Venting about Pimsleur

@ IYH Good one. It was just that this one stuck out like a sore dumb (couldn’t resist).

Has there been a more extensive list of tips and tricks than the short one that would appear after login awhile back? I think this would be fairly easy to make.

Having used Pimsleur in the past. I can remember how frustrated I would get when they would break down the word or phrase bit by bit as if I were trying to insult my intelligence when I was using it. Like others have said, I cannot stand that there is more English than what was in the target language. They also slowed things down way too much and I felt like they were trying to tell me: “You have no brain at all so I must break everything down for slowly until you get it.” type of thing.

intelligence* :stuck_out_tongue:

^^^Thanks for that. You helped me spot a word I forgot to add as well.

hehe, no worries. :slight_smile:

As I understood it, the breaking down of each phrase into syllables was mainly to aid with pronunciation. Those who really pay attention to pronunciation in Pimsleur can benefit from the instant feedback it provides about not only how one pronounces words but also the rhythm of the phrases. Some people pay attention to this, some people don’t. This is why some people can gain really good near native accents using Pimsleur while others don’t. I used Pimsleur before finding LingQ. It did not help me very much with vocabulary or for listening skills. But it did help me conjugate verbs with little effort and develop an accent that isn’t grating to to the ears of a native speaker.

As someone good with pronunciation, I just wouldn’t bore myself to death with Pimsleur. :smiley:

I first joined Lingq a while back when I was first starting to learn french, but it really didn’t do anything for me. For me, it was just annoying and boring to try to read or listen to articles where I only understand 5% of what’s there - I just got lost.

Recently, I just re-discovered Lingq, and now that I can understand a majority of what I’m reading and hearing, it works great! After a long plateau, I feel like I’m really taking off again learning new vocabulary and listening to more real content.

However, in the early stages, programs like Pimsleur and Michel Thomas were much more effective for me.

Also, for people who complain about there being too much English, I guess I’m wondering how you are using Lingq, because it seems to me that if you don’t know anything in the target language, then you have to spend a good chunk of your time looking up or reviewing English definitions of all the words you don’t know.

Do I have any use for Pimsleur now? Not at all. But when I start moving on to the next language, I will probably still use both to get myself up and running.

Interesting comments trickypig. Everyone finds their own path.

To me looking up the meanings of words in English but focusing my reading and listening on the target language works fine. Hearing a lot of English when I want to listen to the target language puts me right off.

I think that for someone motivated enough, using those audio programs won’t last very long. Michel Thomas doesn’t bore me like Pimsleur (perhaps because it’s not so sterile like Pimsleur) and I can finish off each level within a few days for a Romance/Germanic language and a couple weeks for others. As we know, none of these languages get learned in a week or two, so it’s basically a minor amount of time to be listening to a lot of English. I’m the same - I find it more effective also.

I don’t want to make this a thread about accents but that’s an aspect usually mentioned whenever Pimsleur comes up.

Maria__ wrote:
"Wow! Jeff, that’s a problem I think many of us would like to have :wink:

With a super accent you are well on your way!!!"

Berta wrote:
"It’s not as if you have to choose between having a good accent or good language skills!. If you start up with a good accent, like Maria says, you’re well on your way!

I wouldn’t mind to start with a superb accent and deceive a few people because they assume I should be very fluent in the language. I will get there!"

Some people don’t have big problems producing (even just mimicking) the sounds of a foreign language, but that doesn’t have to be particularly helpful, especially if you’re a beginner.

Prof Arguelles once wrote ( Some thoughts on accent and pronunciation (Lessons in Polyglottery) Language Learning Forum ):
“(…)why on earth would I want to pass for a native when I am not? I myself, when I meet someone who speaks English just as I do, immediately expect him to use the same wide range of vocabulary correctly, to understand the same range of idiomatic expressions and cultural references that I do, and, above all, and with allowances for an occasional misspeak, to express himself with grammatical and other structural perfection. If he errs too much in these regards, I will unconsciously and instinctively and uncharitably begin to suspect that may be a fool or an ignoramus or a boor. If, however, I can hear that he is actually a foreigner, I will be reminded of this precisely when he errs, and on these same occasions I will instead instinctively feel only great admiration for his high level of achievement.”

Maybe I’d focus on accent alone if I were using the language as a one-way communication (singing, acting… recording audiobooks etc.). Not that I find pronunciation that difficult (just like Imyirtseshem).

Although I find Pimsleur “good” for activating a language, it doesn’t teach you that much. Not that there’s any guarantee that any other method does that either…

I’ve always thought that a method can only give as much as you are willing to take from it, but in the case of some methods there is precious little to extract.

I agree. I think I’m pretty good with accents myself as well. I remember trying a wide range of ‘methods’ to learn French, and the frustration I felt (for about 3 years). I was able to make statements and ask questions in French, and some people initially thought I was French. However, I wasn’t able to follow basic conversations. I think I made more progress in six months with LingQ than three years trying ‘listen and repeat’, out-of-context programs (plus some classes).

