Like other education platforms, Pimsleur Language Programs is also an online education forum created to let people learn languages from anywhere and anytime.
Learning a new language is always exciting. Whether you’re learning it for your career expansion or your personal development, studying a new language helps in many ways, like improving brain functions and memory, increasing cultural awareness, etc.
There are a number of online educational platforms and learning styles today, like US-based UTI Keyboard, Coursera, Kinesthetic Learning Style, Pimsleur language program, etc., providing courses in different genres.
So, in this article, we will be analyzing if Pimsleur is good for learners or not and if the Pimsleur approach to learning a new language is effective, along with providing you with an impartial Pimsleur review.
A Brief History of Paul Pimsleur & The Pimsleur Language Program
Before talking about the Pimsleur approach and Pimsleur language programs, let’s know about the father of The Pimsleur Method, Dr. Paul Pimsleur.
“Practically everybody believes that learning must build up gradually from the simple to the complex… My principle is this: Learn the hardest thing first, and the rest will then seem easy.” – Dr. Paul Pimsleur.
Born on October 17, 1927, in New York, United States, Dr. Paul Pimsleur was a scholar in the field of applied linguistics and was a French-American linguist. In his career, Dr. Paul wrote numerous books on language acquisition and applied linguistics.
In 1963 Dr. Paul wrote the Pimsleur Language Program, the earlier editions of the program were recorded on cassette tapes or printed as books. The online digital editions of the language course started in 2005.
The originally written courses by Dr. Paul Pimsleur were Speak & Read Essential Greek (1963), Speak & Read Essential French (1964), Speak & Read Essential Spanish (1966), German Compact (1967), and Twi developed for the Peace Corps (1971).
The program initially was a failed attempt, after which Charles Heinle in 1974, bought the rights of the program and set up Heinle & Heinle Enterprise. He then opened the cassette learning centers in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in the 1980s. Users were requested to sit and experience “The Pimsleur Tape”.
Before selling the Pimsleur program to Simon & Schuster in 1997, Heinle & Heinle enterprise added 27 more languages to the program. After the acquisition, Simon & Schuster also added 27 languages.
The Pimsleur Language Program offers 59 languages and over 200 courses at present. The courses are available as digital audio downloads, CDs, books, and a few selected courses are also available in interactive software format.
In June 1976, at the age of 49, Dr. Paul died of a heart attack unexpectedly during his visit to Paris, France. Dr. Paul Pimsleur was also a member of the American Council on the Teachings of Foreign Languages (ACTFL), and since 1977, an annual award of ACTFL has been named after Dr. Paul Pimsleur.
Read more to know Dr. Paul Pimsleur’s Principles for Language.
How Does the Pimsleur Program Work?
Pimsleur language program works on a different approach. It doesn’t only provide some audio lessons but also Flashcards, quick matches, Speakeasy, and Speed Round features (comes only in premium subscriptions) to keep the learners engaged in a different set of activities without getting bored.
In each language course, you will be provided with at least 30 core lessons, though the number of lessons can be more for some specific language courses according to their complexity. With each lesson completed, you’ll get a badge of skills.
You will also be awarded rewards for your extraordinary performance-
- Pimsleur’s skill badges are divided into sections, so when you earn a particular badge from a lesson, you would precisely know in what exact field you’re doing well.
- Flashcards and bonus cards play a vital role in this language course. Flashcards are basically words or sentences in the voice of that particular language’s native speaker; you can keep these cards saved for your future reference and learning.
However, bonus cards are a little different from Flashcards, as Flashcards include words already covered in the lessons, and bonus cards contain new words not included in the lessons. Bonus cards are usually unlocked when you achieve badges on completing lessons.
Quick matches are a fun way included in the courses to make the learner memorize words more effectively.
Quick Match also has a feature of audio listening. You can not only read the phrases but also listen to them to know the exact pronunciation.
Speakeasy and Speed Round are also some good features of Pimsleur’s program which provide the same learning benefits to the students.
