Summary of Pimsleur Method
Pimsleur is a well known brand in the language learning market, second to only Rosetta Stone in terms of fame popularity. It has a strong reputation for developing your speaking and listening skill to a functional level in a foreign language.
It’s not a perfect course (what course it?). It comes with a high price tag, and is also criticized by some for teaching a limited vocabulary.
We cover the the strengths and weakness of the Pimsleur method and courses in our full Pimsleur review. In this post we’re going to take a quick look at Pimsleur Italian and how its features can hurt or harm your Italian learning.
Review of: Pimsleur
Use: Audio courses for learning foreign languages
With Pimsleur you will be able to speak at a functional level
$14.95 monthly subscription
Each lesson is 30 minutes
Ease of Use
Lesson are simple: just listen and repeat when prompted
Pimsleur courses are well designed and structured to teach you a foreign language
- Actually gets you speaking & listening
- Functional vocabulary
- Emphasizes pronunciation
- Easy to use
- You can switch between languages
I Don't Like
- Very formal language
- Little reading and no writing
Summary: Pimsleur courses are known as some of the best audio courses for learning to speak a foreign language.
Their method includes a question/recall/response technique that is very effective for helping you internalize the basics of a new language. Many people who use Pimsleur cite a marked improvement in their speaking abilities.
Pimsleur is also one of the few language courses that focuses heavily on correct pronunciation. This helps a lot when trying to remember new words in a foreign language.
However Pimsleur courses also have some drawbacks.
They also tend to use highly formal language that is too respectful for most day to day situations. The courses are also sometimes criticized for teaching limited vocabulary.
Over all Pimsleur courses are a great way to learn functional vocabulary while developing your accent and conversational abilities.
Monthly subscription for $14.95
All in all there are 4 features unique to Pimsleur Italian:
Audio is better than other Pimsleur courses
Not all Pimsleur courses are made equal. Some have audio that date back several decades and feature dialogues that sound dry and artificial. Not so with Pimsleur Italian. The voice actors do a decent job of keeping the speech natural while speaking slow enough for a new student to understand.
Pronunciation breakdowns are great
Pimsleur Italian's good audio lends it to being an effective tool for developing your Italian accent. In fact as far Italian audio courses go, Pimsleur Italian is probably your best bet for pronunciation practice.
All Pimsleur courses introduce new words syllable by syllable to help you hear and pronounce Italian sounds. This is a simple yet very effective method of teaching pronunciation, that most courses simply don’t cover.
It uses Lei vs Tu
Pimsleur is known for favoring formal and polite language over informal language. More often than not Pimsleur’s dialogues have you talking to a stranger on the street, bus, or in store.
As a result the Italian you learn in Pimsleur Italian will be mostly formal. Italian has two pronouns for “you”: “lei” (formal) and “tu” (informal). With Pimsleur you will nearly always use “lei” over “tu”.
This works great if you’re a traveling businessman looking to chat during a short business trip the Italy. But if you’re looking to spend more time in Italy, or simply hang out and make friends in the language, “lei” is less useful.
Intro to Italian pronouns
Which pronoun you use will affect how you conjugate the verbs applying to the pronoun. At first it can seem frustrating practicing conjugations with a pronoun you’re less likely to use. As you get more comfortable in the language it will be easier for you to switch between “lei” and “tu”.
Also bear in mind that if you use “lei” over “tu” or vice versa, you will still be understood. You may just come across super polite or impolite depending on the situation.
What other people are saying about Pimsleur Italian
I've used Pimsleur's stuff for all my language skills. While I lived and worked in Europe I tried all the other players and compared to this system they all suck.
Most are glorified dictionaries, a lot focus on grammar (I'm sorry but "My Uncle Jorge has two red tractors" isn't going to come in handy) and I don't understand why they don't get that we want to learn a language to communicate with the natives. Pimsleur gets that which is why, if you're serious about learning another language, you should get this.
Amazon.com Reviewer (Pimsleur Italian)
Alternatives to Pimsleur Italian
20+ minutes a day
Rocket Italian is built around recorded audio in the form of dialogues. The dialogues have English explanations and usually teach the language in "chunks" or phrases versus individual words (this is great for conversational Italian).
Rocket Italian also has a hefty literacy component and emphasizes reading and writing as well as speaking and listening.
From $4+ per month
15+ minutes a day
Italianpod101 features audio lessons in a podcast format. Lessons are great for grammar and vocabulary, and center around a recorded conversation between two native speakers.
While it's not as structured as Pimsleur it's still a substantial Italian learning tool (it's also much cheaper too). The site features transcripts, an in-site flashcard system, and a lot of other useful features.
Starts at $15 per month
5+ minutes a day
Fluentu is a site that helps you learn a language through native videos. Use in site flashcards, captions, and games to learn new words in context while watching Italian TV shows, movies, commercials, and more. It's a great way to push your listening skills and vocabulary.
Pimsleur Italian is strong in the areas of pronunciation, speaking, and listening. It’s less effective for learning how to read Italian, and its writing features are nonexistent.
With these courses you will learn much more formal Italian than you will informal. This shouldn’t be a deal breaker if you like the course, but it is something you should be mindful off. Overall Pimsleur is a great way to learn and develop your Italian conversation skills.
Pimsleur offers a free week trial, which gives you access to all of their Italian courses. If you think Pimsleur might be the course for you, it's best to try out the free trial before you buy anything.