Summary: Pimsleur’s courses primarily focus on oral language. They are one of the biggest names in language learning but was something I had a hard time recommending to people in the past because of the insanely high prices.
They recently added a subscription model with much more reasonable prices and a new app that is much better designed. This review focuses on the new subscription model which isn’t yet available to the general public from the Pimsleur website but you can find it here.
I was really impressed with the quality of the lessons and now that the price is much better, I’m happy to recommend studying with Pimsleur.
The lessons are very well structured and the new app works great
Pimsleur primarily focuses on oral language at the expense of grammar.
The new subscription cost is very affordable.
The lessons focus on oral language which gets students speaking right away.
The lessons are very active. You’re constantly being prompted and need to produce the language you’re learning.
The lessons build upon each other exceptionally well with previously learned material constantly being reinforced.
The app is well designed with lots of beautiful images and interesting cultural notes.
I Don’t Like…
The lessons aren’t terribly exciting.
The written language is much more of an afterthought and not heavily featured in the lessons.
The practice activities included in the premium plan aren’t particularly well done.
Price: A basic subscription costs $14.95 per month and a premium subscription costs $19.95 per month. This is a massive improvement over the old prices which cost as much as $550 for five levels.
You won’t find any information about this new subscription price on their website. The link below will take you to a page with more information on their subscription plans.
Summary: Speechling is a website and app that makes it easy to improve your speaking skills in several languages. The free version is an incredbily valuable resource that makes it easy to practice mimicking native speakers. The Unlimited Plan provides unlimited corrections of your recordings by a teacher.
Speachling makes it easy to improve your speaking rhythm and pronunciation.
Lots of different ways to practice speaking.
The free version is better than most paid resources and the paid version provides outstanding value.
I Like… An excellent method to improve your speaking abilities and get feedback from a real teacher.
Answer the Question, Describe the Image, and Freestyle mode are great for higher levels.
You can switch languages at any time. I like seeing translations in my second language while studying my third language.
Truly unlimited recordings with quick feedback.
I Don’t Like… Absolute Beginners should learn the basics elsewhere first.
You’ll need to learn how to make the sounds of your target language on your own.
The amount of time given to record sentences can be too short.
Price: The Forever Free Plan is complete free. A monthly subscription to the Unlimited Plan costs $19.99 per month.
Languages: English, French, Spanish, Chinese, German, and Russian
Use the promo code “ALR123”” to save 10% on Speechling’s Unlimited Plan.
Summary: Memrise is one of the most popular language learning apps around. It’s basically a gamified flashcard app. It’s a good way to help build vocabulary and beginner students would benefit the most from it. While it can be very useful, it’s important to not try to use it as your main tool for learning a new language.
The app is extremely well designed, but courses are user-made, so quality can vary.
There are courses covering tons of topics, but you’ll need to use additional resources.
Free and very useful. Awesome!
I Like It uses spaced-repetition software making it easy to learn new words and review them periodically. It’s a bit more fun than traditional flashcard apps. There are tons of different courses to choose from.
I Don’t Like I personally prefer other flashcard apps that are less gamified (Anki or Pleco for Mandarin). It should be used with other resources, not in isolation.
Price: It’s free. The Premium Plan costs $9 per month or $59 per year.
Summary: FluentU is a popular platform for language learning that uses real world videos. They take videos from Youtube and add interactive captions. I really like the idea and design of the platform, but there’s a major lack of interesting content. Most videos last under one-minute long with a huge number being commercials. For me, FluentU falls far short of its potential.
The lesson library and video player have a great design. Unfortunately, example sentences use text-to-speech instead of native recordings.
Most videos are too short, disconnected to others, and not very interesting.
FluentU is fairly expensive and not worth the cost.
It’s great to be able to more easily use real-world videos to study a language.
A subscription gives you access to all of the languages.
The picture dictionary is pretty cool and something I haven’t seen elsewhere.
I Don’t Like…
The vast majority of the content is very short and is often commercials. It isnt really possible to watch longer series or shows.
There’s no benefit to watching beginner level content on FluentU compared to watching on Youtube because the creator will have already explained the topic clearly.
The audio lessons are the same as the video lessons, but without video. Few people will get any benefit from these.
Price: The Basic plan costs $15/month or $10/month if you pay for a year up-front. The Plus plan costs $30/month or $20/month if billed annually.
Summary: Created by Idahosa, the Mimic Method’s ‘Elemental Sounds Masters Classes’ are not your traditional type of language learning course as you won’t learn any grammar or vocabulary. The focus is instead on learning the elemental sounds of the language. This is because once you can conceptualise them, then you can train your ear to hear and understand them and afterwards train your mouth to produce and pronounce these sounds. Useful for both beginners and advanced learners, you would obviously need to use it in conjunction with a couple of other resources to progress in your target language.
Easy to use and navigate, the production quality is fine without being amazing.
Quite technical throughout most of the course, Idahosa thoroughly explains the method and sounds in each language.
Very expensive for what it is, I think it is as interesting take at learning pronunciation but you won’t get anything else from it.
Some of the homework exercises are really interesting and quite unlike anything you’ll find on other language courses.
Idahosa goes into quite a lot of depth on how to pronounce the different elemental sounds of each language. At the end of the course you will know all the different sounds from the language that you are learning.
It was a fresh way of learning a language that I had never contemplated before
I Don’t Like…
I found the course to be very technical and while other people will surely find it interesting, it didn’t resonate so much with me unfortunately as it just wasn’t that fun to follow.
You would certainly have to use the course alongside other learning resources which actually teach you the grammar, vocabulary, reading, writing, speaking and cultural context of your target language.
You do not get much material for the high price that it costs.
Price: For lifetime access to a course, the Mimic Method website has slashed its cost from $394 to $197 although I am uncertain if it always stays that price.