Actual Glossika Time

Along with several gigabytes of MP3s, when you download Glossika, you receive several PDFs, one of which contains several different schedules, including schedules for 30, 60, and 90 minutes of study per day. I chose to follow Glossika’s 60 minutes per day “Relaxed Training Schedule.”

I’m on week three of this schedule, and if I recall correctly, only the first day clocked in at an hour. Since then, almost every day’s MP3s have added up to about an hour and fifteen minutes. This isn’t a deal-breaker, but it is annoying. Just keep this in mind if you decide to commit to Glossika’s 60 minutes per day schedule: you’re actually in for about 75 minutes per day.

Also, I’m under the impression that Glossika no longer sells downloads and instead is a web-based subscription service that costs about $30/month. Along with the pricing model update, they may have updated the schedules so that their 60 minutes schedule is actually 60 minutes.



I just discovered Cooljugator, which is a site for conjugating verbs. Most important to me, you can search for a conjugated verb and it will show you the meaning behind the conjugation.

For example, here’s a screenshot of search results for the verb поможешь:


You can see from the screenshot that поможешь is a conjugated form of помочь, which means “you will help.”


I’ve been looking for something like this for a while. This site is incredibly helpful when making Anki flash cards from sentences (sentence mining).

Glossika: Two Weeks In

Since I started Glossika, two weeks or so ago, I’ve done an hour every day except for one or two days. I’m following Glossika’s 5 month/21 week schedule which has me doing half an hour of Glossika Mass Sentence (“GMS”) files and a half our of Glossika Spaced Repetition (“GSR”) files per day (four files total per day). I think that Glossika is working. At least I hope that it’s working: an hour a day for five months is a lot of time to waste if it ends up not working.

Using Glossika I’ve picked up more vocabulary and I’m getting a lot of experience listening and speaking at full speed. “At full speed” is one of my criticisms of Glossika, but I think that the speed of its recordings is probably one of the attributes that makes it successful (if it ends up being successful for me). Generally I can keep up with listening and repeating the GMS sentences at full speed, but sometimes, especially on the longer sentences, I just can’t keep up. I quickly mumble through them, making noises that somewhat sound like the actual sentence. When I encounter a long GMS sentence, I try to grab onto one or two specific words and focus on learning those. Over several days I’ll chip away on the longer sentences one or two words at a time.

An hour a day is a long time and some days I don’t have a complete hour to myself in the evening to do all four files. On these days, I try to do the first GSR file on the drive into work and the second GSR file during my lunch break. Then, at home, I’ll do both GMS files. This is the opposite of the way that Glossika recommends that you structure your sessions (they recommend GMS before GSR, if I recall correctly), but it fits my schedule better some days.

Glossika says that you shouldn’t rely on it alone for language learning progress, and that you should use it along with other methods. Unfortunately, since I’m spending an hour a day on Glossika, I don’t have much time for anything else. When I do have extra study time, I’ve been using LingQ. My Anki decks, however, are collecting dust. My hope is that in another four and a half months or so, when I complete this Glossika schedule, I will have made significant progress, and neglecting Anki won’t have negatively impacted my progress more than my time with Glossika has benefited it.

Early January Update

It’s been over a month since my last post. It’s been a busy past month:

  • My wife and I went on our Honeymoon
  • We celebrated Christmas
  • Lots of Christmas-related Travel
  • Lots of New Year-related work activities

For the most part I’ve kept up with my flash cards, even sporadically during my week and a half Honeymoon.

I completed Pimsleur Russian II and since then, I sunk a few hours into copying a transcript that I found of Pimsleur Russian III into a new Anki deck and sentence-mining it with cloze deletions. Cloze deletions are seriously the best thing that I’ve discovered recently.

Today, this hour (just a few minutes ago), I started dusting off my Glossika files, and organizing them into week and day-based playlists in iTunes. I bought a new personal computer (“new to me”—a late 2012 model) with enough disk space to allow me to extract all of the Glossika files. My work computer, with dozens of Docker images, checked-out repos, and everything else, was majorly cramped for space.

Side-note: the five year old Mac Mini that I bought has the exact same CPU specs as the Mini’s being sold brand new by Apple (which is a shame). The only difference is that the memory is upgradable. Upon receiving my Mini I promptly upgraded its RAM (which I already had from a previous MacBook Pro), and installed an SSD. I have to imagine that this puts it on par with a brand new Mini, except that I paid a few hundred dollars less, and it has space available to add a second hard drive if I want.

Since making the Pimsleur III flash cards, I’ve stopped studying my vocab deck. However, I think that I’m going to bail on the Pimsleur cards, or at least, I’m not going to make any more after I learn all of the ones I’ve already made (up through lesson 8, I believe).

I think that for the next few months I’m going to dedicate all of my language learning efforts on using Glossika and LingQ reading.

