Review of Glossika

*Edit July 2017: personal grievances with Glossika

Previously LATG had partnered with Glossika in an affiliate program that “pays” me a small commission whenever sales are made via this site.  After relatively little necessary consideration I have terminated this association with Glossika on account of an extreme lack of helpfulness and professionalism by specific members of the administration. It is unfortunate that these interactions have had to blow back on the company, but that’s how the cookie crumbles.

My interactions (as well as observations of other interactions between friends and members of the language blogosphere) with specific company management have been staggeringly unprofessional at best, and outright offensive at worst, occasionally resulting in personal attacks on myself and others on numerous private and public social media channels.

I wish the employees who have helped me the best.

 

Role as a primary resource

A while back I wrote an article about what I classify as “primary” and “secondary” resources. Primary resources are your flagship language learning platforms.

To recap briefly – If we can agree that there are four primary components of learning a language – listening, speaking, reading and writing – we can then state that a “primary” language resource contains 3-4 of these qualities, whereas a “secondary” resource consists of 1-2.

They’re both highly valuable, but as stated, every learner needs a battering ram, an alpha resource  They’re your language classes, lessons. They are your big programs that form the backbone of your language learning project.

 
  

Glossika fills this role fairly well.

By using a little something called comprehensible input Glossika reinforces your brain’s ability to take in new language and retain it in a method that is not entirely unlike Pimsleur.  Similarly, Glossika focuses on spaced repetition that gradually increases in difficulty as the course progresses.

However, one key difference between the two is that Glossika isn’t solely focused on the listening/repeating component of language learning as Pimsleur is.

Glossika adds an additional component to the process by offering a detailed audio transcription to go with every lesson. This gives a reading element that is often overlooked among audio-based language programs.

I find that the visual representation of words makes proper pronunciation easier. I can’t state how many times I heard a word using another audio service such as Pimsleur pronouncing things incorrectly because I couldn’t visualize the word properly. Glossika handles this issue quite effectively.

It’s not really for beginners…

Unfortunately for those brand new to learning a language, Glossika may not be the best option for you.

It’s not really the most forgiving of systems when it comes to absolute beginners and I think that a basic understanding of your target language is, while perhaps not absolutely necessary, certainly advised.

Glossika is pretty intensive and will leave you feeling a bit mentally strained. But this is a good thing! That’s how you should feel after a successful language workout. It’s just like going to the gym, and Glossika is as serious a mental workout routine as you’re likely to find.

This is part of why I really like Glossika for more intermediate/upper-beginner level learners. It’s surprising just how few programs actually cater to this level. Every product under the sun offers the same basic beginning vocab builders, grammar crash courses and basic sentences for ordering alcohol and asking for directions to the closest hotel.

Glossika goes a step beyond. Quite a few steps actually.

Offering thousands of useful sentences that can be mixed and matched, few programs are more suited to the intermediate level learner.

Languages offered…

Glossika offers thousands of sentences in each of its products in what is undoubtedly one of the widest ranges of languages I’ve ever seen a language product offer.

Looking to learn Belarusian, Catalan or Hakka? I bet you didn’t even know there was a language called Hakka! Well there is, it’s actually a major Southern Chinese language with over 30 million speakers, and if you want to immerse yourself in learning it you totally can!

Shortcomings…

Glossika is a really solid system and my list of complaints is very small.

The program capitalizes on listening skills – which are, along with speaking, probably the most important and relevant language skills for the vast majority of learners. But while it does emphasize listening, and the speaking is still useful, without a human element you can only get so far.

This isn’t really a shortcoming of Glossika, it’s just that without real human interaction you’re never really going to succeed at attaining fluency in your new language. I only mention this as a reminder that even a great product like Glossika will not take you all the way. For this you have to rely on real world experience. Glossika can help you build confidence and send you on the right path, but the rest of the work up to you.

Less of a complaint than a warning; is that Glossika can be intense. This isn’t a bad thing necessarily, but it’s important to remember that this course is designed to be intensive and to really stretch your brain to its limits. If you’re easily put off by daunting projects, this may not be the product for you, but if you’re serious and committed to your new language, or a more seasoned language learning veteran, Glossika may be a perfect launchpad for your language needs.

All in all the price tag is not the most outlandish thing a language product has ever asked, especially since it works. I would classify Glossika as cost effective and recommend it to a serious learner at a more intermediate level. It’s not the cheapest option available, but it’s a far cry less expensive than some of the bigger brands out there, and it blows many of them out of the water.

