Category Archives: Pimsleur Method and Programs

Pimsleur App: 50 years old, offering 50 languages — and now a “Killer App.”

I’ve always dreamed of being within a mile of a Killer App.  Merriam-Webster defines one as “a computer application of such great value or popularity that it assures the success of the technology with which it is associated.”  In fact, my Facebook membership dates to August 6, 2007 when I got it into my head that I could invent a Killer App for SparkNotes (where I then worked), just by a little osmosis and a lot of hutzpuh.  No such luck.

Years later, our Killer App, better known as the Pimsleur Course Manager (Pimsleur App), is now responsible for moving the digital courses from our website to your phone, tablet, or desktop, without your having to look under the hood and locate where the downloaded MP3 audio files have been hidden.


All you have to do is follow the link for your free Course Manager App of choice:  iTunes for all the Apple mobile devices, the Google Play store for Android, and then two desktop versions –one for PC’s and and one for MAC.  Activate the Pimsleur App, then log in using your email address and password.

Pimsleur App Homescreen

Pimsleur Course Manager Homescreen

It’s at this point the miracle happens (ok, it’s just another cool use of WIFI):  the App’s Library fills up with a list of the Course(s) you have purchased on, and when you touch the appropriate icon the app begins to import your Course(s), allowing you to determine the amount of  download– from all at once, to lesson by lesson, depending on how much available space you have.

Once the Pimsleur App has you squared away with your course, it ceases to be a download manager and becomes the perfect companion for learning with Pimsleur.  Basically it lets you focus solely on the content of the lessons, proceeding daily through each half-hour session, remembering where you left off if you take a break.  The Pimsleur App makes the courses truly Pimsleur-Portable.

Pimsleur Course Library

Pimsleur Course Library Screen

The Pimsleur’s Course Manager App operates on the same principle as the Nook for i/Phone, or the Kindle for i/Phone apps.  Nook Icon kindle iconEach is free, and only requires you to log in with your Web ID and password, displaying your library of digital books and then letting you read a book in the same environment as the full blown Kindle or Nook.

For me the “Killer” aspect of the Pimsleur App is the perfect marriage between how we recommend you do a Pimsleur course and how the App effortlessly walks you through the daily application of the lessons and readings.  Pimsleur is a linear program and with the Pimsleur App you spend your time learning, not trying to remember what lesson you are on and where it’s stored.

This simple, free shell of an App that takes 120 half-hour lessons of Spanish (and/or lessons from 49 other languages) and delivers them up one-by-one, keeping  your place no matter where you leave off,  magnifies the effects of the Pimsleur Method by letting you focus on your accent and not your hard drive.

David Sedaris Laughs! In three languages, thanks to Pimsleur.

David Sedaris

June 24, 2011

Dear David Sedaris,

By now you must have heard rumors of the spontaneous act of craziness, which Pimsleur has Beverly Heinleperpetrated on your behalf.  Having read of your appearance in Arkansas several months ago, and your frustration at the limitations of Pimsleur’s vocabulary in Japanese for certain situations — explaining to the cabbie that you are gay and have a niece and god son – our Editor-in-Chief, Beverly Heinle, had the idea that we should write and record an incremental Japanese lesson that would equip you to answer in kind the next time you were chatted up by a Japanese cabbie.

Attached is a kind of teaser with a photo from the recording session we had last week with your Japanese lesson, and the Bonus Japanese Scriptscript which I include as a further memento of your lesson – scripts are never supposed to leave the Concord office, so I’m likely to get heat for this.

On behalf of all of us at Pimsleur, we appreciate your support, albeit backhanded at times, and we hope you enjoy the recording.


Robert Paris Riger
Pimsleur Language Programs

From: David Sedaris
Sent: Monday, June 27, 2011
To: Riger, Robert
Subject: Re: a Private Pimsleur Lesson in Japanese —

Dear Robert,

The audio you sent is one of the funniest things I’ve ever heard-just perfectly ridiculous. And to Ray Brownhear it in those voices, to see a picture of Ray Brown- it felt almost wrong to look upon his face. It’s the way I felt when I first saw my first NPR anchor. Wait, I thought, you’re human?

I hope you’re not put off by my story. I’ve used your Italian, your German, and your Japanese, all to great effect, and I recommend your program to everyone.

Most sincerely,

David Sedaris

Sedaris in The New Yorker

It was while working with the fact checkers on David’s article on language in The New Yorker, July 11, 2011, that we realized we’d found the perfect means to present our first ever Pimsleur special vocabulary lesson. They played middle man, and the email exchange above took place.





David Sedaris Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls

David Sedaris’ new book.

David Sedaris’ new book and audio book, Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls, will be out April 23, 2013.   They contain the article that ran in The New Yorker.  The audio book also contains an excerpt from the Pimsleur bonus Japanese lesson where you can hear the nuances in pronunciation, and where you too will laugh till it hurts.

Click for the Pimsleur track on the Sedaris audio book, Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls.



Language Learning: Tutore, Traditore

Tutore, Traditore

Recently I found myself with a couple of hours to kill downtown, so I did what I’ve always done with free time:  made a bee-line for a bookstore.  In this case, the Barnes & Noble multiplex on Union Square in Manhattan.  After some serious browsing, the dizzying feeling of so Language Learning - Barnes & Noblemany books and too little time set in and I found myself in the store’s café that must seat 100 people, but is nonetheless always full.

I begged the second seat at a table with a guy who had a stack of very thick economics books in front of him and quietly concentrated on my soup.

Ten minutes into the soup, a pattern began to emerge in the conversations around me.  It seemed as though fully half of the tables were occupied by language Tutors and their students.  Many of them were American guys teaching the English language to women from other countries.

Filtering out as much of the general noise as I could, the typical tutor/student dialogue emerged:

“Now give me an example of a gerund with that same root.”

“Can you think of an adjective that would fit in that sentence?”

“Which word is the adverb in the sentence I’m about to say?”

                What I did not hear were the responses, as the questions were designed to elicit monosyllabic replies from the students, not actual spoken English.  The sessions over, tutor and student would rise, shake hands, the student would leave and the teacher would resume his seat quickly before someone got the mistaken idea that he was leaving.

After a few of these sessions, the penny dropped.  This was what we are always trying to explain about language learning with Pimsleur.  Here was 30 minutes of halting exchange where way too much time was spent on “meta-language,” labeling each part of speech, learning grammar as if it came first and not the spoken language it attempts to describe.  In a Pimsleur lesson you are listening to the new language being spoken, or you yourself are speaking it aloud for some 80% of a half-hour lesson.

In order to lay the groundwork for your being able to take what you learn and add in new vocabulary when you are out in the real world,   Pimsleur teaches what are called “structures” in each lesson. They are not labeled as such, and you don’t know you are learning them until you begin to use them in conversation.Language Learning - English Grammar

I must admit to getting a kick out of diagramming sentences in Ms. Staats seventh Grade English Class – what Virgo wouldn’t?  For me, however, actually speaking another  language – Spanish daily, with the Abuelas in my apartment building, French while haggling with rug merchants in Morocco, or Italian first learned because I had a huge crush on a certain Florentine native speaker– is the payoff.

These are the things that inspire me and which the Pimsleur Method™ with its combination of science and magic puts within reach of its learners in a way that no other language learning program does.

Language Learning - French Grammar

Note:    Tutore, Traditore, is a pun on an Italian pun.  The more familiar version is Traduttore, Traditore – which means Translator=Traitor, aka to translate is to be untrue, disloyal to the original text.  Tutore more precisely means “guardian” in Italian, but precettore would rob me of the alliteration.