There is a saying in the language learning field: When learning a new language, if you can hear and read 10,000 sentences, then you can almost understand the language.
Unlike the approach taken in schools, this approach is equivalent to putting vocabulary and grammar knowledge into sentences that, once learned, allow you to naturally understand the meaning of words; it also allows you to substitute different words into sentences and use them to express your own ideas.
The language learning software Glossika is representative of this approach. It selects thousands of representative sentences for each language and improves language proficiency through consistent and repetitive dictation practice.
The first page after login is to select the native language (source language) and the target language. Currently Glossika supports learning in more than 60 languages.
Once selected, the user is taken to a “language level test”, where Glossika plays a sentence in a new language, asks the user to repeat it and select its meaning, and determines the current level by whether the answer selected is blocked in the repetition. If you have no prior knowledge of the language, you can start directly at the “beginner” level.
The classification of language levels is based on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) and is divided into six levels: A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, C2. A1 is the most basic, which allows you to understand basic conversations, and C2 is the most advanced, which allows you to talk to native speakers without any problems. C1 is the highest level supported in Glossika.
The next screen is the main screen of Glossika. There are two types of exercises: “Review” and “Learn new content”, and you can set daily goals for each.
The default learning mode in the “Learn New Content” section is “Listen Only”, where Glossika reads the sentence in the source language and then reads it twice in the target language. The user then has to repeat the pronunciation and learn the next sentence. To aid comprehension, a variety of phonetic symbols and writing styles are available.
Glossika’s recording function does not check the accuracy of pronunciation, just select “Finish Recording” to proceed to the next step. If you don’t feel comfortable reading aloud, you can also turn off the recording in the settings. A comparison between the standard recording and the latest recording can be found in the “Memory – Review List”.
There are more options to adjust in the “Settings” in the upper left corner. In addition to turning on “Auto Recording”, you can also set the speed at which sentences are read aloud and the interval between the next sentences.
The counterpart to the “pure listening mode” is the “complete practice” mode. This mode not only requires recording, but also requires the user to spell out the sentences correctly before proceeding to the next step. There is no restriction on the language of input when spelling, for example, in Japanese, inputting Roman and kana is acceptable, but unfortunately, the kana or Roman sound written down must correspond exactly to the original text to be considered correct, like Arabic, where the rules of Roman transcription are more complicated, and it is not that easy to type English letters lazily.
If there are sentences that need special attention, you can mark them by clicking on the heart icon in the lower left corner (or by pressing the F key). The icon on the right (shortcut E) is used to mark sentences that have already been learned, or that are too easy, and this sentence will not appear again in subsequent learning.
Each new set consists of five new sentences, each repeated five times. Completing a unit will yield 25 “Reps,” which stands for “repetition,” an indicator Glossika uses to measure learning progress. Fluency in language, especially in oral expression, is very dependent on the number of repetitions, and Glossika’s internal research and experience shows that with more than 25,000 repetitions, you can speak naturally and fluently in a foreign language, and with more than 100,000 repetitions, you can express yourself comfortably and eloquently in a foreign language!
New knowledge can only be remembered better with constant repetition, and Glossika’s “Review” practice area has five review modes to choose from.
“Strike while the iron is hot” will automatically add the newly learned sentences to the question bank and make a fresh “review list” through an algorithm within a few hours after learning, striking while the iron is hot.
“Weak Memory” is to select sentences with lower memory strength based on past correct rates to review them in priority and enhance memory.
“Study List” is to review all the sentences in the study list one by one, and will not customize the review based on past feedback. When you move to advanced level, you can also select a specific language level and practice all sentences one by one.
sentences marked as “favorite” during learning and review will appear in the “favorite list”.
The “Select Level” review is where you can practice all sentences at a particular language level, and where you can select the level you want once you have learned a certain amount in Glossika and have advanced to a higher language level.
The review mode also supports “Pure Listening Mode” and “Complete Practice”. Similar to “Learning Mode”, the latter requires not only reading out the sentences, but also typing them out to pass.
