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Monday, October 25th
Pimsleur used to be known for its audio-only approach to learning French. While that was an effective approach for some students, many people wanted a more well-rounded set of French lessons. Pimsleur took note, and since our last review they've debuted an excellent platform that incorporates their proven-to-work audio lessons with an interactive online course that can be easily accessed from laptops and mobile devices alike.
Pimsleur's audio-only courses used to be extremely expensive, putting their French lessons out of reach for many interested students at a whopping $1190 for CDs covering all 5 levels of instruction. While those CD sets are still available, most people are opting for the newest program that includes all of the audio instruction plus the online platform for a one-time fee of $575. While that may still be a little spendy for some, keep in mind that many providers of French lessons charge monthly subscription fees that can easily equal that cost or more over the course of a few years. Also, if you're not in a position to lay out that much cash at a time, you can also purchase individual levels for $150. Finally, Pimsleur offers FlexiPay payment plans, dividing the cost into three equal monthly payments at no extra charge for those who qualify. You'll find the details of FlexiPay underneath the blue Add to Cart buttons.
Helpful tip: look for a pop-up as you spend some time browsing the site, or when you go to click the X button to close the browser. We got an offer for up to 30% off our purchase.
Want to give Pimsleur's French lessons a try? You'll need to enter your first name, email address, country, and reason for learning the language after clicking on the Try a Free Lesson button. You'll then get access to a free 30-minute audio lesson; be sure to give it a try when you're in an environment where you can speak out loud, because that's a big component of the Pimsleur method (mimicking the spoken French aloud). Through the lesson, you'll see exactly how Pimsleur's French lessons teach vocabulary always within the context of a conversation or other verbal exchange, and that everything you'll learn is built upon what you already know. You'll also hear deliberate pauses in the audio, allowing you the chance to come up with the correct response and insert it into the "conversation" as if you were a part of it.
We were disappointed that the free trial doesn't give prospective customers access to any version of their online platform. All you get is what's on the main site: four stacked images showing what the platform/app looks like, nothing about its features, format, or structure. For students who specifically want more than just audio lessons, they'll have no idea what they're getting until they pay for access.
On a positive note, Pimsleur has greatly improved the customer friendliness of their satisfaction guarantee. You'll have 30 days from the purchase date of their program to give it a try; Pimsleur will refund 100% of your fees if you don't like it for any reason. Because it's a digitally-licensed product, you should expect an extra step of filling out a declaration form that Pimsleur will provide, in order to affirm that you haven't made any copies of their products or given access to anyone else.
Because Pimsleur's audio method of teaching languages has been so successful, especially for people who prefer to learn by hearing, we continue to give their program high marks. But, now that they offer an online platform taking French lessons visually and not just auditorily, Pimsleur could be even more effective by letting prospective students see exactly what they're getting there too. We hope to see those changes in the future.
In order to know which type of French instruction would work well for you, ask yourself this question: "Why do I want to learn French?" For some, learning French is a requirement for school or work. In that case, choosing a provider of French lessons that will deliver the necessary vocabulary and grammar, reading and writing skills, and even pronunciation will be important.
You may want French lessons that will help you be a better-educated traveler. If you frequently visit any one of the 29 countries where French is spoken as an official language - not just France and Canada but also Switzerland, Haiti, Togo, and Madagascar, to name a few - being able to speak French fluently could make a huge difference. And, who wouldn't want to be able to confidently order coffee and a croissant in a Paris cafe?
Finally, individuals with family trees that extend into French-speaking cultures may be interested in learning more about their heritage and connect with living relatives.
With so many options for studying the language independently, what should you look for in the ideal French lessons? Here are some aspects to consider as you evaluate the many programs currently on the market:
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