Dum Pendebat Filius

A sniff in the kortevar, that what you cry for, yeled? A prert up the cull, a prang on the dumpendebat?


Are any of you, readers, familiar with the Pimsleur family of language-learning products and courses?

I am deeply skeptical of the “Pimsleur approach” –

You really can learn everything you need to speak [language X] fluently in only 10 hours! Numerous studies have revealed that in every country, native-speakers use only about 2,500 distinct words and phrases on a daily basis. Dr. Pimsleur spent his lifetime studying these language building blocks. With the Pimsleur approach, it’s not how many words you know, but rather, which words you can use. By aiming each lesson at teaching you to use those 2500 words, the Pimsleur approach teaches you to speak the most [language X] in the least amount of time.

The Pimsleur approach is so effective because it traces how people developed language. Before written history, we had oral history. Most people, even kings, couldn’t write or read in ancient times. Some people can’t even read today. Most language learning systems fail to acknowledge that writing only exists to represent the words we speak. So you should ask yourself, “Why should I learn to read [language X] if I can’t even speak it?”

The Pimsleur [language X] course immediately immerses you in a [language X] conversation to help you grasp the syntax or structure of the [language X] language. Amazingly, once you understand the syntax, that chaotic, “foreign” sound so common to language learning disappears instantly. You’ll start to recognize words and phrases. The Pimsleur approach will help to change your perception within your first 30 minutes!

But, while extremely skeptical, I have also been curious about Pimsleur for a long time. A couple days ago, I saw the Pimsleur beginner-level Hindi course on eBay for cheap, and I couldn’t pass it up. I’m going to give it a try, and I’ll let you know what I think of it.

If any of you, readers, have ever tried a Pimsleur course, I would be very interested to know what you thought of it.

Filed under: Language by dumpendebat at 2006/01/07 - 14:32


  1. RP:

    I’m not familiar with the Pimsleur approach, but I’ve always been fascinated that someone can be “fluent in 5 different languages.” Is fluency something akin to familiarity with 2,500 distinct words and a clever enough mind to connect a few Chomsky-like proto-formulations? If a sort of basic fluency = familiarity with language “systems” and the acquirement of a 2,500 item diction database then, oh baby! what an approach that would be.

    Let us know!

  2. dumpendebat:

    Of course, it depends on what your definition of “fluent” is. My own rough idea of “fluency” would mean the ability to get through a day, including work and social activities, in the target language, with a minimum of difficulty and without constant recourse to lexical or grammatical reference works. By my own definition, I am nowhere even close to fluent in any language but English.

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