Glossika Review And Eye-Opening Interview With Its Founder
- Written byDonovan Nagel
- Read time21 mins
- Highly effective, research-based method
- Totally unique concept
- Natural chunking approach with no explicit grammar
- iOS and Android apps
- May confuse impatient learners
- Unconfirmed reports of minor inaccuracies and errors in translation
If you're someone who believes in learning languages by repetitious exposure to whole lexical chunks rather than entirely unnatural memorization of grammar rules, Glossika is for you. It's a tremendously valuable and unique language resource.
I receive emails asking me to review language products like Glossika all the time.
While most of what I see is great quality stuff, I have to say that there isn’t that much originality out there.
Too many companies are reinventing the wheel, slapping a new label on the same tired content and methods that already exist in other products.
Even though the content may be good, there are few groundbreaking improvements made in the methods being used.
UPDATE: Many new and exciting Glossika language packages have recently been released.
For other comprehensive language learning resources, see the Essential Language Learning Tools section.
I had the opportunity to review the Glossika Russian package while living in Russia
Not long ago I moved to Russia to immerse myself in the language and Glossika became one of the primary resources I chose to work from (I also had tremendous success with the Rocket and Earworms Rapid series).
Glossika uses a highly effective, research-grounded method that is, in my opinion, one of the few tools on the market that I would whole-heartedly endorse as value for money.
There is absolutely no focus on tedious grammar explanations (which as many of you know I reject as being an ineffective way to begin learning to speak a foreign language), and both the content and audio are superb.
Even if you choose not to follow the recommended learning regime outlined in the accompanying e-book, it’s a treasure trove of high quality dialogue material that’s hard to come by.
There are loads of language editions available and more languages are in the pipeline.
I fired off a few questions for Mike Campbell, Glossika’s founder, so that I could really get to the bottom of how Glossika works from the man who created it.
But before I get to the interview, I’m going to give you my own detailed review of the Glossika method. I won’t go into too much detail on the obvious aspects of the site (they have a free trial so you can see those things for yourself).
More importantly, I’d rather talk to you about the method and core product which is what matters.
If you’d like to jump straight to the interview, you can do that here.
Otherwise, here’s the review.
If you’ve tried the Glossika GMS products already then let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.
Why this Glossika review is different
I’ve known and have followed Mike Campbell (Glossika’s founder) for years.
One of the things that I have always promoted heavily in my own language learning method is that you do not need to learn grammar in order to speak a foreign language.
That’s right – no grammar study.
Mike is one of a few prominent polyglots who truly understands this.
He’s been (rightly) emphasizing heavy repetition of patterns over explicit grammar study as key to becoming fluent in a foreign language for a very long time.
Most Glossika reviews you’ll find online are by people with absolutely no background in Applied Linguistics or language pedagogy.
Whatever criticisms they have are usually born out of trying the online Glossika app without actually taking the time to understand what it’s intended for or how it’s intended to be used.
Glossika is NOT your typical Rosetta Stone or Michel Thomas clone.
Not even close.
Its purpose is to get you doing what we do naturally in real life with our first language – listening and repeating over an extended period in limited bursts (through Glossika’s own spaced repetition algorithm ← this is explained below).
Taking some time to familiarize yourself with its unique approach is vital if you want to get value out of it.
As I said in my Rosetta Stone review a while back, frustration with a unique method often boils down to impatience and wanting immediate results.
A review of Glossika as an online web app and its subscription model
A lot has changed over the past few years since my first Glossika review.
When I first reviewed Glossika years ago, it was a standalone book package you could only order a physical copy of.
Now, like many others (e.g. Babbel and Pimsleur), they’ve gone the route of turning Glossika into a subscription-based, interactive SaaS product (web app).
It’s the same exact content and method.
Benefits of the Glossika web app
Two major benefits arise out of Glossika taking the SaaS model:
- The software tracks your progress and keeps you up to date on that progress.
- One membership gives you access to all languages (this won’t really benefit you if you’re only learning one specific language however).
One disadvantage that this model has (for any product I’ve written a review of including Glossika):
If you cancel, you obviously lose access.
How much does Glossika cost?
Obviously this means that instead of paying a one-time price for the book and audio physically delivered to you, you get ongoing access to their online web app with a monthly subscription fee.
Glossika pricing options:
Pro for $30.99 a month (unlimited access to 60+ languages)
Basic for $16.99 a month (unlimited access to one language but can be changed once every 30 days)
It’s definitely on the higher end of the scale compared to other language SaaS products, but still reasonable in my opinion.
Glossika review: It gets to the core of what natural language learning is all about
Listen and repeat.
At the end of the day, this is what natural language learning all boils down to.
When we learn our first language as babies, we don’t study grammar. We can’t read.
The only thing we have is our ears along with constant, daily exposure to natural language all around us.
Eventually we begin to repeat what we hear – mostly in chunks or patterns (individual words, phrases and collocations).
In the very beginning, we don’t repeat very accurately either.
It mostly sounds like gibberish and then over time through repeated exposure and practice, it gets clearer and more defined.
This is basically what Glossika is doing.
Mike Campbell insists that you repeat even if your attempt doesn’t sound right.
Eventually it will.
At its core, Glossika is an incredibly basic tool – it really is all about this one fundamental thing:
Listen and repeat through their own spaced repetition algorithm (similar to what you hear in Pimsleur).
Now, compare that to many other language learning products and you realize that what they’re doing is offering distractions while labeling them as features.
Since my initial Glossika review, it does now offer various additional sections on top of the base product:
- Recording feature to compare your voice with a native speaker
But these are all variations of the fundamental, spaced repetition exercise.
