We strive to provide as much phonetic detail as we can in our IPA transcriptions, but this is not always possible with every language.
As there are different ways to write IPA, our books will also let you know whether it’s an underlying pronunciation (phonemic) with these symbols: / /, or if it’s a surface pronunciation (phonetic) with these symbols: [ ].
IPA is the most scientific and precise way to represent the sounds of foreign languages. Including IPA in language training guides is taking a step away from previous decades of language publishing. We embrace the knowledge now available to everybody via online resources like Wikipedia which allow anybody to learn the IPA: something that could not be done before without attending university classes.
The Mass Sentence Method
When learning a foreign language it’s best to use full sentences for a number of reasons:
Pronunciation—In languages like English, our words undergo a lot of pronunciation and intonation changes when words get strung together in sentences which has been well analyzed in linguistics. Likewise it is true with languages like Chinese where the pronunciations and tones from individual words change once they appear in a sentence. By following the intonation and prosody of a native speaker saying a whole sentence, it’s much easier to learn rather than trying to say string each word together individually.
Syntax—the order of words, will be different than your own language. Human thought usually occurs in complete ideas. Every society has developed a way to express those ideas linearly by first saying what happened (the verb), or by first saying who did it (the agent), etc. Paying attention to this will accustom us to the way others speak.
Vocabulary—the meanings of words, never have just one meaning, and their usage is always different. You always have to learn words in context and which words they’re paired with. These are called collocations. To “commit a crime” and to “commit to a relationship” use two different verbs in most other languages. Never assume that learning “commit” by itself will give you the answer. After a lifetime in lexicography, Patrick Hanks “reached the alarming conclusion that words don’t have meaning,” but rather that “definitions listed in dictionaries can be regarded as presenting meaning potentials rather than meanings as such.” This is why collocations are so important.
Grammar—the changes or morphology in words are always in flux. Memorizing rules will not help you achieve fluency. You have to experience them as a native speaker says them, repeat them as a native speaker would, and through mass amount of practice come to an innate understanding of the inner workings of a language’s morphology. Most native speakers can’t explain their own grammar. It just happens.
How to Use GMS and GSR
The best way to use GMS is to find a certain time of day that works best for you where you can concentrate. It doesn’t have to be a lot of time, maybe just 30 minutes at most is fine. If you have more time, even better. Then schedule that time to be your study time every day.
Try to tackle anywhere from 20 to 100 sentences per day in the GMS. Do what you’re comfortable with.
Review the first 50 sentences in the book to get an idea of what will be said. Then listen to the A files. If you can, try to write all the sentences down from the files as dictation without looking at the text. This will force you to differentiate all the sounds of the language. If you don’t like using the A files, you can switch to the C files which only have the target language.
After dictation, check your work for any mistakes. These mistakes should tell you a lot that you will improve on the next day.
Go through the files once again, repeating all the sentences. Then record yourself saying all the sentences. Ideally, you should record these sentences four to five days in a row in order to become very familiar with them.
All of the activities above may take more than one day or one setting, so go at the pace that feels comfortable for you.
If this schedule is too difficult to adhere to, or you find that dictation and recording is too much, then take a more relaxed approach with the GSR files. The GSR files in most cases are shorter than twenty minutes, some go over due to the length of the sentences. But this is the perfect attention span that most people have anyway. By the end of the GSR files you should feel pretty tired, especially if you’re trying to repeat everything.
The GSR files are numbered from Day 1 to Day 100. Just do one every day, as all the five days of review sentences are built in. It’s that simple! Good luck.
Sentence mining can be a fun activity where you find sentences that you like or feel useful in the language you’re learning. We suggest keeping your list of sentences in a spreadsheet that you can re-order how you wish.
It’s always a good idea to keep a list of all the sentences you’re learning or mastering. They not only encompass a lot of vocabulary and their actual usage, or “collocations”, but they give you a framework for speaking the language. It’s also fun to keep track of your progress and see the number of sentences increasing.
Based on many tests we’ve conducted, we’ve found that students can reach a good level of fluency with only a small number of sentences. For example, with just 3000 sentences, each trained 10 times over a period of 5 days, for a total of 30,000 sentences (repetitions), can make a difference between a completely mute person who is shy and unsure how to speak and a talkative person who wants to talk about everything. More importantly, the reps empower you to become a stronger speaker.
The sentences we have included in our Glossika courses have been carefully selected to give you a wide range of expression. The sentences in our fluency modules target the kinds of conversations that you have discussing day-to-day activities, the bulk of what makes up our real-life conversations with friends and family. For some people these sentences may feel really boring, but these sentences are carefully selected to represent an array of discussing events that occur in the past, the present and the future, and whether those actions are continuous or not, even in languages where such grammar is not explicitly marked—especially in these languages as you need to know how to convey your thoughts. The sentences are transparent enough that they give you the tools to go and create dozens of more sentences based on the models we give you.
As you work your way through our Fluency Series the sentences will cover all aspects of grammar without actually teaching you grammar. You’ll find most of the patterns used in all the tenses and aspects, passive and active (or ergative as is the case in some languages we’re developing), indirect speech, and finally describing events as if to a policeman. The sentences also present some transformational patterns you can look out for. Sometimes we have more than one way to say something in our own language, but maybe only one in a foreign language. And the opposite is true where we may only have one way to say something whereas a foreign language may have many.