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Pimsleur Review

Wednesday, May 29th

2024 Korean Lesson Reviews

Pimsleur Review 3.5 Star Rating


3.5 Star Rating
  • Focuses on learning through listening
  • No practice of reading or writing Korean
  • Free one-week trial
  • $14.95/month for access to all Korean audio lessons
  • $19.95/month for Korean Premium (audio-only + "visual tools" )
  • $20.95/month for access to all 50+ Pimsleur languages

Pimsleur is a language learning method renowned for its audio-based approach, focusing on conversational proficiency and auditory comprehension. Developed by Dr. Paul Pimsleur, the program emphasizes active participation through spaced repetition and organic learning, where learners engage in realistic dialogues and repeat phrases to internalize language patterns.

Structured lessons

Pimsleur's structured lessons gradually introduce new vocabulary and grammar in context, building upon previous knowledge to reinforce learning. The program covers a wide range of languages and offers levels from beginner to advanced, catering to learners of varying proficiency levels. With its portable format and emphasis on oral proficiency, Pimsleur provides an effective and convenient option for language learners seeking to develop practical speaking and listening skills.

Heavy focus on audio learning

While Pimsleur has a fantastic reputation overall and could be an excellent option if your only goal is to be able to understand spoken Korean and be able to speak it yourself, the focus on audio learning (with a reading component only available if you're using the desktop version, as far as we could tell) is a huge drawback with a language with an alphabet different from the one you already use (you can't sound it out phonetically if you don't know how the letters translate into the sounds you recognize).

Create an account to get a free lesson

But, let's assume that maybe your primary goal is to be able to converse freely in Korean (or to understand that K-drama you're binge-watching without having the English subtitles on). Go to the top of the Pimsleur site and choose the link for a free lesson. You'll have to create an account to access it, but it's a great way to see (or hear?) how the platform works.

Best Korean Lessons

7-day free trial on paid subscriptions

You can also take advantage of the 7-day free trial of Pimsleur before you commit - just make sure to cancel before that week is up, or you'll automatically be charged $14.95 for your first month's subscription, to the credit card you entered when creating your account for the trial.

3 paid plans to choose from

That was the point where we felt a little... misled?...by Pimsleur. When we chose Korean in the dropdown box, we were taken to a page to "pick the right plan" . That's where we found that it's $14.95/month for the audio-only Korean lessons, but we could pay $19.95 for a Premium subscription with "visual tools" . Those include flashcards, a "Speak Easy" roleplay tool, and several other features. Finally, for just $1 more a month, we could get access to all 50+ Pimsleur languages at the Premium level. We would have preferred to see all of that spelled out from the get-go, and not sprung on us as a surprise when we were just trying to get to the free trial. And, by the way, if you already know you want to commit to Pimsleur for a whole year, you can save up to 34% by paying annually ($134.95 to $164.95, depending on which tier you choose among Korean Audio-Only, Korean Premium, or All Access).

Audio + Visuals is worth the extra money

If you can wade through all of that, however, Pimsleur winds up being a lot more well-rounded than you might initially think. The sample lesson for Korean pulls out all the stops, showing you not only the first full audio lesson, but previewing everything available when you go for the Audio + Visuals. These extras include a voice coach to perfect your pronunciation with speech recognition, a phonetic approach to reading (with lessons that don't always correspond to the vocabulary you're learning), flash cards, a quick match quiz, and "Speak Easy" for working on your rhythm, cadence, and accent in Korean.

You'll need to be able to speak out loud while you listen

One thing to point out: even if you're going for the audio-only style of learning Korean, you're going to need a learning environment where you can speak out loud: think of your car on your daily commute, but maybe not on a crowded subway or while walking down the streets of a big city. A big part of the Pimsleur process is repeating after the native speaker, and you don't necessarily want everyone around you to have to listen to you practicing.

