It is almost impossible to find a language learning app today that does not put it at the forefront of the learning process.
Gamification can certainly help when it comes to motivation, but it also disguises what the real reward of learning a language is.
The real reward is not a stupid looking hat for your childish avatar or collecting coins that ultimately prove useless.
No, the real reward is the results you achieve throughout the language learning process.
Not just fluency, which, of course, is the ultimate reward, but also smaller periodic improvements that each give you a bit more access to the world of your new language.
That’s the real motivation.
The team of Glossika, the language learning app that I’ll review today, understands this.
Yes, Glossika also added a bit of gamification to their app, but it’s minimal and in the background. The focus is on learning a language, not on playing a game.
Reps, Reps, and Some More Reps
Glossika is all about reps (repetitions).
With each rep, you get to hear or read a sentence… or both.
It’s all sentences, so no words in isolation that lack context.
These aren’t just random sentences, of course; there’s more to it.
Glossika’s spaced repetition algorithm ensures that you will hear the sentences in such a way that you naturally internalize their grammatical structures without having to make a big effort. (Note that I said BIG effort. You still have to do the work. There’s no escaping from that.)
Glossika likens learning a language to working out. Each repetition of a sentence counts as a rep, just as if you were lifting weights.
It’s a great analogy. And you can clearly see this philosophy reflected in the Glossika app.
Learning with Glossika is a straightforward process.
Because Glossika deliberately limits your choices. It’s clear what you have to do: your daily amount of reps. You don’t have to worry about much else.
This reduces the decisions you have to make so that you can focus on learning the language.
According to Glossika, by doing thousands of reps, you can reach various milestones in your language learning journey:
- 25,000 Reps: Speak sentences with natural flow and accent
- 50,000 Reps: Engage in casual conversations at the speed of native speakers
- 75,000 Reps: Hone your skills in specialized topics
- 100,000 Reps: Mastery level where you can say just about anything
Woody Allen once said: “80% of success is showing up.”
Well, if what Glossika claims is true, this principle certainly applies to the Glossika method.
There are two types of reps: Review reps, and Learn New Items reps. The Review reps option simply makes you review the sentences you’ve learned while doing your Learn New Items reps.
And just as there are two types of reps…
…there are also two different modes in which you can use the Glossika sentence trainer.
In Full Practice mode, the learning sessions consist of multiple features like listening, typing, and dictation.
With listening, you don’t have to do anything except listen (surprise!). Still, I recommend you say the sentences out loud.
Typing is just that, typing (astonishing, I know). You have to type the sentences you hear and read.
With the Dictation feature, you’ll hear a sentence (both in your source language and your target language), which you’ll then have to type. The sentence is audio-only, though you can make it appear by clicking a button.
In Listening Only mode, you only have access to the Listening feature.
The Listen Only mode is how Glossika used to be until a major update added the Full Practice mode.
Now, the Glossika team recommends using this mode when commuting or in any other situation where the Full Practice mode isn’t so practical after all.
Personally, I really like the Listening Only mode. It’s all about the Mass Sentence Method Glossika used to be famous for.
No bells and whistles, just raw sentence practice.
Glossika Is More Suitable for the Serious Language Learner
If you like language learning apps with a lot of gamification, then Glossika is not for you.
In that case, an investment in Glossika would be a waste of time and money.
It is more suitable for serious language learners.
You see, Glossika’s approach to language learning is new(ish), but the app has kind of a traditional feel to it.
It’s a rather dull process, initially.
Not in the least because all sentences are fixed. You either repeat the sentence verbally, or you type it.
That means you won’t really be making your own sentences with Glossika. You could call this a weakness of the app, since forming your own sentences is important when learning a new language.
Fortunately, you quickly notice that the method does work. Slowly but surely, you start to be able to say things in your new language. In other words, you get exactly what you’re learning a new language for: results.
And because you get that real reward—instead of sunglasses for a virtual avatar—you will automatically become more motivated.
Glossika has the most impressive collection of languages you can learn.
It offers courses in more than 50(!) languages.
