Full Live Lingua Review for 2024: Excellent Teachers but User Experience Is Lacking
Live Lingua offers one-on-one class sessions and small group conversation and grammar classes with certified language teachers around the world.
Founded in 2008 by Ray Blakney, the Boston-based Live Lingua is a boutique language school, meaning that it costs a little more than its competitors, but in return, there’s a higher level of personalization and each student is assigned an advisor that oversees your learning journey.
So does this boutique language learning approach really work?
What I found out overall is that the teachers are high quality and experienced, but time slots are limited (especially for some languages like Japanese), and the program is quite expensive and has a somewhat clumsy user experience.
Read on to find out what my thoughts are on the program after using it for two weeks. I studied Spanish (and a little Japanese) to find out firsthand what the program’s main features are, its pros and cons and how well it actually works.
Name: Live Lingua
Description: Boston-based language learning program centered on personalized one-on-one Skype classes and coordinated learning.
Language offered:Spanish, French, Italian, German, Portuguese and Japanese
Offer price: Starting at $24 per hour for private tutoring; $77 per month for group classes
Live Lingua’s teachers are high quality and experienced, but time slots are limited (especially for some languages like Japanese), and the program is quite expensive and has a somewhat clumsy user experience.
- User Friendliness - 6/106/10
- Delivers on Promises - 7/107/10
- Authenticity - 8/108/10
- Value - 4/104/10
- Experienced high quality teachers
- Personalized approach
- Good learning materials on website
- Fun conversation classes
- Limited time slots for teachers and classes
- User experience is clumsy
- Too many emails
- The Key Features of Live Lingua
- The Pros of Live Lingua
- The Cons of Live Lingua
- Live Lingua Versus Other Language Learning Programs
- What Does Live Lingua Cost?
- The Final Verdict on Live Lingua
- And One More Thing...
The Key Features of Live Lingua
Small group grammar and conversation classes
I really enjoyed Live Lingua’s group conversation and grammar classes. They’re limited to six students per class, but in my first class, a conversation class focusing on market conversations, it was just me, the teacher and one other student, so it felt very personal and there were a lot of chances to speak, converse and listen.
I learned a lot during this first class, and I immediately realized what I could do conversationally and what I had forgotten from years of non-use of my Spanish.
It was also quite fun. We ended up laughing and it felt very friendly.
The grammar classes were also quite well done, because you can pick the grammar section you need help with.
One-on-one video call classes
The heart of this program is matching students up with experienced high quality teachers. My classes, which we ended up doing on Zoom because I already had the program installed on my computer, were lively and fun. I was talking in Spanish within minutes.
My teacher emailed me a PDF of a Spanish textbook, which he said was his own and not provided by Live Lingua. This allowed us to follow the general format of the textbook, so the lesson had a structure.
Live Lingua also has a “Classroom” section, which is a built-in video calling platform. My teacher preferred Skype or Zoom, so I didn’t use it much, but I did try it out for one session and it worked fine.
When you first sign up for the Live Lingua program, you schedule an online video appointment with a student advisor. At first, I was hesitant about this, considering it a waste of time, but it was actually quite helpful to talk about my language goals and experience.
My advisor then offered some advice and then recommended a teacher, who I took my first free class with the next day.
Free learning resources
The Live Lingua website has a lot of free learning resources, but they’re free for everyone. You don’t get anything extra by being a paying student of the program. My advisor told me they like to have resources so some form of language learning resources are available for everyone.
The Pros of Live Lingua
Good native speaker teachers who are trained by Live Lingua
The teacher that I was assigned was awesome. I requested a European Spanish (Castilian) teacher and I got a really cool guy who lived in Seville, an area which has a unique accent that I love.
He was friendly and personable and he also emailed me a PDF of a Spanish textbook that I was able to open so we had this to provide a framework for the class sessions. Of course any time I wanted to talk about something else, or focus on other skills, he happily did so, putting the textbook away.
Supplemental learning resources
There are a lot of learning resources available on Live Lingua’s website and many of the teachers (including mine) provide their own, too, in the form of PDF textbooks and other files.
The Cons of Live Lingua
I don’t totally understand why Live Lingua has to be more expensive than other programs. I hope the higher price means that they’re paying their teachers more, but I can’t know this for sure.
They say their boutique and personal approach means that they’ll give each student more time and attention for this higher price, but honestly, I didn’t feel like this was much better than other programs like italki, which can cost much less.
The conversation and grammar classes, in particular, felt a bit overpriced at $77 per month, when I could just find a free language partner on an app like Tandem.
Clumsy user experience
My first impression of the website wasn’t a very good one. It looks a little scammy with many generic stock photos and it’s confusing to navigate. I also felt that it was selling the program too hard.