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120 lessons across 4 levels of Korean

How far can you go with Pimsleur? Their Korean lessons consist of 4 different levels, each of which consists of thirty 30-minute daily audio lessons. In addition to each level's 15 hours of audio language instruction, the Premium subscription gives you access to those additional tools; at each level of Korean, you'll get 300 digital flashcards (which can conveniently be toggled to show you the English approximation of the sounds, the Hangeul alone, or both together), 300 Quick Match Questions, 30 Speak Easy conversations, and 30 "light bulb moments" to introduce Korean culture and history.

Up to 4 people can share a Premium membership

Pimsleur wants to make it even easier for you to study Korean, by syncing your lessons across whatever devices you're using to log into your account. And, speaking of accounts, you can add up to three additional household members when you choose a Premium membership. So, you and your roomies could all be working on Korean, or with the all-access tier, you can make progress on Korean while your spouse brushes up on her Spanish and your son starts learning Mandarin Chinese.

Works very well for audio learners

So, does Pimsleur work for learning Korean? For those who love learning intuitively through audio, the answer is typically an enthusiastic "yes" . We found some users who completed the Level 1 of Korean on Pimsleur and tested into a relatively high level on Duolingo (just for comparison), which usually takes many, many months to accomplish. (We used Duolingo's Korean lessons for 30 days straight and got almost nowhere, but you can read more about that in our separate review of that platform). And, for less than $25 a month, you can access all of Pimsleur's languages, which is pretty reasonable if you're ready to invest some time in your studies.

Visual learners will probably be frustrated

But, for us personally, the mostly-audio approach was frustrating. We wanted to see how the letters work to make what we were saying, and found ourselves creating English-alphabet approximations in our head to try and match what we were repeating. You probably won't be shocked to learn that we had a pretty big headache after just the first 10 minutes of the sample Korean lesson. As more visual learners, we weren't "wowed" by the way Pimsleur teaches the language, but at the same time, we can see (pun intended) how it would be the perfect option for those who learn by hearing or even for those who have challenges with reading (such as dyslexia).

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Worth it to take the free lesson first

Our advice? Take Pimsleur's free lesson for Korean. All you have to do is create an account, no credit card info required. If you fall in love with it, or if you want to see if their more advanced levels are a good fit for the Korean you already know, sign up for a one-week trial of the Premium service on the month-to-month plan. You can always change your membership to the annual subscription once you know that Pimsleur is your absolute favorite way to learn the language and you want to save money in the long run. $20/month isn't a huge spend on the month-to-month plan (or $25 if you want to use all of the languages in the Pimsleur library), and you can cancel your membership at any time.

Great platform but not everyone's perfect fit

Overall, we give Pimsleur an above average rating for its Korean lessons. There's something to be said for the way it approaches language learning, trying to approximate the natural way we all acquired our first language. And, if you love learning through friendly, thorough audio lessons on the go, Pimsleur has that and more. It's just that the audio-focused approach will miss the mark for many students who crave the visuals right from the first lesson, which keeps Pimsleur from a higher ranking among providers of Korean lessons.

Where Can You Get the Best Korean Lessons Online?

There are many reasons why people learn the Korean language. Maybe you're a K-drama fan eager to understand your favorite binge-worthy series without relying on subtitles. Or perhaps you're eyeing a career opportunity in South Korea and want to impress your future colleagues with your language skills. And let's not forget the thrill of traveling to Korea and being able to navigate the streets and connect with locals in their own language.

Learning Korean does come with its unique challenges compared to languages like Spanish or French. For starters, there's Hangeul, the Korean alphabet, which is surprisingly easy to pick up - but still requires some practice. Then there's the grammar, with its subject-object-verb word order and intricate honorifics system that adds layers of nuance to your speech.

