Pimsleur Language Courses – How good (or bad) are they, really?

First off, I don’t want to offend anyone who likes the Pimsleur programs and I would really like you to keep reading with an open mind and I think you’ll agree with virtually everything I have to say.

Clearly, the Pimsleur Language Courses have some very good features but from a student’s perspective, I still find them lacking in many ways.

One, I want the text.  Learning to read a new language is just as important as learning to understand it in spoken form and I really don’t understand at all, why you wouldn’t begin both at the same time.  More on this later.

Two, I want to be in control to go at my own pace, and I don’t want to spend time listening to a bunch of English.

Those are my main 2 criticisms, so now let’s look at the course in more detail.

Here’s some typical literature about Pimsleur Language Courses and I’ll make comments as we go.

Why Pimsleur?
Pimsleur Language Courses are audio courses. Since there are no books included, the Pimsleur courses are great way to learn while driving, exercising, etc.

A complete course can easily have a suite of audio material that’s even much more extensive and complete than Pimsleur’s.  Why not include soundtracks from movies?  Music with lyrics to learn while not driving then you can sing along while driving. Radio interviews, programs, etc.  Much better, right?

The Pimsleur language courses teach you to both speak and understand a new language. You’re not just learning “phrases” with the Pimsleur method, you’re acquiring essential, conversational language skills! You’ll be thrilled to discover you can hold real conversations in your new language when you have finished the course.

Uh, well, that is the point of learning a language isn’t it, so you can have a real conversation! It’s sadly true that most programs, especially those in schools and universities don’t provide students with the ability to communicate in the language.

Dr. Paul Pimsleur’s original and unique method enables you to acquire new language ability as effortlessly as children absorb their native language. You will succeed because the Pimsleur program makes sure that you learn vocabulary and grammar correctly and easily in conversational settings without mindless repetition. Pimsleur is the only language program that includes exclusive, copyrighted memory training that ensures you will always remember what you have learned.

Let’s be honest, these claims of “learn as effortlessly as a child learning your native language” are completely ridiculous.  There’s an element of truth, but I for sure don’t want to be completed immersed in a language and wait more than a year before I can say ‘Mama’.  There are many programs making similar claims but when you really look at the programs closely, none of them, including Pimsleur, are delivering what’s really needed and wanted by virtually ALL the students.

…sorry I have to run now, but will continue this soon. 🙂

For some samples of Pimsleur Russian along with the text that they don’t provide, please visit: Text for Pimsleur Russian


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