I had never heard of Glossika before writing this review and upon seeing its logo, it immediately made me think of the Duolingo owl.
While it was very easy to get started with using the various resources available on the platform, I surprisingly found it quite hard to navigate my way through the material. This was quite frustrating as were the numerous mistakes I encountered with the learning resources themselves.
I was however delighted that they had such an amazing range of languages, most of which never make it onto language learning websites. For writing this review I decided to look at Italian, French, Dutch, and Swahili to see how they matched up across the board.
Glossika uses a spaced repetition approach whereby you listen to native speakers and repeat what they say after them. Through this intuitive method, you are supposed to pick up the grammar, pronunciation, vocabulary and language structure naturally.
As such, the resource is unsuitable to beginners and it is much more geared towards lower intermediate learners as you really need the basics before starting with Glossika.
There is a heavy emphasis on repetition and while there was a lot of audio from the native speakers of each language, it felt that the accompanying material was a bit haphazardly put together.
An intermediate learner would pick up some new vocabulary, learn different sentences and generally improve their knowledge of the language. I don´t believe however that this approach would ever lead to fluency but it may help you become more confident speaking your target language.
While some people may find it a useful resource, the price per month is too high considering the fact that you would almost certainly have to use Glossika alongside another learning resource.
Glossika relies on lots of repetition of sentences
While the audios across all of the different languages that Glossika offers cover the same material, the accompanying resources vary depending on the language. French for example has more exercises for learners to engage with than Swahili and Dutch learners. We will look at this more in a second.
The native speaker audio sentences are the main focus of each language that Glossika offers.
Here, an English speaker says a sentence and after a short pause, a native speaker of the language you are learning says it in that language. With the heavy amount of repetition, you are meant to intuitively pick up the language, memorizing the various sentences as you go.
In this manner, it is slightly similar to Pimsleur in terms of the audio being the main focus and repetition being its key learning method.
Glossika´s approach focuses on students listening to ´Glossika Mass Sentences´ – these sentences progress in difficulty and the intention is that learners pick up the grammar, pronunciation and sentence structure through spaced repetition.
Intended for people with not too much time on their hands, they can be listened to almost anywhere and learners can usually complete the different sentence sessions in less than half an hour.
There are lots of different subjects covered over the various audio sections and there are around 3000 sentences included for each language. Your progress is tracked by the number of ´reps´ (repetitions) you have done.
There are five types of exercises which I will talk more about later, for now though, they are typing, dictation, choice, translation, and fill in.
I found the exercises not to be particularly engaging and they contained too many errors. Let’s take a detailed look at them now.
The exercises aren’t anything unique or special
Signing up for a free account is very easy and within seconds you´ll have access to all the languages available on Glossika. You can then try out Glossika´s learning method for a thousand reps of each language if you so desire.
The page you land on at the start tells you about how Glossika´s method works and below all of this, you have the selection of languages before you. You then simply click on the one you wish to learn.
To gauge your knowledge of the language, you first undergo a placement test which serves to determine what level you should start at.
When I did this on my phone, for some reason I was only given three test sentences to see where I should begin with French, Dutch, and Swahili. I assume this was a bug because when I tried on the computer with Italian I was asked ten questions at the different levels available to test my comprehension skills.
Glossika tests you by giving you ten sentences to listen to in the language you´re learning and I assume they stop at some point if it´s clear that you can´t answer enough of the questions correctly. For Italian, I made a stupid mistake at B1 (high) and this was apparently enough to stop me from testing out the B2 level at all.
Once you have been placed at the appropriate level, you can then select the different topics that you are interested in learning about. After that, you´re good to go so simply click on the ´Start Session´ button which will take you to your first lot of sentences.
Glossika then gives you a quick review of how you can alter your preferences and navigate your way around the platform.
In these sessions, you listen to an English speaker say a sentence before a native in the language you are learning then says the equivalent in that language. You can skip sentences by clicking on the smiley face at the bottom to indicate that it is too easy.
With these audio sessions, you just have to listen to the different sentences being spoken in the two languages. It also helps to read the text that pops up below. To the top left corner, you will see how many reps you have left to do as well as the approximate amount of time that it will take to complete.
You can also turn on ´recording´ in your preferences and after both sentences are said, you can then repeat the sentence in your target language.
