Register  Login  Active Topics  Maps  

Why is Pimsleur such crap?

  Tags: Usefulness | Pimsleur
 Language Learning Forum : Language Programs, Books & Tapes Post Reply
62 messages over 8 pages: 1 24 5 6 7 8 Next >>
Volte
Tetraglot
Senior Member
Switzerland
Joined 6175 days ago

4474 posts - 6726 votes 
Speaks: English*, Esperanto, German, Italian
Studies: French, Finnish, Mandarin, Japanese

 
 Message 17 of 62
23 May 2010 at 6:45am | IP Logged 
kmart wrote:
Well, I learnt enough Italian from Pimsleur alone (all 3 levels and I bought them at a good discount) to feel confident traveling around Italy and into areas with few English speakers - including asking my non-English-speaking Sicilian landlady for a bottle opener, directions to various places and having a detailed conversation about her daughter, grandchildren and sister who was a nun.


I agree Pimsleur is quite an effective way to learn to ask directions. I'm surprised you managed to have a detailed conversation after it, unless you used other material as well.

kmart wrote:

I received numerous compliments about my pronunciation, and what was more flattering, my tentative questions were answered with fast-paced, voluble replies, indicating they had taken my language skills to be higher than they were, due to accurate pronunciation and correct grammar.


Interesting, but not universal. It's a lot better to use an audio program and correct phrases than to try to get by as most tourists do, for sure - and that is reflected in the speed and style of answers.

That said, an acquaintance of mine used Pimsleur Italian and people laughed about his accent behind his back (it was a bit dramatic), and my Japanese accent (acquired via Pimsleur) has occasionally gotten positive remarks but children young enough to be honest call it "funny-sounding" while giggling.

kmart wrote:

Pimsleur may not suit everybody, but if you want a program that teaches you the most useful travel phrases first and builds on them to more sophisticated conversations, in a way that allows you to intuitively absorb grammar, and you like to practice, practice, practice until you get something correct, then it works well. I only wish they continued the course to higher and higher levels, I'm sure my Italian would be a lot better if I had more Pimsleur to study !


Agreed.

1 person has voted this message useful



Splog
Diglot
Senior Member
Czech Republic
anthonylauder.c
Joined 5405 days ago

1062 posts - 3263 votes 
Speaks: English*, Czech
Studies: Mandarin

 
 Message 18 of 62
23 May 2010 at 9:32am | IP Logged 
The problem I have with Pimsleur is that the narrator does not speak the languages that the courses teach, and the native speakers are only use to demonstrate phrases. Nobody, then, explains the tricky bits in grammar and (even more troubling) pronunciation.

For languages with simple pronunciation such as French and German this wasn't such a problem for me, because I managed to figure out what they were saying on my own. But for languages with pronunciation that is far removed from English, and particularly for languages where pronunciation is critical to understanding, I give a big thumbs down to Pimsleur.

For example, when I was first getting into Mandarin I listened to the first 30 lessons of Pimsleur Mandarin and it would go something like this:

Narrator: Now say "Excuse me, but can I ask if you speak English?"
Chinese speakers: all sorts of noises going up and down
Narrator: Were you paying attention to the rising and falling tones?

It was often so unclear to me from the recordings when one or other of the tones was being used that I was crying out for either the narrator or the native speaker to just help me out. But they didn't.

Later on I bought the beginner and advanced Michel Thomas Mandarin courses. Although I found the narrator a bit annoying at times with his silly jokes, both he and the native speaker worked together to make sure you heard the tones and could pronounce the correct ones at the right times.

Therefore, even though the Michel Thomas courses could be criticised for having lots of English in them, it is actually useful English that helps you grasp the tricky bits of the language. With Pimsleur, on the other had, the narrator is just somebody reading from a piece or paper and with no concept of the language being taught.



Edited by Splog on 23 May 2010 at 9:50am

7 persons have voted this message useful



Aquila
Triglot
Senior Member
Netherlands
Joined 5217 days ago

104 posts - 128 votes 
Speaks: Dutch*, English, German
Studies: French

 
 Message 19 of 62
23 May 2010 at 12:06pm | IP Logged 
Splog wrote:
Therefore, even though the Michel Thomas courses could be criticised for having lots of English in them, it is actually useful English that helps you grasp the tricky bits of the language. With Pimsleur, on the other had, the narrator is just somebody reading from a piece or paper and with no concept of the language being taught.


I argee with this. I have found Michel Thomas (French) very usefull and much better then Pimsleur. They’ll give for example little tips en tricks like how to pronounce better in a more rapid conversation, and they tell you what to do in case you don’t know if it’s masculine of feminine.

With MT you learn step-for-step how to make a correct sentence in the language. You don’t learn only things like, “would you like to drink beer or wine” but therefore it gives a really quick start in basic grammar, although not very explicit. The course is less boring in comparison with Pimsleur as you learn together with the other students from the course.

