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The pimsleur method // What do you think about it?


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The so called "Pimsleur Method"

When it comes to language, there are a lot of different study methods (approach). Not so long ago I stumbled upon the so called "Pimsleur method". I did some research on this and after all, I am quite skeptical abut the success of this method. Why? Let me explain...

In my opionion, grammar (structures) are a crucial aspect in understanding a language. At some point, you will need to know the specific grammar rules about a language if you want to further improve your skills or just simply want to be able to understand why something is said or written in a certain/specific way.

The pimsleur method is widespread amongst language learners of German, French, Italian, English and Spanish. Moreover it is also used for asian languages like Japanese and Chinese.  I am studying Chinese myself (since 5 years) and especially with this kind of language I  really doubt about the success of the pimsleur method. why ? well, because in Chinese I think it is really important that you study  speaking (oral communication) and writing at the same time. The study of characters gives you a feeling about the language and lets you understand the culture and the etymology of the language  very well.  In terms of grammar, it might be ok for learners of Chinese to study it thoroughly at a later point, as it is not very complex compared to other languages’ grammar. ( for instance German ^^)

So may I ask you about your experience with the Pimsleur method ? I am curious to hear more about it. Positive or negative, it doesn’t matter. :=) Share your experience with the pimsleur method, please.

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I have used the pimsleur method before and didn't really like it. My four year old is learning a couple of languages right now and the way she is being taught is similar but she is grasping it so much better than I did. I think you are right about the way the pimsleur approach goes about teaching us, as adults we try to overthink things, but children do not so they will have better success in less time.

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Well I've read few reviews and it seems the method has been around for along time so it must work. I've never used it but it seems to use the repetition method of getting a language to stick in your head. This to me is the most natural way of learning as this is how we do it as children when learning to speak so I would guess that its successful if you stick to it. Whether the 'quick fix' generation of today who prefer to buy into the "speak a new language in 24 hours" hype would cope with it is a different matter.

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I don't really believe in the Pimsleur method. There are several flaws that let me question the method as a whole:

- Simple repetition of words and sentences doesn't help you to memorize and save it in the long time memory, at least not for me

- Without any knowledge of grammar I doubt that you will become fluent in a foreign language

- I prefer written documents/books for language learning

- Last but not least there are a lot of free materials on the web. Why would I pay for it?

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  • 2 weeks later...

I've never used it but in theory it sound good. Some people don't like the idea of not learning grammar but I think that it's good. Grammar is a fine detail which I would reserve for the experienced speakers, if you just want to learn to speak the language at a basic level then you can totally forget the grammar and learn conversational phrases.

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I'm on the fence with this. It depends on what your goals are. If you want to start with the basics of a learning a language, for example you want to go on holiday and just want to learn how to order food at a restaurant and ask how much an item is, then by all means, use the Pimsleur method.

However if you are learning a new language and for whatever reason, intend to go deeper and learn more about its grammatical structure, then the Pimsleur method would fall short.

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I am the kind of person that when I want to learn something, I need to know HOW and WHY it is working like it is. I had 5 unsuccessful driving lessons trying to learn to start the car when it is steep without the car rolling backwards. FIVE unsuccessful lessons. I just did not get it. I sat down and read one paragraph about how the clutch works in my brother's school book about mechanics - and voila, I knew how to start the car without rolling backwards! This goes for learning a language also. I NEED the grammar. I need to understand WHY something is said as it is. I cannot just learn to say something because a native speaker says so.

So, this method is definitely not for me. I think grammar is a very essential part to really learn a language. But then again, everyone is different when it comes to learning.

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  • 1 month later...

I've never used it but in theory it sound good. Some people don't like the idea of not learning grammar but I think that it's good. Grammar is a fine detail which I would reserve for the experienced speakers, if you just want to learn to speak the language at a basic level then you can totally forget the grammar and learn conversational phrases.

That's not really "speaking the language" then, though. It's more like "memorizing phrases from a tourist's phasebook". It has nothing to do with knowing the language.

Grammar is in no way a "detail". Nobody expect people to master the entire grammar before starting to talk in their chosen language, but grammar really should be studied from the very beginning of language learning. Without knowing any grammar it's impossible to ever go beyond the phrasebook level. You won't be able to make the simplest sentence by yourself.

That's why I'm definitely not a fan of this method.

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This is an interesting discussion. I've seen the ads and checked-out the website for the Pinsleur method; I even almost bought it a few times.  However, something always made me feel skeptical.

I am listening to the YouTube video as I type this (Thanks for posting it) and I can find many claims or statements with which I disagree.  It seems more interested on showing the deficiencies of other systems than showing how theirs is better. 

Language training has changed a lot over the years, I studied it as part of my ESL teacher course.  This sounds like an old method. One that is  no longer considered ideal. SO, thanks everyone for your input. If the program works for you, great. But I don't think it's for me. 

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I've followed a short course on tutoring, so I know a thing or to about learning.

First of all, different students have different learning styles. A good tutor or teacher recognizes their students' strengths and weaknesses and delivers their lesson so all learners get an equal learning opportunity in the style they're best at. I am sure Pimsleur is one of those styles, so there will be people who really learn well with this method. But there are also others who don't benefit a lot from it, they'd be better off using a different technique.

I personally tried a similar method when I was young, listening to a cassette tape. But I found I just didn't have the patience for it. Even today, I can't just sit and listen to something. I've got some audio books I just never take the time for to listen to.

Secondly, above video is targeted at an American audience. I don't know anything about their school system, but from what I gathered, it's approach is theoretical first, practical later. I can tell right away that is not a good way of teaching, as I've just said, different students have different learning styles, you can not expect everyone to be able to learn like this, you will have to vary your lessons.