It’s still unclear of the precise details of the spaced repetition algorithm that Mike has developed over the years, but a few things are clear:
- An emphasis on syntax over vocabulary
- Short, limited study sessions
- Their importance in relation to sleep cycles and memory consolidation
Let me sum these up briefly.
1. Most language courses and products emphasize the acquisition of words as the foundation of learning.
Take a product like LingQ for example.
Steve Kaufmann has stated many times that vocabulary acquisition is the most important aspect of foreign language learning.
Makes sense, right?
You can’t speak or convey ideas without words.
If you look at just about any language product on the market, it includes an emphasis on memorizing lists of words (usually by topic).
Glossika is more concerned with teaching you patterns.
When you start out, you’ll be wondering why on earth they’re getting you to repeat such random sentences.
But it’s intentional.
These are syntactical patterns that Glossika has determined to be the most relevant to the level you’re at and applicable in many other contexts beyond the lesson.
By getting the syntax down, you’ve made it possible to use that syntax with different words in a multitude of different contexts.
2. I’ve talked before about the importance of short, focused study sessions.
Sitting for hours and trying to cram huge amounts of language content is actually detrimental to your learning.
You’ll remember less by trying to learn more.
Glossika has its own precision focus each day of a limited amount of language.
Limited content + high repetition = remembering.
3. Memory consolidation is the process where our sensory or short-term memory moves into our long-term memory.
You experience or encounter many things during your day.
As you sleep on it, you retain certain prominent anchors in your long-term memory.
The ‘next day’ aspect is a part of the Glossika method.
It’s not designed to be crammed in a single day. You’re meant to sleep on it.
By doing so, that small, focused study session becomes ingrained in your permanent long-term memory.
In an age where we want all the answers now, this is a hard aspect to grasp for many people!
iOS and Android Glossika apps
Just a quick note/update to say that Glossika has a popular iOS app available and, at the time of this writing, are about to release the Android version as well.
This is a great option for learning on-the-go, especially since the Glossika method caters to audio learning.
Here are the interview answers I got back from Mike Campbell, founder of Glossika.
I did my best to ask the most pertinent questions on the topic. I have concluding points to my Glossika review at the end of the interview.
Review interview with Glossika founder, Mike Campbell
1) Can you sum up the Glossika Method (GMS) for this review? Is it based on your own or someone else’s research?
GMS means _G_lossika _M_ass _S_entences, and I don’t think there’s any mystery about practicing a lot of sentences to learn a foreign language.
I have a lot of experience teaching students for over a decade and refining the method and why sentences are better than anything else.
By focusing on language at the sentence level, it makes it easier to learn several things that are not easy to learn by themselves: pronunciation, syntax, vocabulary, and grammar.
Memorizing rules has never let anyone achieve fluency in a foreign language. Only mass amounts of practice has.
Let me touch on each of these.
In languages like English, our words undergo a lot of pronunciation and intonation changes when words get into sentences.
These things may be easier for European students, but for Asian students it can be really difficult.
Likewise is true with languages like Chinese.
The pronunciations and tones we learn from individual words change once they go into a sentence. By following the intonation of a sentence, it’s much easier to sound native rather than trying to say every word with its own tone.
Syntax is not an easy subject and there are so many rules to learn.
I find it easiest when I can recognize the parts of speech in a sentence, such as nouns, verbs, adjectives, and just pay attention to what order native speakers put them in.
Some languages like German and Chinese have ‘Subject – Verb – Object’ word order however are pretty strict about moving that order around in certain circumstances.
If you don’t pay attention, or try to create your own sentences with what you think is intuitive, it’ll create bad habits.
People don’t really understand vocabulary.
Vocabulary only really takes on meaning when it is used appropriately in a sentence or paired with other words, known as collocations. And because of this most dictionaries are not that useful.
The best dictionaries today are those made from databases and are collocation built dictionaries.
Consider the word ‘have’ in these examples:
1) Have him do it. (causative)
2) I’ll have a coffee. (consume/eat/drink)
3) Have you heard from him? (perfect verb).
None of these uses of ‘have’ actually have the meaning that we associate with ‘have’. So if you directly translate the way you use ‘have’ it makes no sense in another language.
After a lifetime in lexicography, Patrick Hanks reached the alarming conclusion that words don’t have meaning.
Like I said above, memorizing rules, especially grammar rules does no good for anybody trying to become fluent.
Grammar is really only useful for those who have already acquired a language.
It’s for people who are looking to improve their communication skills and sound more educated or professional.
The only thing we need to be aware of when starting a language is the nature of the language:
Isolating, fusion, agglutinative, or polysynthetic.
Knowing that declensions and conjugations exist is important.
We can’t be ignorant to what exists grammatically in a language, but we can at the beginning be ignorant to what all those grammatical details are and just be aware of them as you encounter them.
2) You mentioned an algorithm Glossika uses – can you explain that?
That’s _G_lossika _S_paced _R_epetition, or GSR for short.
Let me tell you a story about this.
I believe that speaking and listening are two of the most difficult aspects of learning a foreign language.
Most students can’t get used to not using their eyes, whether it’s looking at a text or wanting to know how to spell a word.
We need to train ourselves to become independent of these crutches.
Training our eyes is one skill completely different than training our ears.
Glossika has seen students who have studied English for over ten years and yet still can’t make a sentence in English
They may be very analytical but they can’t create anything that would be considered normal communication.
And the amazing thing I’ve found over years of training students who are dependent on their eyes is that once they let go of the written word their pronunciation and fluency really takes off.
In 2007 I corresponded with a famous psychology professor, Alan Baddeley, the man who discovered the working memory in our brain.
He himself has done a large number of studies of word recognition and memory.
There’s an issue he brought up regarding interference in our young memories.
If we attempt to memorize a list of words that all begin with the same letter, our failure rate is much higher.