Pimsleur is too slow. You don't learn very much in very much time. But as I said before in this thread, the course is not bad to learn how to pronounce better and it gives a better grasp of comprehension.

Edited by Aquila on 23 May 2010 at 12:20pm

2 persons have voted this message useful





newyorkeric
Diglot
Moderator
Singapore
Joined 6115 days ago

1598 posts - 2174 votes 
Speaks: English*, Italian
Studies: Mandarin, Malay
Personal Language Map

 
 Message 20 of 62
23 May 2010 at 12:34pm | IP Logged 
Splog wrote:
It was often so unclear to me from the recordings when one or other of the tones was being used that I was crying out for either the narrator or the native speaker to just help me out. But they didn't.


I had the same exact experience. Finally I decided that it was better to not use Pimsleur Mandarin unless you can find a copy of the transcript. But then if you have to pay attention to the transcript you lose the main value of Pimsleur as a portable audio-only program.

Splog wrote:
Later on I bought the beginner and advanced Michel Thomas Mandarin courses. Although I found the narrator a bit annoying at times with his silly jokes, both he and the native speaker worked together to make sure you heard the tones and could pronounce the correct ones at the right times.


I've done both of these courses and totally agree with you. MT really jump-started my ability to recognize and pronounce the tones.

Edited by newyorkeric on 23 May 2010 at 12:35pm

1 person has voted this message useful



unzum
Diglot
Senior Member
United Kingdom
soyouwanttolearnalan
Joined 6650 days ago

371 posts - 478 votes 
Speaks: English*, Japanese
Studies: Mandarin

 
 Message 21 of 62
23 May 2010 at 4:00pm | IP Logged 
I've had mixed experiences with Pimsleur.

Pimsleur Japanese was really great, it helped me with putting together basic conversations while I was working through a textbook, which didn't have enough speaking practice. I had already done some evening classes about a year ago, so I had a basic idea of the pronuciation, and Japanese pronunciation is so simple it wasn't that hard to follow the Pimsleur lessons.
I think the best thing about it was it's great if you have trouble with self-discipline, just do 1 lesson a day, it's easy enough to stick to.

Pimsleur Mandarin was a different story. I went through the first lesson, but it was too hard trying to figure out the pronunciation without any written help (e.g. the difference between x and sh, q and ch). I gave up and decided my time would be better spent with FSI Mandarin.

I got through a few lessons of Pimsleur Cantonese, the pronunciation wasn't as hard as Mandarin, but I also decided FSI Cantonese was better and gave it up.

So I agree that it might be good for languages with easy pronunciation, but for ones with harder pronunciation there are other materials you would be better off using.
2 persons have voted this message useful



irrationale
Tetraglot
Senior Member
China
Joined 5786 days ago

669 posts - 1023 votes 
2 sounds
Speaks: English*, Spanish, Mandarin, Tagalog
Studies: Ancient Greek, Japanese

 
 Message 22 of 62
24 May 2010 at 1:09am | IP Logged 
Splog wrote:
The problem I have with Pimsleur is that the narrator does not speak the languages that the courses teach, and the native speakers are only use to demonstrate phrases. Nobody, then, explains the tricky bits in grammar and (even more troubling) pronunciation.

For languages with simple pronunciation such as French and German this wasn't such a problem for me, because I managed to figure out what they were saying on my own. But for languages with pronunciation that is far removed from English, and particularly for languages where pronunciation is critical to understanding, I give a big thumbs down to Pimsleur.

For example, when I was first getting into Mandarin I listened to the first 30 lessons of Pimsleur Mandarin and it would go something like this:

Narrator: Now say "Excuse me, but can I ask if you speak English?"
Chinese speakers: all sorts of noises going up and down
Narrator: Were you paying attention to the rising and falling tones?

It was often so unclear to me from the recordings when one or other of the tones was being used that I was crying out for either the narrator or the native speaker to just help me out. But they didn't.

Later on I bought the beginner and advanced Michel Thomas Mandarin courses. Although I found the narrator a bit annoying at times with his silly jokes, both he and the native speaker worked together to make sure you heard the tones and could pronounce the correct ones at the right times.

Therefore, even though the Michel Thomas courses could be criticised for having lots of English in them, it is actually useful English that helps you grasp the tricky bits of the language. With Pimsleur, on the other had, the narrator is just somebody reading from a piece or paper and with no concept of the language being taught.



I went through Pimsleur Mandarin I II III without any problems. Natives said I had a very good accent with correct tones. At the end, I had a solid foundation to move on to intermediate studies. To me, Pimsleur made it quite obvious what tones were what, you just have to concentrate and repeat exactly what you hear.

