Pimsleur Review – Best Way to Learn a Language?

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Written By Francesca Stephens

Founder of Linguatics. Passionate multilinguist.

Pimsleur is one of the longest household names in language learning.

To be more precise, Pimsleur language programs have been on the market in various forms since 1963.

Over the years, Pimsleur has become a popular and practical online program for learning languages.

It offers a bunch of modern tools and useful features.

But is Pimsleur worth the hype?

Well, it all comes down to your learning style and goals.

In our honest Pimsleur review, we will tell you all about the platform’s highlights and functionalities so you can see if Pimsleur is the right choice for you!

What is Pimsleur?

In essence, Pimsleur is a mix of audio lessons and exercises. It features reading drills, speed games, flashcards, quizzes, and so on.  

Pimsleur review

It’s based on the teachings of expert linguist Paul Pimsleur. According to Pimsleur, if learners were reminded of new words at gradually increasing intervals, each time they would remember longer than the time before.

This method/principle is widely known as the spaced repetition system. So, the Pimsleur program is actually based on a variation of this popular memory technique. And it’s a very effective technique if we might add.

The Pimsleur method is also centered around the principle of participation and organic learning. In other words, Pimsleur is focused on the context of conversation and effective proven teaching methods.

You can check out Paul Pimsleur’s book on how to learn a foreign language if you want to learn more.

The Pimsleur method

Nevertheless, Pimsleur lessons pressure you to recall and participate in an actual exchange.

The emphasis is on audio and speaking, so you’ll build solid conversational skills.

The Pimsleur app doesn’t use speech recognition technology, but it will teach you how to speak in other ways.

The app itself is very convenient – it even comes with a special driving mode. You can learn anytime, anywhere.

With Pimsleur, learning a new language will be easy and quick.

In fact, Pimsleur promises to teach you how to speak at an intermediate level in 30 days. And although that depends on your self-discipline and persistence, Pimsleur lessons seem to be short, concise, and effective.

But how do they look like and how does Pimsleur work?

How Does Pimsleur Work?

Pimsleur core lessons are based on a 30-minute audio exercise. A moderator speaking in English walks you through a basic Spanish conversation step-by-step.

You’ll listen to a few sentences in the language you’re learning, then the moderator will stop to explain what’s going on. From there, you’ll be asked a couple of questions. So, in a way, you’ll participate in a conversation too.

Every Pimsleur package also contains reading lessons. Besides reading, these lessons are designed to teach you to sound out words with the correct pronunciation.

You’ll also get drills and exercises. Each drill or exercise takes around 5 to 10 minutes to complete.  

In essence, Pimsleur’s audio-based system is primarily focused on speaking and listening. You’ll expand your vocabulary, increase comprehension, and learn how to talk about common topics.

Pimsleur lessons

Each lesson covers different skills and topics, from travel and food to more complex topics such as politics and climate change.

The program also contains light bulb moments to connect culture and history to your language learning.

And high-resolution travel photographs will make everything more engaging.

However, Pimsleur doesn’t have visual aids and representations like many other similar platforms. It does have visual elements, but it’s different. Pimsleur is based on mental imagery instead.

Also, Pimsleur’s lessons don’t pay a lot of attention to grammar and writing. And that might be a disadvantage for some learners.

But if you want to build communication skills and you’re an aural learner, Pimsleur is a perfect program for you.

It is recommended to do one lesson per day. That’s how you’ll be able to do a lot in a 30-day period.

The most popular Pimsleur courses have 5 levels.

For example, the Spanish course can take you to an intermediate level of speaking and understanding. At level 5, you’ll learn to speak more in-depth about your personal life and emotional state and be able to structure complex sentences.

And every course will teach you common phrases, greetings, practical vocabulary, pronunciation, and cultural differences.

Overall, Pimsleur is a very convenient and effective language learning app. It’s engaging, fast-paced, and easy to use.

Ultimately, it all comes down to your goals and unique learning habits.

If you want to acquire basic vocabulary and take lessons while you’re doing something else, Pimsleur’s audio format might be perfect for you.

Pimsleur review 2022

However, you won’t get a thorough, well-rounded knowledge of language and culture or in-depth grammar explanations.

On the other hand, Pimsleur will prepare you for real-life situations and conversations with native speakers, and that’s not always the case with online language courses.

Either way, if you want to brush up on your language skills, you can’t go wrong with Pimsleur.

Features

Languages

One of the best things about Pimsleur is its wide selection of languages.

Pimsleur offers around 50 languages and compared to other language learning apps, that’s really impressive.

You can learn Icelandic, Indonesian, Norwegian, Armenian, Danish, Portuguese (Brazilian or European), Ukrainian, and much more.

