Category Archives: Pimsleur 50th. Anniversary

The Pimsleur Difference – Pimsleur Reviews

The signs are everywhere: to know and to have tried Pimsleur, is to love Pimsleur.
This passion people had for Pimsleur was immediately apparent to me as a new employee.  Several friends who congratulated me on taking the job had personal Pimsleur success stories to tell and, the Pimsleur reviews I read on Amazon and Audible.com were raves, and of a very personal– “these courses changed our lives,”–nature.  And everyone who worked on Pimsleur treated it as far more than just a self-help commodity.
Pimsleur Reviews - Pimsleur Chinese Mandarin UserTwo weeks into the job I was the happy recipient of an offer from a philanthropist in Lexington, MA – the next town over from our offices in Concord—who knew Pimsleur and was passionate about language learning and what it could do for World Peace (a longer story).  He made an offer to donate $500,000 if Pimsleur would develop a course program in Pashto and give it away free to the troops in Afghanistan. That offer has blossomed with into over 23,000 courses in units of both Afghan languages, Pashto and Dari, made available at no charge to the troops, working with the USO as our partner. That’s some 350,000 hours of instruction.

Pimsleur Reviews - Pimsleur Spanish UserIn 2012 we installed a mechanism where our users could post Pimsleur reviews directly to www.pimsleur.com and some 1,655 have done so, providing great feedback and great reviews and testimonials on the site. To bring this passion for Pimsleur to life we asked some of those who had written Pimsleur reviews and testimonials to let us film them for a short video. They were even more enthusiastic in person when describing their experiences with Pimsleur and their quest to learn new languages and speak with people in their native tongues.

Pimsleur Reviews - Pimsleur Italian User
Many of them reinforced the notion that if you follow the course as outlined by Pimsleur, that learning a new language is far easier than we are lead to believe — or far easier than the way it was when trying to learn conjugations in taught in most high schools in the US. Several users mentioned the a-ha moment when a bell goes off, or when you begin to think there’s some “special sauce” being dished out, that makes you realize there’s more to Pimsleur than meets the eye. (It’s in the ear.)Pimsleur Reviews - Pimsleur French User
I’ll admit to unbridled glee on seeing a 15-year-old high-school kid smile as he spoke about “secretly studying” Pimsleur’s French Course on software, and finding afterward that he had not just caught up with his peers, but exceeded them in his knowledge of French.Pimsleur Reviews - Pimsleur Haitian User

However the most universal desire when you read through all of our Pimsleur reviews, or listen to the participants in the video is the most basic human desire to be able to converse with people, particularly people in a foreign land, in their own language and to be understood.

The Nelson Mandela quote about language always seems the most apt:

 “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, it goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, it goes to his heart.”

The Most Commonly Spoken Languages In The World Infographic

In celebration of its 50th anniversary, Pimsleur Language Programs conducted a survey called “Americans and Language: Perceptions and Realities” to find out how much we really know about languages. The results may surprise you. Below is an Infograhic that outlines the survey results.

Learn what languages are commonly spoken worldwide and the sexist language

 

How to Learn a Foreign Language by Paul Pimsleur

For me, this is the perfect book on learning a new language.

How to Learn a Foreign Language hardcover by Paul Pimsleur

How to Learn a Foreign Language Hardcover

It is all the things most language–learning tools are not. It’s direct, full of useful pearls of wisdom that can be easily incorporated into one’s day-to-day study of a new language. It’s clear and well-written — and nowhere does “academic speak” sneak in to the text. Most importantly, in the book Paul Pimsleur gives it to you straight: in this 30-year-old time machine we get what is still contemporary wisdom, straight from the professor’s pen.

Paul Pimsleur’s theories, as expressed in How to Learn a Foreign Language, are deceptively simple. In his own teaching, Dr. Pimsleur saw students repeatedly failing and being turned off of what to him was the most exciting challenge in the world: learning a new language. From his research he came up with Guidelines to put back the excitement and fun in language learning.

The book speaks equally to the different kinds of would-be language learners –– from those who thought themselves scarred for life by High School Spanish Hell to the more confident learners who want to approach the full range of different languages. You’ll be surprised at the Foreign Service Institute’s grouping of “easy” to “hard” languages: what language ranks where isn’t entirely obvious.

Paul Pimsleur was very direct in his advice on what to look for in a teacher: from when the classroom experience is not going to help you learn and when it is, to when you’re within your rights to object to your time being wasted by methods that aren’t going to teach you anything.

A lot of what I’ve come to know as the Pimsleur Method is developed from the ground up in this book.

As Pimsleur walks you step-by-step through his straightforward advice on how to learn a language, he sets out the principles of The Pimsleur Method, answering many of the questions I’ve had about the reasoning behind the program. By the end of this short book, you’ve gotten the benefit of his years of experience and the results of his research that lead to defining the behaviors proven to result in your learning a new language more easily.

It’s a book that could enhance the experience of any language program – whether classroom, purely independent study, Pimsleur, or (gasp) Rosetta Stone. Much of the book discusses how to choose the language you should study, based on your need/desire, but also on degree of difficulty and the range of usefulness, and then how you might go about building a study plan that fits your particular learning style.

Little Pim logoI’m lucky to be in frequent contact with Dr. Pimsleur’s wife, Beverly, and his daughter Julia (whose company Little Pim is churning out future Big Pim customers), each of whom cheers us on in spreading the word about Pimsleur. As importantly, they each keep Paul Pimsleur from becoming a lifeless statue, constantly providing insights and anecdotes that enable us to think of him as present in our daily business.

Dr. Paul Pimsleur was always in the forefront: in the 1960’s he was responsible for developing the first computerized language laboratory at Ohio State University where he set up a venture with Ohio Bell Telephone Company that enabled students to learn at their own pace, dialing in directly to hear pre-programmed tapes. I can’t help but think he’d admire the revolutionary Course Manager App we’ve developed. And he’d be inordinately pleased with the 50 languages we now offer.

Once you start reading How to Learn a Foreign Language, you’ll find it hard to put down. And you’ll remember what you read. Paul Pimsleur’s wisdom is as valuable today as it was when this book was originally published in 1980.