Pimsleur French Review

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Dr. Paul Pimsleur, an extremely well respected, internationally-known language expert. He developed a special way of learning a language which is all audio, the way we first learned our language as a child.” – PBS

If you want to learn conversational French fast, then Pimsleur French is for you. Pimsleur French is completely audio based NO WRITTEN MATERIALS.

Pimsleur French’s singular goal is to get you speaking French fast. Pimsleur focuses on teaching you the most common vocabulary and grammar used in the French language. Their theme is communication and from the get go you are presented with tactics and strategies to handle common social scenarios.

For example, one of the first French lessons teaches you to ask “Do you speak English?” in French. Communication is easier if you can establish that you both speak a common language.

The Pimsleur French course contains 30 lessons. For the most effective language learning experience, it is recommended to go through one lesson a day. You can listen to each lesson several times if you wish.

Each lesson is only 30 minutes long, this is the amount of time language learners tend to be most concentrated. The added benefit of this short length is that you will be able to go through one lesson without interruption.

A 30 minute French lesson is perfect while driving to work, or during a lunch break. Also, you should easily be able to find time to listen to it another time during the same day to enhance your language learning experience.

Special Offers

You get free membership to the Pimsleur Rapid Fluency Program +. A month after your registration, you start getting free trial copies of the advanced lessons for you to try for a period of 30 days.

If you’re not absolutely thrilled with your new ability to learn French and speak comfortably, simply return your course within 30 days for a full refund.

Pros and Cons of Pimsleur French

We have done some researching to compare Pimsleuer with Rosetta Stone, Rocket Language, Transparent & Fluenz (The Top 5 Most Popular French Learning Software)

Pimsleur Approach is our most recommended Language Learning Course for Beginners who want to learn Conversational French, but if Academic French is your final target, Tell me More French will be a better choice.

Pimsleur VS. Rosetta Stone

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Pimsleur VS. Rocket Language

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Pimsleur VS. Transparent

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Pimsleur VS. Fluenz

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  • The entire course is audio based, all your needs is a CD player or iPod.
  • Each audio lessons are 30 minute in duration. These lessons include common words and phrases used in everyday conversations. The audio quality s very good, making for clear speech, and the 4 CD content is aimed at fluency. It’s portable and fun to use.
  • Pimsleur courses are based on an “input/output” system where the student and teacher interact with each other. Active thinking is promoted by making the student anticipate answers. Thinking and recalling short term memory is what enhances your learning.
  • Applies four principles of learning
    1. The first principle the course applies is the “Graduated Interval Recall”. Here, new information is introduced at specific intervals, thus ensuring you learn thoroughly and effectively.
    2. The second principle is “Anticipation”, where the words learned are tested in different conversation scenarios and the student engages in meaningful interaction which enables better learning.
    3. The third principle is “Organic learning”. This means that nature has wired your brain to absorb and learn more though verbal interaction, so listening is more important than reading and writing. This is what the Pimsleur Approach does- it makes you listen.
    4. The fourth principle is “Core Vocabulary”, wherein the emphasis is on teaching the most important words required to learn a language, rather than lots of words.


  • The course doesn’t teach you any grammar explicitly. This is not at all bad. How much English grammar do you know anyway?
  • Many reviews complain about the fact that with Pimsleur you will learn only about 500 words of the chosen language. This is true, but learning a lot of words is not the point of the Pimsleur approach, learning to speak is!
  • Speaking french in 10 days, really? I think you should be understand like this: 10 days = 240 hours, you spend half hours every day, and then 580 days later, you can speaking french fluently.

Pimsleur VS Michel Thomas

Both courses have advantages and disadvantages, which will vary from person to person. I have used both for Italian – I’m finished Michel Thomas’s foundation course and have been working through the Pimsleur course for a few weeks.

