This is the first post in a new experiment of mine: learning multiple languages simultaneously, primarily through Glossika.

Quick background on me:

After a rather pitiful attempt at learning Japanese in middle school and early highschool, I stumbled across Tengwar, one of Tolkien’s elvish writing systems, and thought it was beautiful and creative. But, there were a bunch of symbols in the article I was reading about it to describe the sounds: the IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet). I had to look up some info on this method of describing the sounds of human languages, which ended up getting me hooked on linguistics.

Over the 12 years since this, I got a degree in linguistics from Indiana University, where I also studied Russian and Finnish in depth. I’ve also toyed with a number of other languages in varying depths and now have at least a very low level of reading ability in at least 15 languages, and a limited speaking ability in about 6 of these.

I enjoy learning languages, but have always focused more on the reading aspect than the speaking, which is why I was interested when I heard about Glossika, a language learning method that heavily emphasizes speaking. An interesting twist to Glossika, is that they have “triangulation” courses, where you can build a unique course that combines their 123 fluency packages from up to 4 languages for you to learn simultaneously: the goal being that the different languages will help you “triangulate” your learning, i.e. reinforce what you’re learning between languages.

The experiment:

I couldn’t find any reviews online of people who have actually given the triangulation feature of Glossika a shot. There are a couple good reviews of the single language version of Glossika (such as: Lingholic, Rhapsody in Lingo, and How to Learn Spanish Online), and many of them mention the fact that Glossika has these multi-language learning courses, but no one seems to have actually tried it and reviewed it.

So theoretically, this will be a couple month long journey, where I detail what I think about using Glossika to learn 4 languages simultaneously. Along the way, I’ll also detail what I’m doing to supplement Glossika in learning these languages.

The 4 languages I chose are: (Mexican) Spanish, Italian, (Mainland) Mandarin Chinese, and (Hong Kong) Cantonese Chinese. So we have 2 pairs of closely related languages, where the pairs of related languages couldn’t be further apart from each other.

Spanish & Italian

These two languages I have the most experience with out of the 4. My only formal experience studying either of these was about 6 weeks of Spanish class during my undergrad, before dropping out of the class. Since then I’ve studied both a bit more and can manage very basic conversations in either and can read books in both with a lot of help from a dictionary.

For Italian, I’ve already completed Fluent Forever’s pronunciation trainer and memorized that same site’s 625 must know words using Anki. I probably have an active vocabulary of about 1,250 words and a passive vocabulary of 2,000.

For Spanish, I’ve just started Fluent Forever’s pronunciation trainer for Latin American Spanish. I plan on shortly starting to work my way through their 625 words from the “The Most Awesome Word Lists You Have Ever Seen”. But that may end up being skipped depending on how the Glossika course goes. I probably have an active vocabulary of around 800 words and a passive of well over 2,000.

Mandarin & Cantonese

This pair of languages I’m significantly less familiar with. I started studying some Mandarin a little over a year ago, and I’ve never studied Cantonese at all.

For Mandarin, I’ve also already completed Fluent Forever’s pronunciation trainer, which helped give me a pretty good grasp of it’s tones and differentiating between some of the more difficult consonants. I’ve also studied a number of the HSK vocab words up through level 3 via Anki. This has gotten me to a level where I can say very basic sentences and maybe understand a few spoken words, but only if their very clearly spoken and there’s not a lot of background noise.

Cantonese, I’ve literally never studied in any way shape or form. I chose it, because I’ve enjoyed Mandarin and there’s a very large number of Cantonese speakers where I live (the peninsula south of San Francisco). I wanted to include at least 1 language that I’ve never studied, to see how much Glossika differs if you have 0 experience in a language. Yesterday, I started doing Fluent Forever’s pronunciation trainer for Cantonese and hope that this will help cement Cantonese’s 6 tones into my brain like it did with Mandarin’s 4, but that’s currently the only other supplement to Glossika I have for Cantonese.

Glossika is still building my custom course, so I will start actually doing this once I receive it. Expect the next post soon!