Watch/Listen: “How to Speak Any Language in 10 Days”
I have researched the Pimsleur method before. I’m a Spanish teacher, so naturally I’m curious about all of these non-class, non-immersion programs. In short, it works due to something called spaced repetition. Though they claim that repetition is evil in their promo video, they still tap into the powers of it. What Pimsleur does right, however, is adding intervals of time between repetitions. Each time you take a break from learning that specific thing, you begin to forget it. Then, by revisiting it later you reinforce the memory in your brain. It works well for retaining information long-term.
Though, if this system is so successful, why is the world not full of successful Pimsleur method graduates that are polylingual? Well, for one….. it’s boring. Who has the self-discipline to listen to these unvarying mp3s to the point of competency? Secondly, you CANNOT learn to speak genuinely without true conversational practice with another speaker. It’s extremely misleading to imply that any individual program will take you to linguistic proficiency. In order to acquire a language fully, you have to produce MEANINGFUL output, or in other words, have conversations that mean something to you. This is why I like to take traditional classes too.
So basically, you’re not going to be able to do the Pimsleur program alone at home and immediately take a trip to another country and speak flawlessly. You’ll still probably want a tutor to provide you the advanced training you’ll need to refine your learning. But is this a good place to start? Probably. You could also do Mango Languages (which is available for free online through my local library system — check with yours!), Rosetta Stone, or LiveMocha.com.
Still interested? Read this guy’s review: http://www.fluentin3months.com/pimsleur/.