In Glossika’s “Memory” module is the data collected for the purpose of reviewing patterns. The “Learning List” shows all the sentences that the user has learned. The leftmost column lists the source language, target language and pronunciation of all sentences, while the second column shows the “memory strength” calculated from the collected learning data. The menu bar on the far right, click on it to mark the sentence as “liked” or “learned” or to give feedback on possible problems with the sentence.
The determination of memory strength is more complex. In addition to the correctness of the response, the time when a sentence was first learned, the time when the sentence was last reviewed, the frequency of the time when the learner correctly/incorrectly remembered the sentence, and other elements are also evaluated, which are budgeted by the algorithm and appear one by one in the review mode.
The sentences practiced in Glossika are officially selected, so there are inevitably sentences that are “not used” or “not interesting”. Therefore, in the “Learning Content” module, you can uncheck those topics that you don’t want to appear, so that they won’t appear in the “Learning Mode” and “Review Mode”.
There are currently 16 major categories of topics, and a total of 203 subtopics under different categories that can be freely selected. Note that specific topics that are turned off or on will only cover the language being studied, so if you want to avoid a topic in all languages, you will need to uncheck them under “Learned Content” for all languages.
What it’s like to use it
Over the past two months or so, I have accumulated over 5000 reps in Glossika on and off, both in Japanese, which I am learning, and in English, which I learned for testing. Before that, my English level was C1/C2 (I could communicate comfortably with native speakers), and my Japanese level was at the “basic greeting” stage after Duolingo.
However, my biggest gain in using Glossika is probably the speaking aspect. Even in the simplest “listen-only mode”, the default setting requires the user to read along. After reading, you can find your last pronunciation from “memory” and compare it with the standard pronunciation. After practicing a few times, even if you can’t fully understand the meaning of the sentence, you can hear the improvement of your pronunciation and you can speak out Japanese sentences more often than when you only used Duolingo before.
If a sentence pops into your head and you don’t remember what it means, you can search for it directly in the “Memory” module; if you have a specific topic you want to learn about, you can filter it to practice the corresponding topic.
One of the advantages of Glossika is that there is no social and leaderboard function. All users can see is their learning time, the number of exercises, and the number of sentences learned and reviewed in the past few days. For some people, this helps them focus better on their studies; but on the other hand, it also requires strong self-control to not give up halfway.
From this perspective, I definitely prefer the approach in Duolingo. It takes a more step-by-step approach, introducing new words and then new sentences and sentences, and after these are learned the next lesson is “how to fill in the new words in this lesson into familiar sentences” or “how to apply familiar words in new sentences”, in which you get familiar with new words and new sentences through continuous practice, and also review the familiar expressions before.
Advantages of Glossika
In addition to improving speaking skills and supporting topic-specific exercises as mentioned above, Glossika has the following advantages.
Support for 60+ languages, including niche dialects and different versions of various languages in different regions.
For languages that will give words a gender, multiple gender expressions are displayed simultaneously while learning.
the review system uses “spaced repetition”, which helps with memorization.
memorization of sentences to better familiarize with fixed collocations, and to adapt to usage scenarios.
support full keyboard operation.
You can cache sentences offline + auto-rotate, so you can review them even when you are sitting in the subway.
In fact, the biggest drawback of Glossika as a user would be its high subscription cost. After the 7-day free trial, even the more favorable yearly payment model costs $160 for the basic version, which allows you to learn only one language, and $300 for the advanced plan, which allows you to learn multiple languages at the same time. Students can subscribe for a year for $130 after verifying their identity via email or student ID.
In addition, only a few niche languages are available for free. However, Glossika also releases special offers from time to time, such as the Glossika Challenge in October, where you can get a four-month membership if you meet the requirements, so it’s worth checking out if you’re interested.
The expensive annual fee, unfriendly to zero-based users, and the need to put in a lot of time and effort to learn in order to benefit, I believe it is enough to dissuade many users. In addition, it currently only supports the web version and iOS side, the Android version is still under development, and the mobile app experience is not as smooth as the web version.
You can try Glossika for free at the official website. 55% discount code for verified student status. Use discount code 2022BK50 to get 50% off and the code will still be valid on December 1.