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Pimsleur Review: Best Language App for Beginners

Pimsleur Review: Best Language App for Beginners

I recently started using Pimsleur to learn Lithuanian and practice Spanish. This is a complete Pimsleur review. It includes tips for using the app to get the most out of it for learning, what languages you can learn, the cost, and a discount code.

I have attempted to learn many languages in the last 13 years of living abroad. Sometimes I have used language apps. Other times I’ve tried one-on-one lessons. There were group classes with Lingoda and in-person classes in college.

Often, I would simply get frustrated and eventually, give up. Especially if I was only learning the language for fun.

It was only when I really needed the languages that I stuck with them. When I lived in Korea and needed to be able to communicate. Or when I was in Mexico for five years, traveling, learning, and writing about the country.  

But those years of study often felt grueling. Especially when I was just starting out and couldn’t yet speak the language.

After getting a base of Spanish, I really loved (and continue to love) using Baselang. You can read my full review of their program here. You can also watch a video review of it here.

But when I recently moved to Lithuania, I knew I wanted to hit the ground running. I needed to learn some basic phrases. And I needed to learn them fast.

That’s when I found Pimsleur. I’ve worked my way through the entire Lithuanian course. I’ve also now started using their advanced Spanish lessons to continue with my Spanish. And now I’m going to start learning Russian (or maybe Turkish) to help with my travels.

Pimsleur Review: Is this the best app for Language Learners?

I believe that Pimsleur is one of the best apps I have ever used for language learning.

The program has four cornerstones that it focuses on for language learning. 

the four core values of the pimsleur language program

These are the four main focuses of the Pimsleur language program.

The main part of each program, regardless of the language you choose, is the audio lessons. 

The audio lessons are between 25 and 30 minutes long. They focus on teaching you entire sentences and phrases through repetition. You will eventually learn entire practiced conversations. You repeat them out loud to improve your pronunciation.

Then, depending on what language you choose and whether it is premium or not, there are more things to assist you with your learning. The Lithuanian program also has short reading lessons. This also includes audio files that teach you how to read phonetically. 

If you get a premium program, like the Spanish Premium, you also get additional things like flashcards to practice vocabulary, roll-play transcripts, and short tests to take between lessons to test where you are.

As someone who wants to start speaking and understanding the language RIGHT NOW, I haven’t found anything better than this. If you are taking your time learning a language and you don’t need to speak it right away, you can probably go for something cheaper.

However, if you want to start using the language right now, it doesn’t get much better than Pimsleur.

studying spanish with coffee at a desk

There are so many resources out there to learn languages, it can be SO hard to determine which are good value for money and are also a good use of your time!

Who Should Use Pimsleur?

While I really like the Spanish lessons, I think that there comes a point where intermediate learners will no longer find the content particularly useful.

Pimsleur is best suited to those that are at the beginning stages of their language learning. It doesn’t have to be the first day you’ve ever spoken the language. However, if you are already conversational, you probably don’t need Pimsleur.

I have been using the Pimsleur method for one month here in Lithuania, and I have already learned so much. Already, I am able to order food at a restaurant.

I understand what the cashier at the grocery store is asking me. When I overhear words that I have learned, it only cements them more in my mind.

I am able to see and read the words that I have learned when I attempt to read the news in Lithuanian. It has been a truly fantastic experience. I only wish there was a second level for Lithuanian like there is for many of the other more popular languages.

Pimsleur Languages Review

There are 50 different languages on Pimsleur. Including several languages that are harder to find classes for elsewhere on the internet. That includes languages like Lithuanian, which I have struggled to find classes for.

As well as Albanian, Croatian, Swiss-German, Tagalog, Irish, and Urdu. You can see the full list of languages here

While the variety of languages is incredible, some are much more thorough than others.

Using Pimsleur, you can reach an intermediate level in Spanish, French, German, Mandarin, Russian, and Italian. These languages have more than just audio files and phonics lessons as well. You will be able to have access to a huge library of learning materials to help you improve from a beginner to a strong intermediate language speaker.

But you will only get a beginner intro to languages like Lithuanian and Irish.

