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Pimsleur Spanish review
Back in the days of pre-internet language learning, you had 2 ways to learn a language: attend a class, or buy one of those CD sets that had you go over words and phrases in the language over and over again until you got a hang of it. In this Pimsleur Spanish review, this method of language learning is brought front-and-center.
This Pimsleur Spanish review will talk about what exactly the Pimsleur method is, Pimsleur’s promises, and what to expect if you do choose to buy the course. Is Pimsleur Spanish right for you?
The Pimsleur Method
For decades, Pimsleur has been known for its very own method that, in this day and age, is completely unique to Pimsleur. The Pimsleur Method is a very strict one: 30 minutes of practice every single day (no more, no less), of pure listening and speaking work. Do not attempt to read or write while you listen (or else ;)).
The program is very….intentional with how you learn. The app will direct you in a very focused approach, albeit aggressively. The first thing you’ll learn is what the Pimsleur Method is; what to do, what not to do, and how often you do it. Yes, literally. Like I said, very, very strict.
Suffice to say, the folks over at Pimsleur are clearly proud of the Pimsleur Method, its history, and what they claim it will help you to accomplish.
In fact, the website even states that the Pimsleur method is “scientifically proven”, but not only do they not link to any scientific case studies, but a quick Google search doesn’t back that up. I feel like if my paid product was scientifically proven, I’d want to link to some more information on that, y’know?
The Pimsleur Method is a method of language learning that isn’t necessary too popular today. There are so many options available online today, it seems (at least to me) that Pimsleur is the only brand that adheres to strictly listening and repeating.
So, we know what the Pimsleur Method is, technically. In practice, what does this look like?
Pimsleur review: languages
Right off the bat, Pimsleur boasts a significant number of languages:
- Arabic (Eastern)
- Arabic (Egyptian)
- Arabic (Modern Standard)
- Armenian (Western)
- Armenian (Eastern)
- Chinese (Cantonese)
- Chinese (Mandarin)
- Dari Persian
- Farsi Persian
- Haitian Creole
- Portuguese (Brazilian)
- Portuguese (European)
- Spanish (Latin American)
- Spanish (Castilian)
- Swiss German
There are a few languages up there that you might not have even heard of, and you know what? That’s not even it! For language learners who want to learn English, you can use Pimsleur to learn English from:
- Mandarin Chinese
- Farsi Persian
- Cantonese Chinese
When it comes to providing access to language education to those who don’t speak English…it’s pretty amazing. It doesn’t quite beat out Mondly, who offers lessons in all 33 of their languages for those who speak any one of those 33 languages natively, but it’s pretty damn good.
The Pimsleur app
The Pimsleur app is pretty simple, which I suppose makes sense, considering the strategy is just as simple. When you first access the Pimsleur app, you’ll get some nice marketing images, informing you just how much you’ll learn.
So far, these are fairly normal claims across all the language learning products I’ve reviewed, except these are fairly specific. The Pimsleur app says exactly how long you’ll spend every day (remember: 30 minutes a day, every single day – no more, no less!), and what you can expect to accomplish after a set amount of time.
When it comes to setting your language learning goals, this isn’t too shabby!
The first 30-minute lesson of every language on Pimsleur is absolutely free. You can work through any language you like, as many times as you like, but it’s only that first lesson.
And, again, the Pimsleur app is designed specifically to be used when you’re doing something mindless, like driving. You can select “driving mode” or “normal mode”, the difference being the buttons are bigger in driving mode. Don’t get confused: the ‘Driving’ symbol in the upper right corner is the button you press to get to driving mode, NOT a label.
You can also download your lesson, which means it’ll be available to you even without service. The downloaded file does stay within the Pimsleur app, though.
When going through these lessons, you’ll start out with pretty basic, usable phrases: “Excuse me, do you speak English?” and “No, I don’t”, for example. Great for tourist-level learning, though I’m assuming if you’re considering paying for Pimsleur (we’ll get to prices in a sec), you probably want to go a bit farther than that.
Pimsleur will take these phrases apart and really drill you in on each individual aspect of the words and phrases, which is good for absolute beginners. It’s definitely all about training your ear to figure out what you’re listening to and saying.
Be ready to be put to sleep, though. The quality is nice and clear, but the voice is so low-key, I got distracted by my own thoughts while listening to it. I felt like I was at a college lecture with a really boring professor. Though, considering who Dr. Pimsleur was…I’m not surprised.