I am a huge fan of Pimsleur and have had a lot of positive results from Pimsleur Mandarin, Spanish, and Tagalog, of which I have done all lessons. It gives you a solid foundation and a great accent to move on to fluency with a more serious program or routine.
3 persons have voted this message useful



mcjon77
Senior Member
United States
Joined 6347 days ago

193 posts - 248 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: Spanish, Arabic (Egyptian), French

 
 Message 23 of 62
24 May 2010 at 6:26pm | IP Logged 
Volte wrote:
kmart wrote:
Well, I learnt enough Italian from Pimsleur alone (all 3 levels and I bought them at a good discount) to feel confident traveling around Italy and into areas with few English speakers - including asking my non-English-speaking Sicilian landlady for a bottle opener, directions to various places and having a detailed conversation about her daughter, grandchildren and sister who was a nun.


I agree Pimsleur is quite an effective way to learn to ask directions. I'm surprised you managed to have a detailed conversation after it, unless you used other material as well....



I'm going to echo kmart's experience with Pimsleur. I have used Pimsleur for both French and Spanish. In addition I have tested what I have learned by using it in 5 different countries, France, the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Colombia, and the US (Miami).

For French I had taken (and failed) French in high school and college. In fact, the only reason I finally passed French in college (a foreign language is a requirement for graduation) is because the teacher decided that the final exam would be a speech followed by a free flowing conversation. Fortunately, I had used the Pimsleur course. Pimsleur was no help on my written assignments, but it allowed me to absolute crush the final exam conversation and speech. I still remember my French teacher's mouth wide open as I flowed effortlessly while speaking French. I was the worst student, but the best speaker. She actually came up to me after class and asked where I learned to speak French like that (she knew that it wasn't from her).

Later that year I decided to go to Paris. My hotel was closer to the outskirts of Paris, thus there were much fewer English speakers. I had to rely completely on my French. I was able to not only get around, I was capable of having fairly long conversations with people, including a lovely girl who spoke two words of English (hello and goodbye) that I spent an entire week with.

With Spanish the results were more impressive, since I have never taken any Spanish classes before. In the cases of the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, and Colombia, I had little more than my pimsleur knowledge and a pocket dictionary that I rarely looked at. In these countries I was able to have fairly long conversations with the locals.

Was I able to discuss the debt crisis in the European Union and its potential long term ramifications on the world economy? Of course not. However, I was able to discuss with these people the things that were important to them, such as their lives, work, and family. This went beyond the standard “do you have any children?/what is his name?/How old is he?” type of questions, although those are always a good start.    Even though Pimsleur provides a limited vocabulary, I found that during a conversation it was easy enough to ask the meaning of a word and expand my vocabulary. This actually happened less that you would think. Between that and the number of cognates that exist in Spanish, conversations went surprisingly well.

My personal opinion is that Pimsleur's weakest areas are its lack of vocabulary and that some of the more complex grammar concepts that Pimsleur covers in module III are not reinforced as well as the earlier grammatical concepts. However, knowing this, I am more easily able to direct my study to fill in the gaps. I hope to take an Oral Proficiency Interview in September, after I have filled in most of those gaps, to see where I stand.

After my experiences with Pimsleur. I would be completely comfortable with the idea of traveling alone to a foreign country with no more experiences than the Pimsleur comprehensive course and a pocket dictionary, and speaking solely in the target language for my time there. In fact, I am thinking about doing that for Tagalog or Thai. I completely understand that Pimsleur is not for everyone, and many people don't like it. I use it because I have not seen any other course that gets speaking proficiency so high in so little time (45 hours total for all 3 comprehensive volumes). However, once you finish, it is time to move on to other tools.

5 persons have voted this message useful



Cainntear
Pentaglot
Senior Member
Scotland
linguafrankly.blogsp
Joined 5747 days ago

4399 posts - 7687 votes 
Speaks: Lowland Scots, English*, French, Spanish, Scottish Gaelic
Studies: Catalan, Italian, German, Irish, Welsh

 
 Message 24 of 62
24 May 2010 at 9:54pm | IP Logged 
mcjon77,

A large part of your success with Pimsleur for French may be down to the fact that it addressed the gaps in your school classes (which never give you enough practice time). Spanish is an easy language for an English speaker, particularly so once you've learnt some French too.

You may well find that learning something very different like Tagalog or Thai will be a very different experience.

I've tried various Pimsleur short courses (the library had them and it seemed an easy way to satisfy my "language wanderlust") and the only ones I completed were the Portuguese and Irish ones, because I had enough Spanish and (Scottish) Gaelic to get a handle on what was happening. Vietnamese, on the other hand, I gave up on 10 minutes in because I was just getting too much new information in one go and I couldn't remember anything.


1 person has voted this message useful



This discussion contains 62 messages over 8 pages: << Prev 1 24 5 6 7 8  Next >>


Post ReplyPost New Topic Printable version Printable version

You cannot post new topics in this forum - You cannot reply to topics in this forum - You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum - You cannot create polls in this forum - You cannot vote in polls in this forum


This page was generated in 0.4395 seconds.


DHTML Menu By Milonic JavaScript
Copyright 2024 FX Micheloud - All rights reserved
No part of this website may be copied by any means without my written authorization.