I recently finished the last episode of my Pimsleur lessons for Korean. I wanted to share my love story thoughts on that language learning method.
Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with Pimsleur. I am not suggesting you should buy their products. This is just my honest review of their Korean package. Always do your research before purchasing language learning material. Read different reviews and try sample lessons whenever possible.
I joined the Pimsleur adventure about a year and a half into my Korean language learning. This might sound like a lot, but if you’ve been learning an Asian language for the first time, you’ll know what I mean. I was putting a lot of efforts into my learning, but somehow, I kept forgetting the most basic things. Vocabulary didn’t stick, no matter the technique I used, and it always took me ages to utter a coherent sentence. I was looking for something to help me structure my learning, memorize sentence patterns and important words.
Skeptic at First
I am always careful when trying products from companies that offer tools for multiple languages. They often try to apply the same recipe to all of their languages, despite some major structural and cultural differences, leading to unnatural dialogs or ineffective lesson order.
I started the lessons halfway through Level 1, since I already knew the basics of Korean. I took my newly downloaded audio files on a walk, and we got along instantly. There I was, having an imaginary dialog with some random Korean acquaintance (always looking for a bank or a bathroom, for some reason). I decided to listen to my Pimsleur lessons every day on my way to work. I saw some progress within the first weeks.
Pimsleur lessons create an interaction between yourself and a native speaker. The dialog pauses to give you the opportunity to answer and you hear the correction shortly after. No book, no fuss… just an ongoing conversation on daily topics.
There are two levels for the Korean Program. Each level has 30 lessons of about 30 minutes, for a grand total of 32 hours if you take the whole thing. Lessons can be bought separately.
After a few lessons, and with my own study, I noticed I could answer with more speed and fluidity. My pronunciation also improved. Although I didn’t learn many new words, I could remember the ones I knew with more ease. I started using more sentence patterns into my speech and gained confidence.
Why I Fell for It
It keeps you active. You speak all the time.
You get immediate feedback on your grammar and pronunciation.
You construct short sentences based on what you’ve learnt instead of repeating and memorizing sentences, or listening passively to a dialog.
I truly appreciated the use of Korean references (cities, food, transportation, money, customs, etc.) during the lessons.
You can hear male and female native speakers.
It lets you forget things and help you remember it back, which makes memorization effortless and more efficient. In my case, repetition was essential for my learning of Korean, as it was the only way to make those foreign words stick.
It goes everywhere you go and easily fits into your schedule.
Although I am now a Pimsleur fan, I have to admit that the lessons are not cheap. Some might even say you could use that money to get tutoring lessons instead. If you want to give it a try, though, you have the possibility to buy just a few episodes at a time.
There is no book, except for a kind of booklet to learn Hangul. It is not a problem for me, but I understand it can be one for you, mostly if you want to look back at some of the patterns or words you’ve heard during the lesson.
In the Korean version, the formal language is used almost everywhere, instead of the standard level of politeness (the one you can hear in TTMIK material). It’s suitable for business situations or formal occasions, but I didn’t find it useful for my own use.
I feel like the situations depicted in the dialogs aim to a more mature audience (talking about their children, spouses, business trips, playing golf, etc.). The young traveller probably won’t find everything he is looking for.
All in all, Pimsleur was a great addition to my Korean learning routine, along with other tools, and I would definitely use it again to help me learn another Asian language. Now that my audio files came to an end, I’ll miss these friendly morning chats on my way to work.
Have you tried Pimsleur? What’s your favourite method for learning a difficult language?