Pimsleur Method Product Review

by | Jun 17, 2013 | English, Product Reviews

According to the Pimsleur website, this language product is “a scientifically proven set of principles designed to take a learner directly to the heart of the language, eliminating noise, confusion, and information overload.” These are bold claims. So do the Pimsleur courses live up to their marketing claims?
I have personally used the Pimsleur product when I first started learning German, Russian and Spanish. Overall, I found them effective even if relatively expensive compared to other language learning products.
I also used the Michel Thomas courses (Michel Thomas article) before starting with Pimsleur. The two courses complemented each other and certainly were effective in my early language learning.

The Method

With Pimsleur, every lesson starts with a short dialogue, after which the listener is prompted to say something in the target language. After a brief pause on the recording, a native speaker will state the ‘correct’ answer in the target language. The recordings then periodically ask the listener to repeat content that has already been covered which is a method also known as ‘spaced repetition’.


  • Native pronunciation and prosody – all the phrases are repeated immediately after the prompt by native speakers of the target language
  • Repetition – the ‘spaced repetition’ means that the listeners are exposed to the material at specific intervals over the duration of the course
  • Grammar – the grammatical points are primarily learned through osmosis so no complicated and confusing explanations
  • Chunks – the material exposes the listener to chunks of words in context rather than individual words without


  • Dull content – the course material was not very stimulating and I found it at times bland and uninspiring.
  • It has limited range of vocabulary that at times is quirky and very specific to businessmen traveling by plane who for some reason always find it necessary to chat to the women sitting beside them
  • It does not provide the listener with any method for comparing and adjusting their pronunciation to be closer to that of a native speaker


So would I recommend using Pimsleur?
Yes, Pimsleur was worth the investment for me as it helped reach a basic communicative level in the languages that I used it for. However, it comes with the following qualifications:
  • Pimsleur will only get you to a very basic level in the target language with an equally limited range of vocabulary – it no substitute for ‘learning through lifestyle’
  • As Michel Thomas will partially compensate for the weaknesses of Pimsleur, when used together, they are a very powerful learning combination (Michel Thomas article)
  • As it is audio-based, you are more likely to understand the spoken word better than the written
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