Learning a language is a difficult and amazing endeavor.
It is something you should truly do if you have the time, the dedication, and the want to do so, as language is the key to the human experience.
Without it, we wouldn’t have culture, literature, ideologies and all the other facets that define our own human experiences.
There are many ways to learn a language with most people being able to use a language learning program, like Rosetta Stone or Duolingo, however one of the best language learning programs is that of Pimsleur.
With such prestige, you would gather that Pimsleur has quite an expansive language list.
As such, we decided to take a look at this complete Pimsleur language list and see for ourselves how it stacks up, how many languages you can learn from it, and whether it is worth the price tag.
What Is Pimsleur?
Pimsleur or Pimsleur Language Programs is an American language learning company that was founded in 1963 by Dr Paul Pimsleur.
A professor and scholar in the field of Applied Linguistics, Dr Pimsleur developed the Pimsleur language learning system, which ended up having a profound effect on the language learning theories of the time and the way they were taught.
His research was not only extensive, but laid the foundation for language learning today, as he focused not on the learning of language through books but how we fundamentally learn language, as both children and adults, through organic learning.
He was the first educator and scholar to look at students who performed well in all other areas bar language and ask the questions of why, instead of just assuming that was the way things were.
Based upon this knowledge, he developed the Pimsleur Language Aptitude Battery, a test to determine a student’s likely success in language learning, the possibility of problems with language learning, and even if the student may have disabilities to do with language that they needed help with.
This test is still used today, as are his methods of learning languages through the company that he founded and many others who saw the success of his method.
Since he sold the company to his trusted compatriots (the Heinle couple), they have taken the world by storm and teach more languages than they ever have before.
In 1995, the company was sold again to Simon and Schuster, who began an aggressive campaign of selling in bookstores, as well as online when the internet became a common commodity.
In terms of size, the company now rivals its competition, including the aforementioned Rosetta Stone and Duolingo.
The Pimsleur Language List
In total, there are 51 different languages that can be learned through the Pimsleur Learning Program.
If we discount English, then there are 50 different languages that can be learned through the Pimsleur learning program, with an additional 14 different courses for learning English.
These languages are:
- Arabic – (Eastern)
- Arabic – (Egyptian)
- Arabic – (Modern Standard)
- Armenian – (Eastern)
- Armenian – (Western)
- Chinese – (Cantonese)
- Chinese – (Mandarin)
- Dari Persian
- Farsi Persian
- Haitian Creole
- Portuguese – (Brazilian)
- Portuguese – (European)
- Spanish – (Latin American)
- Spanish – (Spain-Castilian)
- Swiss German
Now, we realize that list is a lot to take in, and the overlaps are kind of confusing – like having Latin American Spanish and European Spanish.
Surely, they are the same language?
Well, that is just the thing, because the Pimsleur method is not teaching you the classical way of speaking a language, which we will get into in a little bit.
For now, let’s explore this list and see why these languages have been chosen over others.
For some, it is obvious why they have been chosen, like English or Spanish, in that they are some of the most spoken languages on earth and so people want to be able to learn them for their own career prospects and for the joy of learning them.
For others, like Korean or Japanese, it is simply for their popularity.
People love Japanese and Korean culture right now, and so many people will give a lot to learn either of these languages.
However, for some, neither of these two quite fit.
While many people would be ecstatic to learn the beautiful and unique languages of Irish, Tagalog, or Vietnamese, there is no great outcry for them either as one of the top ten languages or as a popular, cool language.
So, why would Pimsleur invest time and money in teaching them?
We believe the reason to be that these languages lend themselves well to being taught through the Pimsleur method.
All these languages have complex spoken and grammatical aspects, as well as all being languages that have relied on the spoken word to pass down knowledge and stories to the next generation.
This means that their written grammar rules often appear strange or nonsensical, as they are taken from languages where the majority of discourse is spoken.
As such, the Pimsleur method works really well compared to the normal rote-memorisation methods, since it focuses on auditory learning.
Of the languages offered by Pimsleur, there are a variety from all over the difficulty spectrum.
This is a spectrum that gives an average amount of hours it takes to learn a language when your native language is English, according to language experts and governmental bodies.
This spectrum has five tiers: 1st – 575 to 600 hours, 2nd – 750 hours, 3rd – 900 hours, 4th – 1100 hours, and 5th – 2200 hours.
Most Romance and Germanic languages fall in the 1st tier, but outside of this almost all other languages fall into the 4th tier, which are quite difficult to learn and take time.
While this is a good spectrum of language difficulties, a lot of the Pimsleur language courses only offer between 10 and 30 lessons and are only to the 1st level, unlike the 9 most popular which offer 150 lessons and are to the 5th level of the language.
