By James Coulson | Visit Pimsleur
Pimsleur 4.5 out of 5.0 stars 4.5
Pimsleur Review – An Effective Way to Learn a Language
This Pimsleur review provides a comprehensive overview of the Pimsleur platform, app, its method and effectiveness, all based on my own experience.
I am using Pimsleur as my main resource to learn Japanese and I believe it is an excellent way to learn a language.
Pimsleur’s trialled and tested method makes it one of the most effective and slickest language learning resources of its type.
It’s a great way to learn a language by yourself, placing a strong emphasis on aural and pronunciation skills, with less detail around grammar, reading or writing than many other language resources.
👍 Excellent Audio Tool
👍 Proven Language Learning Method
👍 User-friendly on Desktop & App
👍 Huge Amount of Premium Content
👎 Limited Visual Learning
👎 Not the Cheapest Option on the Market
This Pimsleur Review is pretty extensive, so please feel free to use the menu below to skip to the part that is most relevant for you!
I have spent the last month using the Premium feature of Pimsleur Japanese.
If you are also learning Japanese, you may be interested in my post: Pimsleur Japanese Vs Memrise Japanese.
What is Pimsleur? A Pimsleur Review Introduction
Take a look on most language learning blogs and websites online and you’ll read about mixed feelings amongst language learners when it comes to Pimsleur.
In every Pimsleur review that I have read, learners have responded differently to the app.
Some responses are pretty heavily in favour of the platform that is somewhat of a veteran in the language learning field. Others call it boring and dated.
In my opinion, Pimsleur’s trialled and tested method makes it one of the most effective and slickest language learning resources of its type.
It’s a great way to learn a language by yourself, placing a strong emphasis on aural and pronunciation skills, with less detail around grammar, reading or writing than many other language courses.
The app and desktop versions are smart, user-friendly and packed with a variety of content that balances vocabulary, daily scenarios and culture in a way that is digestible for complete beginners.
Of course, there are other language learning resources out there that adopt this method. Many language apps now focus on spaced repetition and flashcard imagery. Indeed, Memrise is a good example of this.
However, in many ways, I believe Pimseur remains miles ahead of its direct competitors.
For a start, its courses are much longer and more thorough. They also have a greater (primary) focus on audio.
This helps you to actually learn the foreign language, rather than just understand parts of its vocabulary and set phrases.
Pimsleur Review – The Pimsleur Method
Before delving into my experience with the course itself and providing my thoughts and opinions on Pimsleur, I am going to explain what the Pimsleur Method actually is.
The Pimsleur method is a scientifically proven method to learn a language. It has a high level of research behind it which, to date, has helped hundreds of thousands of people to learn a language.
This method is used for all Pimsleur language courses.
The Method was adopted by Paul Pimsleur and practices something called SRS – ‘Spaced Repetition System.’
I’m not going to go deep into this because you are probably here to decide whether this is right for you, not to learn about linguistic terms relating to language learning theory!
Although, if you are, you may find value in reading How to Learn a Foreign Language by Paul Pimsleur.
Spaced Repetition System
So, the Pimsleur Method is essentially the adoption of an SRS.
In simple terms, SRS refers to the number of times you need to see or hear something before remembering it fully.
In modern day terms, think of flashcards… (the same system is used by Pimsleur’s U.K based competitor, Memrise). The more you look at or hear something, the more likely you are to remember it.
Dr Pimsleur discovered that if language learners were reminded of new words at gradually increasing intervals, each time they would remember them longer than the time before.
With Pimsleur’s programs today, learners are able to benefit from this method with the audio of native speakers.
I believe the Pimsleur Method offers a natural way to learn a language, listening to a native speaker and perfecting your pronunciation in the process with designated intervals between clips.
Is it fun? It’s probably not the funnest way to learn a language.
It doesn’t beat speaking with an actual person, but its a proven effective method to get you learning a language fast.
In fact, studies have proven that the Pimsleur Method can cut the length of time it takes to learn a language in half!
Pimsleur App and Sign up Process
It takes just 30 seconds to sign up to a 7 day free trial with Pimsleur. If you’re keen to know more about the Pimsleur Free features then I recommend creating an account.
