I’ve done plenty of language learning posts in the past. This time around I want to just give a quick shout out to a small company based out of Taiwan, called Glossika, that I’ve started using to try to get my Japanese pronunciation and speaking skills up to scratch.
When most people study a language they tend to go one of two ways:
- They buy a popular textbook and slowly work their way through the chapters, painstakingly learning the grammar rules of their target language and practicing lists of vocabulary; or
- they buy a set of audio guides and repeat sentences after a native speaker.
Now there are a couple of problems I have with both of these options. The first option is going to be much more focused on grammar and writing with only a little bit of actual speaking thrown in if you’re lucky. After working your way through the textbook you might have a good knowledge of the language’s rules but you’ll struggle to put that into practice when it comes to actually speaking and listening.
The second option is only really good if you don’t mind being functionally illiterate when it comes to reading and writing. Also, depending on the quality of the recording you might end up with a strange accent or unnaturally slow pronunciation.
For myself I’ve found that the best way to learn is to use a combination of both methods so that I can speak and listen easily and understand the underlying grammar and writing systems.
So what about Glossika the? Well Glossika, simply put, combines the shadowing and drilling aspects of audio recordings with the spaced repetition systems (SRS) that are used to remember grammar points. When you order a course from Glossika you can down several hundred sentences split across a series of GMS and GSR labeled files. GMS being Glossika Mass Sentences, and GSR being Glossika Spaced Repetition. The GMS sentences are targeted towards people willing to sink in a lot of time to learn the language more intensively, while the GSR sentences are for those of us with less free time to dedicate to learning a language.
You also get several books (either physical or electronic depending on which package you buy) that contain all the sentences in roman letters, the local writing system and IPA to help you learn the correct pronunciation.
The only downside of the system is that it if you’re a complete beginner you might feel a bit overwhelmed when you see hundreds of audio files just sitting there with very little handholding on the best way to approach them. Luckily the folks at Glossika have recently released a series of study schedules laying out several ways of studying with day by day breakdowns that run from 4 months of intensive studying, to 9 months of a more relaxed approach.
I’ve also found that in the course I’m studying, Japanese Fluency 123, there are several discrepancies between the printed book I have and the audio recording. In cases like that I’ve found that they are very helpful and willing to make corrections if you contact them.
While using shadowing techniques such as Glossika can be extremely tough in the beginning, I’ve found that after a short while you slowly begin to notice that your rhythm and intonation becomes better and better. For those of you looking at starting on a language, either casually or more seriously, you can’t do much better than checking out one of the many course on offer at Glossika!
Also published on Medium.