Pimsleur language program provides lesson downloading features for offline learning too. Now, let’s take a look at the list of the language courses the Pimsleur Program offers.
List of Languages Pimsleur Program Offer
Pimsleur language program provides a total of 50 language courses, quite like the Orton Gillingham Reading Program, the available languages on Pimsleur are listed below –
|4||Arabic (Modern Standard)||29||Lithuanian|
|14||Farsi Persian||39||Spanish (Latin America)|
Along with that, there are English courses available only for some specific language speakers; find out the list below –
|1||English for Spanish Speakers|
|2||English for Mandarin Chinese Speakers|
|3||English for Russian Speakers|
|4||English for Portuguese Speakers|
|5||English for Italian Speakers|
|6||English for Arabic Speakers|
|7||English for French Speakers|
|8||English for Vietnamese Speakers|
|9||English for Farsi Persian Speakers|
|10||English for Korean Speakers|
|11||English for Cantonese Chinese Speakers|
|12||English for Haitian Speakers|
|13||English for German Speakers|
|14||English for Hindi Speakers|
The Pimsleur language program provides these language courses at present. All the courses are fully audio-based, divided into approx 30 units, each one containing approx 30 lessons of 30 minutes.
Pimsleur Language Program Subscription Plans
Pimsleur Language Program is available in both CD and digital form. The Pimsleur program works on two payment models, either you purchase a course and get lifetime access to your lessons or subscribe to a course on a monthly basis.
Pimsleur subscription basic plans start with an audio single language subscription at $99.95/month, to the premium courses ranging at $506/per month.
When you purchase a course, you can share it with your 3 family members with unlimited device access. But the purchasing plans might be a bit costly.
One good thing about this program is you can take a 7-day free trial on all the subscription plans. So, before committing to a plan, you can try them all one by one and then choose the suitable one for you.
If you are also planning to buy a language program for yourself, first, take a look at the advantages and disadvantages related to it.
Pros and Cons of Pimsleur Courses
There are always two sides to the coin. The Pimsleur approach is indeed a different way of learning a new language, while for some, it is good, and for some, it is not. Let’s take a look at both sides.
User Friendly – Pimsleur program app is convenient and easy to use. The app uses a simple language and is easy to understand and access.
Practical Language – Based on their ‘core vocabulary’ principle, the program teaches more of the practical language which is required in day-to-day conversation, rather than teaching the whole vocabulary, which might confuse and discourage the learner.
Listening System – The listening and learning concept helps the learners remember the words or sentences for a long time. Listening to the lessons in spite of reading them can make a big difference.
Participation – Buzz sessions like Quick Match, Speed Round, etc. helps learners to get motivated by participating. Interactive games like these help in boosting the confidence of the participants.
No Writing – The biggest disadvantage of this course would be the no-writing session. The lack of no-written and almost no reading material can be a reason why many people will not prefer this program.
No Grammar Lessons – There are no lessons given in the program specially dedicated to the grammar of that particular language as it is difficult to just memorize the words and sentences without understanding the grammar.
Limited Vocabulary – The word dictionary in the program is limited. The Pimsleur approach is based on core vocabulary, which means they teach the words they think are important for communication.
Overpriced – We can’t say it’s affordable for everyone. The program might be a bit expensive, as their basic plans start from $99/per month, and the costliest plans are available for $150 and more.
Before concluding whether you want to go for these lessons or not, compare the pros and cons according to your needs.
The Pimsleur Method Vs Other Language Programs
There are other language programs available in the market as well, having different learning approaches. So, we will be comparing the Pimsleur method with some of the other language programs to make you understand better about your needs.
- The Pimsleur Method Vs Olly Richards
Olly Richards is a blogger and podcaster who writes story-based language learning books. He believes that interesting stories which learners would want to read can be an unbeatable source of continuous learning in the language. While the Pimsleur methods are less relevant to real-time situations.
