Glossika Full Review: Pros and Cons – Spanish Hackers
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Glossika Full Review: Pros and Cons

By Anthony / March 14, 2018

Review of: Glossika

Use: Foreign language training tool

Effectiveness

Unique method helps you understand the language & use it freely

Price

As far as supplemental tools go, it's a bit pricey

Time Commitment

20-30 minutes a day

Ease of Use

Simple and easy to use

I Like

  • check
    Great for building conversation skills
  • check
    Holistic method for learning
  • check
    Available for 50+ languages

I Don't Like

  • No grammar explanations
  • A bit expensive for a learning tool

Summary: Glossika is a uniquely effective course that teaches its users how to use a foreign language, versus simply just spitting out vocabulary and grammar. On this site you will be given whole phrases and entire sentences so that you can learn the language in context, instead of learning words or grammar rules in isolation.

If you're looking for a practical way to improve your ability to create correct sentences on the fly, and speak your target language in a natural way, then this is a learning tool worth considering.  

Glossika functions a lot like a language learning gym. It's built around successive training sessions which will require to you to "work out" speaking and listening skills, as well as your reading and writing skills.  

The entire program is built on top of a spaced repetition system, so you can learn and review material as effectively as possible. 

Glossika allows you to create a free account and take their program for test run. If you're interested in improving your foreign language skills it's definitely worth checking out!

The method behind Glossika 

Here Glossika's founder goes into detail about what makes their method work

Teaching syntax over vocabulary 

Glossika packs a strong punch as a language learning tool. This is because they have gone to great lengths to design a course that systematically teaches a language's syntax. Most language courses focus on teaching a mixture of grammar and vocabulary, so this syntax based approach is fairly unique in the language learning world. 

What is syntax and why is it important? 

Have you ever invested a ton of time and energy into learning the grammar and vocabulary of a language, only to struggle to create intelligible sentences? I've been there, and it's SUPER frustrating.  

I remember spending time every single day studying Spanish. For the life of me I couldn't figure out why I was unable to hold simple conversations after having put in so much work. 

While grammar and vocabulary are important when you're learning a language, it's knowing how to use both of these elements to create a correct sentence that really unlocks your conversational abilities. 

Knowing which words go where in a given sentence is called syntax, and this is the primary thing Glossika strives to teach. 

A good way to think about syntax is this: imagine that a complete Spanish sentence is like a birdhouse. In one hand you have some pieces of wood (vocabulary), and in the other hand you have a hammer and nails (grammar). Syntax is like the blueprint for the birdhouse that tells you where these different pieces go and where to use them. 

Spaced repetition  

Glossika is built on a spaced repetition system.  This means that old sentences will be shown to you again based on how well you remembered them the last time you saw them. 

Thus more difficult phrases will appear more often than easier ones. This entire process is automated. All you have to do is rate how easy or heard a sentence or training session was. Glossika will take care of the rest. 

This method of review is extremely efficient. You don't have to waste your time reviewing things you already know. This lets you put your effort where it counts the most. 

How to use Glossika

Placement test

Using Glossika is pretty straight forward. First you will be given a short placement test. This will test your current level in the language by having you listen to audio of a native speaker saying a phrase or sentence in Spanish. 

The placement test is short and sweet

You will simply input whether it was easy or difficult for you to understand the given phrase. This short test will help determine the best material to show you in the training sessions. 

Training sessions

The bulk of Glossika is its training sessions. There are three times of training sessions on the site:

Listen & repeat training

This type of training is the bread and butter of the program. You are shown a phrase in English along with audio. Then a native speaker in your foreign language says the equivalent phrase in your target language (the phrase will also be written in your target language). 

You simply repeat and mimic what you hear the native speaker say. 

An example of Glossika's listen & repeat training

Interpretation training

With this type of exercise you simply listen to a phrase or sentence in your native English and see how accurately you can translate it into the language you're learning. 

Dictation training

In this exercise you listen in English and then the language you're learning. After listening you try to write what you heard in your target language. 

Training topics

You have the option of toggling different topics for your training exercises. If you turn a topic on, phrases about that topic will appear in your training sessions. If a topic is off you won't see any sentences about that subject. 

There are a wide range of topics to choose from

How often should you use Glossika?

The program is designed around doing one training session per day. Think of it as your daily foreign language workout!

