Today I’m going to do an in-depth review of Glossika Mandarin Chinese. Glossika is a slightly lesser-known, yet extremely effective tool for learning and building fluency in a language.
I should say as well that Glossika supports a range of languages, not just Mandarin Chinese! But seeing as this blog is about learning Mandarin, that’s what I will focus on mostly.
What is Glossika?
Glossika is an audio training system for learning languages, based on a machine learning (AI) powered, spaced repetition approach. That’s a mouthful, isn’t it?!
In simpler terms, the Glossika approach is focused around two things:
- Teaching whole sentences/phrases through audio and text
- Letting you review these sentences using spaced repetition
The grand idea here is that by focusing on learning a language at the sentence level, it makes it a whole lot easier for you to learn and improve on your pronunciation, syntax, vocabulary, and grammar.
How does Glossika actually work?
The Glossika system is very simple to use. Everything is accessed online and the user interface is pretty intuitive. If you haven’t already signed up for your free trial to test it yourself, let me explain how it all works…
When you create your Glossika account you will select your source language (this is your native language) and your target language (the language you want to learn). Then, Glossika gives you a placement test to determine your level. Once that is complete you’re ready to start learning with the mass sentence method.
The system works with listening and repeating. The sentence is said first in the source language, then there’s a small gap before the sentence is said in the target language. After this, there is time for you to repeat the sentence and once you have done so, it moves to the next one.
There are loads of settings you can tweak to customize your learning experience and other training options are available too, including things like translation and dictation. If you want to see how it all works check out the video demo I made below!
Each session consists of 50 sentences. 40 sentences to review and 10 brand new ones. Glossika recommends doing at least one session a day, but there’s no reason you can’t do more than that.
Why is Glossika unique?
Firstly, Glossika is unique because unlike other language learning resources, there are no grammar explanations, no vocabulary lists and no pointless exercises.
The idea behind this somewhat simplistic approach to language learning is that by listening to and repeating (repeating is very important) lots and lots of full sentences, your brain will begin to pick up on grammar structures and patterns without having to explicitly learn them.
Not only that, but you will learn new vocabulary this way too, and by seeing and hearing new words in context, it makes it a lot easier to understand the word’s meaning and usage.
Thirdly, and most importantly, you will build up fluency in the language.
The last thing that makes Glossika unique is it’s inbuilt, machine learning-powered, spaced repetition algorithm.
The idea behind spaced repetition is to review sentences at specific times during your learning, in order to pull that sentence into your long-term memory. Your first review might be one day after learning it, the next review might be 2 days and the third maybe a week. The point is that every time you review it, the period of time between then and the next review increases. Eventually, after enough reviews, the sentence and related pronunciation, patterns and vocabulary sticks.
Glossika makes use of its own, inbuilt version of this algorithm, specifically designed by founder, Mike Campbell.
Why Glossika Chinese will help you build fluency
Mandarin Chinese is a unique language in that there are different tones we have to be aware of (I’m sure you’ve encountered them by now). Tones often make it difficult for people to speak fluently in Chinese (and by fluently I mean saying one whole sentence, at normal speed, with correct pronunciation and no stuttering).
Glossika Chinese allows you to improve your Chinese pronunciation, and thereby your fluency, through exposure to mass amounts of sentences. And, in my opinion, sentences are the best way to learn tones properly!
There are two reasons I say this. Firstly, tones can change based on which tones precede/follow them. So, learning tones in isolation isn’t very effective.
Secondly, when people learn tones in isolation, they tend to sound robotic when they speak. As if they are emphasizing each syllable (tone) in the sentence. This is wrong because, in spoken Chinese, tones tend to flow into one another, rather than be distinctly separate.
Can Glossika Chinese be used by beginners?
This is something that I’ve often seen people asking. The lack of grammar explanations and vocabulary lists make Glossika an intimidating approach for beginner learners. I would argue that Glossika can be used at any level, but I believe it’s most effective for those at the intermediate level.
The first reason for this is that Glossika ranges from A1 (beginner) to B2 (upper intermediate) on the CEFR. There is no material for C1/C2 (advanced).
The second reason is that, based on my own experience using Glossika, I got the most out of it at the lower intermediate level.
When I was living in Beijing, I had a long commute to and from work. I decided to look for some Chinese audio to listen to during this time so I could make it somewhat productive.
The first resource I used was ChinesePod and the second resource I found was Glossika. Having been a fan of Mike Campbell on YouTube, I decided to give it ago. Glossika was a bit different back then. It was comprised of e-books and downloadable audio files (not like now where everything is online!).
I bought two Glossika Mandarin Chinese modules, the ‘daily life’ module and the ‘business intro’ module. Each trained you in 1000 sentences to do with daily life/business.
I had the e-book on my phone, so on the subway/bus, I would listen to the sentences on repeat while following along with the text. I couldn’t really repeat it as I felt kind of embarrassed, so I would just whisper it to myself.
Anyway, I really enjoyed the Glossika approach and I found myself learning new vocabulary and improving my fluency after just a few weeks. Being at an intermediate level helped though, as I could understand most of what I was listening to.
However, like I said, Glossika has upgraded its whole system and now everything is accessible online! Check out my video demo below.
How to use Glossika (Glossika Chinese demo):
I realize in the demo I didn’t really go in the other training options available. These are dictation, fill in, translation, choice, and typing.
Basically, there are other ways you can practice new sentences. These are nice additions and a fun way to see how much you have learned.
There’s not a whole lot more to say other than just try them out! Glossika gives you a 7-day free trial so there’s no reason why you shouldn’t give it a go.
Why is Glossika effective for learning Mandarin Chinese?
Listening and speaking are two very important activities for improving your language skills. With Glossika, you can practice both in an effective and controlled manner.
Due to the amount of content (sentences) that Glossika provides, there really is A LOT that one can learn. The sentences are split into 26 different topics and Glossika gives you control over which topics you want to learn and which you don’t (see the demo above).
For beginners, it’s advised to keep all topics on, meaning the sentences Glossika gives you will come from each of the 26 different topics, so you’ll get a nice mix of new phrases and vocabulary.
For intermediate/advanced learners, you can focus on specific topics in order to help ‘plug holes’ in your Spoken Chinese or simply to recap topics you haven’t spoken about for a while.
Glossika also gives you complete control over your learning experience by letting you adjust settings such as the speed at which the target language is spoken or the gap in between the source and target languages.
Is Glossika Chinese (Mandarin) worth it?
The short answer – yes. I believe it is. However, don’t take my word for it, sign up for your free trial and see for yourself.
Glossika charges a monthly fee of $30, or $25 for an annual purchase. This gives you access to all material for all languages, advanced features, unlimited offline downloads and more!
All in All, I think Glossika Chinese is an intelligent and well put together solution for building fluency in Mandarin Chinese.
So what are you waiting for? Try Glossika now with a 7-day free trial !