Pimsleur is a series of audio language learning courses. Originally created by Paul Pimsleur it is now produced by Simon & Schuster. Historically, most of the courses had three Levels with 30 units each. Recently some of the courses have been expanded up to five Levels, totaling up to 150 half hour classes. Occasional languages only offer an introduction to the language, with only ten units each. The series has also increased the amount of reading included in the courses, building on the audio root of the course. The programs are built so that the recordings prompt you to recall a fact just before you forget it, thus strengthening your memory of that language fact (vocab or grammar construction.) The courses are generally available either as CDs, downloadable MP3s, or through an Amazon Alexa app.

Pimsleur courses teach their material very well. That is, at the end of the course, the student will generally have very good pronunciation and ability to use the material to produce new sentences. However, the actual amount of program content is very small -- generally only about 500 words for three levels. When compared with the total program 45-hour runtime for a 3-part course (3 levels of 30 half-hour lessons), it is obvious that Pimsleur is not as dense as Assimil or Foreign Service Institute courses. Somebody spending 45 hours with another course would probably get further in their language studies. That said, the course does succeed in getting students to respond instinctively to the small-talk situational drills.

Pimsleur often offers sales on their products. If you are considering Pimsleur as one of your language teaching sources, you may wish to wait until there is a sale on the product you're considering. Another way to get a discount is to download one of their free lessons, which are generally accompanied by a code which provides a discount on a purchase. Heck, you could even download the first French lesson and get a head start without paying anything. Finally, due to the popularity and age of Pimsleur, it is often available from your local public library.

Course Offerings Edit

Current (2018) language offerings:
Language Sessions (30 minutes) Premium[1] Available Notes
Albanian 10
Arabic (Eastern) 90
Arabic (Egyptian) 30
Arabic (Modern Standard) 90
Armenian (Eastern) 10
Armenian (Western) 10
Chinese (Cantonese) 30
Chinese (Mandarin) 150 Yes
Croatian 30
Czech 30
Danish 30
Dari Persian 60 Also available through the USO[2]
Dutch 30
Farsi Persian 60
Finnish 30
French 150 Yes Level 1 updated in 2018[3]

Level 2 to be updated February, 2019

German 150 Yes
Greek 60
Haitian Creole 30
Hebrew 90
Hindi 60
Hungarian 30
Icelandic 30
Indonesian 30
Irish 10
Italian 150 Yes
Japanese 150 Yes
Korean 90 Level 3 offered in 2018[4]
Lithuanian 10
Norwegian 60
Ojibwe 30
Pashto 60 Also available through the USO[2]
Polish 30
Portuguese (Brazilian) 120 Yes Level 1 updated in 2014[5]

Level 5 coming in 2019[4]

Portuguese (European) 30
Punjabi 30
Romanian 30
Russian 120 Yes Level 5 coming in 2019[4]
Spanish (Castilian) 60
Spanish (Latin American) 150 Yes Level 1 to be updated November, 2018
Swahili 30
Swedish 30
Swiss German 10
Tagalog 60
Thai 30
Turkish 30
Twi 10
Ukrainian 30
Urdu 30
Vietnamese 30

Pimsleur also offers an extensive number of English as a Second Language (ESL) courses.

Course Outline Edit

According to Pimsleur, the following is a general outline of a five level, thirty lesson per level course.

Level One Edit

In the first 10 lessons, you’ll cover the basics: saying hello, asking for or giving information, scheduling a meal or a meeting, asking for or giving basic directions, and much more. You’ll be able to handle minimum courtesy requirements, understand much of what you hear, and be understood at a beginning level, but with near-native pronunciation skills.

In the next 10 lessons, you’ll build on what you’ve learned. Expand your menu, increase your scheduling abilities from general to specific, start to deal with currency and exchanging money, refine your conversations and add over a hundred new vocabulary items. You’ll understand more of what you hear, and be able to participate with speech that is smoother and more confident.

In the final 10 lessons, you’ll be speaking and understanding at an intermediate level. More directions are given in the language, which moves your learning to a whole new plane. Lessons include shopping, visiting friends, going to a restaurant, plans for the evening, car trips, and talking about family. You’ll be able to speak comfortably about things that happened in the past and make plans for the future.

Level Two Edit

In the first 10 lessons you’ll begin using the past tense. Structures become more complex and informal speech is introduced. Soon you’ll take part in conversations about ordering meals, shopping, and local tourist attractions. As you progress, your fluency will increase as your vocabulary expands.