Also, they’re pretty much a horrible company. So there’s that.

 

 

Conclusion

 

Despite my personal grievances, Glossika is one of the better products that I’ve had the opportunity to take a look at lately, and its status as a functional primary language source puts it pretty high on my list of products to recommend to new learners. Good secondary resources are a dime a dozen, but solid, reliable primary programs can sometimes be harder to find.

   

I do appreciate their reasonable and humble approach to language learning as a process. Glossika doesn’t waste time filling your head with the illusion that their product is the miracle cure for fluency. They don’t claim that you’ll become fluent in a month, and they don’t spend time tossing around negative ads against other products.

This rationality, this ability to be realistic and honest about the language learning process really resonates with me and increases my opinion of the product further.

Have you tried Glossika before? What do you think?


Brian is the creator, owner and Apex Editor of Languages Around the Globe. When he’s not hanging around with linguistics nerds and learning languages, Brian works full time at Kolibri Online, a Hamburg based international content marketing and translation agency as a copywriter, human dictionary and general doer of great things.

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Brian Powers

Brian is the creator, owner and Apex Editor of Languages Around the Globe. When he's not hanging around with linguistics nerds and learning languages, Brian works full time at Kolibri Online, a Hamburg based international content marketing and translation agency as a copywriter, human dictionary and general doer of great things.

  • Hello Brian!

    We feel sad about ending this long-term partnership with you, however your false accusations have truly left us heart-broken.

    There wasn’t and never will be any offensive attitude or shady business practice at Glossika. In fact, we take work ethics and collaboration very seriously, and we value everyone that we have the opportunity to work with.

    We wish you all the best in your future endeavors. 🙂

    Team Glossika

    • My accusations are in no way false. I have edited my statement slightly to better indicate that my issues do not rest with the majority of the Glossika team. Many of you have been nothing but helpful, and I do apologize if that was not properly conveyed.

      However, I make no reversal of my statement regarding upper management. I don’t think I need to name names.

      In any case, I do want to thank those of you responsible for helping me solve the original issue. I’m sorry that the pursuant actions of one have resulted in my decision. I doubt it will significantly hamper your business.

    • PoliticallyIncorrect

      Hey Glossika,

      Instead of getting defensive, you might figure out how to improve your relations with others. I was thinking of buying your product, but seeing your dismissive attitude towards honest criticism means I’ll be spending my money elsewhere.

  • Aaron Hsu

    How would you compare Pimsleur and Glossika? I’m quite the academic, but am deeply attracted by more “intuitive” learning strategies that map to my own style of learning (to avoid over analysis), which both Pimsleur and Glossika seem to do. You say that Glossika is not for beginners, but what about highly motivated beginners that appreciate challenging learning opportunities?

    • Hi Aaron,

      If you’re highly motivated, already know what you’re doing and are otherwise not likely to give up, Glossika would be fine. I say that it’s not for beginners because people new to languages tend to give up more easily. Glossika’s potential difficulty could bore or frustrate new learners – but that’s not necessarily to say that it definitely will.

      As far as being compared with Pimsleur – it’s harder. Pimsleur gradually eases you into things and assumes that you have no prior knowledge (which I actually dislike because it’s tedious when you DO.)

      Glossika isn’t going to sit around and tell you how to say hello and goodbye. It’s not going to focus on ordering beer in a restaurant. It’s going to get conversational pretty quickly. It also offers more grammatical focus and emphasizes reading skills to a higher degree than Pimsleur.

      I am a fan of both systems, but I think Glossika is likely to be a more effective method if you’re properly motivated.

      It really does help to know your super basic words and grammar though going into Glossika. You could get by without it though, I just caution newer learners because the chance of becoming frustrated might be higher.

      • Aaron Hsu

        Thanks for the advice! Can you recommend any other inductive language learning methods? I tend to prefer these over the more explicit systems, but I don’t know what’s out there for language learning.

  • Thanks for the review, I like to see more people using Glossika. I am using the method for my 90 day challenge learning Mandarin. Super useful resource.

  • Bill Price

    I have used Glossika for German, Spanish, Chinese, and Russian. I love it. It is definitely not for beginners, but it is awesome for building muscle memory for fluent speech and can be used to develop listening skills as well.

  • I’ve tried Glossika, and to be honest, it’s not for beginners, however, I had the chance to learn about IPA and some useful phrases for real conversation.