Pimsleur is a veteran in the online language learning field; its trialed and tested method has been used by millions of people to learn a language through audio. Today, Pimsleur Spanish is Pimsleur’s most popular course. Today, we take you through our experience using it.
First, see below a quick summary of the Pimsleur Spanish program:
👍 150 audio lessons in total, each of these 30 minutes in length.
👍 5 core levels of Spanish, taking you from beginner to advanced.
👍 A choice between Castilian Spanish (from Spain) and Latin American Spanish.
We’ll start by taking you through what Pimsleur’s method is and whether or not there are actually any benefits of learning Spanish this way.
We’ll then discuss our experience using the platform and the overall quality of the course, before assessing how conducive this model is to helping you learn Spanish fast. We’ll also cover whether this service provides Spanish learners with genuine value for money.
Value for Money
|4.0 out of 5.0 stars||3.0 out of 5.0 stars|
|Effective at improving listening skills and overall Spanish comprehension.||More expensive than almost all main competitors.
7 Day Free Trial included.
Ease of Use
|5.0 out of 5.0 stars||5.0 out of 5.0 stars|
|Modern dashboard. Very easy to use and navigate on desktop and app.||40+ languages available, including Spanish, French, Italian, German and Chinese.|
|👍 Huge library of audio lessons|
👍 Modern, user-friendly dashboard
👍 Proven, effective method
👍 Encourages speaking practice
|👎 More expensive than main competitors
👎 Repetitive with limited reading practice
Pimsleur Spanish is a great option for anybody looking to improve their overall Spanish comprehension. The Premium Plan includes more than 75 hours of Spanish audio content, taking you from beginner through to advanced level. Native speakers feature throughout the course to get you used to hearing the language.
Pimsleur's method is effective but repetitive. We do not suggest relying on this resource alone to help you learn Spanish. We'd like to see Pimsleur incorporate better grammar explanations into their lessons.
How we did this review
In order to make this review as varied and informative as possible, language learners Chaz and James tested out Pimsleur Spanish on their own, before sharing their findings. Chaz discusses how he got on with the course throughout this review, whilst James describes the course features and critiques them.
The scoring system above is determined based on the comparison between Pimsleur and other similar language learning tools on the market, particularly audio based services. 5 stars indicates excellence, whilst a lower star rating indicates room for improvement.
The comments and opinions that you read throughout this review are results of their findings during one week of unlimited Spanish lessons with multiple Spanish tutors.
“Pimsleur is a great supplementary tool that I have been using for 30 minutes each day, as per their suggestion. It has helped me to understand more Spanish, but it would be better if they provided grammar explanations in the dialogue. I’d say Pimsleur Spanish is a good option for anyone learning Spanish, but it’s not enough on its own.”
“As a Spanish tutor, I wanted to trial Pimsleur Spanish in order to test the effectiveness of the method and style amongst my beginner students. I provided them with access, and asked them to complete 30 minutes a day for a month. Most of my students agreed that Pimsleur Spanish helped their understanding of Spanish, but they were disappointed by the lack of visual resources.”
What is Pimsleur Spanish?
Pimsleur Spanish is one of many popular audio focused language courses created and developed by the company Pimsleur. It is an audio course containing 5 levels, starting at complete beginner level and ending at an advanced stage.
In total, the course contains 150 audio lessons, each of which is 30 minutes in length. Pimsleur Spanish requires a lot of passive listening, but learners are encouraged to respond and participate throughout the lessons.
There is a lack of cultural education and visual learning tools. This makes the course less engaging than many competitors. However, there is an emphasis on pronunciation and overall comprehension, which makes Pimsleur Spanish one of the best courses for certain types of learner.
What type of learner is Pimsleur Spanish for?
✅ Anybody looking for plenty of content: Like all Pimsleur courses, Pimsleur Spanish comprises 5 levels. Level 1 is complete beginner level, whilst Level 5 is advanced. Each Level contains 30 lessons, each of which contains a 30 minute audio lesson, followed by optional games and activities.