If you are studying languages like Persian, Egyptian Arabic, Turkish, and even Swahili, you will have access to a huge selection of audio files and phonics lessons. This should easily get you through the beginner phase of the language and have you speaking comfortably in simple conversations.

all of the languages available for the pimsleur review

All of the different languages to choose from on the Pimsleur website

My Language Learning Journey

Besides taking high school Spanish and beginner German in college, I had no real grasp of language learning as an adult. I have struggled a lot to learn the few languages I am now able to speak and I made a lot of mistakes along the way.

Learning Korean

When I was learning Korean back in 2014, there weren’t very many options available for English speakers. A lot has changed with that as Korea has grown in popularity around the world. However, when I was looking to learn Korean, there were only a few language books and online courses available.

This meant, I didn’t really have a ton of choices when trying to learn the language. Up to this point, I had only ever learned languages in school. I studied Spanish in high school. I learned German in college. I had always learned languages through textbooks. So that’s where I started with Korean.

I bought a textbook for beginners and I worked my way through it. It had paragraphs of information in English, a few lines of information in Korean, and then a page or two of exercises to practice the new bit of grammar or vocabulary that they were trying to teach.

In a few months of daily practice, I’d worked my way through the entire workbook. I still couldn’t speak Korean. I still froze when I entered a restaurant and someone tried to speak to me in Korean.

It wasn’t until I met a fellow expat there who was teaching himself Korean as well, that I realized the importance of actually using the language. He learned a few phrases via YouTube, and then would just go out and start speaking to people.

He made friends with Koreans and asked them if it was ok to message each other in Korean on Whatsapp. As soon as I put my ego aside and stopped being embarrassed about making mistakes, I saw huge progress in my Korean language skills.

By the end of my year in Korea, I could comfortably speak in simple situations and could read easily in Korean.

standing in tea fields in Korea

One of my most treasured memories from living in Korea was navigating to these tea fields. No one spoke English at the bus station, all of the signs to the tea fields were in Korean. We got tickets, we got off at the right stop, and we walked through these beautiful green tea fields. It was such an incredible reward after a year of studying Korean.

Learning Spanish (again)

I knew that when I moved to Mexico, I needed to skip the textbook part of the learning. I needed to get straight to speaking. But the problem remained, I didn’t really know what to say. I didn’t understand what I was hearing in return. I wasn’t afraid to speak, but I didn’t have anything to say.

I lived in Mexico for five years and it wasn’t until I started taking daily classes with a teacher two years into my life in Mexico that I started noticing a huge difference with my Spanish. 

The good thing about Spanish is that there are so many resources available. It’s one of the most popular languages to learn in the world, especially for English speakers. This is also one of the bad things about learning Spanish. There are almost too many resources.

Baselang was the best thing I did for my Spanish and because it was so affordable, it meant I could take unlimited lessons. I could spend hours a day speaking to native Spanish speakers. We went through the curriculum and I learned new vocabulary, which I then used to keep speaking with my teachers.

Again I realized the importance of speaking, but someone else still solved the problem of vocabulary and grammar.

Learning Lithuanian

So how was I going to marry the idea of speaking right away with learning vocabulary that I would be able to use immediately?

How was I going to do all this without paying a ton of money for private lessons? Unfortunately, there is no Baselang equivalent for learning Lithuanian.

I looked at language classes that met on Zoom with a group of other students. But it was still going to cost me almost $400 USD. That would only cover a one-month intensive class. What would I do once that was done?

I tried to self-teach by looking up vocabulary and memorizing it. But I realized very quickly that my pronunciation and cadence was totally wrong.

Then I saw someone mention Pimsleur on Instagram. She was using it to learn Egyptian Arabic and after only a few days, she was speaking in full sentences with excellent pronunciation.

So I looked it up. $20 for 5 lessons but if I bought 10 lessons, I would save. I decided to do the trial lesson.

That is what brings us onto this Pimsleur review.

kaunas cathedral in Lithuania

I’m already using the Lithuanian I’ve learned to navigate around the country and explore places like the beautiful city of Kaunas!

