Frequently Asked Questions is a website designed to teach you to understand and speak Dutch.  It does this through online lessons taught through quizzes.

Lingopolo organises lessons into sets of words, and trains you to understand these words by quizzing you with flashcards.  Each quiz consists of 10 words.  At the start of each quiz, you will be shown your current knowledge of the set of words, and at the end of each quiz, you will be shown your new knowledge level.  The idea is that you move each set of words along from having a starting knowledge of 0% to the point where for each set you have a knowledge of 100%.

Our teaching focus on Lingopolo is on listening and getting you to understand what you hear spoken, and when you can understand what is being spoken, getting you to speak.   When you can understand what is being said by someone else, it is much easier to be able to say these things yourself.

As well as this we teach you power phrases - those useful phrases which you will use all the time (e.g. "Hello", "Thank you", "Can I have the bill please", "How do you say xxx in Dutch?").  

We build up your language comprehension skills naturally by building up sentences in a pyramid-like way.  For example, first you might learn to understand some nouns (e.g. "man", "woman", "dog", "banana", "two"), then you learn to understand some verbs (e.g. "to like", "to eat"), and then we very quickly start putting them together into simple phrases like "The man likes the dog", "The woman eats two bananas".  Our emphasis here is not on forcing you to speak before you are ready, but on making sure that you understand what is spoken, that you are learning to process language in a very natural way.

Any language learning has 4 main skills:

  • listening
  • speaking
  • reading 
  • writing

At Lingopolo we make the listening to Dutch (and of course comprehending what is said), the fundamental platform upon which each of the other skills are built.

A lesson is a collection of words or phrases which you can study, such as food.

A lesson can have just a few words, such as the days of the week or have absolutely hundreds of words like the vocabulary lesson.

A lesson can be on a particular theme, such as the colours or basic parts of the body; for a complete list of themed lessons, see the Themed lessons page.

A lesson can be grouped by part-of-speech, so for example there is a lesson on nouns and a lesson on verbs.  This can be useful if, say, you feel you you are lacking a particular type of word.

The full range of these lessons can be found on the lessons page.

In addition to the lessons described above, we also have some special lessons.  The most important of these is the vocabulary lesson; this is the perfect lesson for revision of all the vocabulary on this site.  It is the ultimate practise tool for all of the vocabulary.  It will very quickly hone in on those words which you find difficult and keep getting wrong, and will keep asking you until you are fluent!

Finally, there is the phrases lesson; this is not something for the beginner, since it puts together the vocabulary from each of the other lessons.  We therefore recommend you study the vocabulary lessons first, and that you first study the phrases in the context of one of the traditional lessons above.  However, when you're ready, this is an excellent lesson to really challenge and stretch your Thai.

A quiz consists of 10 questions taken from a particular lesson, and is the main way in which Lingopolo teaches you the words and phrases.  Each question in the quiz is scored either right or wrong.

For example, in the lesson on animals, there are currently 5 words.  A quiz will ask you 10 questions, using some of these 20 words.  Depending on how much you have already studied this lesson, and whether you keep getting the words correct or not, the ten questions may be ten diffent words from this lesson, or, more likely (if you are getting words wrong), a smaller number of words with some of those that you get wrong repeated.

At the end of the quiz, you will be shown your results for the quiz.

The word levels make sure you are learning words in the most efficient way.  We use a scientifically proven method called Leitner boxes.  All you have to remember is that the website will automatically calculate which is the best word to ask you next.  The system ensures that you are gradually learning new words, that you get lots of revision of the most recent words or those words which you are having problems with, and that you are still revising old words.

Basically, the lower level a word is (level 1 is the lowest), the more often you will be asked it.  The higher level a word is (level 10 is the highest), the less often you will be asked it.  A word moves from level one (least well known) through to level ten (known extremely well).  When you get a word right it moves up by one level, from say level two to level three.  When you get a word wrong, it goes back to level one.

If you really, really want to know the full geek detail, see the question How exactly does this Leitner box system work?

Levels for words

Lingopolo is now completely free to use and plans to stay that way.

All you really need to know is the simplified answer which is in the "What do the levels mean for the words in a lesson?".  So make sure you've read that before reading on here.

What follows is a very geeky answer, so you can stop now unless you're really interested to know all the geeky detail.

A card is the term given for a word or phrase in the context of moving through the system of boxes.

All cards start off as "unstarted".  This is like a box of unlimited size labelled "unstarted".  This starting box can even be thought of as box zero (indeed in the program it is implemented as box 0), but the website calls it "unstarted cards" which is hopefully a little less intimidating.  There are 10 other boxes labelled from box 1 to box 10.

Each box has a target maximum number of cards which the box can contain.  As the levels get higher, the maximum number of cards get greater.  This, together with the other rules below, ensures that as cards go up the levels they are asked less and less often.

The size of the boxes is as follows:

Box Maximum Size
1 3
2 6
3 12
4 25
5 50
6 100
7 200
8 400
9 600
10 unlimited

The card to select next is chosen by the strict application of the following rules:

  1. Starting from box 1 and moving up to box 10, is the box full?  If so, take the front card in the box.
  2. If no card has yet been selected from any of the 10 boxes (because none was full), and if there are any cards in the "unstarted" box, take one at random from there, place it at the back of box 1, and repeat this selection process (box 1 may now be full).
  3. If none of the boxes 1 to 10 are full, and there are no cards in the "unstarted" box, select the card which has not been asked for the longest period of time compared with all the other cards in these boxes.

Leitner boxes illustrated

My name is Hugh, and I am the creator of  I am working as a software developer of websites, but I am also a student of Dutch; this website is the combination of those two things.  I am the number 1 user of the website, using it for my own language study, and changing the website to be the language website that I want.

Hugh in a Thai language lesson

The picture shows me in an actual lesson.

The name Lingopolo comes from two parts, "lingo" and "polo.  "Lingo" means a foreign language or local dialect, and of course Lingopolo is all about helping you to learn the foreign lingo which is Thai.  The word "polo" is close to the word "poly" meaning "many or much", but ultimately the "polo" part is mainly there just to give the word "Lingopolo" a nice sound, and to turn it from a non-descript name like "Lingo website" to a proper noun, "Lingopolo".  It's a bit like the way the names "Skype" and "Google" are formed; these names contain bits which mean something (Skype contains "sky", the blue stuff above you, and the name Google is based on "googol", a large number) but then they get tweeked a bit and turned into a proper noun, which becomes the brand name.  Similarly Lingopolo is simply based on the word lingo, turned into a unique brand name by the addition of polo.  So now you know why it's