How Much Is Pimsleur?
Pimsleur’s price ranges depending on what you want to do.
Generally, you can pay between $19.95 and $20.95 per month, the lower price tag gives you access to all the features of Pimsleur for one language, however the higher price tag gives you access to all the features of Pimsleur for all the languages they have to offer.
This is a pretty good deal if you can budget it in, especially if you need to improve your conversational language skills fast.
If you wanted to buy lifetime access, then this is a bit different.
You can purchase a premium lifetime pack that will be yours for the rest of your life, but it does cost a fair amount.
Per level, it normally costs $150 each and if you wanted to buy them in one big bundle, then it would likely cost you around $575 for the whole thing.
This is a huge price tag, and we understand why many people would simply pay for the subscription instead of getting the whole thing, even if it means losing more money over time.
Luckily, Pimsleur allows you to have a 7-day free trial, where you can explore language learning with them before spending any amount on anything.
Another great part of the deal is that you can get your money back on a 30-day money-back guarantee.
This is perfect if your circumstances change or if you are worried about spending too much for the month.
As you can imagine, these fairly fair and generous offers really make Pimsleur an ideal choice for a language learning program and help to keep people happy in using the company, however, their overall price may still put some people off.
Is Pimsleur Worth Buying?
Now that we know a bit about Pimsleur, what languages it has to offer, and its pricing, we can talk about whether it is actually worth buying or not.
The first thing that goes in the favor of Pimsleur is that the method to learn through is research-backed, and it is a proven method of learning.
The way it works is through the ‘Spaced Repetition System’, which most education systems are.
This is when you hear something multiple times spaced apart and as such learn them, for example, if you take the train everyday to a specific stop, you will remember the route easily due to it being spaced apart but constantly repeated to you.
The most common method of this learning system is rote-memorisation, which is not great.
However, with Pimsleur, you are encouraged and pressured into saying certain words or phrases, and you will have to actively recall them during a session.
This forces you to remember in multiple different scenarios and attunes your brain to recalling those phrases easily, which in turn helps you to remember and learn a language.
This has not only been proven, but has been used to learn languages for many, many years.
Another factor that goes in Pimsleur’s favor is that it is purely audio based.
We mentioned why Irish, Tagalog, and Vietnamese were particularly well suited to the Pimsleur method and this is why.
You learn everything through auditory means, whether that be conversations, practice, or discussions.
While this may feel like a narrow learning method, it is far from it, as Pimsleur incorporates aspects that can help all learners.
It can be learned on the go, a lot of its practice conversations involve imaginary scenes where you are visualizing something, and it spells out words and pronunciations for you a lot of the time.
In this way, a lot of different learners can use Pimsleur without it burdening them with extra work when they are trying to learn a language.
However, this doesn’t mean that you don’t have to do any extra work, as you should always be aiming for more when learning a language.
Lastly, Pimsleur is fairly affordable.
We spoke about the price earlier, so this section will be fairly short, but the price of Pimsleur is not something to be sniffed at.
They can offer you a lot of language courses for a fairly low monthly subscription, which is great for the budding language learner.
However, with all those good points we have to get to some bad, and we have to go back to price once more.
While the price is affordable, for what you are getting in the actual courses and the amount you pay for a lifetime course subscription, it is very high.
This leads us on to our second point.
The course materials are fantastic for learning the foundations of language, but when you are doing advanced language learning, they are not suitable.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it can be frustrating.
If you love using Pimsleur and the method they have developed, suddenly finding you can’t go further with them and being forced to switch courses and potentially learning method is incredibly frustrating and can make people fairly annoyed as well as disheartened.
Finally, Pimsleur is limited.
This is intentional and in fact it sets up the foundation of language for you, so you can find more vocabulary to learn the language yourself.
The problem is that Pimsleur itself doesn’t offer any vocabulary lists or additional material. It is literally the audio lessons and that’s that.
Again, this is not necessarily a bad thing, but it is frustrating that you pay for a monthly subscription and find that you don’t get additional reading or at the very least a vocab list for yourself.
It may be something that is introduced in the future, but for now it isn’t there.
As such, we have to say that if you can afford it then Pimsleur is a great way of learning the foundation of a language, it should be learned in tandem with other methods, and it is a bit too pricey – despite its reasonable price generally, overall it can get quite dear.
Pimsleur has a language course list of 51 different languages, including English.
These language courses use the Pimsleur method developed by Dr Paul Pimsleur, which focuses on learning the foundations of a language through auditory means.
It is a great way to learn a language in tandem with other methods and for learning the essentials.