✅ Learners who would like to improve overall comprehension: Pimsleur courses are almost entirely audio focused. Whilst this style of learning has proven success, it can be difficult for visual learners, or those who rely on visual elements in order to learn.
✅ Those with a focus on speaking and listening: Pimsleur Spanish is not a tool to help with writing. It does feature some reading activities with plenty of word games, but this aspect is not extensive. Instead, the Pimsleur Method focuses more on teaching a language through a question/recall/response technique.
Pimsleur Method’s – What to expect from the lessons
Pimsleur’s audio courses present listeners with phrases in the target language first, and then in the mother tongue for you to translate into that language. The method was created and developed based on research carried out by linguist Paul Pimsleur several decades ago.
The technique questions users, prompts them to listen carefully to the conversation, then prompts the listener to respond. Through this method, you are essentially active and participating in a Spanish dialogue.
Each word and phrase is spoken by a native Spanish speaker. The speakers maintain Spanish at a speed that is relatively easy to understand (although it won’t make sense at first). Despite a slow pace, the conversation maintains a natural flow.
If you’ve previously tried learning Spanish using a different course, you may have noticed that the dialogue feels a little fake and staged. The Pimsleur Spanish audio is not much different to this; you do very much feel like you’re in a lesson.
Pimsleur’s 90-Day Promise
Pimsleur promises to have you speaking Spanish confidently within 90 days, as long as you listen to one 30-minute episode per day over a 90-day period.
Throughout the lessons, the speaker also advises that you repeat the words and phrases you’ve been taught aloud, rather than in your head. They claim that by doing so, you will better your pronunciation faster.
Whilst we did not use the platform for 90 days from scratch to test this promise, there’s no doubt that 30 minutes of intense class every day for 90 days improves your Spanish! Progress will obviously depend on individual learners.
Latin Spanish vs Castilian Spanish
One thing you need to think about when starting any Spanish language course is what type of Spanish it is that you’d like to learn. Whilst every Spanish-speaking country has its own national and regional accents, there are two main types of Spanish available to learn through languages apps. These are Latin Spanish and Castilian Spanish.
Latin Spanish is spoken in parts of North, Central and South America. Castilian Spanish is spoken in Spain. While there are many linguistic differences between them, you’ll be able to understand the other, no matter which one you choose to learn.
Grammatically, the main difference between Latin Spanish and Castilian Spanish is the addition of an extra pronoun.
✅ Castilian Spanish uses an informal pronoun called vosotros for “you” (plural).
✅ Latin Spanish doesn’t use this pronoun or its verb conjugations.
✅ The pronunciation of certain words is also markedly different.
Pimsleur Spanish allows you to learn either Latin American Spanish or Castilian Spanish. Currently, while there are five levels for Latin Spanish, there is only 1 for Castilian. This isn’t really a huge issue, though. You can always work through level 1 of the Castilian course and then move through levels 2-5 of Latin Spanish.
When you do this, the only real issue will be the difference in pronunciation, and you won’t be using the ‘vosotros’ form, either. Other than that, the two courses are fairly similar.
Pimsleur Spanish Features
✅ Skippable Levels
Pimsleur Spanish contains 5 Levels. Each of these levels builds your vocabulary over time by teaching you new words and recalling the ones that you’ve already learned in previous lessons.
This means that as you enter Level 3 or 4, you’re still presented with words and phrases that you’ve already covered in Level 1 and 2. Whilst the reason for this is to ensure that everything you’ve learned so far has been fully understood, it gets quite tedious.
The positive news is that you can skip levels at any time, starting at the one most in line with your Spanish ability. Pimsleur doesn’t really provide any indicator of where this should be. It would be better if they could help with this.
✅ Access Anywhere
One of the best things about Pimsleur Spanish is that you’re not chained to a computer while you’re learning. You can download the course onto your tablet or smartphone. This enables users to learn on the go.
