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How many have finished Pimsleur?

  Tags: Pimsleur
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Senior Member
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284 posts - 410 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: Esperanto, Toki Pona, German, French

 Message 89 of 104
29 November 2010 at 1:50am | IP Logged 
I didn't read through everyone's arguments, but I'll just state my experience. First of all, I haven't actually learned a language, so I'm no expert on language learning methods. Also, all I've ever used is Pimsleur, because the other programs I've tried from the library seemed too hard at the beginning. The furthest I've gone is with Pimsleur German, where I think I reached around lesson 20 or so, before school started up again and I had to set my language learning aside. Now I'm primarily working on Esperanto, so of course I'm just using online lessons and a dictionary.

As for usefulness of Pimsleur: One thing I can say is it is a great introduction to a language. Speaking as someone who has never had success learning languages, it got me saying a few things quickly, and most importantly gave me the feel of the language. So I don't know about it usefulness in the higher levels, or for people who are already familiar with the language, but for an absolute beginner, it's a good start. The slowness did frustrate me at times, but then at other times I would be frustrated by how hard a lesson suddenly was (German is suddenly a lot harder when the sentences start to get long!). So I guess it varies. I'll probably always start with Pimsleur when learning a language for which they have a program, but I'm certainly willing to try out other audio courses as well.
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United States
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 Message 90 of 104
16 December 2010 at 6:12am | IP Logged 
Just my two cent on this topic: Pimsleur is not a complete resource to learn any
language. I think no program or book can claim this, it would be exaggerated.

But Pimsleur in as excellent tool to learn the basics of a language, to survive in a
foreign land, and being able to express your basic needs (eat, drink, buy, get a hotel
room, ask for directions, etc.)

The program excels in giving you a near-native accent, and burns the few sentences it
teaches you into your brain. (BTW, for those who complain about repetition: which
option do you have? Sadly, repetition is how we learned our native languages. There are
no magic shortcuts).

Pimsleur gives you the basic blueprint of a language, a frame to START learning the
language. It gives you the basic tools, like a skeleton. It's up to the student to
that skeleton out with vocabulary.

Pimsleur (like Michel Thomas, Assimil, or any other program or software) is just a
COMPLEMENT to a wider study program. Pimsleur lacks vocabulary, yes, but nothing that
can't be solved without a good pocket dictionary or any other good book on grammar.

Yes, Pimsleur includes some funny and weird sentences, but it doesn't mean you MUST use
them, it's just a general idea that you can change and modify as needed. For example,
when it teaches you how to order beer at a restaurant, it's teaching you the structure
how to order any other drink, it doesn't mean you just need to order beer if you don't
like it. You just need to change the word "beer" for whatever drink you want.

The same goes for all the rest of the sentences. They are not ALL the sentences, just
some basic topics that you can combine to create different ideas.

Personally, I'm using Pimsleur and I think it's great, PROVIDED you complement it with
Michel Thomas, or some Berlitz phrase book, and some other vocabulary book. I also ask
lot of questions to native speakers in internet forums, check the spelling in Google
Translate, and read newspapers and websites in the languages I'm learning. The more I
learn, the better.

About its price: Yes, it's expensive. But I've been getting my lessons for free from
local library. Besides, there are several websites where you can buy the CD's used
eBay, and Pimsleur Marketplace).

Even if you buy them at full retail price, you can always re-sell them in eBay and
recover some of your investment. These CD's sell very well in second-hand markets.

Learning languages is a comprehensive effort, that must be addressed from several
at the same time. It's a life-long process, that takes years. There is no magic
The more you can get from wherever you can, the better.

Edited by EricZast on 16 December 2010 at 6:13am

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Senior Member
United States
Joined 5141 days ago

168 posts - 389 votes 
Speaks: English*, Spanish
Studies: Japanese

 Message 91 of 104
16 December 2010 at 10:51am | IP Logged 
I've gone through all 3 levels of both the Spanish and Japanese versions.

Originally I've been a pretty big proponent, and I still like their system and will use it on the next language I start, but over time I have changed my ideas on how to use them more effectively.

