Pros / This is good language software for those who enjoy audio-based learning.
Cons / The interactive components are limited.
Verdict / If you prefer to learn by listening, you can excel quickly with this program, but self-motivation is an important component of this learning method.
This unique learning method was developed by applied linguistics scholar Paul Pimsleur. It teaches French by using simple repetition and recall. This course primarily revolves around a regimen of audio lessons and activities, so if you prefer a more visual learning method, consider a different French learning software like Rosetta Stone.
The course narrator emphasizes the importance of concentration and participation. For Pimsleur to be effective, it suggests you complete one 30-minute lesson per day and follow the course in order. Each lesson builds on the previous lesson to help build a good base for more advanced lessons. If you follow these instructions, listen carefully and refrain from taking notes, Pimsleur French can be an effective curriculum, especially if you prefer audio-based learning.
One of Pimsleur’s core principals is the idea of training your brain to anticipate the correct response to a question or phrase by asking for understanding, pausing for a response and reinforcing the correct response. This memorization method is not as interactive as reading and comprehension exercises found in some programs we reviewed, like Rosetta Stone and Duolingo. Because phrases are introduced in the context of a conversation, you can recall them quicker. Your brain anticipates the correct response, rather than searching for the equivalent English term and translating it to French.
Because the Pimsleur approach consists mostly of audio lessons, it’s easy to take with you almost anywhere. The desktop interface is streamlined and modern, and includes the app with all the same learning content for free. With the desktop version, you can also purchase and download MP3 files of the audio lessons and put them on a music player or smartphone, but you won’t get the flashcards or quizzes with that purchase method. The app has the same learning content as the desktop version, but it’s missing features that pair well with the software’s repeat-aloud philosophy, like voice recording and a speech recognition tool to help you perfect your accent. As an alternative purchase option, Pimsleur still offers the lessons on CD, but that is the most expensive version and doesn’t include access to the mobile app.
The Pimsleur method is audio heavy, but the software and mobile app have a sleek interface with a few visual and interactive components. The program requires some self-discipline and practice to be effective, so if you’re determined to gain French fluency fast and learn well with audio repetition, Pimsleur is a great option.