Pimsleur Review

(Photo by Austin Distel)

While we’re on the subject of translation, learning a language can be very hard (gee thanks, Captain Obvious).

But I get it.
There’s so much to learn, from rules and grammar to vocabulary and pronunciation. It’s a lot to take in.

And while there are plenty of language learning programs out there, it can be hard to figure out which one is the right one for you.

However, I hope to give you some idea of what each of the big-name programs are like, so that you can make an informed decision instead of buying willy-nilly and regretting your purchase.

Pimsleur is one of those programs that I will review. Now while I think it can be useful, I think its usefulness depends on what you’re looking for in a language learning program. But before we get to that, let’s take a look at the Pimsleur method.


So How Does Pimsleur Work?

Pimsleur courses are based on the Pimsleur method of learning languages, which was developed by… you guessed it… Dr. Paul Pimsleur.

It’s audio-based and relies on the immersion technique of teaching language.

If you don’t know what that means, remember learning your native language? It probably involved listening to your parents speak and imitating their words, right? Well, Pimsleur is based on that kind of technique of learning.

So How Is Pimsleur?

Not too long ago, I decided to take a look at the Pimsleur Korean audio CD’s to take a look at how their program was. I already know Korean obviously, but I wanted to see what their strengths and weaknesses were, especially if I already understood the language. I also took a look at the Spanish CD to see what it would be like to a person who didn’t have any prior experience with a language.

Popping in a couple of CD’s and listening to them, I found that an audio-only program can be very helpful with learning specific phrases and dipping your toe into foreign languages. What they basically do is play phrases and have you repeat them, which I think is a good way to start familiarizing yourself with these phrases. They teach using a method called “spaced repetition”. The basic idea behind this is they say a phrase and have you repeat it 15 seconds later. Then they have you repeat it 45 seconds later, a minute later, so forth and so on.

Listening to the Spanish CD’s, I actually managed to learn a few Spanish phrases fairly quickly. I’m by no means fluent, but I was definitely able to pick up a couple of sentences with ease after repeating them a few times (as the CD directed me to).

However, there are some things that prospective buyers should keep in mind.

1. These programs are usually audio-only. The program will NOT teach you how to read or write in foreign languages. So if you’re looking to learn the basics of speaking/understanding Korean, this can be helpful. But if you’re looking for something more, Pimsleur might not be right for you.

2.  The phrases that are taught are usually the formal versions of phrases. It might be a little awkward to use these phrases if you’re having a conversation with new friends or fellow students, for example, but could be really helpful if you’re on a business trip. This distinction is important to understand, especially with a language like Korean which has different versions of the same sentence for younger people and your elders. While it might be weird to talk to a younger person using formal tenses, it’s imperative to use formal tenses with your elders.

3. The lessons can be a little fast-paced. However, you’re more than welcome to rewind and replay a few parts if you don’t understand it at first.

4.  While they do talk about grammar, they don’t go into a lot of detail, so if you’re looking to intensively study another language, keep that in mind.

Pimsleur Review Conclusion

Overall, I really did enjoy the Pimsleur program. I even managed to learn a few Spanish phrases in the process of writing up this review! However, I would recommend this as a first-step towards learning a new language. If you are looking for something more intensive, I would recommend either a different program or pairing this with other courses (especially courses that teach you how to read and write in those languages, as being literate can really help). I would definitely recommend using Pimsleur programs when you’re going on a run, or a walk, or commuting on the train/bus.

If you’re interested in checking out Pimsleur products in the Korean language, here are some of my recommendations. The three below are parts of the first level of the Korean Pimsleur program. Check them out!