Once you have completed the session a box will pop up asking you for your feedback. Here, you can tell Glossika if it was too easy, at the right level or if it was too hard. You can also evaluate each individual sentence and give your feedback on how you found them.
While this is a good idea, in theory, there was no noticeable increase in difficulty after repeatedly putting too easy for everything.
Glossika feels that you will take sentences in better and remember them for much longer if you sleep on the information you have just taken in. Consequently, they advise coming back the next day to continue your language learning.
When you next click on start session, you will find the sentences you have already learnt along with some new ones.
Through spaced repetition, you should find yourself being able to remember the sentences a lot easier.
While waiting for the next day to come (you can however just simply keep clicking start session if you wanted to), there are a couple of other ways for you to practice the language on Glossika, depending on which language you have chosen of course.
First up is the typing section. Here, you simply type what is said in the language you are learning.
Somewhat bizarrely, however, the sentence is already written there for you so you can just simply copy it down. I suppose it shows you the spelling of everything but otherwise, it seems a bit pointless.
Annoyingly enough, no accents are provided to you on the platform so whatever you write will be marked incorrect if you are learning a language where they feature heavily.
The dictation section is almost exactly the same just without the sentence already appearing written before you. In Italian, there was hardly any difference between the lowest A1 level and the highest B2 level.
The recordings across the different languages I tried were invariably too fast and not very well pronounced. There is no way to moderate the speed unlike with the principal audio sessions.
After this follows the ´choice´ section which is useless as far as I can tell. You see a short sentence written in IPA (I had to look this up – the International Phonetic Alphabet) and you have to match it to what it says in the language you´re learning.
I didn´t really see a use for this feature and I’m sure the vast majority of people won’t either. There may be a small minority of language learners that really like it though.
Next comes the translation section where you listen to a sentence in the language you´re learning and click on the correct answer in English from the multiple choices you can choose from. It´s okay I suppose but not that riveting and not super useful.
The final section (if the language you´re learning has all of them) is the ´fill in´ bit where you type the word that is missing in the sentence after having listened to the audio. Again it´s not that great. This screenshot is from the highest level in Italian and many of the things they get you to fill in are really simple words.
The audio lessons aren’t very engaging
Okay, as you may have gathered I really wasn´t that impressed with much of what Glossika has to offer.
I find that a real shame as I was initially really excited to try out their Swahili course because you don´t find so many platforms catering to learners of less popular languages.
While it is fantastic that there are so many languages available on Glossika, the fact that the core material is all the same and simply reworked into the different languages completely disregards the cultural context of learning a language.
Across the four languages I tried, the same sentences would come up with each of them and I found this a bit sad as it meant that the uniqueness of each language was being ignored.
There were also mistakes floating about the different languages as well as mistranslations that could be found.
The poor Swahili speaker must have found it very strange when he was asked to say ´I´d rather be a dog than a cat´ when in actual fact the English says ´I´d rather have a dog than a cat´.
This hinted to me that the product was a bit hastily put together and, apart from the audio sessions; the other sections really lacked care and thought.
Glossika does acknowledge this to a certain extent as when you are listening to the audios you can flag mistranslations and incorrect sentences.
Using Glossika on my phone was mostly okay but I was a bit surprised that it apparently only took three sentences to determine what level I should be placed at.
While I assume this must have been a bug, it was slightly frustrating being stuck at the lower levels in Swahili, Dutch and French and I couldn’t find a way to change the settings to a higher level.
After having been put at a higher level for Italian though, there hardly seemed to be much of a difference between the lowest and highest levels. I was already pretty certain that no one using Glossika would attain fluency and that just confirmed it to me.
While I am skeptical about Glossika´s teaching method, there was, unfortunately, a number of things that detracted from the quality of the audios themselves and, as these are the principal focus of each language I found this to be disappointing.
Although it is great that you listen to a native speaker of the language and thus improve your comprehension skills, all the languages I tried had monotonous speakers who really did not try at all to liven up the sentences.
There also only seemed to be one presenter for each language and all of the languages I tried had only male voices.
It would have been nice to have a bit more variation to keep things interesting and train your ear to different accents. The audios were mostly of a high quality but the Italian one was very crackly and warped.