If you want to learn a language that other apps don’t offer, Glossika can probably help you out.
If you’re interested, here are some links to get you started right away. Glossika offers a free 7-day full-access trial with 1000 reps in every language. No obligation and no credit card required.
But what makes it really interesting is that you can also adjust the source language.
So, for example:
Once you have learned Spanish, you can use that to learn German or Chinese.
That way, you can continue to improve your second language skills while you’re learning a third one. The sky’s the limit.
What I do have to mention is that not all translations and audio recordings are perfect. This is something Glossika needs to improve. Fortunately, they are continually working on it.
The Glossika team has already re-recorded a lot of the audio and is constantly trying to improve its app. Even so, it could be a bit of a letdown for some people.
Glossika Learning Sessions
A Glossika session is straightforward.
You only have to do the prescribed number of reps, either learning new items or reviewing already learned ones.
As I said, you don’t have to make many decisions yourself, but you still get results with the Glossika method.
You can set a daily rep goal, which will have a considerable influence on how long sessions take. A good starting point is 25 reps. Once you get the hang of it, you can increase your daily goal.
To not waste time on easy sentences, you can use the mark easy button. That way, you can skip sentences that are too easy for you.
This is significant because this is how you personalize your Glossika learning experience.
You can also change the way the trainer works by tweaking its settings.
- Turn the audio and text on or off
- Change the speed of the audio
- Change the source language
- Adjust the interval between sentences, so you have more (or less) time to think
- And…turn voice recording on or off
Talking about Glossika’s voice recording feature…
It allows you to record your voice and compare how you say the sentences vs how native speakers sound. You can also compare yourself over time.
Also, according to Glossika, by using the recording feature, you help “optimize the algorithm to keep pace with you.”
Not sure how or if that works, but hearing yourself speak through recordings definitely adds an extra touch to your language learning.
You may be able to spot where you sound off.
Take these sentences to a tool like Speechling, and its coaches may give you valuable advice on how to improve your pronunciation.
Exclude Topics You Couldn’t Care Less About
Some language resources focus heavily on specific topics.
A tourist guide book, for example, would likely have plenty of language about hotels, ordering food, and asking the way to the nearest bus station.
On Glossika, you can exclude topics you don’t care about.
If business isn’t your thing, you can exclude this topic from the sentence trainer. Are you opposed to everything related to the military? Just deselect the topic, and you’re good to go.
You can exclude 16 different topics, all with many more subtopics for more precise fine-tuning of your learning path.
It’s a cool feature, though I’m not sold on the usefulness of it. For example, the social category includes most verbs and adjectives. If you deselect it, you will lose essential building blocks toward fluency.
All in all, I guess it’s okay to exclude a less prominent topic if you hate it, but other than that, I’d leave this option pretty much alone.
Glossika for Beginner Learners of a Language
Some people say that Glossika isn’t for beginners.
Personally, I think that Glossika can work for beginners, but it depends on the language you want to learn.
If the language you want to learn is linguistically far removed from your own language, it probably won’t work.
I did some sessions of the Kurdish course, and all I could reproduce was gibberish. According to
Glossika, this mutter will eventually turn to real sentences, but it felt a bit pointless.
There’s some help for situations like this.
You can slow down the audio speed to 75%. And you can also increase the pauses in between the sentences so that you have a little more time to think and answer.
Despite all of this, I think Glossika only works for beginners if their target language is (at least) somewhat close to their native language.
By the way, if you’re not a complete beginner, you can do the listening comprehension test. This helps Glossika determine at what level you should start your learning journey.
What Does Glossika Cost?
If you’re a language learner that doesn’t need any gamification gimmicks, you can learn a language faster.
After all, you are concerned with what matters and not with needless extras that do not directly bring you results.
Glossika doesn’t have much gamification and that’s quite refreshing, to be honest.
Just as its learning system is simple and focused, so is its pricing.
Basically, there’s just one plan with all languages and features included. It costs $30/month or $24.99/month when billed annually.
For that monthly fee, you’ll have access to ALL Glossika’s language courses.
