In 2014, I downloaded the Audible app on my phone for the first time. I was living in Honolulu at the time, and with a slow hour and a half long (minimum) daily commute, I was looking for a way to study Spanish while I was sitting in traffic.
That was how I found the digital versions of the Pimsleur Method for the first time.
Like most language learning software, it promised native-like fluency after completing it’s lessons. Better still, it claimed to have students speaking good Spanish just after the first lesson.
I was naturally curious about these claims, so I purchased the first pack of 30 lessons for Spanish, hopped in my car, and began to listen.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
The Pimsleur Method, created by Dr. Paul Pimsleur, is not new. It’s been around since 1963 and was heavily based on Dr Pimsleur’s research in linguistics.
It is an entirely audio-based course that uses the now very popular spaced repetition concept to present core vocabulary to the student.
Concepts introduced in one lesson will reappear at specifically timed intervals in later ones, which allows them to work their way into the student’s long term memory.
Lessons are short at roughly 30 minutes each, and are designed to be listened to at least once a day.
THE POSITIVES OF PIMSLEUR
There’s a reason why this method has been around in nearly the same form for over 50 years. It works.
The first few lessons actually do include dialogue that make sense for beginners to the language. Basic expressions like “Excuse me” or “Where are you from?” are frontloaded in early lessons. This allows you to form the skeleton of a conversation early on.
Also, the dialogues are generally well-paced with pauses long enough to allow me to respond in confused Spanish after I heard each utterance.
The use of native speakers helped familiarize me with how Spanish sounds, which greatly helped my listening comprehension.
Also, the all audio approach, made me focus even harder on the nuances of the language. Which allowed me to be able to understand basic Spanish spoken at normal speeds for the first time in my life.