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***Pimsleur Language Course


The Complete Course I, Part B

Reviewed October 2, 2003.
Simon & Schuster Audio Division, New York, 2001.  9 compact discs.
Available at Sembach Library (CD 438.3421 PIM V.1, p.2)

I’ve now finished the second set of Pimsleur language CDs.  I’ve spent years listening to language tapes and am fairly good at reading German.  I found the first set felt very elementary, but this second set was already teaching me things I didn’t know.

The Pimsleur method attempts to teach you languages the way you learned your native language as a child—by listening and by example.  Instead of telling you that certain prepositions take the dative or accusative case and explaining the endings that the different cases take for different genders of nouns, you simply hear that you say “mit meinem mann” and “mit meinen kindern.”  (I hope I got that right!)  Although it’s still a tad confusing, I think I retained much more of it than when I tried to memorize the endings for the cases for the different genders.

Perhaps it helped to know that there were reasons why the endings were changing for different words in different situations, but overall I found the Pimsleur method much less confusing than the more cerebral method of explaining the rules first.  Perhaps after I’ve gone through more sets of these CDs I can try to learn the rules after I already know many examples on a more basic level.

The course still hasn’t taken up the formal versus the informal forms of “you,” nor has it done much with the third person.  Instead of learning the rules of verb endings first, we’re learning how to say very practical things.  They’ve even begun with the past tense, without making a huge drama of having done so, simply teaching you how to say “I have bought” something.  You can get the idea of the rules by example.

I am finding this method fascinating.  I would have thought that, for an adult, learning the rules and how to apply them would go farther than trying to learn with simple examples.  Yet I’m finding that the examples are sticking in my brain more completely and it all seems to be making more sense.

Dr. Pimsleur was a memory expert.  Part of his method involves repeating new concepts at increasingly longer intervals, just the right amount to help you retain what you’ve learned.  So far, I’m more impressed with it than any other language tapes I’ve used.  I got through the second set more quickly than the first because I gave up trying to listen during my five-minute commute, but switched to using them while I’m making supper.  It annoys my family, but I’m learning a valuable skill!

Review of the earlier set:
Pimsleur German IA 

Copyright © 2003 Sondra Eklund.  All rights reserved.

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