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UncategorizedPimsleur prides itself on being a champion for language learning. With the number of language apps available on the market right now, it’s inevitable that questions about whether the Pimsleur approach is effective will arise.    In this post, we’re diving into the Pimsleur method and how it helps students learn a new language more effectively.   

Pimsleur Overview

  Pimsleur’s decades of experience in the field makes it one of the leading language learning apps that helps people pick up a new language using 30-minute daily lessons that you can learn anywhere you go.   Integrating lessons into your daily life is easier by using the audio-forward sessions and interactive activities in the Pimsleur app. With more than 50 languages and 14 ESL courses to choose from, you can learn to start conversations from day one using the Pimsleur Method™. Their basic plan starts at $14.95 per month, but you can have a 7-day free trial to see it for yourself.    READ MORE: Pimsleur Review: Is It Worth It?  

How Pimsleur Started 

As early as 1963, Dr. Paul Pimsleur started applying his extensive knowledge of applied linguistics and wrote five language courses, namely: Speak & Read Essential Greek (1963), Speak & Read Essential French (1964), Speak & Read Essential Spanish (1966), and German Compact (1967), and Twi developed for Peace Corps (1971). These courses were called “ A Tapeway Program,” which would be later renamed Pimsleur.    Pimsleur started as a learning program using recorded audio lessons on cassette tapes, which migrated to CDs and DVDs, digital downloads, and finally, digital downloads and the Pimsleur app we know of today.   

The Pimsleur Method™: An Approach to Language Learning

  “Practically everybody believes that learning must build up gradually from simple to complex…My principle is this: Learn the hardest thing first and the rest will then seem easy.” –Dr. Paul Pimsleur   The Pimsleur Method™ is a trademarked name of Pimsleur’s approach to language learning. Throughout the years, he developed his own version of a Spaced Repetition System (SRS) based on his research on intervals of recalling words in between specific periods of time.   What does that mean? Let’s break down how it works.    For new language learners, an SRS is a way of learning new words through repetition. Each time a new word is introduced, there is an added gap before the word shows up again. This way, you can slowly embed the word in your memory. The goal is to recall the word with ease.    Pimsleur developed the Pimsleur Method™ into a system where students adhere to a definite timeline which starts from frequent recalls (recalls within seconds and minutes) and steadily progressing intervals of up to days, weeks, and months until you finally can remember the words and phrases with ease.    Here are the components of the Pimsleur Method™
  • Graduated Interval Recall - Dr. Pimsleur discovered that if learners would be reminded of new words at steadily increasing intervals, they would remember words longer than the time before. He developed the optimal spacing for information from short-term to long-term memory.
  • Principle of Anticipation - Using our brain’s nature to automatically process speech and “anticipate” a correct response, Pimsleur’s courses are created with the principle of anticipation in mind. This helps students learn the new language faster. 
  • Core Vocabulary - Pimsleur courses are designed to keep the amount of new information you learn every day so you can effectively master the language you’re studying.
  • Organic Learning - The lessons are designed with the context of conversations in mind. This is beneficial for retention since it allows you to adapt the pronunciations and nuances more seamlessly.

So, how does that apply in Pimsleur’s courses? 

  If you listen to Pimsleur’s audio lessons, you will notice that you will hear a word or sentence for the first time, and then moments later, it will be mentioned again and you will be asked to remember it. Then, it will be minutes later, hours, and so on until you can easily recall the word or phrase.   What makes Pimsleur’s approach distinct is its emphasis on the method of participation rather than memorization. This may appear challenging at first, but bearing the brunt work of speaking and recalling learned lessons can make it easier for you to learn your target language in the long run.    What I’ve noticed in language learning apps these days, they hone in on memorizing words and phrases without forcing you to apply them. Other apps gamify the learning process, but actual retention is naught. You’re passively learning these unfamiliar terms just by listening and reading at various intervals.    Meanwhile, audio lessons from Pimsleur force you to recall and participate in conversations. The exercises help you learn how to say something correctly or to have a simulated dialogue activity with a native speaker.    The lessons enable you to be actively involved in what you’re listening to. Plus, it also keeps you alert because you need to answer at different times. Your engagement in lessons is only going to increase your ability to recall the new information you just learned about the language, which is often what would happen in real-life situations if you’ve talked to a native speaker.    READ MORE: Pimsleur Subscription: What Does It Include?  

Bottomline: Does the Pimsleur Method™ work?

The Pimsleur Method™ encourages active learning, where a student’s participation is required to reinforce learned words and phrases from an unfamiliar language. Personally, this method helps me study and remember things better. Students who prefer active learning and engaging lessons would also benefit from this approach to studying.    What’s your experience using Pimsleur? Share it with us in the comments!

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