Pimsleur is a highly rated audio course which was developed in the 1970’s, and withstood the test of time!
On a major language learning forum, Pimsleur was rated as the best audio course for learning a language, and in a clear top 3 of learning language courses overall!
Pimsleur’s secret sauce is spaced repetition. Pimsleur is based on research which states that spaced repetition is the most effective way to learn something. The research states that we need to listen to the new information at certain intervals – very often at the beginning when the information is new and less often as time passes.
The exact numbers are: 0 seconds, 5 seconds, 25 seconds, 2 minutes, 10 minutes, 1 hour, 5 hours, 1 day, 5 days, 25 days, 4 months, 2 years.
So the Pimsleur method is based on this course, and when they teach you a lesson, it will be repeated at the intervals suggested by this research!
What do you get?
Pimsleur is an audio course compiled of 5 Levels, with each Level having 30 lessons of 30 minutes. So the full 5 Levels have 75 hours of material. This is for the Spanish course, but the less popular languages may have fewer levels available.
You will hear a dialogue at the beginning of a lesson. The dialogue will then be explained and repeated. This will be following by getting you to repeat the material you just learned at the intervals suggested by the research.
You will have to repeat the material many times to make sure you remember it. You will repeat it because you will be asked to do so through a variety of questions which get you to repeat the words you learned in a slightly different way each time.
Pros of Pimsleur
1) It’s a well researched course, based on actual data
It’s nice to know that there is some actual research behind this course, to make it effective for learning new things! The fact that it’s based on actual data will give you confidence that this program will work before you even use it.
2) It’s an interactive audio course
This will especially be a pro for people who don’t have any free time. You can play the audio lessons while you are doing other things! A common one will be during a commute, when waiting in traffic!
3) It’s proven to be effective at teaching you languages!
In addition to the research behind it, Pimsleur is commonly used by polyglots, so you know it’s an effective course when people who use it managed to succeed the difficult task of learning multiple languages.
Cons of Pimsleur
1) Can be boring
While the repetition aspect has been found to be effective, it can also be quite boring! So it may be difficult to keep your focus on the lesson, but if you can do it, then you can know the course will do a great job at teaching you the language!
2) It’s very expensive
Each level is sold for $150. If you want to buy all 5 levels, for a total 75 hours of material, then it will cost you $550. That is a significant investment!
3) Audio content only
While the fact that it’s an audio course can be an advantage, it can also be a dis-advantage as you are using multiple sense to learn the material, which I find can be very effective!
All these cons of Pimsleur at the reasons why I prefer Rocket Spanish
1) Rocket has characters in their course, which you learn about throughout the lessons, adding some personality to the people behind the voice.
2) Rocket is significantly cheaper than Pimsleur as you can usually get the full Rocket course for $249, compared to Pimsleur’s $550.
3) Rocket is an audio course, but they also have a script and written explanations, as well as flashcards, to allow their users to learn using multiple senses.
However, where Pimsleur has the advantage is that it is based on more empirical research and is a more popular course among polyglots.