Paul Pimsleur cartoon

Pimsleur Italian Review

Hey folks, have you heard of Pimsleur? It’s been around since your parents were young, and apparently, it’s still “relevant” today. A course with a lengthy existence still enduring in modern times.

In this review, we’ll present our honest opinion about this program. In our books, Pimsleur is not for everybody. Come along and discover if Pimsleur suits you.

Pimsleur Method™

Pimsleur is more than just a course; it is a method that bears the name of the late Dr. Paul Pimsleur (an applied linguist who spent many years researching spaced repetition).

Pimsleur cartoon

Spaced repetition is a learning process that involves exposing students to an idea and then waiting a certain amount of time before revisiting or recalling it.

Dr. Pimsleur developed his version of spaced repetition, which the Pimsleur Method™ now follows with strict adherence to a predetermined timeline. The Pimsleur Method™ starts with high-frequency recall in seconds and minutes and gradually extends to days, weeks, and months. The Pimsleur program offers clear instructions and a strict order to follow. Each lesson is for one day’s work. And there are specific guidelines concerning when to repeat an exercise versus moving on. This structured approach provides a clear roadmap, outlining the time needed and when certain milestones, such as level completion, can be expected.

Pimsleur is an audio course!

Pimsleur, as we mentioned earlier, has been around for decades. It’s so old that cassettes and Pimsleur coexisted for a long time!

The program heavily relied on audio, which remains its backbone after more than 50 years. Through spaced repetition, Pimsleur can take learners by the hand and initiate them into the language. Although an app and website exist, the method remains almost exclusively audio-based. There’s also a reading section, but it’s just a sidekick.

In each lesson, an English-speaking narrator or instructor provides instructions while one or more native speakers engage in a dialogue (or monolog, whichever is the case). The English-speaking instructor never uses foreign words but prompts and guides the learner through the lessons.

The key to Pimsleur’s effectiveness lies in its intervals. Learners hear a new word. Then, keep on learning other words and phrases. And then BOOM, the student is asked to recall and use that original word again. As learners progress, revisiting words and expressions from earlier lessons is expected. So, do not be surprised if, seemingly out of the blue, you face memory and retention challenges. Pimsleur will keep you on your toes!

Pimsleur Italian review

Do you enjoy challenges? What about taking an Italian lesson every day for five months? Well, buckle up because Pimsleur has got you covered!

Pimsleur Italian encompasses five modules, each spanning a month and comprising 30 lessons (thus, you complete one a day). Each daily session takes one hour. So, the whole course takes five months if you practice daily for one hour. Are you in?

Vocabulary is limited

A lot of repetition takes place inside the course. Thus, Pimsleur covers less vocabulary than other language-learning platforms. Pimsleur argues that the less extensive list of words they teach sticks with students better because they review it frequently. With that vocabulary learned, a student can continue expanding and consuming material by himself once he has completed the course. In other words, they’re saying, “Hey, we’ll give you the appetizer, but you’re gonna have to order your entré.” Thus, Pimsleur is ideal for students just starting to learn a language. Do you have experience acquiring a second language? No? Then, the first few weeks can be challenging. That is why so many students get frustrated and quit. Thus, Pimsleur intends to aid you through that crucial initial learning phase.

Complaints against Pimsleur

Despite Pimsleur’s 50 years of endurance, the platform still undergoes criticism on several fronts. And you will be interested in learning about these complaints.

  1. First, as mentioned in the previous section, the vocabulary you will learn in this course is limited.
  2. Another complaint is that some of the stories and scenarios behind the dialogs are antiquated, inevitably feeling dated.
  3. But one of the most notorious negative comments against Pimsleur is its restrictiveness, not allowing exploration freedom. Some people prefer a structured curriculum. Thus, they enjoy being led by the hand. But others like to explore on their own. So, if you’re in the latter group, Pimsleur is not the program for you.
  4. And this leads us to the fourth complaint. Due to the structured nature of the platform, those with language-learning experience may find the program restrictive. And even consider its pace too slow and exasperating. And we agree. Seasoned students can learn a language faster on their own. For this type of student, it’s like being in college and taking 1st-grade classes. If you plan to acquire your fourth or fifth language with Pimsleur, then it’s a bad idea.
  5. Finally, some students address the course lessons as monotonous. It becomes an obstacle to follow through with the hour-long daily requirement. So, be prepared. Pimsleur does the job of getting you started in the language. But you will need to find your source of motivation to complete the course.