Pimsleur Review: Why I Love it

After just one lesson I could speak in three full sentences. That alone is worth this Pimsleur review.

I was amazed. I’m not being over the top or dramatic. Lithuanian isn’t as simple as Spanish. I have never heard this language spoken before in my life. The pronunciation is unlike anything I’ve ever attempted to learn. And yet, here I was, speaking the language.

The whole premise of the Pimsleur method is to get you speaking the language immediately. You don’t even get to read what you are saying. Each syllable is broken down by a native speaker. Each sentence is repeated several times. You are then asked to repeat it out loud.

Then the native speaker explains says the sentence again. They say it slower. Then they say it faster. They allow you to listen to two native speakers having a conversation. You then replicate this conversation throughout the lesson.

It’s all about repetition and recall. It’s truly simple and yet so incredibly effective.

By the end of the 10 Lithuanian lessons, I felt competent enough to speak to waiters. I recently went to a festival and ordered food in Lithuanian. When they spoke back to me, I understood what was being said.

I truly love the ease of this program. I love how quickly the 30-minute class goes by because I am so engrossed in trying to repeat the sentences and get my pronunciation right.

I also love the phonics reading lessons that go along with each audio lesson. I’m learning how to read Lithuanian the same way I learned how to read English when I was a kid.

The app is easy to use. It’s also possible to study with Pimsleur on your computer or tablet. But I love being able to pop my headphones in and cook dinner or go for a walk while I study with Pimsleur on my phone.

stack of old books

How I thought I needed to learn a language.

Pimsleur Review: Why I Don’t Love it

My biggest complaint in this Pimsleur review is that there aren’t more Lithuanian lessons. I would honestly pay for another 20 or 30 lessons if they were available. 

This program is the absolute best solution to learning a language from scratch that I have ever found. It makes me want to learn more languages from scratch. That’s how much I enjoy it. 

Of course, it isn’t perfect. No individual language course on its own ever could be.

I wish the phonics readings were also geared towards teaching you more vocabulary. Or at least emphasizing the words that you are learning in the audio lessons.

The phonics readings basically stand-alone and aim to teach you how to read the letters and make different sounds. But there are no translations for the vocabulary. And the vocabulary in the readings isn’t the same as the vocabulary in the audio lessons. 

It’s a bummer that each language doesn’t get the same resources as the more popular ones.

I understand there are likely many (many many) more people who want to learn Spanish than Lithuanian, but I’m bummed that there aren’t at least the tests and flashcards available for Lithuanian like there are for the other premium languages. 

The other thing I found frustrating at times was that there is no script for the audio. I want to know what these words look like sometimes.

Usually, I go onto Google Translate and look up the correct spelling.

However, I know that’s mostly the control freak in me who wants to be 100% sure I’m saying exactly the right word. The pronunciation of the native speakers on Pimsleur is far more accurate than my Google Translate readings.

studying with laptop and notebook near backpack

Studying a language can sometimes feel like you’re back at school, but it doesn’t have to. This is a genuinely fun and engaging way to learn and SPEAK a new language.

Pimsleur Cost: Is it Worth the Money?

This is one of the best value-for-money language programs available right now. I would not be writing this Pimsleur review if I didn’t think it was worth sharing with you guys.

If you are learning a language from scratch and you want to be able to speak it immediately, this is an absolute bargain. 

You can get a 7-day trial which allows you to take as many of the lessons as you want in those 7 days. You can test out whether or not you believe this is a good program or not. 

Get the 7-day free trial here.

The price for the programs varies depending on how many lessons you purchase at a time.

If you buy only five lessons at a time, it will be more expensive than if you purchase the entire level. In fact, if you buy all of level one, you get five of the lessons free (when compared to buying them individually).

It’s not like a class where once you’ve taken it, you can’t take it again. These lessons will be available to you forever.

You can download them and listen to them offline (perfect for trains and buses). I sometimes go for a walk in the park and listen to mine. Many people do the lessons in the car on their commute to and from work.

You can see the cost of all of the different languages by selecting one here.

pimsleur review website for language learning

The structure of the premium programs that you don’t want to miss on Pimsleur.

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