Tag Archives: pimsleur method

Our newest, shiniest Portuguese lessons yet!

So, perhaps you managed to avoid all the hype about the exciting release of Pimsleur’s Third Edition of Pimsleur Brazilian Portuguese 1, but it was pretty big news in my world – as I was the co-writer, and all!

Pimsleur Brazilian Portuguese Lessons 1, 3rd Edition CDWe made some really exciting changes to the course – let me share some with you:

We updated the vocabulary to reflect contemporary usage, teaching more of the informal /semi-formal você and spending less time on the more formal a senhora/o senhor, as well asreplacing the more old-fashioned esposo/esposa with marido/mulher. (To explain the latter, using esposo in a sentence would be like saying in English, “Hello, I would like you to meet my spouse.” It’s not wrong, but it doesn’t sound quite right, either.) We also added practice in dropping the pronoun when responding to a question, which will make you sound a good deal more like a native speaker, when you are out meeting people in Brazil. (And also, you’ll learn not to expect them to say the pronoun every time, because they most certainly won’t!) This really helps with acquiring the flow and rhythm of Brazilian Portuguese.

Go to the beach or the museum, but get out and enjoy the real Brazil!

We also increased vocabulary in these Brazilian Portuguese lessons, to include modern terminology, such as celular (cellphone), common stock phrases and idioms, localized vocabulary (beaches, museums), travel-pertinent vocabulary like mala (suitcase), and, because I think it’s really important, lots of Brazilian foods and beverages (such as caldo de cana – so that when you go to Brazil, you’re ready to get started trying local cuisine, and not being like the stereotypical Americans who want a burger and fries no matter where they go in the world. (The downside of this was that I spent the whole time writing the course suffering cravings for the foods being mentioned, because Brazilian food is so amazing.)

More changes to the third edition of Brazilian Portuguese include increased cueing in the target language (more practice in understanding); increased practice of numbers, pronouns, and challenging concepts, such as estar (“to be”) and ser (also “to be”) (if it’s hard for me, I assume the rest of you learners will also appreciate the extra help!); a great new booklet of Readings which are also expanded and updated to reflect the spelling changes from the Portuguese-Language Orthographic Agreement of 1990; and finally, just an overall better flow to the units, with a more consistent difficulty level. I personally think you’ll find these Portuguese lessons motivating and challenging enough.

A Pimsleur Secret: You can and should re-do units you find difficult!

A note about repeating units: they do explain in the preamble to the course that you CAN go back and redo a unit with which you had trouble. But I like to add, from my own experience of doing courses as a learner, that you really SHOULD. There is no shame in repeating a unit – some days you learn better / faster / more easily than others, and it could be any reason (from stress to lack of sleep, to allergies or coming down with a cold, to just having an “off” day). The rewards of going back and doing the unit again (giving yourself an overall “easy” half-hour of learning after being frustrated the day before, and using that extra “room” in your brain to really focus on the words / phrases / concepts you had the most trouble with) are greater than you would expect to come from “doing it over again.” There have been times when I have gotten most of the responses right, but just felt like they didn’t stick well enough with me, and then I have just done the unit again, to feel more like I “really got it.” It was always more than worth the time spent on it. (Just remember to only do one unit a day – don’t double up! You brain requires the rest-time, away from the new language, to process what you learned. This is one of the most vital parts of learning in a Pimsleur course!)

All that said (all those changes listed, that is!) there are people out there who will have concerns about the Brazilian Portuguese lessons. Say, for example, that you have the 2nd Edition, and you’re halfway done. Well, for all our hard work, the basic vocabulary (“I don’t understand Portuguese.” “But, yes, you do, and you speak it very well!”) is the same, and if you have a time-limitation you should be able to continue, without having to go back. (You should be able to pick up the new vocabulary words along the way.) However, if you have the time, I’d really suggest you go back and start from scratch, just because it will really help you have a solid grasp of the new vocabulary, and you’ll have the benefit of having the even better course gelling the concepts, strengthening what you have already learned. (And there might be some of you for whom the changes might be just a little too much, so then you really should go back and start over from the beginning.) I really think it will be enjoyable and you’ll realize you are learning more as you go!

Yes, you CAN go on to the next level of our Brazilian Portuguese Lessons!

Pimsleur Portuguese Lessons 1 MP3 courseFinally, another concern from the customers has been, “I have the new edition of Level One. Can I now go to Level Two? Will the new edition connect with the old?” I’m happy to say that, yes, you can and should totally go on to Level Two of our Brazilian Portuguese lessons. There will be a little overlap of vocabulary (although that’s not a bad refresher for you) so you may feel the first few units are unusually easy. There will also be a few instances of something like, say, “esposo” being used where you have now learned “marido.” Don’t get thrown for a loop – just respond with the word you learned, and on you go – there are still lots of great new words and aspects of Brazilian Portuguese to learn and explore.

From myself and the whole team who worked on Pimsleur’s Third Edition of Brazilian Portuguese, we really hope you have a wonderful time learning the language – and an even better time when you get to Brazil!

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.