Pimsleur Language Learning Tool Review

Communication is the cornerstone of human connection. Simply being able to converse in different languages can open our ears, eyes and heart to the incredibly diverse yet similar world we share. Whether you’re interested in the ability to speak multiple languages for work or fun, learning new languages is now faster and more stress-free than ever before. Amid the ever-growing market of language learning tools, Simon & Schuster’s Pimsler audio and digital learning platform is built on a proven learning method while uniquely focusing on pronunciation and conversational elements in 30-minute lessons. We’re delving into the special features, methodology, pricing and more so you can decide if Pimsler is the tool that can help you navigate new places like a local.

Last Updated April 2024

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Your first week is FREE!

Based on Dr. Pimsleur’s research in memory & effective communication
51 languages
Add up to four users
Core lessons, vocal coach, games and more

What is Pimsleur? 

While many digital language learning courses or tools stress the mastery of reading and vocabulary first, Pimsleur takes a unique approach. By focusing on instilling the skills necessary for speaking and hearing a new language, the Pimsleur method helps students learn a new language more quickly and efficiently to easily participate in one of the most fundamental, and practical, applications of their newfound skill—a conversation. 

Founded on the principles of the Pimsleur method, this program focuses on 30-minute audio lessons that emphasize listening and speaking skills presented in a way to help you retain what you’ve learned, with additional reading lessons and even an AI pronunciation coach to extend your comprehension skills. 

With over 50 languages to choose from in their catalog and the ability to listen to your lessons from anywhere, you’ll be surprised how effortlessly you can hold a conversation in a new language.

Pros Cons
Focuses on skills needed to converse in everyday interactions Lacks strong development in writing and grammar skills
Easy to fit into your daily schedule with short, 30-minute lessons Can be expensive compared to other courses
One of the largest language libraries available—51 languages
Audio lessons make it easy to practice in the car, at home or on the go
Helps you develop core language skills quickly and efficiently
Based on scientifically-proven Pimsleur Method
Fun games and premium bonus content to reinforce new skills
AI-based Voice Coach to help your perfect pronunciation
No intense written or repetitive coursework
User-friendly app that’s easily accessed from a computer, phone or tablet
Ability to practice with Alexa on Amazon Echo devices
Flexible subscriptions plans to fit your needs
Perfect for preparing for an overseas trip
Free lesson gives you a sneak peek at the conversational style
Free 7-day trial allows a deeper dive into the tool and premium features

About the Pimsleur Method 

First devised nearly 50 years ago, the Pimsleur Method is the foundation for every course within the program. Dr. Paul Pimsleur, an esteemed linguists professor and researcher, discovered that the way to rapidly learn a new language is by hearing the language used in everyday situations and interacting with it so it easily sticks in your mind.

This approach is specifically designed to elevate the essence of a new language while eliminating information overload and unnecessary noise, and is based on a scientifically proven set of principles: 

  • Graduated Interval Recall: The core of the program, new words are reinforced at gradually increasing intervals until they become part of your permanent memory. 
  • Anticipation: Challenges the student to answer first before presenting the correct answer after an international interval to help accelerate learning and understanding.
  • Core Vocabulary: Deliberately selects and limits the amount of new, core words you learn at once, giving your brain a chance to internalize each one before moving on.
  • Organic Learning: New words and phrases are presented within the context of a natural conversation or exchange, making it easier for you to remember it later.

How Pimsleur Works

As one of the most well-known and time-tested methods for quickly and effectively acquiring new language skills, the Pimsleur method taps into your natural ability to learn through hearing and speaking so you can speak a new language quickly and easily.

The program is centered on conversational core lessons that help you develop a foundational understanding of the language. These core lessons are in audio format that you can access across a variety of devices and listen to at your own pace, even while you’re doing chores or jogging, for easy language learning on the go. Each lesson is approximately 30 minutes long and is focused on developing your listening and speaking skills, along with helping you to remember what you’ve learned. 

Pimsleur recommends dedicating 30 minutes a day to your language learning for the best results. In addition to the core 30-minute lessons, the method uses a combination of learning styles and tools, including reading lessons, speaking challenges, digital flashcards, speed-round games and even an AI voice coach for pronunciation feedback.

