With the internet making so many different cultures accessible, it is becoming increasingly important to be able to talk to people in their native tongue if you want to get ahead in business. Until recently, learning a new language has required years of dedicated study costing thousands of dollars. Now, there are many high tech methods for learning new languages. One of these new methods is the Pimsleur method. This entry will review how effective it is.
The Pimsleur method, also known as the Pimsleur Approach or Pimsleur Language Learning System, was developed by Paul Pimsleur nearly 50 years ago. It is an audio-based method for acquiring a new language through active participation. Pimsleur taught that there were four important principles in language recall and forming memory associations:
Anticipation – Pimsleur teaches a challenge and response method in which students are prompted to take a phrase and translate it into the new language. This is a more active way of learning, rather than simply repeating what an instructor says. Plus, this mirrors how one would talk in real life.
Graduated-interval recall – Over increasingly longer intervals, Pimsleur reviews different vocabulary. This is also a type of spaced repetition. This is meant to move any vocabulary words from short term memory to long term.
Core vocabulary – To build up the core vocabulary, the Pimsleur method focuses on basic words. Most of the words spoken in language are made up of a set of core words. This is why Pimsleur courses consist of about 500 words per a level. Grammar is learned through common phrases and patterns.
Organic learning – Auditory learning is the only focus of Pimsleur. Writing and reading is different from the auditory skills learned through speech and hearing. Auditory learning is organic and requires the learning of vocabulary, pronunciation, and grammar at the same time.
Top Features of Pimsleur
The Pimsleur method is available at pimsleur.com. There are about 50 different languages to choose from. Chances are if you want to learn it, they have it. I am just going to cover the features I enjoy the most using their software.
The audio courses do not give you much time to repeat or answer the phrases you are presented with. This was really helpful because the short time frame get you to focus harder and subsequently try harder, so you can get the answers right. This interactive aspect teaches the student to engage in active listening.
Your memory is reinforced by the occasional repetition of vocabulary and phrases you learned in previous lessons. This graduated-interval recall is quite effective in learning the languages.
For very long words, Pimsleur uses a unique way to remember them. The lessons will have you focus on the last syllable of the word then the penultimate syllable. Then, you will be asked to repeat the last syllable again. The lesson will do this until you have the full word. This particular technique is especially effective for languages such as German.
Many languages have different rhythms to how they are spoken. The Pimsleur audio learning series uses native speakers in all of the languages they offer. This gives you the opportunity to improve the rhythm of your sentences as well as the pronunciation. This is much more helpful than any program that just has writing and reading or that does not use native speakers.
Best of all, the techniques focus on helping you to become proficient in the languages and for it to feel natural to you. If you do not become proficient after going through the first 30 lessons of any language, then they will refund your money.
Pimsleur has different offerings for different languages. For the more popular languages, such as Italian, Spanish, French, or German, they offer three ways to access the lessons. And, the lessons are grouped into four levels of 30 lessons each. For less common languages, there are less formats and lessons available.
The least expensive and perhaps most convenient format is MP3 download. This costs about $450 for the four phases (120 lessons) of learning. There are 64 hours of audio, and you will be an expert at the language by the time you are done. You can also choose to do one phase (30 lessons) at a time for $119.95. Or, start with five lessons at $21.95.
You can order all 120 lessons on CD for $970 for many of the languages. Or, you can get one phase at a time on CD for $345 each. Finally, there are some languages that come on software that is shipped to you. This includes things like flash cards. Unfortunately, many of the languages do not have all four levels of learning on software. Three lessons are $350 total. One lesson is about $150 each.
The Downsides of Using Pimsleur
As I just mentioned, it is unfortunate that you cannot get all four lessons for some of the languages on software. I ended up having to get the fourth lesson for Italian on MP3. Other than that, everything was very easy to use.
Pimsleur Customer Service
Pimsleur has been so successful for so long because they yearn to make their customers happy. There is an extensive FAQ and an on-line form you can fill out for questions. Also, they are available 24 hours per day, seven days a week to take your call. I know this because I tested it out late at night on the weekend. I was greeted by a friendly and knowledgeable representative, who was able to help me out.
The Pimsleur method is a tried and tested method that has been in use for over fifty years. That said, in my personal experience, I can see why it has been so successful. At first it was kind of hard for me to catch on, but as I stuck with it, it was amazing how quickly I was able to learn languages. I strongly recommend this to anyone because learning a new language is what keeps your brain from deteriorating in old age. Protect your brain: Pick up Pimsleur today.