Since all you really need to do is listen and respond, it’s ideal for the commute to work or while you’re working out. This is obviously a useful part of Pimsleur courses, but being able to use the course on an app isn’t exactly unique to them…
✅ Learning Games & Tools
As well as reading materials, a premium-subscription to Pimsleur Spanish will give you full access to a variety of games and tools that can be used to enhance your learning after each audio lesson.
These include flashcards and interactive quizzes that will help to firmly plant everything you learn into your memory. We thought the activities were engaging, especially after 30 minutes of listening. However, we’d like to have seen a greater variation of games available.
✅ Reading Exercises Reading with Pimsleur Spanish
Pimsleur is not a reading-focused course. Anybody who wants to improve their reading should either choose a different course or find one to accompany this one. However, we were surprised to see that Pimsleur Spanish does contain some reading material.
You can access lesson transcripts on your smartphone or desktop. Within each exercise, a native speaker narrates a story, line by line, in Spanish. You follow along by reading the accompanying text.
Since Spanish uses a Latin-based alphabet that is really similar to the English alphabet, reading along is a lot more manageable than some other languages. If you follow us on Youtube, you may have seen how James coped with Pimsleur Japanese…
✅ Formal & Informal Pronouns
We really like the fact that Pimsleur teaches both the formal and informal pronoun of ‘you‘ in Spanish. These are “usted” (formal) and “tú” (informal). While some people may argue that learning both is unnecessary, it’s pretty important to learn these in Spanish in order to know how to address different people.
Understanding the difference between “usted” and “tú” becomes particularly important when you start learning how to conjugate verbs, as each pronoun has its own set of verb conjugation rules. Pimsleur explains this well.
Level 1 of Pimsleur Spanish teaches you the formal “usted” pronoun and its conjugations with regular verbs. You then move onto the informal “tú” in Level 2.
Pimsleur Spanish Main Pros & Cons
✅ Effective. The question/recall/response technique is effective and helps to cement everything you’ve learned firmly into your brain. It also does a fantastic job of showing you how to pronounce certain words.
✅ Authentic. Native Spanish speakers feature throughout. This familiarises users with conversation at a pace that’s not too difficult to understand.
✅ Useful. Pimsleur Spanish teaches everyday language, not just tourist related phrases and vocabulary.
❌ Expensive. The course is also fairly expensive when you compare it to other audio courses. However, the price of the course is definitely worth it if you’re looking for a way to learn Spanish. It can also help ensure that you’ve got the pronunciation of each word right.
❌ Monotonous. It gets a bit boring. We trialed the Spanish course for one month and felt ready to try something different by the end of it.
❌ Slow starting. The course teaches mostly formal language initially. However, it does progress to teach informal language in higher levels.
Our final thoughts on Pimsleur Spanish
Overall, we liked Pimsleur’s Spanish course, but we were not overwhelmed by it. The method is proven to work and the execution is great, but it’s a little too repetitive at times. Listening to 30 minutes per day, every day for 90 days will require serious willpower and we’re not sure the platform is engaging enough to tempt all users to do it.
Generally, language learners tend to be visual learners, which is not best suited to Pimsleur’s audio focused style. The week’s free trial is a great option for anyone unsure about whether this method will work for them.
“I’d like to see more visual elements on the Pimsleur platform to balance out all the audio content. I think Pimsleur Spanish is a superb tool to help boost overall comprehension of the language, as well as help with pronunciation. However, I don’t think it’s enough on its own to take someone from beginner through to fluency in the time frame it specifies.”
“The course was pretty much what I expected. It has definitely helped me to understand basic Spanish conversation, which is where I was struggling most. I also feel a bit more confident speaking now. I think some more interactive games or cultural sections would make the course a little less repetitive. Overall, a very good course but not without room for improvement.”
Pimsleur offers all users one full week of free access to Pimsleur Spanish. During this time, you can test the quality of the course yourself and decide if the platform is right for you. If it’s not, just end your subscription when your trial finishes. Tap this link to find out more.