On the surface, they look very similar to each other, and in many ways, they are a lot alike. But, their differences are very significant.
The quickest way to describe these differences is that…
- Pimsleur is a structured course starting at the beginner level that teaches languages in a gradual manner. It forces you to participate and form sentences in the language you’re learning.
- Glossika is a collection of sentences that you learn by repeating. It starts around a lower intermediate level and covers far more words than Pimsleur. But, it’s not as polished and has more errors.
Both courses also have interactive exercises, but they aren’t that great. Grammar is also ignored and meant to be learned naturally, but you should probably get a grammar book.
In general, I like Pimsleur much more than Glossika but neither is perfect and both can be useful. You can read the full review of Pimsleur or the full Glossika review for a more in-depth at each course individually.
Pimsleur costs $14.95/month for the Basic Plan and $19.95/month for the Premium Plan.
Glossika costs $30/month, or if you sign up for a yearly subscription, that’d fall to $24.99/month.
Both Pimsleur and Glossika offer a free 7-day trial.
The Pimsleur subscription plan isn’t mentioned anywhere on their website but you can access it from the link above. Oddly, it seems to only be available if you connect from within the United States. I’m actually living in China right now, but if I use a VPN to connect, then it works fine.
On Pimsleur’s website, they only have their courses available for sale, without the subscription. I wouldn’t recommend this as they’re ridiculously expensive that way – $150 per level, or $575 for all 5 levels.
Pimsleur is great for beginners. It starts with the basics and builds up very slowly. Glossika starts around a lower intermediate level.
If you tried to use Glossika as a beginner, you would almost certainly find yourself very frustrated as the content would be too difficult to get much use out of.
Similarly, if you tried to use Pimsleur when you’ve already reached an intermediate level in the language you’re learning, you’d probably get bored very quickly.
I’m not exactly sure how close Pimsleur’s end comes to Glossika’s beginning, or whether or not there’s some overlap in the material.
Glossika might be a pretty reasonable resource to use after Pimsleur. My only concern is that since both resources focus almost exclusively on the oral language, that if you were to use one after the other, you may end up very weak with reading, writing, and grammar skills.
Glossika isn’t a course. There’s really very little structure to it. Instead, you practice the language by practicing lots of individual sentences. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s something you need to be aware of.
Pimsleur, on the other hand, is a very well-designed course. The content of each lesson builds upon what came before it. The vocabulary that you previously learned ends up showing up again in different ways.
In this manner, you’ll learn far fewer words with Pimsleur than you would with Glossika. But, when you learn something from Pimsleur, you’ll almost certainly be able to use it in many different ways. This isn’t always the case with Glossika.
Pimsleur’s courses are very well thought out and their newest app works great. For the most part, Glossika is also pretty solid, but mistakes are much more prevalent. Some of the courses can feel like they were hastily put together without much quality control.
Another advantage is that Pimsleur’s courses have multiple native speakers interjecting within a single lesson, while for many of Glossika’s languages, all the sentences have been recorded by a single speaker.
Both courses rely heavily on repetition, but Pimsleur does a better job at varying up the lessons. There’s a bit less emphasis on pure repetition and memorization and more focus on producing the language and thoughts yourself.
Finally, Pimsleur does a pretty good job with including cultural parts of the language within the audio lessons, and as a part of their apps.
Glossika completely ignores the cultures of each language, using the exact same sentences for every language they offer. So, while you won’t be able to learn much about China, for example, you could study Chinese by way of Portuguese, or any of the other languages they offer.
For that reason, Glossika is really great if you’re studying more than one language, or would like to review in a different language.
Besides being primarily audio courses which focus on speaking much more than other resources, Glossika and Pimsleur have more in common still.
They both completely ignore grammar, expecting you to pick it up through repetition alone. I don’t really buy this. I’m sure you’ll pick up a decent amount, but if you never get any explanations, there will likely be some parts that you remain unsure of.
Both of these resources would be complemented well by a textbook or grammar book.
Both Pimsleur and Glossika also have some extra interactive exercises, and in both cases, they’re pretty meh.
Pimsleur’s exercises require the Premium subscription which costs $5 more per month. Given the low price increase, they’re not a bad deal, especially since you’re not going to get other exposure to the written language.
They involve pretty typical flashcards, matching exercises that aren’t particularly challenging, a dialogue, and a decent-ish little game.
Unfortunately, Glossika’s exercises aren’t that great either. There are some matching, fill in the blank, and dictation exercises, along with some other less useful ones.
Some of Glossika’s sloppiness comes through in these exercises with incorrect sentences, mistranslations, and nearly identical answers showing up too often.
Both Pimsleur and Glossika are available in tons of different languages – with Glossika having a few more, but Pimsleur is still nearing 50 total languages.
The biggest benefit to Glossika is that with your subscription, you gain access to study any of these languages for no additional cost. Unfortunately, a subscription to Pimsleur only gives you access to one language.
Pimsleur is best for beginners looking for a structured course that emphasizes communication skills. Glossika is better for lower intermediate students that want lots of speaking practice.
I think a Pimsleur subscription is really good value for beginners and can accelerate not just your speaking skills, but also your understanding of how to use the language.
However, I’m not as enthusiastic about Glossika. It’s helpful, but not a resource that I’m a huge fan of. I feel like it’s a bit overpriced and has too many errors. But, if you really want to drill a lot of sentences or are studying multiple languages at once, it could easily be worth the cost.
If you’re still curious or are interested in either resource, I’d recommend taking advantage of their 7-day free trials.