Pimsleur... success?

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I’m not sure I understand why you think it is nonsense. Can you explain further?

Your first sentence says it all really. Wikipedia is not much of a credible source anyway and remember Pimsleur is just doing it for further promotion. It is no different than what other language systems and how they try to portray themselves.

In terms of Pimsleur being effective, it is actually very good for memory recall in language learning. In terms of lexicon that it teaches, maybe they could work on that a bit more. Overall though, if one is to really go through the whole course, I wouldn’t call Pimsleur “top grade nonsense.”

Could you elaborate more on what you mean?

8 hours of Pimsleur is definitely not going to help any aid worker interact with tsunami refugees. Also, Pimsleur basically (at least they used to) give away their first 8 hours (16 lessons) as a free trial.

Anyway, like Nick910 said the program is effective for building solid sentence structures for expression, as well a proper pronunciation, but the lexicon is modest and it does not focus enough on listening skills.

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'I wouldn’t call Pimsleur “top grade nonsense.” ’

I would.

I must have wasted over 100 hours doing the full (all 3 levels) French course and (why didn’t I learn the first time?) the same for German. For what?

No vocabulary. No understanding. Couldn’t read a word. As for speaking, I could just about muster “I have a 10 o’clock meeting with Monsieur Bertillon” but little else.

“Top grade” because it is well known, well marketed and seen as a premium language-learning product. “Nonsense” because it is complete rubbish.

“Something I’ve just realised today is that Pimsleur is essentially an easy form of the FSI courses.”

This comment intrigues me to take a closer look at the FSI courses. How are they structured?

Funny you should mention Barry Farber, I own 4 copies of his book (that you can now find in the Barnes & Noble bargain section for about 5 dollars) and 2 are often loaned out to friends. His book was what first inspired me to start learning foreign languages.

I also enjoyed listening to his radio program, he is definitely probably the nicest and most soft spoken conservative radio host I have ever heard.

As an example, the full German course (which I’ve done) is divided into two levels with 12 units each. Each unit consists of a dialogue and several types of pattern drills. Back in the old days, the student was supposed to devote one week per unit, full-time in class.

Many languages have several courses, “Fast”, “Programmatic”, “Headstart” etc. It’s up to you to pick one that suits you.

Your target languages are Italian and Spanish, right?

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FSI, depends on the language, I found some to be better than others.

Hungarian and German; there is a variety of progressively harder dialogs, adding new vocab and grammar structures. There’s also drills to go with each new lesson/chapter (grammar transformations, filling in the other half of the spoken dialog). I know some people don’t like that active drilling, but I found it really good. Russian course is not so good, it’s seems a bit rag-tag, not structured in the same way, and for a language like Russian where I think grammar drills would be super useful, it didn’t have them : (

Overall, some of the courses are really good with lots of material, and for free, you can’t argue too much : )

Re those FSI courses, if you upload one to LingQ to study you can also share it with the community (at least I believe you can for most of them).

I’m going to study the Korean course soon and, if it’s any good, share it here.

Are some of these FSI language courses incomplete? There seems to be very little available for certain languages that I would have imagined would have been very popular, such as German.


Have you looked at Free FSI German Language Courses - Basic German, Programmed Introduction, Fast German and Headstart German ?

There are four courses listed there. I imagine you’d be interested in the Introduction and Basic courses.While I haven’t gone through the German courses, I have gone through the Turkish courses (I & II) and they look comparable in length, if not in number of lessons.

Again, since I don’t know German, I can’t be sure, but if it’s anything like the Turkish course, you’ll want to supplement it with something that teaches more updated vocabulary. The grammar covered was quite complete, though.


If you look at something like Italian, there is way more Italian content than German. Also, the FAST courses seem like they are supposed to be the most comprehensive; however, Spanish simply has a link to the book.

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I think the fear is on learning speech patterns that make you sound like you were born in the 1840’s

maths, with regard to grammar drills for Russian, I suggest you create your own. I am printing out my tagged lists for the different cases of Russian, after setting the number of terms to 200. This gives me a lot of examples of these forms. I can also use flash cards, reverse flash cards, and dictation, focused on these examples that I have tagged.It really helps me focus on these troublesome forms.

I love 19th century literature in French , Russian, Spanish and German, to name a few, and have no fear that this will contaminate my language. I agree with Imy.

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