If you wish to learn a less popular language, Pimsleur is a great choice for you.  

Research-proven methods

The Pimsleur method is centered around effective, proven teaching methods. This is largely based on gradual interval recall.

So, there’s a lot of repetition in Pimsleur lessons. But the whole program is well-structured and thoughtfully crafted so you’ll learn new material quickly and efficiently.

Contextual learning also plays a vital role – you’ll listen to natural conversations and hear the language in use, and that’s arguably the best way to learn a foreign language.

Speak Easy Challenge

This conversation practice allows you to role-play while reviewing your conversations’ written transcripts. It’s one of the tools Pimsleur uses to teach you how to speak in a clear way.

Pimsleur’s language can sometimes get quite formal though, but it always makes sense. In other words, you won’t learn phrases you’re never going to use, but you won’t delve deeper into slang either.

Extra Features

Pimsleur is packed with many features that will come in handy during your learning journey.

Speed Round Games are fast-paced, engaging games, you can test your conversational knowledge.

Digital flashcards contain words and short phrases from the daily audio lessons. They are a good way to review and reinforce what you’ve learned.

And Quick Match interactive phrase games will allow you to engage in the language even more.

Key Decision Making Criteria

  1. User-friendliness & learning interface – Pimsleur has a very simple and clean interface. The app is fairly easy to navigate (8.9/10).
  2. Convenience – With Pimsleur, you can stream live or download and listen offline. The app also has a hands-free mode, so it’s ideal for learning on the go (9.5/10). 
  3. Languages offered – Pimsleur offers around 50 languages. There are all kinds of languages and dialects, from Castilian Spanish to Croatian. Pimsleur also offers English courses for speakers of different nationalities; English for Italian speakers, Vietnamese speakers, Haitian speakers, and so on (9.5/10).
  4. Quality of content – Pimsleur’s lessons are fast-paced and effective, and although they lack visual aids and clear grammar instruction, they will help you gain language skills in no time (8.5/10).
  5. Available platforms – You can use Pimsleur on all your devices – Android, iOS, or desktop. And you can easily sync them (9/10).
  6. Payment methods Pimsleur accepts all the standard payment methods (credit cards, Paypal…) And there’s a 30-day money-back guarantee (9.6/10).
  7. Customer support – If you have any questions or issues, you can e-mail Pimsleur or call their customer service. However, some Trustpilot user reviews claim that their customer service is not responsive enough (7.9/10).

Pimsleur Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Spaced repetition system
  • Proven methods
  • A wide selection of languages

Cons

  • No voice recognition technology
  • Lack of visual representations

Who is Pimsleur For?

Pimsleur is the best option for beginners who want to develop speaking and listening skills.

It’s ideal for aural learners and people with a busy schedule who want to learn on the go.

How Much Does Pimsleur Cost?

Like many other similar platforms, Pimsleur offers monthly subscriptions.

You can choose from:

  • Pimsleur Premium for 19.95$/month
  • Pimsleur All Access Plan for 20.95$/month

If you opt for the All Access Plan, you’ll get access to all the languages. You can easily switch between the languages. And you’ll get all the features that the Premium plan has.

Pimsleur subscription plans

If you want to test the waters, Pimsleur has a 7-day free trial option.

Similar Platforms to Consider

If you want to explore similar platforms, you should check out Rocket Languages.

Compared to many other platforms, Rocket has a wider range of content and topics.

And just like Pimsleur, Rocket offers lessons that are based on simulated dialogue. However, Rocket uses speech recognition technology so you’ll also be able to actively work on your pronunciation.

It’s a well-rounded and reliable platform that will undoubtedly help you achieve your goals.

Another good option is Babbel. The app is similar to Pimsleur, but it pays more attention to grammar and writing (in addition in addition to listening and speaking exercises.)

Babbel also offers live classes and useful features, but Pimsleur is generally more fast-paced. Therefore, if you want to learn a new language as quickly as possible, you should opt for Pimsleur.

Is Pimsleur Worth it? Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, you should choose a course that fits your goals and learning style.

If you want to learn on the go and you wish to improve your speaking skills in a quick and easy way, Pimsleur’s approach will meet your needs.

After all, Pimsleur is a timeless classic that still remains a viable tool for effective language learning.

And it’s also incredibly practical – Pimsleur’s audio lessons will help you add language lessons to your daily routine even if you don’t have a lot of free time on your hands.

With so many great language apps, it’s normal to feel overwhelmed or a bit confused. But compared to its competitors, Pimsleur is a highly effective language program that won’t let you down.

Either way, we hope our Pimsleur review made things easier for you as well as inspired you to start learning as soon as possible!