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Pimsleur Review French

Pimsleur French

Rating 4.3

Summary

Pimsleur is one of the most popular and longest-standing resources out there for learning a foreign language. Pimsleur French courses place a strong emphasis on aural and verbal communication skills, paying less attention to grammar explanations and reading or writing skills. The bunk of the material is taught with audio lessons, making it an ideal app for people on the go.


Quality 4.5

The platform is extremely well designed and easy to use. The content seems to be of high quality at all levels.

Thoroughness 4.0

Timely repetition and active practice work well, and lessons build on each other nicely, but the “intermediate fluency in 30 days” claim may be a stretch.

Value 4.5

The subscription option provides good value for French learners. It is worth paying $1 more to get the All Access subscription with 51 languages.

I Like
  • The lessons are structured well and are an appropriate length.
  • There are both male and female native speakers.
  • Lessons build on each other nicely.
  • The platform is easy to navigate and visually appealing.
I Don’t Like
  • There’s very little visual content.
  • Lesson speed isn’t customizable.
Price

Subscriptions of either $14.95/month or $19.95/month are available for courses with at least 60 lessons. Prices otherwise range from around $20 to over $500. All purchases come with a 7-day free trial.

Introduction

Are you ready to take the plunge and commit to learning French? For real fluency and a solid foundation in French, you may want to try a big-name program like Pimsleur. With fifty years of history behind it, this famous method promises to engage you in a participatory recall process as you learn French. It is nothing glamorous, but we are a big fan of the Pimsleur Method.

The Pimsleur Method provides repetitions of language skills you learn at regular intervals to lock them into your brain. This works much better than simple memorization, which just stores new concepts in your short-term memory.

In the past, you had to buy CD sets that cost over $1,000 to get a Pimsleur course. Today, you can subscribe to the affordable Pimsleur app instead for just $14.95 per month. The app offers better language-learning elements like its voice recognition software, too.

Pros of Pimsleur French:

  • Immersive approach builds fluency
  • Audio lessons provide conversation skills
  • Activities include reading, speaking, and listening

Cons of Pimsleur French:

  • Works best for auditory learners
  • Emphasis on formal language 
  • Repetitive lesson structure

Can you transform yourself into a fluent French speaker through the Pimsleur Method? Check out this Pimsleur French review to find out!

Things to Consider Before Buying Pimsleur French

When you commit to a language learning program you want to know that it will teach you the hardest parts of the target language. The biggest challenges you face in learning French often include pronunciation, oral comprehension, and reading.

  • Pronunciation: French uses unique sounds like nasal vowels that can frustrate native English speakers.
  • Oral comprehension: Understanding spoken French also takes work because many French words flow together.
  • Reading: Reading in French presents many challenges, like learning to spell French words and mastering complex verb conjugations.

The best method to help you overcome these challenges will feature lots of spoken practice for pronunciation. It will also focus on listening activities so you can comprehend spoken French, and literacy drills to help you read in French.

So, does Pimsleur help you overcome these challenges?

Features and Benefits of Pimsleur French

Pimsleur uses audio lessons and immersive prompt-and-response methods in its conversational and pronunciation-heavy learning approach.

The Pimsleur French course contains five sequential levels building up from beginner basics to intermediate content. Each course consists of a meaty thirty lessons, and each lesson features multiple shorter activities.

Every Pimsleur lesson starts with listening to a conversation between two native French speakers. In the beginner courses, you proceed to an English explanation of the conversation. In more advanced courses, you get fewer English explanations to ease you into a more immersive way to learn French.

The drills following the audio lessons include reading, recall, and speaking activities like prompt-and-response drills that help you think of a word or phrase in French, rather than mentally translating it from English. This immersive approach helps you develop French fluency over time.

Pimsleur also features a speech recognition software called Voice Coach. This allows you to complete spoken drills following the lessons and practice your pronunciation.