I have taken his research and a lot more data he’s given me, and I’ve run over a hundred tests with my students several days of the week.
I’ve found that stimulating the hippocampus with Glossika after each sleep cycle for a total of five times with the same practice routine actually reinforces these memories into long-term memories (in other words practicing the same material over a period of five days).
Not only that, but if you’re repeating the data several times over an hour and then doing that again and again five days in a row using a tool like Glossika, you’ve essentially trained the brain into using new language structure quite effortlessly.
This is providing you’re using that data (for example phrases or vocabulary) and embedding it into new phrases that again will be repeated over a period of five days.
I started using the Glossika method in the classroom from 2007 onward and have refined it several times over the years.
However this has been extremely taxing on me as a teacher – repeating it so many times and fixing the same mistakes.
So I thought that recording it all down into a training system would allow me to reach more people without burning out so easily.
That’s essentially when I designed Glossika Spaced Repetition – GSR for short
I’ve adjusted the training so that Glossika focuses on making you review 40 sentences and introducing 10 new sentences each day, for a total of 180 reps.
For short sentences these daily training files can be completed in less than 15 minutes. For longer sentences the files may run between 20 and 30 minutes.
But in all fairness, beginners don’t want to get burned out that easily.
And if you’re in it for the long haul, then you’ll be able to handle up to a half hour of Glossika training per day.
Since each of our training modules are 1000 sentences, Glossika comes packaged with 100 MP3s for total training between 25 and 35 hours. (NOTE: This is now embedded into the Glossika web app that you can subscribe to).
Our Glossika series from 1 to 3 essentially have about 100 hours of training and 54,000 reps for less than $30.
This far surpasses the training you get in content, length, and spaced repetition from competing products like Pimsleur, Assimil, Rosetta Stone, Babbel, and Memrise.
3) Is the dialogue and course content the same in all Glossika language courses (same sentences and order)?
Yes, the dialogue content is the same in the different languages.
These sentences are indicative of specific syntactic patterns.
Reviewing Glossika, you’ll find that they cover most usage of adjectives, nouns, predicates, and most of the active verb tenses we use in English.
However, the sentences communicate specific ideas and thoughts that tend to fall in these syntactic patterns.
So when a learner focuses on communicating these ideas and recognizing the syntactic patterns, combined with the daily Glossika training I mentioned above, they are essentially acquiring the language naturally.
In Glossika Basic 2, we go on to deal with all the nuances of passive vs active, modal verbs (intentions, assumptions).
Then Glossika Basic 3 goes into conditionals, subjunctives using that, and phrasal verbs.
Some languages that we offer are licensed from other companies or developed elsewhere, so the content will differ.
4) Any planned future releases or Glossika products that you’re working on (perhaps higher level content for existing languages)?
Right now Glossika is working on releasing Basic 1 – 3 for the following languages: Korean, Russian, Thai, Icelandic, Swedish, Portuguese, Italian.
UPDATE (2020): These Glossika editions are now available.
We are also developing some minority languages getting at the moment, such as Saisiyat, Atayal, Amis, Bunun.
Glossika has worked with translation agencies in the past.
For example we paid for full translations of our content into two varieties of colloquial Spanish and a number of other books into Chinese. However, the problem with translation agencies is that they do not have a vested interest in your publications.
Nor do the translators know that their work is getting published in books.
I have to say that despite paying for two versions of Spanish, out of 5000 sentences, only 10 differed and they were not of a colloquial quality that we wanted as they were way too formal.
The agency told us they cannot revise them anymore, so we were stuck with this huge bill for something we couldn’t use.
So there’s always going to be a loss of communication working through agencies.
Glossika changed its approach
We offered cooperation agreements with various native language speakers and this has proven to be very successful.
Now we offer an opportunity to work with and grow with Glossika as a publishing house.
This means that all our translators and recorders get published as authors. They also profit from their publications for years to come.
Most of our collaborators are students or early on in their careers and looking for a way to get established as an author or get some extra income.
Glossika also works with organizations
For example, we have several agreements with organizations in South East Asia for developing those languages and for distribution.
Here in Taiwan, Glossika is working with the company Enspyre which is managed and run by a Swedish entrepreneur who has helped us get our Nordic languages.
Currently our Korean, Portuguese, Italian, and Russian versions are all created by students who just want to be published.
I encourage anybody who speaks a language that is not currently on our list:
If you have good command of English, join Glossika as an author.
We also encourage anybody who has any ideas for publishing a book to contact us as well.
5) Any Glossika success stories with students in Taiwan or other reviews using the method?
As I mentioned above, we have several thousand students in Taiwan who have been using the Glossika method for years.
Right now is the time that we’re expanding into new markets. We offer our products at a very low entry price.
Anybody can try them out and get a feel for how they work.
Glossika will definitely make a supplement to your current studies.
We always welcome feedback from our users.
How I use Glossika to improve language fluency
Donovan here again.
I’ve talked at length many times about the chunking method I developed over the course of my time as a language educator and through my research.
Glossika is still the most effective tool for applying my approach: heavy repetition of lexical chunks.
The caveat is that (as I mentioned above), it needs to be explained. Most people have gone through what I believe to be defective education when it comes to foreign languages.
In order to truly benefit from Glossika, you need to be open to having your entire educational experience and preconceived ideas about how languages are learned shattered.
One feature often overlooked in Glossika reviews – unlimited source language variation
With Glossika’s current web app, you can select basically any combination of languages.
That means that you can basically use any language pair.
So theoretically, you could learn a language like Uzbek through Welsh, or Russian through Hindi!
Unlimited combinations! 🙂
This opens up the software to non-native English speakers all over the world.
Glossika review summary: Where I think it can improve
One minor complaint I have to add to this Glossika review:
I think a new language learner might struggle to understand how to get the most out of it.