Pros of Glossika

Practical approach

The program's focus on teaching syntax makes it ideal for increasing your ability to have conversations in a foreign language.  If you work through the training sessions daily as they were designed, you will gain a practical working knowledge of the language. 

This is something few other courses or programs can boast. If you work your way through Glossika you will see improvement in your language abilities where they matter most: in real life conversations.

Holistic method

With Glossika you will use listening, reading, writing, and speaking skills in your target language. This is great because it helps you to see the language as a whole entity, versus a bunch of unrelated parts. 

A well rounded ability in each of these four aspects of language learning is what will bring you to fluency.

Learn Latin Spanish or Spanish from Spain

One great feature of Glossika is that once you have a paid subscription you can use any of their 50+ language courses! 

For Spanish learners this is especially helpful as there is a separate course for Latin American Spanish and Spanish from Spain. These two variants of Spanish are mutually intelligible but they tend to differ when it comes to pronunciation and colloquialisms. 

Available for many minority languages

While this feature isn't necessarily directly beneficial if you're learning Spanish, it's still really cool. As mentioned before Glossika is offered in over 50 different languages. 

This includes a lot of minority languages that you're unlikely to find other programs for. Some notable examples include: Welsh, Azerbaijani, Belarusian, Catalan, and many more!

Cons of Glossika

It's a supplement not a core course 

The program is designed and best used as a supplement to your language learning (albeit an effective one). Unfortunately though it doesn't quite cut it as a comprehensive language course. 

I completely agree with the company's emphasis on syntax over grammar. It's something I've tried to emulate in my own language learning regime. However once you get into the finer points of grammar it can be helpful to have some explicit grammar lessons or explanations. 

In Spanish for example, it can be hard for a learner to grasp the subtle differences between the preterite and imperfective tenses, not to mention the subjunctive mood. With these subjects I've found it more beneficial to read up on the grammar rules behind these parts of the Spanish language. 

Glossika simply doesn't offer anything like this.

It's expensive compared with other tools

A single monthly subscription with this product is going to run you $30. For a supplemental learning tool that's a bit high, especially when you compare it to other sites like Spanishpod101 or FluentU. 

What other people say about Glossika

"...as someone who believes in learning languages by repetitious exposure to whole lexical chunks over time rather than entirely unnatural memorization of grammar rules, I believe Glossika is a tremendously valuable resource and I look forward to more language editions becoming available."

Donovan Nagel  //  mezzoguild.com

"I would recommend the Glossika method for all of you who have spent many hours reading, listening, maybe even writing your target language. If you find yourself hesitating in mid-sentence and you want to feel confident and fluent, this is absolutely perfect.."

Kerstin  //  FluentLanguage.co

Alternatives to Glossika

Rocket Spanish

Rocket Spanish is a comprehensive Spanish course that will take you from a beginner level up to the mid-intermediate level in the language. The course is designed around interactive audio lessons. 


Each lesson will breakdown a Spanish conversation which native speakers into smaller parts so that you can pick the grammar and vocabulary and then use them yourself when you speak Spanish. 


Even though the emphasis of Rocket Spanish is always conversation, the course also does a good job of incorporating reading and writing as well.

Spanishpod101

Spanishpod101 is a Spanish course in the form of audio podcasts. Each lesson is an episode and features a conversation between two native speakers, as well as lesson notes, and sentence examples. 


Every episode is moderated by two hosts who help explain difficult concepts and share interesting insights into the language or culture. 


The site also features many extra resources like in site flashcards, slow playback and recording (for pronunciation), and vocabulary lists.  

FluentU

FluentU provides native Spanish videos with a built in subtitle and vocabulary system. 


You can watch real Spanish videos (commercials, tv clips, music, etc) and learn words in a real life context. It also has its own flashcard system and other learning resources.

Conclusion

In a market over saturated with language learning tools, courses, and apps, Glossika brings something unique and valuable to the table. 


Their syntax focused method and their spaced repetition format make the site a powerful tool in the hands of a language learner.


While some may find the price tag a bit high,and others may not like the lack of a traditional course-like structure, Glossika stands as a premiere option for anyone looking to learn a foreign language in way that is both effective and practical. 


About the author

Anthony

Coffee drinker, Spanish speaker, habitual traveler, taking life one beautiful day at a time.

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