Michel Thomas


Essentially, it’s a recording of Michel Thomas conducting a tutorial with two students. There are 8 CDs in the Foundation course, 4 in the Advanced and 2 in the third-stage Language builder; you dip in and out when you want, there’s no recommended interval to listen to in one sitting. MT will ask the students to say a sentence. You pause the CD and think of your answer, then resume to hear the student’s answer. MT will point out any mistakes they have made in sentence structure, verb conjugation or word emphasis and then give the full, correct sentence.


His emphasis is on verbs. He will introduce a verb and show you how it would be used in a sentence. Grammar and vocabulary are picked up along the way.

His gimmick is to ask you to put together long sentences from the very beginning – for example, “I cannot speak with you now because I am very busy, but I will call you later.” It’s not the standard tourist stuff, but it makes you feel more confident using the language and gives the impression that you’re learning it properly right from the start: learning to construct meaningful sentences and rules for translating English words – not memorising stock phrases like I did for GCSE French.


In the Italian course at least, the students become incredibly annoying in the second half. They seem to ignore the rules MT has laid down and answer questions in the wrong tense. They make really stupid mistakes and keep repeating them, to the point where even the teacher becomes (very occasionally) dismayed and frustrated. Also, not much vocab that would be useful for a tourist.


The Michel Thomas method suits me down to the ground. I found that just about everything covered seemed to be miraculously retained. Mr Thomas explains the literal meaning of each phrase you learn and how it is used. He draws comparisons between how something would be expressed in Italian and how we would say it in English. Some people might find that information superfluous and would prefer to stick to bare Italian, but I found it very helpful in understanding how the language works.

Mr Thomas’s English accent poses a problem now and then, but I think this is overstated by some reviewers because my Italian doesn’t seem to have suffered. I have yet to find a discrepancy between the pronunciation I learned from the MT course and that of native speakers from other course CDs.

No course covers everything, but MT lays down very solid foundations – if his teaching method suits you.



The Pimsleur approach is very structured and based mainly on repetition. Each lesson begins with a conversation in your chosen language, which is broken down word by word. You are guided through the pronunciation by native speakers and repeat the phrases for most of the lesson. The lesson finishes with a conversation in which you think of the answer for yourself before hearing and repeating the correct answer. Pimsleur strongly recommend that you do one half-hour lesson per day, every day.


I’m not yet through the Pimsleur course so unfortunately can’t comment much. One big advantage with Pimsleur is the emphasis on pronunciation: the demonstrations are by native speakers, so you get a more realistic idea of the speed of an exchange in your language – though still slower than in reality, of course!


The information sinks in, but the constant repetition gets boring. I don’t look forward to my daily half-hour sessions. I find them very dry. Nearly a week in, I was able to say I didn’t understand Italian very well, but that was only true because the course had covered next to nothing! Quite apart from wondering how much value there is in an Irish kid spending a week learning how to tell an Italian I am American, it’s the pace (or lack thereof) more than anything that bothers me.


Pimsleur is simply refining what I’d learned from the Michel Thomas CDs. Many have pointed out that Thomas is very obviously not a native speaker, but the difference between his pronunciation and that of the Pimsleur teachers was negligible and at the end of the day it’s pronunciation that counts. Where there have been small discrepancies between Pimsleur and MT, I’ve asked Italians over the net and it usually turns out that Pimsleur teaches the ‘textbook’ way of saying something, whereas MT teaches the more natural, everyday usage.

I would recommend starting with Michel Thomas. When you’re a few CDs into the 8-hour course, start doing the Pimsleur course in parallel. Neither are completely comprehensive, and you will still need spelling practice and extra vocab, for which I would recommend the Tell me More French and Rocket French.

At the end of the day, the only way to really, properly learn a language inside out is immersion, but a good combination of materials tailored your learning style can give you a massive boost.

Pimsleur French Review4admin2011-12-05 05:43:59Dr. Paul Pimsleur, an extremely well respected, internationally-known language expert. He developed a special way of learning a language which is all…

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