Monday, May 15, 2006

Pimsleur (my view)

I managed to aquire the Pimsleur Mandarin courses to play with for a while, this is what I think of them.

I have been searching for other Mandarin learners locally (posting on company noticeboard etc.) and found none but turned up a number of interesting responses. Chats to people who have been to China, someone with a Taiwanease wife (he is not interested in learning though), references for a couple of local tutors (which I haven't followed up yet), a bunch of useless books and the Pimsleur Mandarin course (eventually they will want to sell it but I have plenty of time to play). What was surprising was the number of people who had started Mandarin but given up. I took the opportunity to plug Chinesepod and maybe a couple will restart?

First things first Pimsleur is expensive, there are various deals around but it looks like hundreds of pounds for the full whack. They also promise to have you speaking Mandarin in 10 days or your money back. I can have you speaking Mandarin in 10mins! repeat after me "ni3hao3". I think I see a catch 22 here
client: "can I have a refund my Mandarin sucks, I can't speak it"
pimsluer: "bu4 hui4"
client: "but you said I could have a refund"
pimsluer: "ahh you understood me then? click........"

Despite these reservations I have to say though that I am finding the Pimsleur quite useful, I have completed the first five lessons and the vocabuary is very basic so far but is starting to build up surprisingly fast, I am also getting benefit from their use of alternative words and Beijing pronounciation. Lucky for me one lesson just fits into one of my car journeys, I can shout out the Mandarin without feeling silly.

I think the Pimsleur will help with my speaking, you are encouraged to create new sentances so it is not all repetative. I really do need to excercise my Mandarin voice to let out all the vocabuary I am absorbing from Chinesepod. At the moment Pimsleur is fulfilling an important role but a I am still listening to plenty of podcasts too.

In the long run is Pimsluer worth the money? Hmmmm... probably depends on what type of learner you are and how much money you have. It can get a little boring and I would definitely recommend supplementing learning from other places. Bear in mind that there is already a lot of audio material at Chinesepod and it is growing all the time so I am sure that the lion's share of my words will come from there. Also consider that Pimsleur is speak and listen only and you get that bit free at Chinesepod. I do question the Pimsleur strategy here. Even if you don't want to learn Chinese characters, for me the pinyin input is vital. I wonder whether Chinesepod could release some podcasts in a slightly different style for speech drilling? there have already been some moves in this direction in my own remixes and the remixes of others.

If you do follow Pimsleur then I recommend you get a transcript, for example this one. I am also starting to build up sets of flashcards at flashcardexchange to go with the Pimsleur lessons.


pandagator said...

Just so you know, Pimsleur is not expensive at all. I learned it's actually free :)
If you have a library card, you can electronically check out a copy through, try it!

Marc said...

Hello Chris,

I had a look at the Pimsleur site...yes, their course is expensive. I guess it must be pretty good too at this price. But it is clear that they also sell a dream, they make it sound very easy to acquire another language and I'm sure that the course is structured in such a way that you can easily do the first lessons so that you get the feeling that you can do it. The reality though of studying a language, any language, is that it takes time and a lot of effort. Mandarin is even worse. There has been a study over here in Belgium and the conclusion was that Mandarin takes 4 times as much time to learn than any other standard European language. I have been studying for nearly 2 years now, formalised evening classes and, since january, using chinesepod too. I think my level is somewhere around elementary and lower intermediate. Which means that I don't understand a lot of the ChinesePod lessons at that level without the transcript...

But I have given myself time, 10 years in fact, to learn this language. My aim is to be fluent 8 years from now :)


Chris said...

Just found this on Pandagator's blog.

Looks like you can get Pimleur from libaries etc. But the links on Pandagator are for American only.

Worth checking out though, if you can play with this for no outlay it is a no-brainer, give it a go!

sixaan said...

I myself got also some Pimsleur's audio lessons before reaching at CHINESEPOD.For now, I've decided to give up the previous learning Chinese course as I foud Chinesepod is quite siutable for me, it is a "sheng1yu3" teaching methods with natural and clear pronounciation. It convinces me of my hopeful Chinese course.

sixaan said...

I got also some Pimsleur's audio lessons before reaching at Chinesepod. For now I've decided to give up the previours course and follow Chinesepod as I found my new course is quite suitable for me. It's a "sheng1yu3" teaching method, with natural and transparent pronounciation, convincing me a successful record.

Anonymous said...

Hey, I am just finishing Pimsleur's Mandarin III, my Dad bought me the first unit, then I have used limewire to get the rest for no dolla.
Its a great course, I have been Skyping a chinese chick and she says my accent is perfect.
At my library they only have the first ten lessons - all 90 are free though if you have p2p software.
P.S.I like your site - thanks.

May you find true peace :)

D said...

How can you write a review (or a summary of your view) of Pimsleur after only completing five lessons?

Anonymous said...

Not sure if you are aware of this but I have listened to a few of the Pimsleur Mandarin lessons noticed the people have really thick Beijing accent... was wondering if anyone out there knows if there is an alternative Taiwan accent learning program for Mandarin through a program that is similar to Pimsleur so I won't have to go through the embarrassment of having weird accent.