- The Pimsleur Method Vs Fluent in 3 Months
Fluent in 3 Months is a language program based on learning materials that include modern situations-related phrases. While Pimsleur’s programs are dated and don’t fulfill today’s language necessities somehow.
- The Pimsleur Method Vs Rosetta Stone
Rosetta Stone is an equally popular language program as the Pimsleur’s. However, both are different in their learning styles. While the Pimsleur method focuses on audio learning, Rosetta Stone teaches languages from images.
Rosetta Stone doesn’t provide any translations in English or the preferred language, so it becomes difficult to just understand the image sometimes. While the Pimsleur provides proper translations.
- The Pimsleur Method Vs Duolingo
The Pimsleur method and Duolingo has so much in common. They both use auditory and fun-game approaches to make the learners engaged, and both offer multiple languages. However, you can get a free access to Duolingo, and for the Pimsleur program, you’ll need to purchase a subscription plan.
There are several language programs in the market today, and not just the language programs but also a lot of sources available on the internet today for learning new words and phrases. The Pimsleur method has cemented their old recorded programs, which might get obsolete with time. Hence, before signing up for any subscriptions, try their 7-day free trial program and decide if you really need it.
A Fair Pimsleur Review
Before analyzing the program, let’s have a look at these Pimsleur Reviews by Twitter users:
If you like to travel across countries and meet new people, Pimsleur is one of the best platforms for you to learn a language, as these courses are Universal designs for learning to make learners interact easily.
The subscription and purchasing plans are vast in options, so you can choose one according to your needs. Although the plans are a bit expensive, you can opt for a basic one.
If you are a student who’s planning to learn a new language for their career expansion, you’ll have to think a bit, as the platform doesn’t provide any writing materials for learning. Though you can also go for a 7-day free trial and make up your mind if you want to go along with it or not.
Enough about the working of the program do you know there were some specific and exceptional principles of Pimsleur that the platforms still work on? Well, if you didn’t, here is what they were.
Pimsleur’s Principles for Language
Dr. Paul Pimsleur stated four principles on which he created the language program. Pimsleur’s learning platform claims; It’s a scientifically proven set of principles designed to take a learner directly to the heart of the language, eliminating noise, confusion, and information overload. People all over the world are using Pimsleur programs to start speaking, understanding, and reading new languages quickly and easily. The four principles are:
- Graduated Interval Recall
This principle is the foundation of the whole Pimsleur language program. Dr. Paul believed that when a person learns a new word, that word should come into use more gradually and at more intervals of time. When the particular word becomes part of the person’s long-term memory, he/she will never forget it.
- Principle of Anticipation
Dr. Paul observed in his research that our brain is capable of processing speech and anticipating an accurate response. He created the language program in a way that the learner will be questioned at first, then at an interval of a few seconds, the correct answer will appear. This will increase understanding and activate new neural paths in the learner’s brain.
- Core Vocabulary
Dr. Paul knew that learning a huge vocabulary of a new language might be exhausting, and the learner may get discouraged. To find the solution to this problem, he asserted the theory of ‘Core Vocabulary’, in which only the main and most used words of a language are taught to the student. A limited number of words at a time are easy to learn and let the student internalize each word before moving on.
- Organic Learning
In a Pimsleur course, each word you learn will be in the context of a conversation. So that, when you communicate in that specific language, the words will be on the tip of your tongue, and you’ll never forget them.
These four principles of the Pimsleur approach make the Pimsleur languages program different from other basic language programs.
In conclusion, the Pimsleur approach is worth the hype. It is different from other education platforms and is effective and engaging. And lives up to its principles.
Ans: As their courses lack grammar learning and a wide vocabulary, it is not possible to become a fluent speaker; however, you can get a practical understanding of a native speaker.
Ans: Yes, English language courses are available for 14 different language speakers, like Hindi, Spanish, Russian, Italian, etc.
Ans: To learn a new language for free and in a fun way, Duolingo is the best option.