If you’re used to or have heard about the “classical” book-based language learning methods like Assimil, Teach Yourself or Colloquial, perhaps Glossika will come to you as a surprise given that it’s an audio-based course, meaning that, yes, they do have books (physical or electronic), but most of what you’re supposed to do is listen and not so much read.
Does that sound like something interesting to you? Then we’ll keep on explaining what Glossika is all about in the following paragraphs below 🙂 .
Contents / Contenido
Fluency 123 series
Based on what you can see in their courses section, their main series is called Fluency 123, which is the one I’ve used and therefore the only one I can actually talk about. However, they seem to have some other business-oriented intro courses and a daily life and travel course for Mandarin Chinese from Taiwan (where the company is based).
Course philosophy and structure
The Fluency 123 series is mainly organized with two different studying methods in mind: the Glossika Mass Sentences system (GMS), and the Glossika Spaced Repetition system (GSR). Both of them are centered around sentences presented to you in different ways depending on the method and the type of audio you choose to use.
Besides that, every course includes 3 books (ebook or ebook+physical) containing 1000 sentences each which means 3 to 9 months of content depending on the system you choose. The first one starts off with basic things about the language such as descriptions and asking/answering simple questions, and from there gradually builds up to B2-like content.
Glossika Mass Sentences (GMS)
The Glossika Mass Sentences system is intended for those students who are aiming at learning in an intensive way with more free time to dedicate each day (1-2 hours). And to help you do that, they provide you with 3 different types of audio files:
- A files – Sentences are repeated in English, then twice in the target language.
- B files – Sentences are repeated in English, followed by a pause and after that once more in the target language.
- C files – Sentences are repeated only once in the target language.
You can, of course, use these files in whichever way you like, but as a reference, they include a few steps in which they recommend you to use them, including listening, writing and recording yourself.
Glossika Spaced Repetition (GSR)
Obviously, not everyone has 1 or 2 hours to dedicate to language learning every day, and for those people there’s the GSR system which only requires around 20 minutes per day (or less).
For each day you have a numbered file which you need to listen to where you’ll hear sentences in English and immediately after in your target language.
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As an example, this is how the audios would be structured in successive days,
On day 1 you listen to sentences 1 to 10 over a length of around 4 minutes (each sentence is repeated several times).
On day 2 you hear the same 10 sentences again, but at the end, new 10 ones are added (takes 9 minutes).
On day 3 you listen to the same 20 sentences again, adding 10 new ones at the end (takes 12 minutes).
And so on.
However, you do not repeat all the sentences every day, otherwise, after several days it would just take too long. Instead, around day 6 the first 10 sentences stop being repeated because you’re supposed to have already repeated them enough.
In the words of Michael Campbell, Glossika’s founder:
I’ve adjusted the training so that it focuses on reviewing 40 sentences and introducing 10 new sentences each day, for a total of 180 reps.
Which languages can you learn with Glossika?
This is one of the things that I was more impressed by. They have a huge selection of languages! Not just the typical Spanish, French, German ones, far from that! As of today, they provide courses for no more and no less than 37 languages (and growing), including 6 Chinese variants (Mandarin, Cantonese, Hakka, etc.) or variations of the same language like Mexican Spanish and European Spanish.
Keep in mind, though, that unlike the other courses I mentioned at the beginning of this post, Glossika does not claim to take you to an intermediate level on its own. They actually encourage you to use it along with any other language material you might be already learning with.
Is it suitable for beginners?
I wouldn’t say so, at least not for absolute beginners. Although their website states that the Fluency 123 series makes a gradual progression from A1 to B2, I think you still need to have a basic knowledge of the language to actually make the most out of it. But again, you’re supposed to use it along with other methods, not as a single resource 🙂 .
- The huge amount of languages available.
Even if not all of them are available in English, they have courses for languages like Yoruba, Kazakh or Khmer! 😮
- Transformation and substitution drills.
These are two concepts explained at the beginning of the book/ebook. Transformation drills are used to get yourself used to sentences which convey the same message but using different structures or orders. As for the substitution drills, they help you create new sentences based on structures you’re already familiar with.For instance, in the Italian course they use the following sentences:
– “Da dove vieni?”, “Di dove sei?” – “Where do you come from?”, “Where are you from?” – Two different ways of saying the same thing.
– “Fa caldo oggi”, “Oggi non fa caldo” – “It’s hot today”, “The weather is not warm today”
– Adding the word “non” creates an opposite sentence + a different position for the adverb “today”, just as valid at the beginning or at the end of the sentence in Italian.
Transformation drills are particularly useful once you realize that in order to speak a language naturally, you won’t always be directly translating what you would say in your mother tongue, but that you might sometimes need to paraphrase your ideas.
- Romanization, formal/informal speech and IPA.
As you could see in the sample image I shared above, all languages get an IPA transcription of the sentences to help you with the pronunciation, but that’s not all. For the languages where it applies, like Japanese, you also get a romanization of the sentences, plus the equivalent in the other language’s writing systems, like kanjis or hiragana.In others, like Arabic (MSA) or Armenian, where different registers of the language might be used you get both the literary version and the colloquial one.
- Easy to use on the go.
Given that most of the method is based on audio files, you can listen to them anywhere, or even while doing tasks that don’t demand your full attention, like commuting from work, grocery shopping or washing the dishes.
- You can get sample courses!
If you’d like to get your virtual hands on a little sample before actually buying the course, you can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and they’ll email you back with an audio file from each level of the Fluency 123 series in the language of your choice.
You can also check out some audio samples like the ones I included before on SoundCloud.
This was the main drawback for me. Sometimes it can be tedious to be listening to the same sentences so many times. Especially at the beginning, it seemed to me as if I had heard the first 10 sentences way too many times, but for some reason after a few days when those disappeared I stopped getting that feeling.
- Same sentences for all the courses.
This might be a problem if you use Glossika to practice several languages since you’ll be listening to the same sentences no matter what language you learn. This also means that there’s no cultural or popular references for each individual language.
- No grammar explanations.
I wouldn’t say this is exactly a weak point since I’m not much of a grammar fan myself, but I know that some people need to have a grammar reference, if that’s you, you won’t find any of that here.
Disclaimer: Some of the links included in this blog post are affiliated, which will in no way affect the price you’d eventually pay should you decide to make a purchase.