When I was in high school, in the Netherlands, we learnt English, German and French, at least for the first few years (after that I chose Physics and Math, so I ditched the languages). We learnt reading, writing, listening and speaking all at the same time. In addition, most of the television we watched at home was American, British, Australian, Canadian, or otherwise English language, all in their original form, just subtitled Dutch. So there was no shortage of instantly translated English. In fact, when watching comedies, even when the subtitles containing a joke are already on screen, most people don't laugh until the joke is actually made in the program. We read Dutch at the same time we're listening to English.

I found that that is a good approach, learning it all at the same time, and preferably in something entertaining. Just find some films with subtitles and enjoy :) Then again, I never learnt any Japanese from watching Akira or Totoro...

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I bought the dutch and the hebrew audio courses, but I wasn't quite happy with the dutch one. My boyfriend is a native dutch speaker, and he told me the word they use to say ''good bye'' in this course is not used at all in the Netherlands!  That made me feel very disappointed, so I stopped using it.

I still like the hebrew course tho. So far I haven't found any kind of error, but I haven't completed the course. So I still got to see whether the hebrew audio course is error free or not.  So far I can say this method is great, at least it is for me.

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I've seen multiple advertisements about it, and it looks quite shady. I remember in one ad it said. "Language professors hate him. Learn a new language in days!" I thought that the Pimsleur method was a scam from that day on. I'd honestly just use Rosetta Stone since i've heard some successful stories with it.

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I've seen multiple advertisements about it, and it looks quite shady. I remember in one ad it said. "Language professors hate him. Learn a new language in days!" I thought that the Pimsleur method was a scam from that day on. I'd honestly just use Rosetta Stone since i've heard some successful stories with it.

I don't think a language learning method can be a "scam". It's not a good method, in my opinion, but calling it a scam might be a bit much.

Rosetta Stone isn't all that wonderful, either. They mostly just have good and persistent advertising in the United States.

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Well yes, it's not going to work for everyone regardless of its virtues. I gather it's aimed at people who are traveling and want to make themselves understood, more than general language learners. So, emphasis on cadence and pronunciation for example, rather than grammar.

The thing I found most helpful about it was the breaking down into sound syllables and then building back up. It really helped with the trickier sounds that get lost in the mix.

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I have used the Pimsleur method for several different languages in the past and I would say there are both real positives and negatives with the method.

I really like that it is all audio and you start off speaking relatively simple but important sentences really quickly. It is a great way to start a new language you know nothing about in my opinion. You learn how the language is pronounced and how it sounds right off the bat. I think that is important. If I was going to start a brand new language that I knew nothing about right now, the first few lessons of Pimsleur would be a good start.

All that being said it will not make you fluent in a language. I especially find the levels 2 and 3 kind of a waste of time because the way it works never changes. After you get sick of Pimsleur you definitely need to move on to something else. Something that will fill in the gaps.

There was a time I knew how to say "I want to drink wine" in like 6 languages!

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The so called "Pimsleur Method"

When it comes to language, there are a lot of different study methods (approach). Not so long ago I stumbled upon the so called "Pimsleur method". I did some research on this and after all, I am quite skeptical abut the success of this method. Why? Let me explain...

In my opionion, grammar (structures) are a crucial aspect in understanding a language. At some point, you will need to know the specific grammar rules about a language if you want to further improve your skills or just simply want to be able to understand why something is said or written in a certain/specific way.

The pimsleur method is widespread amongst language learners of German, French, Italian, English and Spanish. Moreover it is also used for asian languages like Japanese and Chinese.  I am studying Chinese myself (since 5 years) and especially with this kind of language I  really doubt about the success of the pimsleur method. why ? well, because in Chinese I think it is really important that you study  speaking (oral communication) and writing at the same time. The study of characters gives you a feeling about the language and lets you understand the culture and the etymology of the language  very well.  In terms of grammar, it might be ok for learners of Chinese to study it thoroughly at a later point, as it is not very complex compared to other languages’ grammar. ( for instance German ^^)

So may I ask you about your experience with the Pimsleur method ? I am curious to hear more about it. Positive or negative, it doesn’t matter. :=) Share your experience with the pimsleur method, please.

I personally like the Pimsleur method because of the repetitions that they ask you to do.  It has been effective for me so far.  I notice that even after a few weeks, it's easy to remember the things I hear in the audio.  I think the scenarios that they give are also very relevant in normal situations.

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  • 2 months later...
  • 2 months later...

The Pimsleur method I believe is primarily aimed at helping you "hear" the language better. Not really learn it, but having learned it, being able to understand native speakers. Considering most native speakers speak their language considerably faster than tutorials that go real slow, I have to say the Pimsleur method accomplishes what it aims at. Most people 'misunderstand' the aim - it won't teach you Spanish, but it will help you listen to it better!

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  • 3 weeks later...

I have tried Pimsleur for German and it's really great. Now that I've read your feedback I'm thinking about going back to it since I had a time when I didn't really have time to listen to the audios. But it's great and you can learn even without paying attention to it. You can let it play in the background and do whatever you need to do during that time.

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To be honest, I've tried Pimsleur's method before but I don't find it very reliable. I don't think you can learn a new language just by using Pimsleur's method. You need books, CD's and a teacher -or at least someone who knows the language quite well- to help you through. Some of the Pimsleur's advertisements claim that you can learn a new language in a few days. That's a blatant lie. Learning a new language requires a lot of effort and time. Personally, I am not a fan of this method and I wouldn't recommend it.

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