Glossika Review: Give it a pass

In this Glossika review, we take a look at the AI-based adaptive language training programme that aims to do away with traditional grammar- and vocabulary-focused lessons. We’ll dive into what the programme does well, where it falls short, and whether or not it’s right for you. 

Our Verdict

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Glossika is a helpful tool if you want to gain confidence in speaking and listening in more than 70 different languages. However, its approach to language learning is random, at best, and claims that literacy is not necessary to achieve fluency in a language.

Unfortunately, system glitches, boring lessons, and mistranslations all defined my experience with Glossika. We’d recommend that you gloss right over this one…

TL;DR Glossika Review

In case you're looking for the quick pros and cons of Glossika, here's a list.

PROS

  • Native speakers and HD audio make listening practise enjoyable
  • Great for practising listening comprehension
  • Encourages speaking aloud
  • All features available on desktop and mobile versions
  • Impressive language selection, including endangered languages

CONS

  • Oral- and listening-based structure doesn’t encourage literacy
  • Instruction is purely context- and syntax-based
  • One type of exercise: repetition
  • System glitches and mistranslations interrupt the learning process
  • No mobile app; mobile learning requires using your smartphone’s browser

What is Glossika?

By way of its AI-based adaptive technology, Glossika “trains” you in a language rather than “teaches” you. Say farewell to vocabulary lists and grammar points; Glossika explains none of that. Instead, it uses repetition exercises to familiarise you with syntax patterns in sentences. This way, Glossika claims, you’ll acquire fluency more naturally.

What Can You Do On Glossika?

Truthfully speaking, there isn’t a whole lot you can do on Glossika.

The programme has precisely two modes of learning: one with visual, and one without. Both modes follow the same principle: in each lesson, you learn five new sentences, which may or may not be related. You’ll repeat these sentences 25 times in spaced repetition; in other words, in random order to encourage retention.

The full practice mode has three exercises: typing, listening, and recording. The listening only mode, as the name suggests, omits the typing portion and focuses only on the latter two exercises.

Typing

The typing exercise looks a little like this:

Glossika reads out the English, then has a native speaker read the translation in the target language. Then you’re tasked with typing the phrase in the target language. Easy enough, right? 

But Glossika doesn’t teach you how to read or write for languages that use any script other than Latin. You could type in the transcriptions provided, but they are only approximations of the pronunciation. Memorizing those would do you more disservice than using the actual script, which you would have to learn elsewhere. 

When I typed in hangul, several times I encountered a glitch where it appeared I reached a character limit and could not proceed further. Using the transcriptions, I did not run into this glitch, but it interrupted the flow of the lesson, which was frustrating.  

The other frustrating bit was the sentences themselves. The whole point of Glossika’s curriculum is to get you to recognize patterns and syntax. But when the sentences barely relate to each other, you have little context to draw upon and learn from. This is a consistent problem regardless of what skill level you’re at.

Listening

This exercise is the same as before, just without the typing requirement. Again the narrator will give you a sentence in English, and then the phrase will be repeated in the target language. You’ll be given both the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) pronunciation, as well as Glossika’s version of a pronunciation guide.

What do allergies have to do with the lottery?

The problem is the inconsistency between the spellings used in the typing section and the listening section. Neither do a very good job of actually teaching you the proper pronunciation. Not to mention, not many people are familiar enough with the IPA to utilise it.

To its credit, Glossika does an excellent job with audio quality. You won’t find a single computerised narration; all languages have crystal clear recordings of native speakers. 

I did spot one glaring issue that was not unique to this section; mistranslation. While grammatically correct, the phrase in the image below is a literal translation that makes little sense. Someone learning Korean wouldn’t know the word “have” in this case is possessive, and not part of the collective phrase “having an allergic reaction.” Glossika does provide the option of reporting mistakes in its content. However, the responsibility for quality assurance shouldn’t fall on the client.

Recording

The last exercise in Glossika’s limited curriculum is pronunciation. I found this feature quite glitchy, as well. The record button wouldn’t always register my clicks, and often the timer would elapse in a single second. Some fiddling with the interval settings alleviated the problem a bit, but not entirely. 

That said, the record feature is easily Glossika’s strongest of the three exercises. Under the Memory tab on your dashboard, you can go back and review every recording you’ve done of a phrase to track your improvement. Recordings are date- and time-stamped, so it’s easy to review. And should you run into a glitch as we did, you can delete the recordings you no longer want.

The “Adaptive Engine”

Glossika boasts an AI-driven adaptive engine that is supposed to tailor lessons to your current skill level. When you take the placement test, it warns you to proceed only at the skill level you can comfortably speak

But regardless of language or skill level, the sentences didn’t vary all that much in difficulty. Nor did the placement test scores vary, for that matter. No matter how many times we retested, we never could get the AI to give us content higher than intermediate-low. 

What Does Glossika Look Like?

With its limited curriculum, it should come as no surprise that Glossika’s interface is quite simple. Upon login, you’ll arrive at your dashboard for the most recent language you have taken lessons in. From there you can proceed either to your next lessons or into another language.

Glossika does not have a mobile app, though you can load the programme on your smartphone browser. The mobile version does not have any significant differences from the desktop version.