What the Pimsleur Approach Looks Like 

The course is especially designed to help you master the rhythm, cadence, and sounds of your new language. At the start of every lesson, you’ll listen to a short dialogue. Then you’ll drill down into the specific words or phrases used through a series of listen-and-repeat phrases where the narrator will translate the meaning of the phrase, followed by a native speaker emphasizing the correct pronunciation. You’ll also be prompted to participate in call-and-response patterns where the narrator will ask you how to say the words or phrases you’ve been practicing, in order to challenge you to think about the appropriate response instead of just parroting everything back. You’ll then hear the original dialogue again to reinforce what you reviewed during the lesson. 

The Reading Lessons are a separate part of the course that teaches reading skills through a phonetic approach developed by Dr. Pimsleur, focusing on the sounds of individual letters and how letters combine to form new sounds. These lessons include different words and phrases than what you’re learning in the conversational lessons to help you develop a holistic approach to understanding a new language. 

In addition to these core lessons, you’ll also have access to enhanced features

to help you review course content and get an even deeper understanding of the language. They include: 

  • Digital flashcards for vocabulary review
  • Speed round game to test your skills
  • Speak Easy role-play tool with conversation transcripts
  • Lightbulb Moments help connect culture & history to your language learning
  • Build your streak helps you stay on track with reminders, goal setting and more 
  • Voice Coach uses AI voice recognition to provide real-time pronunciation feedback

Some of these features are not available for all languages yet, so double check your area of interest first. 

The Pimsleur App 

While Pimsleur offers a browser-based app that allows you to access your course and all its features through any desktop or laptop, the Pimsleur mobile app for iOS or Android offers truly hands-free language learning while you’re on the go. And with Apple CarPlay® and Android Auto Driving™ compatibility, even your car can be a classroom. 

You can also practice your new language skills with Alexa when you sync with your Amazon Echo device! 

Pimsleur Language List 

The Pimsleur course is available in over 50 languages (51 to be exact), from the most popular ones, such as Spanish, Japanese, German and Italian, to others you may have never heard of, such as Ojibwe, Punjabi, Tagalog and Twi.

And while most of the language lessons are made for native English speakers, Pimsleur does offer over a dozen courses designed for people looking to learn English as a second language.

How Much Does Pimsleur Cost 

Pimsleur’s pricing can vary depending on the language of choice and the length of the Pimsleur subscription a user opts for, as well as varying promotional offers. 

Pimsleur Subscription

To help ensure an immersive language learning experience, Pimsleur offers a convenient subscription to help keep you consistently learning until you complete your chosen course. 

During your subscription you will have access to as many levels of a course as are available, for a low price that is charged monthly or yearly to your preferred payment method. And you can even share your course with up to three household members for no additional charge! 

There are essentially three levels of plans to choose from with Pimsleur.

  • Audio Only subscription includes:  
    • Access to all the lessons in any one language of your choice
    • Conversational and Reading lessons 
    • Pimsleur Alexa Skill compatibility
    • CarPlay and Android Auto Driving Mode
    • $14.95/month or $134.95/year (save nearly $45 by paying for a year up front) 
  • Premium subscription includes all of the audio-only features, plus:
    • Additional interactive tools to help you learn and practice
    • Bonus content
    • Voice coach for real-time pronunciation feedback 
    • $19.95/month or $149.95/year (save over $85 by paying for a year up front) 
  • All Access subscription features everything you’d get with the premium plan, plus:
    • Access to all 51 languages offered 
    • Ability to switch between languages as needed 
    • $20.95/month (only a $1 more than premium) or $164.95/year

While most of the languages include the option to upgrade to the premium features and plan, there are a few that are still in the process of being developed. 

Pimsleur Premium Lifetime Purchase 

Not interested in subscribing? No problem. All Pimsleur courses are available as a lifetime purchase from Pimsleur.com. When you purchase a Pimsleur digital course, you get access to all of the core lessons as well as the bonus premium features and content. Plus, the lessons never expire and are yours to keep.

You have the option to purchase each course level separately (30 lessons per course), or purchase the complete course including all levels (1-5) for one lump sum. 

Pimsleur Discounts 

You can often find special promotional offers on Pimsleur.com, making the courses more accessible to potential learners. You can also sign up through their website to get special offers sent directly to your email inbox. 

Pimsleur Free Trial

In addition to giving you a preview of the Pimsleur audio lessons by offering one free lesson, you can also get a better feel for how the course and app works with a free 7-day trial available through their website.