I touched on this above.
Glossika has done an amazing job creating a very thorough help section on their site (which details how to use the method) but average learners would probably still not see the value in sentence repetition unless shown exactly how it works. This is probably more of a review of the average, impatient language learner than it is of Glossika though.
The site could definitely benefit from more video or audio tutorials for the uninitiated
Although let me just say – there’s only so much you can do to show how to ‘listen and repeat’!
I’m someone who believes in learning languages by repetitious exposure to whole lexical chunks over time rather than entirely unnatural memorization of grammar rules. For this reason, I believe Glossika is a tremendously valuable resource.
I look forward to more language editions becoming available.
I’ve also heard from my readers that some (not all) language editions contain minor errors and inaccuracies. I did see a couple of minor spelling errors doing a review of the Glossika Egyptian Arabic course.
But for most of the languages I’ve seen however, I’ve yet to come across any major translation or recording problems.
One thing is for sure: Mike Campbell has done a phenomenal job putting the Glossika packages together and has arguably the largest collection covering the most amount of languages (including some very obscure ones) of any program I’ve seen.
Worth a look!
If this Glossika review wasn’t detailed enough (doubtful!), let me know in the comment section.
You can get a detailed breakdown of everything included in the downloadable packages or subscribe on the Glossika website.
Make sure to visit the Essential Tools section of this site too for other alternative language learning resources including Glossika.
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So there’s no grammar, so I can’t actually LEARN anything. Good to know.
Further, as I try to free trial, it’s just repetition of completely random, unrelated, and grammatically dissimilar sentences.
¿People pay for this?
Glossika Portuguese was so ridden with translation errors that I cancelled my subscription; I got tired of reporting them to the Glossika team, as they simply seem to believe that quantity > quality. The audio quality is also poor and monotonous for several languages (e.g., Russian). The problem with Glossika is that they have a good idea but execute poorly by eating more than they can chew; they should have perfected their courses in a few languages before adding dozens of languages to their platform.
Brian R Leahy
I find that the Spanish speaker is not very clear- too fast and the words are not enunciated- so it is really hard to learn how to pronounce the words, making the whole program not very valuable.
Just finished reading this review on Glossika. I am looking at Glossika Russian vs Pimsleur. Both have subscription options, but Pimsleur allows me to buy the entire Level 1-5 for a fixed price.
Is it possible to purchase the Russian program(s) rather than to “bet” that subscribers will get lazy and take longer to go through the material. I don’t want to pay a perpetual monthly fee if there is a set course of materials.
I’m so glad I came across your reviews of Spanish learning methods and programs!
The reviews have been very helpful......with one exception.......I still am unclear which program might best suit my needs: I’m not a beginner, nor am I advanced. I have a good grammar and intro vocabulary from school days; however, my greatest challenge is conversation. (Anxiety grips me)
Do any of the language programs assess my entry skills and allow me to start as sort of an intermediate learner? Thank you for any guidance.
PS Your life as a linguist sounds truly amazing!
I have finished Duolingo tree and played word games before, but i felt i don’ have ability to speak or create sentences. I’ve been using Glossika now for a while for Italian(37000 reps, 20new words and 233 old a day). It has helped me a lot but i think i now have more difficulties with tenses than before. What app do you recommend to use as a second tool at the same time?
I used Glossika for French. I was unable to continue using it because of technical issues: “Server busy” “Reload or Skip this Sentence” messages prevented me from completing my twice daily review and learning new material sessions. THAT said, the structure of the program worked for me. It was consistent, rigorous, and I was not bored. I liked how they showed how to ask the same question 7 different ways and I used that to construct my own sentences. The Dictation finally taught me more about French spelling than any program. The slow speech option never worked very well though. But when it would pop up only the English sentence for me to speak it in French, that was the challenge I wanted. It really sparked the brain cells and re-set those synapses! It was not the only program I relied on and I have studied French in the past. But I actually miss Glossika. But I have a limited amount of time and I have to maximize that to accomplish my goal of being even moderately fluent. They graciously refunded my money and gave me extra time to continue using it. I told them if they get the glitches with their servers sorted, LET ME KNOW! I’d go back in a heartbeat, but if someone can suggest another effective or as rigorous option (avec ou sans cours de grammaire) please do so!
I would definitely not recommend the platform.
Great concept but still in development and not functional on the basics.
I did the trial period and found the learning concept great. It is aligned with my learning preference (learned other languages in immersion).
But after few days I was still not managing to have the business topics items to pop up. After contacting the team they told me the function is actually not working properly and that they were hoping to fix it in the weeks to come.
Being such a basic function on a website (I was web developer), this is hard to understand how it could take weeks to fix if it was working at one point.
So if you have specific learning targets, look for something else.
Patrick Mc Erlean
I really like Glossika Fluency 123. I have the Turkish course. The only issues I had were with having to scroll up and down the PDFs when I’m listening to the audio, and the manual scheduling. I was working on the 9 month easy schedule as I travel a lot with work and that’s about as much as I could cope with.
Now Glossika have brought out a new offering, which makes things easier and a bit more organised. It’s online and it looks more like an app. However, in my opinion they have really missed the mark on pricing. It’s now a subscription service which costs $30 a month. That’s $270 for my 9 month schedule and probably more as I’m behind on that schedule. If it was $10 a month for my schedule, I wouldn’t think twice about it, but $30 a month for 9 months is way too high for an entry point. $10 a month for one language, $20 for two etc would be a more realistic price on the 9 month schedule.