If you do opt to invest in the Pimsleur app, you’ll get some reading practice to go along with each of these lessons. The app will be very clear that you’re supposed to finish the listening lesson first, but it (fortunately) won’t stop you from taking a looksee.
These reading lessons are PDFs with audio lessons attached that basically walk you through these phrases that you should already be familiar with from the listening lesson.
Personally, I do like how the English translation is available – you just have to scroll down to see it if you really feel like you need to.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of things that I don’t like about this. First of all, this is literally just a PDF. That’s it. It feels super cheap, honestly. I would love if the phrase you’re supposed to be looking at was highlighted, at the very least. That would make these lessons significantly more engaging.
Secondly, as a visual learner, I so wish that I could have this as a transcript with the listening portion. I understand that that isn’t the Pimsleur Method, but that just goes to show that it’s not for everyone. Being able to see the words I’m learning really helps me to understand much more clearly (hello, visual learners!), so I felt very handicapped.
Pimsleur Spanish review: prices
Okay, this is where we get our hands dirty. Depending on how you go about this, Pimsleur Spanish (and every other language, of course), can get PRICEY. Over the last few years they have made it a bit more reasonably priced, but I still believe they’ve got some work to do.
Pimsleur has 2 payment models to offer you: a one-time payment and a subscription service.
You can also make the choice between their online-only courses and their physical CDS (which can put you out up to $500!).
Now, there are 2 levels of Pimsleur Spanish, each with 30 lessons to them. Remember: the Pimsleur Method is 1 lesson per day, no more and no less. Considering both these products are the exact same thing and, if you do it “correctly”, take the exact same amount of time, there’s no reason why you should be paying that second number.
It’s when you go for the physical CDs that will put your wallet in trouble.
Can you say hella pricey?!
Okay, so what happens if you just want to try it out? Free trials are certainly a thing amongst almost every single language learning product are on the market, and the ones that don’t offer free trials offer you a money-back guarantee of some sort.
So…here’s the thing about that: Pimsleur’s pricing feels just as aggressive as the method itself. You can absolutely opt for a 7-day free trial, but they don’t advertise it a whole lot. Honestly, I had to look really hard to find it, which doesn’t make me feel very good.
Seriously, if I tried to find this page again, I probably wouldn’t for a good 5-10 minutes. They don’t seem to want you to find it, which feels icky to me.
So what if you don’t want to go searching for that free trial? You can just buy it and return it, right? Well…technically. See for yourself:
Don’t worry, you don’t have to read it. Basically, you can return your product, but don’t expect a refund if you’ve opened it.
Pimsleur Spanish Premium
Another thing to keep in mind with Pimsleur Spanish is that while you can learn both Castilian Spanish and Latin American Spanish, choosing Castilian Spanish won’t grant you as many resources.
Straight from the horse’s mouth, here’s the difference between Pimsleur Spanish and Pimsleur Premium Spanish (which isn’t currently available in Castilian Spanish):
As you can see, for a few extra bucks a month, you can get these games that Pimsleur offers. These are slightly more gamified lessons that relate to the basic speak-and-repeat lessons.
Take a look at what all these options look like:
These are all very short games – no longer than a couple of minutes long each. It’s a pretty solid option for keeping yourself up on the lesson you just learned whenever you have a couple of seconds to yourself throughout the day.
I do also like how you finally get to read the language, not just hear it. Uber helpful for us visual learners!
Whether or not these games are worth the extra $5 a month depends on you. Fortunately, Premium also comes with a free trial, so you can test it out for 7 days and see how helpful they are for you.
Personally, seeing this vocabulary written down is incredibly helpful – y’all know how much I like to hit all 4 language skills!
At the same time, these games are very short and simple and aren’t designed for any kind of focused, intentional learning. They’re more like something to do instead of scrolling Facebook when you’re waiting for a meeting or something.
Pimsleur Spanish review: who it’s for
Suffice to say, the Pimsleur Method isn’t for me – it’s too strict and not visual enough. So, who is this Pimsleur review for?
The Pimsleur Method is great for new language learners who want a strong guiding arm, showing them what they need to do in order to reach conversational fluency. If you’re interested in a bit of reading comprehension you can have that as well, but for the most part, it’s a lot of (dense, high-quality) listening and repeating practice.
For example, the Pimsleur Method could be used very well in conjunction with Verbling or italki (if you get through all the Pimsleur lessons and you still want some more). It’s an incredibly decent way to attain listening and conversational fluency.
However, if you’re more of a visual learner or looking for a more well-rounded language education, I wouldn’t spend your time or money here.