Since I've figured out I prefer being more of a heavy input guy before doing much output, in retrospect I think going through all 3 levels at the beginning of learning a language and taking a lot of time on them (as I also tend to be one of those people that won't go on until they have everything perfect) as I did when starting Japanese was an inefficient use of time. The main "problem" with Pimsleur for a heavy input early approach is obviously it gives no help in reading, not a lot of vocabulary, and at least in my experience if gave almost no benefit to LISTENING either really as you usually have the response formed in your head in L2 before you hear it thus removing the "figuring out what they're trying to say" part of listening. Listening is too easy when you know exactly what to listen for beforehand, and one thing I noticed when going through Pimsleur is that the dialogues at the beginning of each unit were mostly too hard for me to understand (Japanese version) until later on when I started doing more appropriate listening practice and came back afterwards to listen to them. Pimsleur really only helps with SPEAKING and speaking only, and therefore unless your approach is one that values speaking in the early stages onward it just takes too much time away from other work to go through all the levels.

I know now that as I start to focus on output I'm going to end up listening to them all again anyway as its been a long time since I worked through them (although it should be ridiculously easy next time around) and so I think some of the time I used, particularly on levels 2 and 3 before, could've been more efficiently used elsewhere on more input based methods. I'd still have gone through them all, but by waiting it would have cut down on the time spent on levels 2 and 3 by a massive amount while still giving a similar benefit.

Next time I start a language I'll probably do level 1 only as I do feel it gives a nice "natural" way of internalizing some of the grammar structures and can be a very friendly way of introducing yourself to a language, along with something like MT which is much quicker to go through and then I'll quickly blow through levels 2 and 3 much later after I feel I've done a sufficient amount of input based methods and am ready to start switching over to more emphasis on output.

Edited by Sandman on 16 December 2010 at 11:11am

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Senior Member
Joined 4932 days ago

19 posts - 31 votes
Studies: Mandarin, Arabic (Levantine)

 Message 92 of 104
17 December 2010 at 12:15am | IP Logged 
I think Pimsleur is fantastic as an intro as many have said before. But one soon discovers that vocabulary acquisition is terribly slow. I used it for Mandarin and it taught me good pronunciation and gave me a feel for the language.

It is also good to keep your learning up while driving or walking.

I ditched it half way through Part 2.

If I was to advise somebody, I would suggest only buying Part 1 of the course then move onto an audio course with more substance.

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Senior Member
United States
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2365 posts - 3804 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: Tagalog

 Message 93 of 104
17 December 2010 at 2:03am | IP Logged 
Thai I (there was only 1 level when I bought it), Japanese I-III, Mandarin I-III, French I-III, Russian I ( Russian II in
work). Top that!
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Bilingual Diglot
Senior Member
Joined 6408 days ago

1296 posts - 1781 votes 
4 sounds
Speaks: Spanish*, Catalan*
Studies: English

 Message 94 of 104
17 December 2010 at 9:18am | IP Logged 
leosmith wrote:
Thai I (there was only 1 level when I bought it), Japanese I-III, Mandarin I-III, French I-III, Russian I ( Russian II in
work). Top that!

Don't you get sick?

I did the English for Spanish speakers, but I had been reading English for four years and I had some listening practice.

I think Pimsleur could be useful for me, but I give up because I get sick and more sick with languages like Mandarin or Japanese. How do you get over this mortal boring feelings?

Edited by slucido on 17 December 2010 at 3:12pm

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United States
Joined 4968 days ago

45 posts - 57 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: French

 Message 95 of 104
17 December 2010 at 2:45pm | IP Logged 
I'm up to lesson 10 in Pimsleur French 3, although I'm a bit sporadic about doing them right now. This morning I got the mp3 player ready to use in the car and started along. My first reaction to the new lesson was one of pleasure at how quickly and correctly I was answering everything. Then I began wondering why there didn't seem to be anything new. Finally I realized that I had loaded up a lesson from Pimsleur French 1. Oops.

But I'm going to try to buckle down and hopefully completely French 3 by the end of the year or early next year.
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Senior Member
United States
Joined 5130 days ago

297 posts - 337 votes 
Speaks: English*, French, Italian
Studies: German, Spanish, Russian, Arabic (Written), Swedish, Portuguese, Czech

 Message 96 of 104
17 December 2010 at 3:22pm | IP Logged 
My only issue with Pimsleur is that it teaches the same phrases in every language, which I know is its goal as they are rather essential phrases. However, I wish that they would vary the programs some. I do not know exactly what I want, but I would like some more culture specific phrases thrown in or something to that effect. I have only used Pimsleur I for Portuguese, Russian and Czech. Perhaps in the later editions they add in more colloquial things.

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