Who Is Glossika Best For?

It is easier to say who Glossika isn’t best for. If you’re looking for anything regarding literacy in languages that do not use the Latin alphabet, Glossika isn’t for you. Their blog claims that “you don't need to know how to write to be fluent in a language.” It will not teach you how to read and write in your target language.

What it does excel at is improving your listening comprehension skills. All narration on Glossika is done by native speakers, not a computerised rendering, and the provided audio is crystal clear. If you need an extra bit of help in this regard, Glossika can be a helpful tool.

What Languages Does Glossika Offer?

Glossika boasts an impressive 60+ language courses for English speakers. These range from those spoken by millions around the globe to smaller, less popular languages. They are: 

  • French 
  • German
  • Spanish (Spain and Mexico)
  • Chinese (Beijing and Taiwan)
  • Japanese
  • Arabic (Standard, Egypt, and Morocco)
  • Armenian (Eastern)
  • Azerbaijani
  • Belarusian
  • Bengali (India)
  • Bulgarian
  • Cantonese (Hong Kong)
  • Catalan*
  • Croatian (Štokavian)
  • Czech
  • Danish
  • Dutch
  • English (UK)
  • Estonian
  • Finnish (Colloquial)
  • Gaelic (Scotland)*
  • Georgian
  • Greek (Modern)
  • Hakka (Hailu and Sixian)*
  • Hebrew
  • Hindi
  • Hungarian
  • Icelandic
  • Indonesian
  • Irish 
  • Italian
  • Kazakh
  • Korean
  • Kurdish (Sorani)*
  • Latvian
  • Lithuanian
  • Manx (UK)*
  • Mongolian
  • Norwegian (Nynorsk)
  • Persian
  • PolishPortuguese (Brazil and Europe)
  • Russian
  • Serbian (Ekavian)
  • Slovak
  • Slovene
  • Swahili
  • Swedish 
  • Tagalog 
  • Taiwanese Hokkien* 
  • Thai 
  • Turkish 
  • Ukrainian 
  • Uzbek 
  • Vietnamese (North and South) 
  • Welsh*
  • Wenzhounese (Wu)*

Never heard of some of those? Neither had we. That’s because Glossika has courses for some languages that are considered endangered. Glossika offers unlimited spaced repetition practise free of charge for these languages in the name of language preservation. The free languages are indicated with an (*) above.

How Much Does Glossika Cost?

While Glossika does not offer a one-time lifetime access option, its cost is still low enough to offer some flexibility. The monthly subscription runs at $30 per month, while the annual subscription is $299.88 for the year.

You can cancel your monthly subscription at any time, but can only get a refund for your annual subscription within 60 days of payment. However, if you’re a student with a university email address, you’ll enjoy 55% off of your subscription, regardless of which option you choose.

A unique feature of Glossika is that they utilise RTER.info to offer their subscription in various currencies. Subscriptions in other currencies fluctuate as exchange rates vary day by day, as all transactions are in USD. 

Not ready to commit to a subscription? You can try all of Glossika’s premium features with their free 7-day trial, no credit card required.

What Are The Pros and Cons of Glossika?

Pros

  • Native speakers and HD audio make listening practise enjoyable
  • Great for practising listening comprehension
  • Encourages speaking aloud
  • All features available on desktop and mobile versions
  • Impressive language selection, including endangered languages

Cons

  • Oral- and listening-based structure doesn’t encourage literacy
  • Instruction is purely context- and syntax-based
  • One type of lesson plan: repetition
  • System glitches and mistranslations interrupt the learning process
  • No mobile app; mobile learning requires using your smartphone’s browser

Are There Any Glossika Alternatives?

Glossika vs. Pimsleur

Glossika and Pimsleur both predominantly teach you in audio format, and both programmes rely heavily on listen-and-repeat curriculums. Where Glossika lacks, however, is in context. Pimsleur’s materials create a cohesive context from which to learn conversational skills compared to Glossika’s random collection of phrases. Pimsleur’s long history has earned it a solid reputation for a reason!

Discover the ins and outs of the software in our Pimsleur review.

Glossika vs. DuoLingo

When pitted against each other, the structure of Glossika and Duolingo couldn’t be more different. However, Duolingo is a free alternative that provides a more well-rounded foundation of a language to build upon than Glossika. Its gamification of learning certainly makes completing your lessons every day much more enjoyable. 

Learn more about DuoLingo by checking out our review here.

Glossika vs. Rosetta Stone

Both Glossika and Rosetta Stone aim to teach you the target language by way of syntax and inference. Both programmes encourage learning by way of extended repetition. Where Rosetta Stone differs, though, is in its emphasis on instruction in only your target language. 

Our ultimate review of Rosetta Stone can tell you more.

A Round-Up of Our Glossika Review

Glossika is a decent supplementary tool for gaining confidence in speaking aloud and practising listening comprehension. However, there are other products that do the same job and better. Unfortunately, Glossika suffers from a glitchy system, curriculum quality issues, and an aversion to literacy. We can’t justify the hefty price tag for a sub-par “supplementary tool.”

We can give Glossika two stars, though, and that’s for the commitment to preserving endangered languages and it's quality audio material.

Our recommendation? Give this product a pass.