Glossika boasts that its algorithms will tailor the course perfectly to your needs and that you can easily edit the difficulty level while listening to the audios. I constantly clicked that sentences were too easy but nothing ever seemed to come of it and I apparently continued learning at the same level.
Having now realized that the higher levels are really not that far removed from the lower ones, maybe they were taking my feedback into account and it just wasn´t very visible.
As aforementioned Glossika´s courses are not appropriate to beginners starting off in the language as there are absolutely no explanations regarding grammar throughout any of the courses.
This again serves to show that if you did decide to use their platform that you would have to use it alongside other learning resources. You really need the basics of the language before attempting Glossika´s method of spaced repetition.
Again, there are no explanations of what you are learning (bar the translation of the sentence) and this means that Dutch and Swahili learners will be confused as to why they are learning incorrect times.
Without any explanations available, it would be impossible to work out why in Swahili when you mean 10.40 you actually say 4.30!
After the audios, the rest of the features available to you (depending on the language) are really not that useful.
It felt to me as if they copied some of Duolingo´s features without pulling them off nearly as well.
It felt sloppily put together and there was a great deal of similarity between a few of the exercises. For example, the typing section and dictation part were almost identical as far as I could tell.
While mistranslations and incorrect sentences popped up from time to time, another annoying feature in the translation section was that in the multiple-choice options, two almost identical answers would sometimes be available to you.
These small details all hint at a lack of care in the final product.
You may be able to improve your speaking confidence but this could easily just be you learning to parrot sentences in the language that you are learning.
In addition, after using Glossika, you should be able to recognize the sentences written down and understand them if they are said to you.
Apart from that, there is very little that you will get from Glossika.
The audios are uninspiring, there is no focus on grammar or the cultural context of the language and no conversation practice or reading of long texts.
You will perhaps increase your vocabulary but you certainly won’t ever attain fluency through their courses.
While the audios are slightly similar in style to Pimsleur´s, they are not done as professionally and they don´t progress in difficulty enough.
The other features mirror those of DuoLingo but again fall short in terms of quality.
For $30 a month Glossika is simply overpriced and not worth the money. You would certainly need to use additional resources to supplement your learning.
Glossika is too expensive for what you get
Apart from the week-long trial period that gives you access to all of the materials across all the languages for free, you basically have two choices if you do decide that Glossika´s learning methods work for you.
The monthly subscription costs $30 per month and the annual subscription is $24.99 a month which comes out to a total of $299.88 for the year.
What exactly does your money get you though?
Well, included in the packages are the professional native speaker recordings, a weekly progress report that you get sent, professional pronunciation transcriptions, unlimited reps for all the languages that they cover, full access to extended learning tools and unlimited offline downloads.
There is also an ENTERPRISE subscription which caters for groups but we won´t go into that here.
What does that REALLY mean though?
As a subscriber, you will get unlimited access to the native speaker recordings which are the main focus of each lesson as well as the accompanying sections that complement them.
What is cool is that you get this for all the languages available on Glossika.
The downside though is that there really isn´t a whole lot there for each individual language and once you´re past the audios; the other exercises are not all that useful or well thought out.
For people studying a more popular language, they’ll almost certainly find other resources cover the material better.
When you dig deep into one language, you see the flaws that are there in terms of spelling mistakes and mistranslations and, with the monotonous native speakers; I think people would quickly tire of repeating its exercises.
With these exercises, Glossika appears to imitate Duolingo somewhat although they don´t pull it off as well and they miss out on the gamification aspect of motivating people to study.
As with Duolingo, Glossika would need to be used in conjunction with other language resources for learners to progress in their studies.
I can’t recommend using Glossika
All in all, Glossika was very disappointing to use which is a shame considering all the languages that they have on offer.
While there are lots of improvements that can be made, the fact that they are still refining their product gives me hope that it will gradually get better to use. As users flag incorrect sentences and mistranslations, the course material will slowly be improved upon.
Perhaps you could find enough value in using strenuously for a month if you’ve struggled to find the motivation to practice speaking the language you’re learning.
For most people, I’d say it’s best to avoid Glossika and use other learning resources instead of it.
At the price they are asking there are many better options available to you and, while they won´t have the sheer volume of languages that Glossika has; they will definitely be better thought out and with more quality and quantity to the language you are looking to learn.