Pimsleur Language Software Review
Pimsleur is a language course developed by Dr. Paul Pimsleur a recognized expert in the field of linguistics and founding member of the American Council of the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL). It offers more than 50 languages which utilizes the “Pimsleur” way. They claim that “30 minutes a day” is all it takes to learn a new language. The program is primarily audio-based and users are advised to listen to these daily lessons which make up a complete course. There are 30 daily lessons per level and up to 5 levels in a complete course.
The program is audio based and comes with books and audio CDs or as a digital download with app. Expect nothing spectacular here. If you’re a visual learner, an enhanced version of Pimsleur with interactive components is available called Pimsleur Unlimited. This enhanced version is currently available for top languages only (Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Mandarin, and Russian.)
- MP3 (Levels 1 to 5 - 150 thirty-minute lessons with reading 80 hrs)
- CD (Levels 1 to 5 - 150 thirty-minute lessons with reading 80 hrs)
- Software (Levels 1 to 4 – 120 thirty-minute audio lessons, 1200 flash cards, 120 Speak Easy conversations, and 1200 quick matches.) (note: Level 5s to be released November 2016.)
How does it work?
Pimsleur is based on four key principles developed by Dr. Pimsleur. It focuses on organic learning and how children acquire their communication skills. He developed a method of organizing materials of a language so it can be taught as a steady stream of speech to enter the student’s consciousness and absorbed by the brain.
Graduated Interval Recall
One of the most important aspects of learning a new language is to build your vocabulary. This is done by constantly memorizing new words in order to create phrases or sentences. Other languages such as Rosetta or Fluenz achieve this by correlating pictures with words but Pimsleur does this through a series of audio tracks.
New words are introduced gradually with increasing “intervals” to help them remember words longer that the previous time. This is done through a pre-determined interval to move these words from your short-term to permanent memory.
Principle of Anticipation
Communication is enabled through automatic responses in the brain. Pimsleur tries to build these reactions making responses automatic. New brain connections are made through exercises. Learning is made through understanding, pausing for a response and reinforcing correct responses. This is done repeatedly until correct responses are given automatically.
Pimsleur builds your vocabulary by introducing a set number of words within a pre-determined time. This steady stream of words is stored and reinforced to build a student’s core vocabulary. But words are carefully chosen, those which are determined to be most useful for communicating effectively. It does not try to force a huge number of words which only serves to frustrate a student.
Pimsleur does not put emphasis on the amount of time needed to learn a course. It is designed to work at a pace that a student is most comfortable with. This they believe gives the brain the time it needs to digest the information and create a working vocabulary.
Pimsleur brings about teaching by presenting each lesson in a conversational manner. It does not provide a set path for learning. Instead it allows the student to formulate their own strategy based on how they interact in the conversation. Conversations are designed to help the student learn proper pronunciation and formulate responses automatically.
- Graduated Interval Recall - Build your memory
- Principle of Anticipation - automatic brain response
- Core Vocabulary - focused learning, limits on how much you learn at a given time
- Organic Learning - language is learned in a highly personalized manner rather through a structured method
Pimsleur courses were traditionally based on lessons divided in 150 30-minute tracks. It was audio based, instructing students to take 150 30-min audio lessons daily. The Software comes with additional interactive tools to enhance the learning including more visual tools, review tools, access to Pimsleur Ambassador led live sessions, and cultural pointers. The complete course (Levels 1 to 5) in digital format (MP3) goes for $550, CDs at $1,190 and software for $450. We just can’t understand why packages in CD and MP3 format are priced so much higher compare to their software which was richer in terms of content. At $550 and $1,190, the MP3 and CD packages were too pricey. Their software package at $450 was also more expensive compared to more established language courses.
Pimsleur is a great way to start learning a new language. It is a nice way for students to grab their first bite. With 50 years of experience and 50 languages to teach, Pimsleur is one of the best language software in the market today.