I have been studying Portuguese with Pimsleur and now I was planning to add Glossika to my baggage. Unfortunately what I found in the 2nd day of using it got me shocked and now I am in doubt if this material is actually good. With what I learned with Pimsleur and some face-to-face lessons with native Brazilian teachers I can spot easily a bunch of mistakes. For instance, “Where are you from” is NOT “Da onde você é?”. Instead it should be “De onde você é?”. And “She’s from London” definitely cannot be translated as “Ela vem de Londres” because “Ela vem de” is “She comes from” and NOT “She is from”.
This is really sad. I like the Glossika approach and I love how nice and beautiful the woman who did the recordings sounds, but I cannot trust this! Repetition is good but if you repeat a wrong sentence over and over you will be attaching to your mind an incorrect way to speak!
I read the comments here and it seems I am not the only one with this issue. The course I am using is from 2014, maybe it was fixed by now in a newer edition, I don’t know.
I think Glossika needs a quality assurance team, not only made by native speakers but TEACHERS. I wonder if the people who made these courses are actually teachers or just native speakers who translated the bulk of phrases for a fee. There is a big difference there! I don’t want to sound so picky, my point is that I was able to spot the mistakes, but some other people who study by themselves may not, and they will be learning something that is wrong. I always check and double-check with other books and resources to avoid this in my self-study, because the idea of internalize language mistakes terrifies me.
I hope they fix this. At this moment I cannot trust this method nor recommend it.
Glossika Cantonese is constructed with a horrible error -- the most up-to-date, cutting edge method of transliteration, Jyutping, has been obliterated by Glossika. Glossika Cantonese has 4 lines of transliteration, but they have mangled Jyutping, most damagingly, by removing the tone numerals. Jyutping is not a joke; tone numerals are not a plaything. It is a very seriously constructed method. Four lines of transliteration with no tone numerals creates GMC -- Glossika mass confusion. When looking at the text a confusing mass is observed, and with no tone numerals the student is crippled, as tones are so central in Cantonese and tone numerals are so effective.
Thanks for your feedback, Peter. :)
First I want to reiterate that you have given me the TWO most useful language learning tips that I have gotten anywhere. 1) Audacity and 2) Glossika Thank you
I have been working my way thru Glossika Russian (I’m in the 1400s) and I was wondering, if you move on before you have the sentences cmpletely mastered. I was originally sticking to the GSR schedule but in the second 1000, there is often a sentence or two that I simply struggle to memorize even after listening too many times, even 100. In the first thousand, the dates were always toughbut I eventually got thru then. I’ve started flagging them and intend to go back to the flagged ones when I “finish” the course.
Do you continue on or wait until you have mastered a sentence?
I really believe that Glossika has a good idea and the repetition is really helpful. Sadly I opened the 1st German Fluency audio and there is already a mistake Ich bin ein taxifahrer. In German you DON’T use the article next to the profession. The next sentence is actually correct Meine Schwester ist Krankenschwester. I am a bit appalled by such obvious mistake. And then there is this English guy pronouncing German sentences with his English accent. At the moment I am confused. Should I learn with Glossika? Seems like I cannot trust these sentences at all. It’s a bit sad that so much is done but the quality is so bad. Maybe the owner Mike will read this and understand that it’s not about the quantity but the quality.
Few students will know, as you point out with the German, that the material they are learning is often flawed, incorrect, inauthentic and sometimes horribly phrased.
They are simply assuming that they are learning patterns that reflect those of a native speaker in the target language.
As I mention above in my comment to lazarus1907 there are many such issues with some of the courses Glossika offers.
Quality control is the major issue I have with what I have checked so far.
Mike is doing something truly great and should be supported in his venture. He is offering these courses at a very fair price. However, I wish that I and others could be absolutely sure that what we are devoting so much time to studying is reflective of native expression.
Reading these comments I think there’s a lot of people getting mired up in the details is glossika. Missing the forest for the trees as it were. The first principle I think is SLOW down your learning pace. There’s nothing that says one book needs to be ninety days. I personally do not have a lot of time but what I get done I want it done right i.e. I want to remember it. Therefore here is my study schedule. Hope this helps someone.
*** *** *** *** STUDY PROGRAM
Take 1 GSR module per day (10 new sentences). E.g., Say this is my fourth day, GSR DAY 004
1st run: repeat everything you know in the gap. Wait until the new stuff happens at the end of the tape. Then, Just listen to the new stuff, and take phonetic sounding goofy notes in the e-book (which you printed out.) (For example, I write horrorshow in my notes every time the speaker says horrosha.)
2nd. Repeat the whole GSR Day again, from the top, repeating everything you know in the gap. Wait until the new stuff again. Look at your goofy notes in your printed Ebook. Repeat the new stuff as best as you can while reading it.
3rd run. Same as 2nd but try NOT to look at your notes. You might have to refer back at times.
4th run. Same as 3rd. But no peeping.
Four runs through one day’s GSR will equal 90 minutes. And you will start sounding fast and native. One fluency level now takes 21 weeks or about 4.5 months.
Do this method Monday thru Friday. But Don’t bet the farm on glossika.
On Sat. review all your Ebook sentences so far and don’t add anything new. Do the same on Sunday. Don’t study for more than 30 minutes on Sat or Sun. You will see you have about twenty minutes left over after the GSR sentence review because you got it locked in during the week.
Take that leftover 20 minutes on the weekend and get a half way decent frequency book, e.g., Kristine Kershul in 10 minutes a day, for starters, followed by a Routledge frequency dictionary which has thematic theme lists, e.g., “stuff you see in a city”.
If you can add just 1 page from an outside source over the weekend you will do yourself a BeauCoup service.
Now, Tell Mike Campbell to get started on the EXPRESSIVE levels!!!
Hope this helps.
Miguel Ángel González Santana
Good morning my name is Miguel, I am still waiting for the product “German Business Intro (Package)” I have asked since first of june and I still I didi not received. There is anybody that can explain me why it take so long to receive it. Thank you very much.
p.s: I LIKE VERY MUCH GLOSSIKA METHOD.