The next 10 lessons will allow you to further combine and build upon known elements, and produce longer and more complex sentences. You’ll be discussing business and social activities, expressing your interests, and talking about the weather.

In the final 10 lessons you’ll double your vocabulary and have several hundred structures to draw upon. You’ll learn to express yourself with relative structures – faster, slower, etc. You’ll be able to ask for assistance in many situations and to ask for directions to various locations. You’ll explore sports and leisure activities, manage changing money and banking, and discuss travel plans. By the end of the program, you’ll be speaking at a mid-intermediate level with near-native pronunciation, and you’ll be comfortable meeting most social demands and limited job requirements.

Level Three Edit

In the first 10 lessons, you will expand your vocabulary and increase your fluency to an even higher level. You’ll gain experience participating in many informal and some formal discussions on practical, social, and semiprofessional topics. You’ll skillfully form longer, more complex sentences, and most importantly, you’ll find yourself being understood, even by native speakers unused to dealing with foreigners. You’ll be able to join in conversations eagerly, confident of being understood.

In the next 10 lessons, your skills will demonstrate ever-increasing mastery. Speaking with grace and complete naturalness, you’ll enjoy fluid conversations on many new subjects. Delving deeper into cultural norms and situations, you’ll find yourself responding effortlessly, and able to choose from a wide accumulation of vocabulary and structures.

In the final 10 lessons, you’re nearing fluency with agile responses, and a natural sounding, near-native accent. You’re able to utilize the language in subtle ways, and speak using past, present, and future tenses. Self-confidence soars as you no longer experience the language and culture as a foreigner, but as someone with deepening insight into the language and culture.

Level Four Edit

Level 4 covers a variety of everyday topics. You’ll be speaking and understanding with near-fluency and with considerable skill. In Level 4, the pace and conversation moves more rapidly, making way for even more substantial mastery of vocabulary and structures.

A few of the topics included in Level 4:

  • Business: Traveling for business, attending a conference, booking and canceling train tickets, looking for and buying a house.
  • Personal life: Discussing where you’ve lived, what you enjoy, going through hard times, marriage and divorce, raising teenagers, missing loved ones, moving.
  • Activities: Reading, hiking, gardening, skiing, going to the theater, watching TV, walking around, doing home renovations.
  • Shopping: trying on and buying various items of clothing, asking for colors and sizes, buying gifts and souvenirs, going to the open-air and the flea market, haggling over prices, negotiating a discount, discussing shipping options.
  • Vacationing: going to the beach or swimming pool, sampling foods, preparing a picnic, boating, dealing with crowds.
  • Dealing with Unforeseen Events: feeling ill, calling a doctor, losing or forgetting personal items, being caught in a strike, witnessing a crime, falling in love.
  • The Native Character: Learn to think like a native, using irony and sarcasm, making huffing sounds, showing nonchalance and disinterest, and expressing nostalgia and fatalism.

Level Five Edit

In Level 5, the pace and conversation moves quite rapidly, accelerating exposure to new vocabulary and structures, approaching native speed and comprehension. You’ll learn to speak more in-depth about your personal life and emotional state, and be able to create complex sentences using a mix of tenses and moods.

A few of the topics included in Level 5:

  • Travel and leisure: weather phenomena, geography, temperatures, the environment;
  • Home life: real estate, furniture, appliances, clothing and laundry, cleaning, car maintenance, parties and celebrations;
  • Family and relationships: getting along, planning a future together, breaking up, boyfriends and girlfriends, reconnecting;
  • Body and health: body parts, pain, symptoms and cures, sleeping and waking, bad habits;
  • Personal life and emotions: empathy, regret, hope, trust and distrust, sharing, bullying and name-calling, growing older, recognizing and finding happiness.

Links Edit

Official Site:

See also: Wikipedia: Pimsleur Language Programs

References & Notes Edit

  1. It appears that Premium includes an expanded reading section as well as various quizzes and games for the online mobile app. However, the core audio lesson formats are identical to the non-premium courses.
  2. 2.0 2.1 The USO and Pimsleur® Launch OPERATION SPEAK EASY;
  3. Pimsleur French 1 Update – Not Your Mother’s French,
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Pimsleur, Frequently Asked Questions,
  5. Our Newest, Shiniest Portuguese Lessons Yet!,
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