As I say, it’s completely free and very quick to do.
In this Pimsleur review, I will focus more on my experience with Pimsleur Premium, as this is what you will need to actually pay for if you require access after your Free Trial.
I’ll be referencing my experience specifically with Pimsleur Japanese. However, layout and functionality is the same for all other Pimsleur language courses, including Japanese, German, Arabic, French, Chinese etc.
I signed up to Pimsleur Premium and was impressed with the layout of the dashboard on both desktop and tablet.
You use the same credentials to login to the Pimsleur app as you do for desktop. You can download the Pimsleur app from the Apple Store or Google Play.
For me, it was clear that serious investment has gone into making the premium course features not only effective and efficient for language learners, but also visually appealing.
Navigating the Pimsleur dashboard (once you’ve chosen your language) is the opposite to opening a black and white textbook. The quality is recognisable immediately.
Pimsleur Language Course Structure and Contents
Anybody searching for a Pimsleur review online wants to know the same thing – is Pimsleur good? This question is asked by many language learners who will draw their conclusions from the quality of the lessons.
In my opinion, Pimsleur is a very good resource for beginners due to the structure and contents of its courses.
Pimsleur’s language courses are split into levels.
Premium access to Pimsleur Japanese gives you access to Japanese Levels 1 – 5. Each of these levels contains 30 lessons, each lesson lasting 30 minutes.
Within this 30 minutes, you listen and respond to dialogue. The contents of which lesson is then broken down into content blocks for you to review after the dialogue.
Speaking & Understanding
Pimsleur Review – Lesson Activities
The contents of each lesson is also broken down into mixed activities including:
Reading exercises – You can choose to look at the text or just listen to the audio. The reading is clear and at a pace which corresponds to your level of the target language.
Flash cards – Similar to Memrise, the flashcards enable you to switch from Target Language to English or English to Target Language.
Each lesson has up to 15 corresponding flashcards to recap and help you learn what you’ve been through in the 30 minute lesson.
Quick Match – The Quick Match feature is a game which requires you to match the correct phrase in multiple choice format.
Speak Easy – The Speak Easy feature helps you to refine your pronunciation, rhythm, cadence and accent. You simply listen to the Japanese (or whichever language you’re learning) and repeat what you’ve heard.
The Pimsleur app provides time for you to speak with all the exercises.
Speed Round – The speed round is just a bit of fun, although not my favourite. It’s a bit lighter than the other activities.
You have to match the English phrase or word with its translation before the timer runs out. A good way to make learning a language fun but not the way I like to learn, personally!
Pimsleur Review: Audio Lessons
If you are planning to sign up to Pimsleur for the 7 Day Free Trial then take into account that Pimsleur lessons revolve almost entirely around listening.
As any Pimsleur review you come across will tell you, you’ll spend more time listening to audio than anything else during Pimsleur lessons.
As per the Pimsleur Method, you are advised at the start (by audio) to spend 30 minutes per day using Pimsleur – no more and no less.
This is another thing that makes Pimsleur an ideal way to learn a language whilst driving. You can listen, respond and remain engaged without being visually distracted.
At first I thought this suggestion by Pimsleur was just a way for them to keep me using Premium as long as possible! But, having used Japanese Premium, I can understand the advice.
That is to say, the lessons are quite intense. Not in a boring way, but the level of the language you’re required to listen to with Pimsleur is much higher for beginners than with other online language resources.
With Memrise Japanese, for example, I started by learning how to say ‘here’ and ‘there.’ By contrast, with Pimsleur Japanese, the first lesson focused on understanding dialogue between two Japanese speakers. It’s quite a jump!
So, Pimsleur lessons require a lot of concentration and don’t really allow you to be a passive listener.
As I mentioned, you are required to be participatory in the lessons, repeating and responding to the audio from native speakers.
The lesson difficulty increases at a steady rate, which is important for beginners.
Pimsleur – A Way to Learn a Language Whilst Driving
You can download Pimsleur transcripts directly from the app, which enables you to continue your study away from the app.
Another feature I think is excellent is that you can switch to ‘Driving’ at any time at the top right of the screen.
