Pimsleur is our best-selling language course. Why? Because the Pimsleur Method is the easiest way to begin learning a foreign language. The feedback from our customers is overwhelmingly positive. We sell the entire line of 30-lesson "Comprehensive" Pimsleur courses at significantly below retail price. The German Pimsleur comes in four levels each with 30 half hour lessons. It is an entirely audio based method and great for beginners and people wanting to improve their conversation skills.
Paul Pimsleur developed his system using four principles he regarded as important to forming memory associations and language recall:
Language courses commonly require a student to repeat after an instructor, which Pimsleur argued was not an aggressive way of learning. Pimsleur developed a "challenge and response" technique, where a student was prompted to translate a phrase into the target language. This technique is intended to be a more active way of learning, requiring the student to think before responding. Pimsleur held that the principle of anticipation reflected real-life conversations in which a speaker must recall a phrase quickly.
Is a method of reviewing learned vocabulary at increasingly longer intervals. It is a version of retention through spaced repetition. For example, if a student is introduced to the word deux (French for two), then deux is tested every few seconds, then every few minutes, then every few hours, and then every few days. The goal of this spaced recall is to help the student move vocabulary into long-term memory.
Pimsleur's 1967 memory schedule was as follows: 5 seconds, 25 seconds, 2 minutes, 10 minutes, 1 hour, 5 hours, 1 day, 5 days, 25 days, 4 months, 2 years.
The Pimsleur method focuses on teaching commonly-used words in order to build up a "core vocabulary". Word-frequency text analyses indicate that a relatively small core vocabulary accounts for the majority of words spoken in a particular language. For example, in English, a specific set of 2000 words composes about 80% of the total printed words. Pimsleur courses average 500 words per level (30-lessons). Some languages have up to 4 levels, while some languages only have one level.
The Pimsleur method never teaches grammar explicitly. Instead, grammar is presented as common patterns and phrases that are repeated at intervals throughout the course. Pimsleur claimed this is how native speakers learn grammar as children.
The program is strictly auditory. Pimsleur suggested auditory skill, learned through hearing and speech, is different from reading and writing skill. He referred to his auditory system as "organic learning," which entails studying grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation simultaneously. Pimsleur asserted that learning by listening also enjoins the proper accent.