Remember, your first 7 days are completely free, and you don’t even need a credit card to try Glossika. Just create an account, and you’re good to go.
Glossika works. If you show up, you’ll likely get results.
I just hope that Glossika can resist the temptation to become a complete language-learning solution.
Because such a thing doesn’t exist.
Often, the more bells and whistles added to an app, the weaker it becomes.
Likewise, I hope they can resist the pressure to add more gamification to the app and continue to keep the app tailored primarily to serious language learners.
That way, Glossika will retain its unique character and probably have success for a longer time.
Glossika is pretty unique. Its focus is on language learning, not on gamification.
In other words: it dares to stand out.
Therefore, there doesn’t seem to be a clear alternative to it.
Speechling is probably the app that’s most similar to Glossika.
It’s also sentence-heavy, but the focus here is on improving pronunciation. You can repeat and record the sentences, and a coach will give you feedback on where you need to improve your pronunciation.
Speechling works quite well, but it’s not really for beginners. It’s more about improving your pronunciation, while Glossika also helps you to learn and memorize the language.
The other thing to keep in mind is that Speechling offers fewer languages to learn than Glossika. As of writing, you can learn 11 languages with Speechling.
Click here to read my Speechling Review
- Focus is on language learning, not gamification
- 50+ languages you can learn – including more than 30 different source languages
- Glossika is easy to use and doesn’t distract from actual language learning with 1000s of options and gimmicks you don’t need
- Gets results
- Can get boring – especially in the beginning
- Not for beginners, unless your target language has similarities to a language you already know
- Some translations could be better
It would be nice if your articles had dates on them! When was this review done? I know that Glossika has changed a great deal over the last five years or so.
The review is being updated as we speak. Dates on all my posts will be added later.
Update: the review has been updated September 2020
Is there an actual App for Glossika? I can only seem to use it by browsing to it but I would like to try it as an app on my Android and my iPad. The problem I am running into using just a web browser is that if my phone or iPad screen times out or I go to another tab for a moment, my progress is lost on the current review that I am working on. I can be at 23 out of 25 only to have to start back at 1 of 25 because of the browser limitation.
I am REALLY hoping there is an app and but I can’t seem to find it on the App store or Google play store. Help!
Not that I know of.
I forwarded your question to Glossika to be sure, I’ll update the comment here when I get a reply.
I don’t know much about the iPhone but on Android devices, you can set your screen to time out in 30 minutes. That should do the trick at least for most sessions.
Noel, I thought of extending the screen time out but that is a pretty substantial battery saver. It isn’t just about timing out though. If you make the mistake of using any other app or tab in the middle of a session, more often than not, it resets you.
Also, the webpage is not optimized for mobile devices (phone or ipad). When I view it on my ipad, the bottom of the page is partially cut off and I have to scroll down to see how many items are left in the current review session… etc.
One reason I like Pimsleur is that their app works fine on any platform, including letting you temporarily download the next handful of lessons. That way you can work even without an internet connection.
Thanks for checking with them. I would be really interested in their thoughts on it.
I see. I guess that’s a pretty big drawback of Glossika.
I did a few sessions on mobile and didn’t have any problems with it. However, since there are many different phones and configurations, they don’t all behave equally.
BTW, If you have a computer, I would recommend you use that for Glossika. A phone can be more distracting than a PC, depending on configuration. I’m not a big fan of smartphones for language learning for this same reason.
It is tough taking my computer with me when I am walking my dog several times a day or in a car though 😉 – Part of my routine is my daily audio which up until now,
Pimsleur has filled the void of. I am on my 7th language and have a “routine” at this point. Very often it is away from a PC.
The program seems well established considering there are 60+ languages. It just seems odd that they would not have dedicated apps for it as well. I see hints of mentions of it in old posts but it almost seems at some point they gave up on it (but I am not sure on that). Thank you anyways for your time!
p.s. Judging from your last name, it is possible you are Dutch. If so, dank je!
Yes, that’s correct. I’m Dutch. Graag gedaan. 😉
Seven languages … that’s quite the achievement!
I just got word from Glossika. They say their mobile app is still in development.
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