Even when you’re signed in as a paying student, the website looks more like a marketing site than a learning site.
If I were advising Live Lingua to change up anything, it would definitely be their website. If they’re going to offer a boutique experience, the website should feel both easy to use and super classy. It doesn’t.
There is a built-in video calling platform on the site, but I found that most teachers prefer using Skype or Zoom, and actually, I do too, because they just feel a little more secure, with less likelihood of being disconnected or other connection issues.
The program also makes you complete a learning style quiz before you begin, and it took like 10 minutes to complete and didn’t seem to have any bearing on which teacher I was assigned.
Using email to schedule lessons is cumbersome
From the time I joined to when I requested a time for my first class, I received no fewer than six emails from Live Lingua. This felt both clumsy and a little intrusive. I want to learn Spanish, not spend a lot of time sorting through various emails, many of which were repetitive.
I would recommend that they integrate an online scheduling system like the one Baselang uses. You just select the teacher, click the time slot and you’re scheduled on Baselang. With Live Lingua, this takes multiple email exchanges.
At one point during my time on the program, I had eight nine from Live Lingua in my inbox!
They generally choose your teacher for you
I really wanted the opportunity to choose my own teacher, but my advisor chose my teacher for me. You can change if you’re not a good match, of course, but in general Live Lingua’s boutique approach means that they make these sort of executive decisions for you.
If your schedule happens to align with a particular teacher, you can select them, but since the times I was available were listed as “rest times,” I was instructed to let them know and that they would email me with a class time and a teacher already selected. This, to me, kind of defeated the point of the section with teacher biographies, since my teacher was assigned to me, not chosen by me.
Live Lingua Versus Other Language Learning Programs
Live Lingua vs. italki
italki is an obvious alternative here. And italki can also be very affordable, with some lessons going for as little as $4 per session.
But if you’re going to really commit and use the program to learn Spanish quickly, I still recommend going with Live Lingua here in this match-up. I just felt that the Live Lingua teachers were more focused on me and my personal progress, whereas the italki tutors I’ve had are a little more general, if you know what I mean.
Read our full review of italki here.
Live Lingua vs. Tandem
If you want to go for a free alternative, Tandem might be a good option for you. Tandem doesn’t work like Live Lingua or italki, where you pay for tutoring with a specialized language tutor.
Rather, it connects language partners, two people who want to learn one another’s language. So there are no actual teachers involved (unless you luck out and find a language teacher as a partner). This has benefits (it’s free, conversation can be more natural) and disadvantages (since your partner isn’t a teacher, they’ve never been trained to teach).
Overall, I’ve had positive experiences on Tandem, but for fast, effective learning, I’d still recommend Live Lingua here. After all, knowing a language doesn’t mean you know how to teach it.
Here’s our full review of Tandem.
Live Lingua vs. FluentU
Since one of the features I most missed while using Live Lingua was recorded video, I wanted to start this comparison section with FluentU, which has video at the heart of its program. Even though FluentU doesn’t offer online tutoring, I still find that it’s a very similar experience because of the video.
I know many people who’ve told me that they learned English through watching movies and TV. In fact, I’ve heard it so many times, I definitely believe it. So I like to use this method, too.
FluentU works really well for me because I’m a person who really likes to watch TV, movies, music videos, news and vlogs on YouTube. So, for me, it feels like a really sustainable and fun way to learn and review a language and it’s worked really well for me.
I find myself spending hours on FluentU, all while feeling engaged, while an hour-long session on Live Lingua sometimes feels like a slog.
Overall, I think FluentU and Live Lingua would complement each other nicely, and the cost would still be pretty affordable.
FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
Live Lingua vs. Baselang
Baselang is another obvious alternative, but keep in mind that Baselang only teaches Spanish. But if it’s Spanish that you want to learn fast, I think it could be a much better option because they offer unlimited one-on-one Zoom classes with qualified Spanish teachers from all over Latin America.
This could end up being way less expensive than Live Lingua and I’ve found that the teachers are just as good, if not better, and you have the opportunity to try out as many teachers as you want.
Here’s our full review of Baselang.
What Does Live Lingua Cost?
It’s $77 a month for the Grammar and Conversation classes. Private one-on-one classes start at $25 per hour.
The Final Verdict on Live Lingua
The Live Lingua teachers are excellent and I found the group conversation and grammar classes fun and helpful, but for me, the price just isn’t justified.
You can find similar programs that cost much less, and from my experience, the teachers on those other less costly sites were just as good as the ones on Live Lingua.
That said, if you like the idea of supporting a small language learning company that’s based in the United States and you have the money for a more boutique personalized learning journey, then Live Lingua could be right for you.
And One More Thing...
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