Pimsleur learning language system – Approach and method review

The Pimsleur language learning system is an audio based course which presents phrases in the target language first, and then in your mother tongue for you to translate into that language.

This was developed based on research carried out by linguist Paul Pimsleur several decades ago. The course being sold by Simon & Schuster comes in 30 half an hour sessions, or in smaller units of 10 half an hour sessions.

Other languages go up to 45 hours whereas Hungarian only has a 15 hour course. Obviously one can only base what they gotten out of this course for the purposes of this post based on the 15 hour course.

The audio showcases words and phrases to you, with their translation, either said in segregation or in a suggested context (the audio tells you to “imagine you are at a restaurant in central Budapest” for example).

There is then a pause for a person to repeat the phrase, or to recall a previously learned one from memory. The audio then gives you the answer so that one can confirm you were right or learn it better for next time.

The system is almost exclusively audio based. There are some reading material for particular units in Hungarian, but even those are to be read while listening to the audio that gives instructions on how to proceed. The vast majority of what is said to you will never be written down in any form, so this is really forcing a person to get used to the spoken language and not being able to read it at any time.

Similar to any course, no matter how flawed, this can teach you something. It helps a person with improved sentence intonation for example, and also teaches a couple of basic words.