For this reason alone I’d say Pimsleur is the best way to learn a language whilst driving.
You can just connect it to your car speakers or simply listen from your phone, with each audio lesson in any language lasting 30 minutes in total. This includes the time required for you to answer.
In the past, I have used podcasts to learn languages, including Coffee Break Italian and other Radio Lingua resources.
Whilst these are great ways to learn a language whilst driving, the Pimsleur lessons differ to language podcasts in that they require you to be less passive and more participatory, repeating what you’ve heard and improving your pronunciation, and confidence, in the process.
Pimsleur vs other popular language learning apps and software
You’re forced to respond, but you can sort of take it at your own pace.
If you’re learning Spanish and you see a picture of an apple next to the word ‘manzana’ – then you may well remember the word manzana more quickly than if you had not seen the picture. This makes you a visual learner, and it’s the way so many of us learn.
With that in mind, you may now be thinking that Pimsleur, which offers a service that is almost entirely audio-based, is not right for you.
That could be the case, but bear in mind that Pimsleur enables you to learn visually in a slightly different kind of way.
The presenter refers to daily life to help you to visualise common scenarios. I already know how to ask a Japanese woman to have a drink with me!
Referring to daily scenarios achieves what Duolingo, Babbel and many other AI driven apps and language learning software also achieves. However, the difference here is that you’re listening to a real human instead of a machine!
If this learning style works for you then it will cut the time required to learn a language, I have no doubt.
Furthermore, it will also prepare you for those all important conversations with native speakers.
After all, that’s what we learn new languages for, right? To meet new people, interact with new societies and delve into new cultures.
Pimsleur Cost and Subscription Options
Option 1: Pimsleur Free 7 Day Trial
Now, for the most important part of this Pimsleur review – how much does it cost?
Well, before paying anything, Pimsleur offers a free 7 day trial to access an unlimited number of lessons in any one of its dozens of languages available.
This includes Spanish, Japanese, French, Italian, German, Chinese, Arabic, Russian, Korean and many others.
In order to sign up for the free trial, you need to create an account (this is very quick and easy). Then, you will have your own account and dashboard.
Obviously, seven days is definitely not a long enough timeframe to develop any real form of fluency in a language! Especially if you are a complete beginner.
However, it does provide an ideal amount of time to figure out if learning a language with Pimsleur is right for you and if you like the platform, the Pimsleur Method etc. It’s a user-friendly system (I have tested on desktop but preferred using the app).
I think Pimsleur is a great choice, but I would always recommend taking a free trial first before committing to any paid subscription (for any language software, not just Pimsleur).
You can sign up here to your Pimsleur Free Trial here.
Important Point to note: Pimsleur does not charge you during this trial period.
Option 2: Pimsleur Subscription
Pimsleur has a reputation in the language learning world for being much more expensive than other language courses.
In fact, its pricing is quite complicated because your location and the language you’re learning will determine the cost.
This is not the most helpful answer, I know. BUT there is some good news!
Pimsleur will know where you are and what language you want to learn when you sign up. Once you start you free trial, you will see the subscription cost.
As an average, the cost is about $15 p/month.
Alternatives to Pimsleur
If you are looking for a tutor rather than a language learning app then consider Preply. Preply is a marketplace where students from all over the world can find one-on-one online tutors for personalised learning programs.
It is very similar to italki, with the same common goals and the same main features. Preply also contains an in-built classroom which enhances the quality and efficiency of lessons for both tutors and students.
Rocket Languages is a software focused language learning app that uses audio lessons, interactive exercises and readings to get you to a conversational level in a foreign language.
Through its structured and proven successful process, you will begin to understand more about the language you are learning quite quickly. Sign up to a trial with Rocket Languages.
Babbel is a subscription based language learning app that to help you learn a new language. It currently offers 14 languages on its unique, user friendly platform. You can use Babbel on desktop and mobile.
Babbel’s desktop and app format is curriculum-based with pre-recorded content including games, quizzes, tests, games and grammar exercises.
It is a great resource if you are looking to learn a language on your own. Babbel’s latest feature, Babbel Live, enables you to connect with tutors without leaving the platform.
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