Stats for This Week

Assuming that I didn’t forget to log something, these are my stats for this past week, including Today:

Pimsleur minutes practiced: 280. I completed lessons 2-26, 2-27, 2-28, and 2-29. I might do the second half of 2-29 once more before moving onto 2-30.

Anki vocabulary flashcards practiced: 625.

Anki grammar flashcards practiced: somewhere between 10 and 30.

My record keeping for Anki grammar cards wasn’t that great. Also I didn’t really spend a lot of time on grammar review this week. And I know that Anki keeps its own stats, so I should probably familiarize myself with that.

I’m coming up on completing Pimsleur II and I’m still undecided about whether I should switch it up and give Glossika a try for the next several months or if I should spring for Pimsleur III. I bought Glossika some time ago and it’s just collecting dust in iTunes, as it were. I really do like Pimsleur: it’s possible to practice in the car (I don’t think that Glossika is as good a fit for this) and I get a lot of enjoyment out of leveling-up to each subsequent Pimsleur lesson.


I’ve been trying something new this week: LingQ. It’s $10/month and so far I think that it’s worth it, assuming that I’m actually learning and not just fooling myself into thinking that I’m learning. The way that LingQ works, in brief, is that it gives you lessons in the form of short stories. As you read the stories, you click to identify words that you already know or you click to learn the definitions of words that you don’t know. The status of these words, whether you know them or have seen them before, is conveyed as a highlight or lack of highlight on the words when they reappear subsequently in the story. After you read through a section of a lesson, it presents some of the words to you as flashcards to test your comprehension. I’m sure that there are manyof other features in the service but this is only what I’ve used so far.

I’m currently working through a story about a man and a woman who meet and decide to go on a date. I feel like I’m actually reading and understanding the story, which is giving me a big sense of accomplishment. But am I retaining these new words that I’m encountering? Time will tell.

The company’s founder, Steve Kaufmann, has a channel on YouTube where he talks about language learning, and it’s watching his videos that convinced me to give it a try. Specifically, his video about vocabulary building vs. vocabulary memorizing.

Anyway, so far I’m liking the service. Their iPhone app is good, which is how I’m using it. I’ll update later on whether I continue to find it useful.



First post

I started teaching myself Russian almost a year ago, with various amounts of dedication along the way. Most days I’ve been able to put in 30 minutes of learning (counting listening to Pimsleur in the car) but it’s been slow going. So far this has been my general strategy for learning Russian:

  • Pimsleur in the car to work and back (15 minutes each way).
  • Additionally, one Pimsleur lesson in the evening, since for obvious reasons I can’t give 100% dedicated focus to the lesson while listening in the car. The lesson in the evening will most likely be a review of the lesson I heard earlier in the car. Often I’ll repeat a lesson between three and five times before I advance to the next. I like Pimsleur, and I think it’s worth the time (and the money), but it is slow. Whether or not I could learn the material faster using another course or tool, I don’t know.
  • Reading and re-reading chapters from New Penguin Russian Course (NPRC).
  • A custom Anki deck of vocab that I’ve collected from various sources:
    • The Fluent Forever wordlist in English which I translate to Russian, 10 words at a time or so.
    • Chapter vocabulary from NPRC.
  • A custom Anki deck of grammar rules and example sentences pulled from NRPC (this is a recent addition to my repertoire, as I’ve started giving more time to the NRPC in general).

Over the past almost year I’ve tried a few other tools as well, with varying success:

  1. DuoLingo. I used this right at the very beginning and I don’t remember how far into its courses I got before I stopped using it. I didn’t find its lessons very relevant to what I wanted to learn (too many odd sentences about birds if I recall). I liked that I could enter my own words into Anki, based on frequency lists, and this appealed to me more than DuoLingo.
  2. Memrise. I like this app (I even paid for the upgrade) but I grew tired of having to type my answers. I care more about understanding words and speaking them than I do about knowing how to spell them properly. Maybe this is short-sighted, but I feel like learning how to correctly spell each word that I learn isn’t a good use of my time right now.
  3. HelloTalk. I really like this app and use it occasionally. As my skills increase I intend to be more active on it.
  4. iTalki lessons. I did one free lesson to evaluate a teacher but that’s all. A few times I’ve considered buying a package of lessons after I finish Pimsleur unit 2.
  5. iTalki language exchange partner. I connected with a person in Ukraine who was learning to speak English. His English was quite good, and my Russian extremely poor, so our conversations were very lopsided (about 95% English). This wasn’t very useful for me, and in general I think I just plain know too little Russian to be able to get much use out of conversations.
  6. Glossika. I bought Glossika after I finished Pimsleur unit 1, before I realized that there was a Pimsleur unit 2 or 3 (how I completely missed this on Amazon I don’t know). Once I complete Pimsleur unit 2, which shouldn’t be long from now, I may dive in to Glossika. Glossika comes very highly recommended by a friend who is learning Spanish, which is why I bought it in the first place.