A few thoughts concerning the method -
Glossika might be the only branded “supplement” that bases its courses on the CEFR framework, perhaps much like Assimil (the branded “spare-time” course). Mike has said before, in other interviews (Language is Culture podcast starting at the 63:45 mark and from an interview on his channel before being shut down) a B2 level is achievable after about 3 months of study - no matter what language - perhaps as long as the learner has at least a minimal background knowledge in the language (much like an A1 or a little bit higher). In any case, each Glossika product as listed on the website, at least implicitly, assures the learner a B2 level upon completion of any language. You can see this on his website by clicking on any language, written as “Master the Material - Gradual progression from A1 to B2 level (CEFR).”
However, I haven’t read any review, saw any of Mike’s videos (from the old days) or seen any discussion where the question was brought up on exactly how a person can reach a B2 (noting that each program even has the exact same English sentences) by studying approximately 2 hours a day for 3 months. So ~180 hours for a B2, no matter what language? And in all skills (writing, reading, listening, speaking)?
I wonder if Mike will further clarify this, maybe in a blog post or video, as the recent email I received asking these same questions were responded to, but quite honestly, were not answered at all. I see Mike has had a “several thousand students in Taiwan” who underwent Glossika-type training, but is there any that can testify to this sort of success? Anyone here completed all levels?
Very comprehensive review, thank you! This was one of the posts that convinced me to get the Hungarian course. I am nearly done with Fluency 1 and I am so happy with my progress.
Also, Glossika now offers free trials of their products. Just choose any language and you can get sample downloads for 30-days. I got one for German and I received a special offer with the trial: 50% on the Fluency 123 German course. I am already convinced that Glossika works for me, so naturally, I purchased the German course right away :)
Hey Cat, could you please explain how you go about using the glossika course.
Recent news from Glossika: the Korean audios will be re-recorded with a different speaker. I think they will find someone who completed their entire education in Korea as opposed to someone who left Korea during childhood.
Thanks for the update, Courtney. :)
I’ve heard the same.
The original was super shitty (bad translation, grammar mistakes, syntactical oddities, horrible pronunciation, you name it haha)
hopefully it’d be at least subpar.
I recently bought the Korean course and I’m just starting with GMS 1. I am having a hard time getting used to the recordings (of GMS 1 at least) because I feel like Jisoo Yi is what we in English would call a “low talker.” I’m using to listening to recordings (either from books or podcasts) that are a bit more animated (and loud) and where the speakers are speaking in the Seoul dialect. I’m not questioning Mr. Yi’s Korean ability, only his enthusiasm for doing the recordings.
Mike’s project is very promising, and I like the fact that he’s targeting so many languages and the whole philosophy (I’ve actually purchased several of his products).
My doubts began when I accidentally looked at the Spanish version, which is not only my mother tongue, but one of my areas of “expertise”, or at least one I’ve devoted many dozens of books and entire years of my life, not even including my training as a Spanish teacher for foreigners and my personal experience teaching Spanish.
The person doing the recordings has a very standard and clear accent, but she exaggerates some of the pronunciations to the point where it sounds so artificial, that even experts in phonetics and diction would knit their eyebrows in contempt. Basically, unless you are doing an exaggerated demonstration on some sounds, natural speech requires you to soften certain sounds that are thoroughly described in any serious phonetic manual as standard allophones, but Glossika’s Spanish recordings of “Peninsular” Spanish ignore all that, producing a very clear, but highly artificial affected pronunciation that no native could happily withstand for very long. Maybe it is good to learn some “clear” pronunciation at the start, but you can’t continue to speak like that forever, without knowing that your accent sounds like a robot with “explosive” jerking sounds. At least you should know that normal pronunciation must be a lot softer, even if you try to give a public demonstration on how to speak supposedly “correct” Spanish (which isn’t anyway).
But it gets worse: fortunately, Spanish and English are not that different, and Mike is aware of many of the differences, but every now and then you can catch a sentence that ONLY an English speaker can find natural, while sounding utterly weird to a Spanish native speaker. There are a few of those, and a couple of them are shockingly weird, that unless you translate them literally to English, where they are perfectly natural, that you have to stop and think what they mean. There are a few sentences that no Spanish native speaker would ever say, and yet there they are. A lot of people would have freely checked those sentences for free, but obviously no one has, or at least, no one who is not afraid of challenging a graduate in linguistics. Some of them deserve a merciful death, to put it mildly, even though the rest is fine. This, in my opinion, is unacceptable when you’re paying a fair amount of money for the resources –in free places like Tatoeba one should be aware that mistakes are made, since you don’t pay for it.
And then there are phonetic mistakes –many of them. Here there is no room for discussion, because I can bury Mike with my entire collection of books on Spanish phonetics. I don’t know his sources, but there are mistakes all over the place, and some of them would even make him fail a linguistic test in any university. In any case, all it takes is a native’s fine-tuned hearing to see how wrong some things are.
Anyway, I’m not saying that everything is questionable, because a lot of the stuff is great, but he could have made an effort to ensure that mistakes are kept to a minimum, and I don’t think that’s the case. I would have provided him with plenty of free suggestions if he had asked me, for example, and I’m sure I’m not the only one.
Bottom line: double check all the resources with a native speaker, just in case.
Spanish, chinese, russian, korean all questionable and horrible.
I’m thinking of checking out japanese, but fee like waste of money
Thanks for your detailed comment.
All of the courses appear to be based on the same list of American English sentences translated into the target language.
While this in itself is not a bad thing in theory and with the deluge of so many courses being offered, it has in practice, led to all sorts of issues.