The Best Korean Lessons Compare Korean Lessons Compare Korean Lesson Reviews What are the best Korean Lessons Best Korean Lesson Reviews

Korean Lesson FAQ

Over 75 million people speak Korean across the globe. That includes nearly 50 million in South Korea and 25 million in North Korea, plus significant Korean-speaking communities in China, the US, and Japan.
Yes. The dialect used in Seoul is the one you'll hear and read most commonly. North Korea has its own dialect, which is heavily influenced by the Russian language.
Korean is ranked as one of the most challenging languages for English speakers to learn, according to the Foreign Service Institute within the State Department. (Arabic, Chinese, and Japanese are the only other languages with that level of difficulty!) Of course, any language is within reach if you put in the work!
Begin with studying the Hangul alphabet: just 14 consonants and 10 vowels, many of which have similar sounds in English. Next, get a feel for basic grammar and some commonly-used phrases - and be aware that basic word order in Korean sentences follows a subject-object-verb pattern (unlike English's subject-verb-object structure). And, of course, feel free to enjoy K-pop, K-dramas and any other entertainment that will help you pick up on the language naturally!
You may have a hard time finding any other way to study Korean! Unless you live near a large university, you probably won't have the option of attending in-person classes. That's okay: studying online gives you access to lessons that fit your schedule and for much less than you'd spend for a semester or two at a college. There's no need to ask a teacher to repeat a phrase so you can catch the pronunciation: just hit "replay" and listen as many times as you want!
There are a couple ways you can use your computer to write in Hangul (the Korean alphabet). The easiest is probably to enable a Korean keyboard; the steps differ by operating system, so search based on whether you're using a Mac or PC. Otherwise, there are online Korean keyboards that don't require you to change your computer settings.
Not at all. You can choose among many different language programs, some of which offer monthly subscriptions and others that give you an entire course as a one-time purchase. You could pay as little as $17/month for a membership or $150 for a complete Level 1 package.
Sometimes. Depending on which language platform you choose, you might get a satisfaction guarantee of up to 60 days or the ability to cancel your subscription without penalty. Many Korean language lessons have a free trial or sample lessons, and we encourage you to make full use of those before committing to a program. That's the easiest way to determine if the Korean lessons are presented in a manner that will be a good fit for your preferences and learning style.
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Continued from above...

But don't let that intimidate you. With dedication and the right resources, you'll find yourself making steady progress in no time. You'll be opening doors to a whole new world of culture, entertainment, and connections that come with being able to speak Korean fluently.

Learning Korean online gives you plenty of options to choose from, each tailored to suit different learning styles and preferences. You can dive into listening-only programs, where you focus on authentic conversations to sharpen your ear for the language. If you're into games, you might enjoy gamified platforms that turn learning Korean into a fun challenge, with points and rewards (and streaks) to keep you motivated.

Interactive courses are another great choice, offering a mix of videos, quizzes, and exercises that give you instant feedback and guidance. They're perfect if you like a structured approach to Korean that covers all the bases, from reading and writing to speaking and listening.

Or maybe you're more of a people person and thrive on interaction. In that case, tutoring platforms would be your go-to. You can connect with native speakers for real conversations and cultural exchange, making learning Korean a social experience.

Ready to get started? There are so many Korean lessons to choose from, it could feel a bit overwhelming to know which one to use. Here are some things to keep in mind as you get excited about learning and want to pick the right platform:

  • Current fluency level. Do you already speak (or read) some Korean? Or are you a newbie? No shame in that game. Make sure you choose the Korean lessons that match where you're at.
  • Method of language instruction. How are the Korean lessons delivered? Is it through an app, audio files, an internet browser on your laptop, or something else? What do you think will work best for your learning style?
  • Listening, speaking, reading, writing. Do the language lessons teach you Korean mostly through listening and speaking, through reading and writing, or a mix of all four modalities? We're all for being well-rounded language learners, and because Korean uses a different alphabet than the one you're reading right now, you can't fake your way into reading it unless you know how the letters are pronounced and combined to make syllables and words. Keep that in mind if you're using Korean lessons that are primarily audio-based.
  • Cost. What will you pay for your Korean language lessons? Is it a one-time fee or an ongoing subscription? If there's a free option, what do you get at no cost and is it worth it to upgrade?
  • Learner reviews. Pay close attention to what other Korean students say about their experience with the lesson platform. Did they experience a meaningful improvement in their fluency by using it? How long did it take to see improvements?

To help you find the right Korean lessons for your language goals and favorite way of learning, the experts at Top Consumer Reviews have tried some of today's most popular options and given you an honest take on what you can expect from each one. So what are you waiting for? Dive in and start your Korean learning journey today!

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