A very insightful comment Jeff :slight_smile:

I hadn’t realised that Pimsleur was important for accents until you brought that up in your last thread and I find that interesting. I’ve tried to find out more about Pimsleur but have not been too successful. How exactly does Pimsleur help one’s accent, do you know?

Your comment relating to what Arguelles has to say is also rather interesting, as Arguelles appears to be suggesting that having an accent may actually be an asset if you cannot speak the language perfectly. Are you really of the view that if you are going to make a significant amount of mistakes in a language, it’s better to make the mistakes with an accent than without one as you just might be taken as a fool otherwise?

I’d say that if you, Imyirtseshem and Peter tend to have good accents when learning a new language, you are all well on your way, and you can all feel that this is an asset and not a handicap.

With a good accent, you only have to concentrate on all the rest which is essentially learning the language as well as possible; with a bad accent you have to concentrate on all the rest and on improving your accent too. A good accent is not a short cut, reducing all the rest of the work involved acquiring a language, but it does mean you gain more time to concentrate on the rest as you don’t have to worry about this too.

As Berta says “it’s not as if you have to choose between having a good accent or good language skills.” It doesn’t have to be a question of “either or”. Although, I grant you, others such as Arguelles might have us believe that having a native accent may actually be detrimental if we make too many mistakes in a language.

I know that you are a musician Jeff and it’s wonderful to hear that you don’t find pronunciation difficult. I wonder, do you think that comedians who mimic others to perfection in their own language, could learn languages faster?

At least for those who have an aptitude for accents, I think ‘listen and repeat’ systems are a good way to perfect one’s accent (at least for the small amount that one can say).

In the long(er) run, six months spent doing this is probably far less efficient than six months spent working on comprehension (with the occasional ‘accent session’, if one were so inclined).

Arguelles is certainly no fool, never think this. :slight_smile: His ideas are very much derived from experience - the experience of having learned several dozen languages to high levels.

Indeed, having a great accent can be a bit of a problem. People will hear you speak a few sentences with a great pronunciation and will assume one of 2 things:

  1. Native speaker;
  2. Must have lived in the country - will speak very well.

They will tend to speak much faster, assuming that good accent = great understanding and speaking ability. Obviously this is not always the case. Of course, one need not obsess over such a problem; it’s just something which is possible. There need not be any action taken other than what is already expected - keep learning! haha

Peter, I’ve don’t really worry about my pronunciation. Actually, it’s something I’ve never worried about. It’s only when I meet two sounds which are rather close and I’m not distinguishing between words that I do anything. Oh, of course I have a quick run through the IPA of the language beforehand, just to know what to listen out for.

“…the experience of having learned several dozen languages to high levels.” — As I’ve said before, we should look to someone who has the kinds of skills that we wish to attain. I haven’t seen much evidence of Prof Arguelles having the kinds of skills that I wish to attain (though he may well have them!). As an example, I don’t want to ONLY be able to read well in a language.

IMY :- I’d be interested to see how you go with speaking without thinking, in the following examples for example.

Finnish: Vowel sounds almost always agree within words (A O U … or … Ä Ö Y). So if you have a word like ‘suomalainen’ versus a word like ‘syömässä’, or perhaps something like ‘väestö’ or “vaisto”, there’s a big difference.

After you ‘master’ this in Finnish (if you decide to), you will probably (habitually) make a lot of vowels agree in this way in a language like French, which isn’t correct obviously.

I suppose what I’m saying is that when we’re speaking spontaneously, a lot of this IPA practice goes out the window in my opinion.

I’ve heard his Dutch which is pretty good (even though he hadn’t spoken it in 15 years), and he claims to speak at least 6 better than that. His German, after living there, stayed in his head for several years after returning to America. Yeah, I know a heap of people who learn foreign languages that well… :slight_smile: I see no reason to think he is some kind of liar and this sort of debate is really pretty stupid, in my eyes. Reminds me of unilang and HTLAL. :slight_smile: I don’t think that reading a dozen languages very well in addition to spoken ones, is any disadvantage. I like reading! But, if you listen to the man he gives reasons for why he only learns to read some languages. Old Norse, Sanskrit, Latin, etc? Well, 99.99% of people learning those only learn to read them. Several others, it’s not his conscious aim to purely learn to read but he has simply never met anybody to practice the language with. He likes reading too, and finds that to be no real problem. Damn, I’ve been waiting 2 1/2 years for a Dutch conversation!!! (And it annoys me to no end how the promises are always, always empty…but that’s another matter.)

So, it’s got vowel harmony? Very nice. I’ve always loved that feature in languages. I particularly like the half-vowel harmony of some languages where it’s only in the later half of words or only certain vowels. That can be very beautiful.

The effects the sounds of one language might have on another has got nothing to do with IPA, I might add. I repeat: the IPA is a writing system for transcribing sounds.

I’m not doubting his achievements etc… I’m just saying that I haven’t seen much evidence of him possessing the kinds of skills that I want to attain.

I was just stating that knowledge of the IPA or its relationship with the sounds of the target language may not be of that much assistance in the long run, but of course I could be wrong.

I’ve only seen long term benefit. I can’t see any reason for it being a disadvantage. There are only long term benefits for learning any language.