Pimsleur has voice recognition software!

As mentioned above, Pimsleur is an audio-based program. So, the learning process will require you to repeat frequently or answer questions. Thus, your voice needs to be recognized and registered. This feature is relatively new on the platform, and it gives you needed feedback about your pronunciation. It makes sense, right? Pimsleur’s all about audio, so why not use voice recognition to help you out?

Your responses are graded based on a star system. One star for “I can barely understand you” and all the stars for “Wow, you’re practically a native speaker!”

Pimsleurs price tag

Pimsleur is a costly venture. Every module costs $150 (one module equals 30 lessons).

However, if you’re considering Pimsleur, do not purchase the course. What? Let me explain. They’ve released a new monthly subscription plan with discounted prices. The monthly subscription enables students to finish the 5-month program for $100. In other words, you pay $20 a month.

What’s more, if you go the subscription route, Pimsleur provides you with a free trial of 7 days to see if you resonate with the program! No strings attached.

Pros and Cons of Pimsleur

Pros

A research-backed, proven method

Effective spaced repetition system

Affordable with the new subscription model

Cons

Audio only

Dated social scenarios

It’s a course mainly for beginners

Instagram ItalianLg

Wrapping up!

Hey, what’s the deal with this 50-year-old course? Are you one of those podcast people? Because this course is all about that audio format!

The audio aspect of the course is perfect for accompanying idle chores. But not everybody enjoys putting on their headphones. What about you? Do you mind listening while you eat or commute?

If you still don’t know what to decide about Pimsleur but have made it this far in our review, we advise you to check out Pimsleur for free by clicking here.

Nothing empowers you more than deciding based on your own experience. The free trial lasts seven days. There are no strings attached.

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32 Comments

  1. My sister and her family have plans to migrate to Italy before the end of the year. However, their concern is learning the Italian language because my sister is a teacher, and she’s looking to start a teaching job as soon as they get settled there.
    My sister has asked me to check out some Italian courses they could take before finally going to Italy. And that’s what brought me to your site. I have heard of the Pimsleur Italian course. And I have already read several reviews about it. You’re right; although there are some negative reviews, more people say it is worth, at least, giving a try!
    What I like about this course is the 7-day free trial so my sister can assess if it’s the program she and her family needs.
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts about the Pimsleur Italian course.

    1. It is nice to hear how you’re helping your sister and her family. I wish them all the best in their move to Italy. And yeah, the 7-day free trial will help her decision based on her experience with Pimsleur.

  2. Hey! Thanks! I sometimes like old but trusted products. And Pimsleur seems to be one of them.
    I had never heard about Pimsleur before. Although I don’t like it does not utilize visuals, I still like the fact that I can practice while commuting. Let’s see if Pimsleur works for me.

    1. Yes, Pimsleur’s focus is on audio. But as you mentioned, their audio lessons can accompany you throughout your day.

  3. Thanks for your review of the Pimsleur Italian course.
    It certainly is rich in history with tried-and-true learning methods.
    And with the monthly subscription, it seems like a very cost-effective course. I wouldn’t even consider joining previously.
    I might explore this course myself, as I’ve always wanted to learn another language.

  4. I had never heard of Pimsleur before but it seems a great way to learn a language. Is it only for learning Italian?
    I like the fact that there is a free trial as well because at least this gives us a chance to have a taster session to see if it’s a good fit.
    Thanks for sharing.

  5. I found your post while looking for easy ways to learn Italian. I have to admit that this is the first time I’ve heard of this method.
    Pimsleur Italian looks interesting. The repetition approach to language development over time is perfect for me and seems the easiest method I have found so far.

  6. I have taken one-on-one Japanese tutoring courses before. And I heard the teacher talk about this learning method at that time.

    I think Pimsleur’s strategy is suitable for people like me. We learn through listening. The efficiency relies on the technique more than on the hard work. So, I’m excited to try out Pimsleur.

