Many language learners struggle with finding native speakers to practice their target language with; sure, there’s Tandem and HelloTalk, but it can be a struggle to get past the texting stage and into the actual conversation stage. That’s where this Lingbe review comes in.
Lingbe has a slightly different approach to language exchanges: pick up the phone and see who answers! In this Lingbe review, we’ll experience this for ourselves, so you can see if Lingbe is the best way for you to practice your foreign language conversation skills.
How to use Lingbe to learn a language
Lingbe is a free app (with a paid option, but we’ll get into that later) and relies on its community to keep the app alive. Basically, the more you help others learn your native language (and earn “lingos”), the more opportunity you have to practice your target language (by paying in lingos)!
This is the normal premise of a one-on-one language exchange expanded to the community level; while a one-on-one language exchange has some of both languages, with you and your partner consistently switching languages to make sure you both benefit, you and your partner enter a conversation on Lingbe already agreeing on one language.
Language exchanges can be difficult if you struggle to agree with your conversation partner on when or how often you switch languages – Lingbe fixes this problem!
After creating your account and going through the above tutorial (if you can call it that), you’re spat out into the Lingbe community to figure out your options for yourself.
Besides making calls, Lingbe offers two other ways to exercise your language skills:
- Rooms – live group chats, like Clubhouse for language learners
- Tasks – asking & answering questions about your native & target languages
Unfortunately, it’s not easy to find these options if you’re looking for them. Lingbe’s home screen will show you which rooms and tasks are available, but in order to actually see what’s available, you’ll need to tap the button on the bottom to start a call.
Lingbe review: finding a phone call!
While Lingbe is not the only language exchange app to offer phone calls and video calls, it is unique in how easy it is to find language learners open to chat within a moment’s notice.
Instead of searching through dozens and dozens of language learners, hoping to find one that will not only respond to your texts but will also get on the phone with you, Lingbe removes those first steps and throws users straight into a live conversation.
If you’re on Lingbe, you’re looking for a language exchange without the hassle.
Unfortunately, while it’s super easy to hop on a call, it’s just as easy to drop a call. In the above video, you can see the first of 3 attempts I made to have a Spanish language exchange. The app even told me there were a lot of users online, but not one of them answered my call!
This was super frustrating because whenever you’re in the Lingbe app, you’re constantly told about other Lingbe users looking for a call; but even after tapping the button they wanted me to app to answer the call, the other person had already hung up.
In theory, this would be an excellent system for me: everything is strictly timed, and you know exactly what you’re getting into. But, like any other language exchange experience, it’s heavily hit or miss.
Nonetheless, here’s a clip of a successful language exchange from 2020. The app doesn’t appear to have changed much since then.
In this clip, I had wanted a timed practice session but answered a call from a native speaker instead (even though it cost more “lingos”) because nobody would pick up for a practice session.
Paying for LingbePro
Free users of Lingbe get free access to as many language exchanges as they want – as long as they spend just as much time helping out others who are learning their native language. Otherwise, be prepared to have the call spontaneously drop, like in the above video.
To be honest, this does provide an interesting exit strategy: only commit to so many minutes of a conversation based on how much energy you have. Fortunately, even when the call does drop, Lingbe recommends you “add” your conversation partner for future language exchanges if you two hit it off.
Taking turns sharing your native language and learning someone else’s native language is the concept behind any language exchange, but if you want to skip the whole “earning energy” thing, you can opt for LingbePro for unlimited language exchanges as well as other exclusive options.
For a few bucks a week, month, or year (depending on your plan) Pro users get to do the following:
- Unlimited practice sessions
- Extend practice sessions
- Calls to practice pals
- Video calls
- Gender filters
- Skip users
- See your visitors
- Create practice rooms
- Join practice rooms
- Make rooms private
- Post Lingbe tasks
- Prioritized Lingbe tasks
And if you’re not sure if you’ll actually use Lingbe, you can always try a free 3-day trial to start.
Lingbe review: is it for you?
If you want to learn to speak a foreign language, language exchanges are a popular option: they’re free, and you get the chance to build real, lifelong relationships with native speakers.
With online language exchanges, one of the most common problems is that it’s easy to send someone a direct message, but it’s not necessarily easy to start a real conversation. This Lingbe review doesn’t totally fix the problem, but it does offer an excellent alternative to cut right to the chase and have a conversation.
That said, if you’ve been trying to find a language exchange on Tandem or HelloTalk but consistently run into this issue, I would recommend giving Lingbe a shot!
However, if this isn’t a problem for you, and you’re not interested in having to either “earn” your practice or pay for unlimited practice, then Lingbe may not be a productive addition to your language learning strategy.