Pronunciation

You may find learning French pronunciation a real struggle at first. French contains multiple sounds that English does not. For example, nasal French vowels like in, on, and an don’t get used in English, but you find them in French words like blanc, pain, and ombre.

Pimsleur provides solid French pronunciation training through listening to native speakers in the audio lesson and speaking drills using Pimsleur’s Voice Coach software.

Oral Comprehension

One of the reasons you may struggle to comprehend spoken French at first is that French words often connect or run into each other. This concept, called liaison, means that letters in some words go silent when preceded or followed by other letters. As a beginner, you may feel like you hear a string of unbroken, foreign sounds when you try to listen to a French conversation!

Pimsleur’s audio lessons develop your French listening comprehension through audio lessons featuring native French speakers in conversation. At first, the conversations may sound incomprehensible to you, but the earliest lessons break down each part of the conversation in English to help you understand. 

Then, as your oral comprehension builds, you will start to pick out words and phrases you know when you listen to the conversations. Eventually, you will need fewer English translations.

In the old CD versions, Pimsleur’s audio lessons focused on formal, super-polite French. While you still hear a lot of “formal language used between strangers” in the audio lessons featured on the app, you will also get immersive exposure to everyday conversation in the app version of Pimsleur French.

That said, you may struggle with Pimsleur’s audio-only lessons if you learn better visually. 

Reading

Learning to read French challenges many English speakers because of complex spelling and verb conjugation rules. 

French uses spellings, sounds, and accents that don’t exist in English. Learning these to master French spelling takes serious effort! 

On top of this, written French typically features more complex verb conjugations than spoken French. French uses way more irregular verbs than English. This makes learning conjugations a long-term challenge.

Many language-learning programs don’t focus on literacy because they want to rush to build your speaking fluency. But learning to read in your new language gives you a solid foundation of its grammar and structure, giving you much greater fluency in the long term.

Pimsleur offers a phonetic approach to reading French. You learn the sounds each letter makes, and then the sounds multiple letters make together. Once you no longer have to sound out words, you can start to recognize phrases and read for meaning. This practical approach mimics the way many children learn to read English, too!

Pimsleur reading activities often follow the audio lesson as part of the participatory drills that help your brain actively grasp and hold onto new French concepts.

Alternatives to Pimsleur French

If you’re not sure you want to commit to Pimsleur, no worries! You can find interesting alternatives to check out here.

StoryLearning French Uncovered

StoryLearning’s French Uncovered teaches French through engaging stories told entirely in French, with English lessons and explanations after the story.

  • Stories provide entertaining content
  • One-year guarantee of money back if you don’t like it
  • Each level costs $297, much more than Pimsleur French

You may love StoryLearning if you get bored with traditional language lessons. Click here to learn more!

FrenchPod101

FrenchPod101 introduces you to a wide range of language-learning resources in a podcast-style lesson. 

  • Costs less than Pimsleur with a basic subscription of $8/month
  • Unlike Pimsleur, does not offer speaking practice
  • Provides focus on themes like travel or work

If you consider yourself an auditory learner and you like a less formal, podcast style, you may want to check out FrenchPod101 here!

Rocket French

Rocket French uses recorded conversations to introduce you to French vocabulary. It also features repetition and “hear it, say it” drills to help you master French pronunciation.

  • Modern and fun lessons with points won for each challenge
  • Huge focus on oral comprehension and pronunciation
  • Costs $149 per level, much more than a Pimsleur subscription

If you want a new, fun approach to learning French that really drills you on conversational skills, Rocket may work for you! Check it out here.

Conclusion

If you love the French language and want to build your beginner and intermediate skills through a solid, practical language-learning program, you can’t go wrong with Pimsleur! 

Pimsleur’s French course specifically targets the pain points of pronunciation, oral comprehension, and reading which many French learners find challenging. The immersive language drills will help you learn to think in French, not just speak in French. And the spoken activities will help you master an authentic accent.

If you think you want to give Pimsleur a try, click here to access a free seven-day trial!

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