Mike is a very talented man in many fields. His initiative in creating his company and offering so many courses in so many languages, many of them with extremely limited commercial value, is commendable.
I followed him on youtube for many years. Unfortunately, almost all of those helpful videos are no longer available. I wish he would repost them since they were so useful.
Translating sentences from one language to another is inherently problematic. One issue is that what needs to be delivered in the target language is an idea and not a translation of the English. Many of the sentences in Italian, Spanish, for example, appear as though the words themselves were translated without the native ideas in the target language being addressed. I cannot speak to this in other languages.
A native will find the sentences bizarre at best. A student will unknowingly learn incorrect material and few natives will take the trouble to correct him.
One excellent source of translation into other languages from American English is that of missionaries. They have learned to get the thought into the target language since they want to sell their product to natives.
Unfortunately, natives will rarely get to go through the 3,000 sentences and provide feedback. Why would they take the trouble to do the work that Glossika itself in terms of quality control would need to do?
Another issue is that there are ideas and local and cultural factors that make some of the ideas expressed either superfluous or insufficient. For example, in Israeli Hebrew, currently spoken by over eight million people, there are basic themes in popular education, military service, religion, marriage, ethnic identification ( ex. עדה ) which do not mirror American English or any other language.
I have been collecting sentences for many years in several languages of personal interest. The sentences I collect are generated by native speakers and reflect current patterns of usage. They are not translations from any other language. They are authentic. Any native speaker will immediately know this.
However, learners will not. To the learner everything seems authentic. But it is not in many cases in some of the Glossika material.
I have purchased and am using the Glossika Mandarin Taiwan material. I like it so far. It is the least problematic since the speaker and Mike are both intimately connected to this language.
I like the Glossika approach and hope that the issue of authenticity of expression will be addressed and corrected.
I would have preferred more quality control and less languages in view of what has happened.
Less is more in this case.
As a native Chinese living in mainland China, I would say some of the Chinese sentences are not very grammatically proper. They sound more like literal translations from English samples.
你结婚了吗？Are you married?
不，我还没有。No, I’m not.
The question is OK, but the answer should be 没有，我还没结婚。
你会口渴吗？Are you thirsty?
是，我口渴。Yes, I am.
Both the question and answer are problematic. The natural and native way of speaking should be 你口渴吗？是的，我口渴。
I would not recommend the Chinese version to my non-Chinese friends.
Can you post a sample page? Not the table of contents...or can you tell me if each page is a list of sentences? About how many sentence per page? Is there a hard copy version of each book. Thank-you.
I am a retired teacher who took up he study of Russian seven years ago. During that time I have practiced assiduously every day, and still count myself only a “lower intermediate” even though I have completed the Pimsleur course, used the online materials available from Princeton for the first two years of Russian (no longer available), studied many of the materials from Cornell (available free online), subscribed to RussianPod101, and busuu courses. All have helped but none has the original approach used by Glossika of spaced repetition GSR (fast), supplemented by slower presentation of the same material in three separate formats (GMS)
at a slower rate. I can plug In during my daily walk, the return home to check the written lesson on my computer. The only thing I don’t like about the program is that the PDF eBook that accompanies the course allows only four sentences (plus translation and pronunciation guides) per page, meaning that printing it out uses a lot of paper. I think the writers could squeeze much more material on each page without diminishing the value of the information.
However, I am otherwise very pleased with this method. I have more or less mastered the grammar of the language (after all these years!). This is the element that was missing. Thanks, Glossika!
I’d like to second that emotion with Liz. I have been struggling with what might be called the Yale Bryn Mawr method since it was invented in such places. Liz likely will recall that series which features videos with a goon squad of Americans trying to pick up a Russian girl named Tania. Anyhow. I tried that, made trips down to phelps place in DC to the Russian equivalent of Goethe house, and I have the basic ability to ask Gdzheya toahlet? In the future I believe we will be looking at the GSM plan as kind of the unified field theory of learning Russian which as many will recall is already peculiarly suited to this method based on its constant use of multi word expressions, e.g., Mozhyet Bite. Nothing for me has worked prior to GSR in my experience. I would note however that regardless of how good one self study method is, particularly in Russian, you will have to eventually eedeetee nah mahskva as nothing can substitute for the locals. I’m using GSR to get close to B2 in the CEFR rankings prior to embarking on a one year immersion course in country and it’s working. One thing that the RCC in DC has developed which I think could be a resource to share with Mike is the base30 method of learning the Cyrillic alphabet based on the way americans learn the ABC song. This puts hard and soft sound znaks at the end of the alphabet along with the b| (Eig sound). It’s actually quite fun learning the Russian alphabet this way and you can master it -- really master it. -- in less than 1 hr.
The system looks so promising. But I will say that their system of file names, acronyms, titles is so odd it’s very confusing. For example, on the cover it says Fluency 1~3, then on the left it says Intro, Fluency, Expression. Does that mean there are sets of Intro and Expression too? If it’s called Fluency 1~3 is there also a Fluency 4~6? Then looking at the podcast list in iTunes and it reads 1-0101C, 1-0001A etc. etc. They need to work how the system functions from a user experience point-of-view.
Do you see that white circle near to words Fluency?
Almost every product is “fluency”. I find just one with word “intro” (Chinese Business Intro), but that is fluency to (just look at the white circle).
I had been looking for such products for years both on the Internet and in numerous bookstores. It was practically impossible to find anything similar for Russian, while I could find comparable products for German speakers (I’m Austrian) who wish to study English, Italian, French and Spanish. I have also bought many books for native speakers of Mandarin and Japanese who intend to study English and used them to practise both my Mandarin and my Japanese. However, I find the content and layout of Mike’s products much more interesting and also very useful.