    1. I’m glad you crossed paths with Pimsleur again. Yes, try it out. It may be the method for you!

  7. Had I not stumbled upon your article, I’d have never known about Pimsleur! The price does seem to be on the higher end. However, I’m intrigued by the idea of spaced repetition. A concept I’d never heard before! I’ll give this course a shot (through the subscription trial). Thank you for sharing this!

  8. Moving to a new country can be exciting and daunting. And one of the biggest challenges can be learning the language.
    However, there are many resources available. And I am surprised that a program like Pimsleur is still around. I always like the proven methods. So, Pimsleur is right down my alley.

  9. Hey there! Even though Pimsleur has been around for many years, I had not heard about it. Thanks for this informative post. I do not mind joining an old platform like this if it has a track record of working for others. I won’t let those outdated examples distract me.

    1. Pimsleur has been around for many years. And that also talks about its effectiveness. It does help people who enjoy listening while commuting or doing chores around the house. I wish you the best in using Pimsleur.

  10. As a language teacher (English grammar), it is not the first time I come across Pimsleur’s methods. There have been various language teaching methodologies, and they seem to change every few decades, which I find a great shame. There is still much to explore with Pimsleur’s methods. And I know many teachers who employ this method, perhaps even without realizing that they do so because it remains an effective way of consolidating learning.

    I will say that there are learners who are more visual than auditory. And they may be less suited to this method. But it remains a highly effective method for many.

    I am pleased to find your website in my search (for a new language learning site). In my opinion, there are far too many language learning apps employing overly simplistic methods that slow progress.

    1. Thanks for sharing your comments with us. There is value in Pimsleur’s methods. It may not be for everybody. But for those for whom it works, IT WORKS!

  11. Hey! I connected with this approach. I know I learn by listening. But, I was not acquainted with this way of language-learning for people like me. I am excited to try Pimsleur’s method. I will take advantage of their free trial. 7-days is more than enough to determine if something works!

    1. I am happy to read you discovered Pimsleur’s method through our site. I wish you all the best on the 7-day free trial!

  12. Hi, Jonathan. Thank you for this detailed and honest review of Pimsleur Italian. Pimsleur seems a good option for beginners who want to improve their oral skills. It teaches basic conversational phrases and sentences used in real-life situations. And I like it allows us to study with audio anytime and anywhere (whether eating, commuting, or doing anything else).

    However, learners need more multimedia resources, such as videos, images, texts, and games, to enrich their learning experience. And in my case, I need more grammar and vocabulary explanations.

    As per your explanation about this method, it sounds boring and repetitive.

    However, not all students have my expectations.

    I would only use Pimsleur as a supplement. Never as my main course.

    1. Yes, Pimsleur is not for everybody (visual learners struggle on the platform).

      I recommend you check out Babbel (affordable and has visual aids). And it would be a good idea to pair the Pimsleur experience with Babbel and reap the benefits from each.

  13. Back in June, I stumbled across your Pimsleur’s review. After reading your post, I decided to give it a try. I found the approach interesting on paper, but frequently, things in reality are not as good as they seem. However, I must admit that, even though I had a good vibe about this approach, it has exceeded my expectations. It must be how I learn, but Pimsleur seems made just for me.

    I wanted to drop by and say thank you. And by the way, since I discovered your site, I am always coming over to read a post or two. You gained a follower!

    1. Thank you so much! It is so kind of you to let me know. I am thrilled you have found Pimsleur to be the program just for you!

      Producing content is not easy. But comments like yours encourage me to keep on publishing!

  14. Hey, there! Pimselur has to be something special, having such a high cost. So it strikes my interest because I need to learn Italian fast to take on an assignment for my job in Rimini, Italy. I also found it interesting that we can pay less by going the subscription route!

  15. My wife has always wanted to learn Italian. I have enough problems with English, but the Pimsleur audio course looks like a good place to start. I want to accompany my wife on this new language-learning journey. So, I’m researching different platforms.

    It’s reassuring to see that the Pimsleur method has been around for over 50 years. So, it must be doing something right. I’m grateful the course is affordable with the new subscription model.

    1. It will be a nice experience to join your wife in the learning Italian goal. Together, the journey will be easier. I wish you all the best!

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