.
As compared to private one-on-one tutoring, where an hour lesson may entail 40 or more minutes of speaking, a student would be lucky to get 10 whole minutes of speaking in a one-hour Lingoda group class. For those who are purely focused on learning grammar, practicing their listening comprehension, or being introduced to new vocabulary, this may not be a big turn off, but those who wish to truly improve their speaking will be left disappointed.
The Sprint Rules
Lingoda makes its rules clearly visible to the public. The current .pdf available in the FAQ section of the Sprint promotion page on their website amounts to 12 pages and details everything a participant needs to know in order to successfully complete the Sprint.
In the participation section, it is specified that the promotion is only open to students who have not had a subscription for at least 30-days prior to the Sprint. This means current active Lingoda students are not eligible. Additionally, any attempts to share the account result in immediate disqualification.
Moreover, a student can only register for one Sprint, so one can’t enter, for example, both the German Super Sprint and the French Super Sprint, or two German Super Sprints.
There are four payments required during the course of the Sprint: the registration fee, and one payment at the beginning of each new “month” of classes. It is also up to the student to confirm within 48 hours that the payments to Lingoda were transferred successfully.
Otherwise that could result in disqualification. Memberships and payments will also automatically continue past the Sprint with no money-back guarantee unless cancelled during the last month of the promotion.
Key scheduling rules include the following:
- The inability to change time-zones
- The inability to book two classes within one day
- The inability to purchase additional classes on top of Sprint classes
- The inability to take the same lesson twice
- The inability to cancel a class within one week before the class starting time.
One major note is that students may only take 30 classes per month (for the Super Sprint), but the months are confusingly specified. For example, the first 30 classes of the first month of the current Super Sprint must be planned from 28th April 2021 to 27th May 2021 inclusive.
I have not covered every detail on the rules in this section, so please be sure to read the rules before, and regularly during, participation. This leads to my first tip, read the rules!
Cashback Eligibility & Tips
As mentioned in the previous section, the Sprint is easy to fail, and it is purposely set up that way in order for Lingoda to profit from their seemingly unprofitable promotion.
Of course they also expect that the Sprint will serve as a positive publicity source and inspire new students to both spread the word of the company and stay with them after the promotion, but many students have posted blog articles and videos about their failure stories, and the small problems which might go wrong.
Nevertheless, even a failed Sprint is an experience that is certainly worthy of the time and cash investment. In this section, I’ll briefly summarize some of the key rules for the cashback eligibility and reveal some of my personal tips as a successful Sprint finisher.
Read the Rules
Both before and during the course of the Sprint, whenever an important event was to occur (payment, start of a new month, class cancelation, etc.), I would reread the rules to ensure that I was fulfilling the exact specific requirements specified within.
Many learners will fail the Sprint simply because they didn’t read the rules clearly enough and acted on common sense instead of Lingoda policy. For example, a good friend of mine had a class cancelled, so he rescheduled it, using the refunded credit he received, for a day in which he had already scheduled a class.
This went against the promotion rules and he was immediately disqualified. Despite his efforts to discuss the situation with customer service, Lingoda stuck to their decision, citing the rules he agreed to.
Schedule Ahead of Time
If a student schedules more than a week in advance, he or she will be guaranteed a class with the desired subject and time. If no teacher accepts the class (unlikely), the class will not take place but will count towards the promotion.
Have a Back-Up Device
In the case of a technical problem, it is useful to have a back-up device to connect to the class. This could be, for example, a smartphone which can connect to 4G in the case of a WIFI outage or computer breakdown.
Don’t Cut it Close on Time
I would severely recommend against scheduling a class at a time where a minor traffic jam could result in arriving a little late to the class and thus being disqualified from the promotion. Rather, schedule during times when participation is most likely, like early in the morning or late at night.
Cancel the Subscription, but Not too Early
In the Sprint rules, it is specified that a student needs to cancel the subscription within the last month of the Sprint (but not earlier) to avoid the rollover plan after the Sprint has ended.
Read the Rules
Remember what I already repeated multiple times? Read the rules! And after you’ve read them once, read them again!
The Verdict: Is it Worth the Time and Money?
Ultimately, even an unsuccessful Sprint completion is worth the time and money, as long as the learner enjoys the format and teaching style of Lingoda. I would recommend the Sprint to any German learner who desires structure, wants consistency, and doesn’t want to do any extra thinking and planning regarding their own learning plan.
I find the Sprint to be a perfect opportunity, especially for beginners, to boost your German level dramatically within a period of three months, building great learning habits in the process. At the beginner level, Lingoda’s sometimes-limited speaking capacity isn’t a big problem due to a beginners’ lack of vocabulary and grammar knowledge.
The well-made learning material which Lingoda provides and curates can guide beginners along the correct path to begin their German learning journey.
In sum, the Lingoda Sprint is worth the time and money, but don’t rely upon the refund as the factor which makes or breaks your learning experience. And, read the rules! Viel Glück, Deutschlerner*innen!