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Sunday, September 26th
Pimsleur is a respected name when it comes to learning a new language. Because its primary emphasis is on learning Latin American Spanish through simple, 30-minute audio lessons, Pimsleur is an ideal choice for those who prefer to learn by listening rather than reading. Pimsleur offers a free 30-minute Spanish lesson that can be downloaded from the website, so that prospective customers can get a feel for this auditory approach to learning the language. When we practiced using the sample audio, we felt that we came away with a decent understanding of a basic conversation in Spanish.
On the other hand, there was no way to try out the non-audio components of Pimsleur's Spanish program, which includes flashcards, matching games, and other visual components when purchased as a DVD set. Given that 40% of students learn best with visual input, compared with 10% of students who learn best by hearing, we would have liked to see more of what Pimsleur offers in that regard so as to make a more accurate comparison with the other programs in our review..
Pimsleur does offer a return policy that they call a "Proficiency Guarantee": if a customer purchases the Pimsleur Level 1 Spanish program, completes the course, and fails the provided novice-level test (hosted independently of Pimsleur itself), Pimsleur will issue a full refund. The site is unclear as to whether or not this would apply if the customer purchased levels 1-4 (software) or 1-5 (MP3/CD) as a package.
Among all of the Spanish language programs we reviewed, Pimsleur is the most spendy investment: four levels of Spanish provided via DVD (including both visual and audio lessons) sells for $450 and includes 120 lessons, while single levels can be purchased for $150. Although you might think it would save money to buy only the MP3 or CD edition, you're in for a surprise: 81 hours of MP3s costs $550, while those same lessons cost $1,190 on CD! The only advantage to choosing CDs or MP3s over the DVD software is that it includes a fifth level of instruction.
Given its strong emphasis on learning by listening, Pimsleur is a proven choice for students who want to learn Spanish while on the go: in the car, on an MP3 player (though you may want to download the audio tracks from the DVDs rather than buying the MP3s, given the price difference), or while exercising. Because we're less confident in the quality of the non-audio components of their program, and because of the steep price tag, we give Pimsleur's Latin American Spanish lessons average marks.
Do you have a need, for school or business, to learn Spanish? Many people every day find themselves wanting to learn Spanish quickly, easily, and inexpensively.
The need to read, speak, and understand Spanish is becoming more widespread every year. Spanish-speaking individuals are the number one source of immigrants into the United States. They have needs ranging from government interaction to business dealings; the ability to converse and understand in Spanish makes you a more valuable individual.
Of course, it's also beneficial for children to learn Spanish as well. Kids can learn much faster than adults, and their ability to speak and understand multiple languages expands their minds and helps prepare them for the future. However, many schools don't offer Spanish until the later years; and even with those schools that offer Spanish early, the programs often lack in substance.
There are many programs available to help you learn Spanish. When looking at different programs, you need to consider a variety of factors. Some of these include:
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