The trial corresponds with whatever subscription plan you’re considering, which means you’ll get access to all available lessons in one language for Audio-Only and Premium or all available lessons for ALL languages for All Access. You can try as many lessons and features as you like during this 7-day period, and it’s important to note that you will be automatically enrolled in that subscription plan after your trial period is up. If you decide that Pimsleur isn’t for you, simply cancel your subscription before the end of your free trial.

How Pimsleur Language Program Compares to the Competition

While there are many language learning tools and courses to choose from today, Pimsleur takes a time-tested, but slightly different, approach than some of the main names on the market. Let’s see how it compares. 

Pimsleur vs. Babbel

Both trusted, top choices in online language learning, Pimsleur and Babbel differ in their methods for teaching customers a new language. Babbel, known for its structured lessons and balanced approach to reading, writing, speaking, and listening with a particular focus on grammar, covers mostly the standard popular languages and can sometimes feel repetitive. Pimsleur, on the other hand, leans heavily into auditory learning, prioritizing conversational fluency and pronunciation, and offers over 50 languages to choose from, including specific dialects. While Babbel might appeal to those looking for a deep dive into a certain language, Pimsleur targets those who want to speak and understand quickly, often making it a favorite for travelers or business professionals on the move. 

Pimsleur vs. Rosetta Stone

Rosetta Stone, one of the earliest players in digital language learning, employs a full immersion method. This means learners are thrust into the language without translations, instead using pictures to understand phrases in their target language, which can be both challenging and rewarding. Pimsleur’s approach is more guided, focusing on repeated exposure and recall through its unique graduated interval recall system. While Rosetta Stone might be suitable for those seeking an immersive challenge, Pimsleur offers a more real-world auditory approach that mimics a casual conversation, ideal for those who want to gradually build their verbal communication skills with constant reinforcement. And though Rosetta Stone offers a wide selection of languages to learn from, Pimsleur has around twice as many options to choose from, including more obscure languages.

Bottom Line: Why We Love It

Pimsleur makes learning a new language easier and more accessible to anyone. Their real-world approach helps remove the barriers to learning another language by focusing on verbal communication skills and comprehension in quick 30 minute lessons you can listen to from the kitchen, car, or wherever you are. It’s backed by scientifically proven research, particularly around long-term memory, that focuses on the skills necessary for processing and retention, and features one of the most extensive language libraries out there. So whether you’re aiming to blend in with the locals while abroad or a professional seeking to expand your linguistic and career horizons, the Pimsleur language program will have you conversing in a near-native accent in no time.

Pimsleur FAQs

Is Pimsleur good?

Yes, Pimsleur is an excellent choice for individuals prioritizing conversational fluency. With its unique audio-based approach and emphasis on pronunciation, many users find it a quick and effective method for building real-world conversational skills in various languages.

The Pimsleur method is a distinctive approach to language learning, emphasizing auditory immersion and real-world conversational skills. Rooted in the principles developed by Dr. Paul Pimsleur, the method encourages learners to engage in interactive dialogues, mirroring actual everyday conversations. By utilizing the Pimsleur method, users are systematically exposed to new vocabulary and grammar structures while periodically revisiting previously learned content. This cyclical pattern ensures that language is not just heard but deeply internalized. The core tenet of the Pimsleur method is to foster genuine linguistic proficiency through listening, repeating, and practicing.

Is Pimsleur free?

While Pimsleur itself is not entirely free, they do provide a free lesson or trial for new users to experience their teaching methodology. However, to access the complete range of courses, a subscription or purchase is required.

Is the Pimsleur method suitable for all types of learners?

Pimsleur stands out for its strong emphasis on audio-based learning and conversational fluency. Unlike other programs that require you to sit and concentrate on reading and writing skills, Pimsleur focuses mainly on auditory learning verbal communication skills, making it unique in its approach and easy to incorporate into your on-the-go lifestyle. Its structured design supports consistent progress, aiding learners in building confidence in real-world conversational scenarios.

Pimsleur’s intensive auditory focus suits those aspiring toward immediate conversational fluency and practical language usage, making it particularly beneficial for travelers or those using a new language professionally. But it might not be as comprehensive for individuals aiming for reading or writing mastery in a language.

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