I like both the GMS and GSR products. I just use them at different times during my study process. So far I have bought the products for Russian and Mandarin. I’m planning to buy them for Thai and Korean too. I’d love to get my hands on an Arabic course and probably many more. There may be some minor “flaws” (most of which seem to have been corrected very quickly anyway) such as typos etc., but generally speaking this is outstanding quality for a price which is more than just fair. A big thank you to Mike and all the other people involved in this project. I’m an avid language learner myself and having worked as a simultaneous interpreter for more than 20 years now, I also very much appreciate the interpreting exercises you can do with Mike’s material. Absolutely fantastic!
Would it be ok for you to make a video on how you use the GMS to learn your Russian? I really want to learn Chinese with this but its a bit difficult on how to approach it even though there is a PDF with instruction. What exactly am I supposed to do because I feel like I’m missing something
Sure I’d be happy do that.
You just proved my point that it’s not easy to understand and needs clearer instruction.
I bought the GMS Korean when it was first published and was quite excited about it. This was before the website redesign when things were easier to find then. Hopefully the website improves and it will be possible to find the products of interest easier.
Unfortunately, I’m not satisfied with the Korean speaker and somewhat satisfied with the translations. However I do not blame Mike Campbell as from what I seen (before all the content was wiped from youtube) with regard to the Mandarin resources they seem to be really on point and very good. I personally think this language is very hard to release content for because of the complexity of when to use formal and non-formal language and of course the levels in between.
That aside, I could live with the very informal and almost teetering on 반말 language that is presented because it is still useful. What I can’t deal with is how off or extremely lazy the supposedly native speaker is. I was really hoping for someone that had a Seoul accent and spoke quite clearly. Unfortunately this is not the case and after a few days of doing this I just couldn’t bare listening to the person anymore. Given that, I am almost certain that this is a native Chinese speaker who can read and speak (with a heavy accent) Korean and that Yi Jisoo just translated the English text.
Though this specific product in Korean isn’t for me, I do intend to pick up the GSR or GSM products for Mandarin soon since I am about to begin studying Mandarin.
Lastly, I hope eventually that if you continue to add languages Mike, that you add Cantonese in the future as there are limited good quality audio sources for it available out there right now.
This is Jisoo.
I translated and recorded for the Korean language.
I am indeed a native speaker.
I do not know how to prove this that I am a native speaker.
I am very sorry that you were disappointed with less than satisfactory recording.
After I passed along the content for the first book, I received some feedback and I tried to do a better recording job for the second book. I have not yet recorded for the third book. I will be as animated and clear as I can.
With that being said, I would discourage you from spreading false fact like this book is recoded by a Chinese speaker.
I was waiting for a post on this method! thanks for it! I’ve been interested in buy one of the courses but was waiting until a solid review from someone, like yourself, who isn’t a grammar head and prefers sentences and immersion
This post had me really interested in knowing more about Glossika, but when I clicked through to the Glossika website I ended up completely confused by the site layout, which seems to have been designed without much thought for the user experience.
I hope the site improves soon (I would recommend an about page, faq page, and shop/store page for starters, to support ease of navigation and clearly laid-out information), because this looks like a really great product, but there’s currently no way I’d pass on the site to any of my language learning friends.
Thank you for your feedback. We’re still improving the site layout week-by-week and have several colorful backgrounds and sliders in development.
In response to what you mentioned, all of the pages you were looking for have been moved out of the “resources” menu into the first place in the top menu and hopefully that makes it easier to access the information you were looking for.
I would be willing to offer you a free product to try as our way of saying “thanks”. You can reach us any time on our gmail address which is simply “glossika”.
I have been using GLossika since it came out with the GMS and found it a little complicated to organize and stick to, but the GSR is perfect plus if you want the same intensity as GMS which I do you can do Basic 1, 2 and even 3 together every day.
I agree that Glossika is a great resource (and it’s really inexpensive too), but to be honest the PDF I read (Chinese) was also painful to get through because of all the typos and the fact that Mike quoted himself throughout it. He seems like a really nice guy, but I agree that it’ll take some work and more detailed instructions before most people would enjoy using it.
Hi This is Mike. When you said “Mike quoted himself throughout it” it sounds like you’re referring to our older, first version from 2013? If you have followed our tweets/posts, you’re eligible for the newest versions of our books with completely new re-writes and much easier to follow. But thank you again for being one of the earliest purchasers and I hope our most recent editions appeal to a wider audience.
I cannot understand the products. Are the GMS an GSR meant to be used together? Are they the same product presented in two different ways? Is it an audio only product or is the PDF integral. Nothing is well-explained on his site.
Felix, I’m not sure when you visited the site, but we’ve spent the last 3 months re-writing everything much more clearly since early comments were similar to yours. You’ll find individual page write-ups about GMS and GSR and each product page has completely new write-ups as of early May.
The GMS files are for intensive training, someone who’s going to be using the material to do dictation and recording on a daily basis. One of our books can be completed in a month using this method.
The GSR files are for non-intensive training, for people who are too busy to pick up the book or do any extra work. This method may be easier for people to use during a commute. You get a lot more repetitions, and the pace is spread out over 3 months.
I hope this helps. We’re always online and are willing to help.
My only complaint with Glossika’s products is that the PDFs are protected against copy & paste. You are only allowed to read the PDF, not to copy sentences to Anki or similar apps. :-(
Just use cmd+a (ctrl+a) to select everything in the pdf, copy it, and then paste it in a text editor. Worked for me.
Peter, I’m sorry that you found this feature frustrating. We’re located in a market where copying and re-selling is rampant. There’s always a way around it as speekolango has pointed out.
I noticed you mentioned Anki. Are you saying that you didn’t find GSR files as effective as Anki? I’m curious to know your findings.