Pimsleur Review (2021): The Only Review You Need To Read

8.4 Total Score
Start Speaking Right Away With Pimsleur

Pimsleur is a high-quality language app that focuses on making you conversational from the first lesson. You can also complete the audio lessons anywhere (there’s even a special “driving” mode for the car). While it’s not the greatest for reading and writing practice, Pimsleur’s language courses teach you to communicate effectively with native speakers. Overall, it’s a great app for beginner and intermediate speakers!

User Experience
10
Quality of Content
8
Features Available
7.5
Value for Money
8
PROS
  • Audio lessons are short and easy to follow
  • Interesting history and culture explanations
  • Conversations are natural and voiced by native speakers
  • You can download lessons and complete them anywhere
CONS
  • Not much reading or writing practice
  • Lesson pace can sometimes be a little slow
  • Very few grammar explanations
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Pimsleur Ratings From Around The Web

WebsiteRating
Langoly8.4/10
PCMag8.0/10
Apple App Store9.4/10
Google Play Store9.0/10
AVERAGE RATING8.7/10

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Table of Contents

Main Features

Languages

Learning Experience

Price and Subscriptions

Alternatives and Competitors

Pimsleur Review FAQ

I love reviewing language learning apps. In fact, that’s the whole reason I started Langoly! Having tried over 50 different apps, I wanted to take a closer look at Pimsleur to see if it’s really worth all the hype (in case you’re wondering: I think it is).

In this Pimsleur review, I’ll show you everything you need to know about the app. From its features and pricing to Pimsleur alternatives and frequently asked questions, I try to cover everything. I hope you’ll be able to decide if Pimsleur is worth a try after reading this review. Now, let’s get to it!

What Is Pimsleur?

The Pimsleur language learning app is a convenient and efficient way to become conversational in a new language. With the goal of making a complete language course that could teach someone without needing a teacher, Dr. Paul Pimsleur developed the first Pimsleur language program (Modern Greek) in 1963. Today, the company offers 50 different language programs that follow the same method.

pimsleur is a high quality language learning software and app

Now distributed by Simon and Schuster, the Pimsleur courses are popular with language learners because they are easy to follow and you can study with them anytime and anywhere.

The Pimsleur language programs are mainly audio to improve your listening and speaking skills. I like them because hey teach natural communication instead of forcing you to memorize a bunch of random vocabulary and grammar. They’re a solid option for beginner and intermediate language learners, but may not be super helpful for more advanced speakers.

Pimsleur Review: Main Features

The Pimsleur app has quite a few different features, but the main focus is always on the audio lessons. The additional activities and games all reinforce what you learn in the core lessons. This helps you remember everything later on.

A screenshot of the features menu in the Pimsleur language app

While the features are available for more popular languages like Spanish and French, they aren’t always available for less popular languages like Egyptian Arabic. If you’re learning a less common language, it’s a good idea to check out the app to see exactly what it offers.

Here are the main features of the Pimsleur language app:

Audio Lessons

The audio lessons make up the core of all Pimsleur language courses. They’re around 30 minutes in length and help you study real-life conversations. The lessons break up everyday conversation into manageable chunks, and you practice listening to and repeating what the native speakers say.

Pimsleur Audio Lesson Screenshot

There are also badges you earn for completing the lessons, which are can help you track what you learned. They show which skills you practiced, like Speak and Understand, Survival Skills, Meet and Greet, and Polite Phrases. While they don’t actually add a lot of value to the lessons, they’re still helpful because they show what you’ve learned.

Offline Learning and Driving Mode

This is a feature of Pimsleur I really like. You can download every single lesson to complete offline. This is really convenient if you plan to study while you’re traveling or don’t have access to the internet.

In addition to learning offline, you can also study while you’re driving. The Pimsleur app has a feature that makes completing lessons easy while you’re on the go. A lot of apps only have interactive lessons that make you sit and focus on your phone. Pimsleur gives you the flexibility of having both audio-only lessons as well as interactive games.

Digital Flashcards

Each lesson comes with flashcards that help you review the words and phrases you learned in the lessons. Each flashcard includes a native speaker pronouncing the word, and you can save difficult words to practice later.

Pimsleur Flashcards Screenshot

With each card, you tap to reveal the definition and then tell the app whether you guessed correctly or incorrectly. At the end of the round, you’ll review the cards you guessed incorrectly. It’s a pretty straightforward feature, and it’s really useful. The flashcards can help you remember more vocabulary over time.

Speed Rounds

Speed Rounds is a game where you need to quickly identify the vocabulary you learn in the lessons. The words fall from the top of the screen and you need to choose their translation before they hit the bottom.

Pimsleur Speed Rounds Screenshot

This will help you remember the words more quickly over time. The Speed Rounds are pretty much the same thing as flashcards, but they’re more fun and a fresh way to practice.

Speak Easy Challenges

The Speak Easy challenges help you review the conversations you learned during the lessons. They’re role-playing activities where you listen to and repeat each side of a conversation. They’re easy to follow and are a good way to mimic real-life situations.

Pimsleur Speak Easy Screenshot

They do have their limitations though. The pace of these conversations can be a little slow sometimes. They’re also scripted, so you just need to read the words you see. Despite that, they’re still a good way for beginners to practice the basics of conversations in a new language.

Lightbulb Moments

Lightbulb Moments aren’t a groundbreaking feature by any means, but they do add some interesting cultural tidbits while you learn a language. They’re quick explanations about the culture and history of the language you’re learning.

For example, in the Spanish course, there is a lightbulb moment that explains how Spanish people get their last names. Spanish names are a lot different than where I’m from (the United States), so it was interesting to read!

Pimsleur Languages

This is the list of languages offered by Pimsleur: Albanian, Arabic (Eastern), Arabic (Egyptian), Arabic (Modern Standard), Armenian (Eastern), Armenian (Western), Chinese (Cantonese), Chinese (Mandarin), Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dari Persian, Dutch, Farsi Persian, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Haitian Creole, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Icelandic, Indonesian, Irish, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Lithuanian, Norwegian, Ojibwe, Pashto, Polish, Portuguese (Brazilian), Portuguese (European), Punjabi, Romanian, Russian, Spanish (Latin American), Spanish (Spain-Castilian), Swahili, Swedish, Swiss German, Tagalog, Thai, Turkish, Twi, Ukrainian, Urdu, and Vietnamese.

When you subscribe to the Pimsleur app, you get access to one language course. If you want to learn multiple languages, you need to subscribe to each language individually. This is pretty common with the major language apps, like Rosetta Stone, Babbel, and Mondly.

One thing that’s important to note is that each Pimsleur language course is different. While the conversations you’ll hear in each course are pretty similar, the depth and features of each course are different.

To give you a better idea of what’s included in each course, I took a closer look at the Spanish, Egyptian Arabic, Korean, Brazilian Portuguese, and Mandarin courses.

Pimsleur Spanish Review

Spanish is one of the most popular languages to learn, and it’s one of Pimsleur’s best courses. Pimsleur Spanish gives you access to all of the app’s features, like flashcards, driving mode, and the Speak Easy and Speed Rounds games. The combination of its core audio lessons and additional features help you learn conversational Spanish quickly. While it lacks grammar and writing practice, Pimsleur Spanish is still a great way to learn to speak Spanish in a short amount of time.

Pimsleur Audio Lesson Screenshot

You can choose between Latin American and Castilian Spanish (from Spain). Latin American Spanish has 5 levels in the complete course that can take you from beginner to a high intermediate speaker. The Pimsleur Castilian Spanish course covers 3 levels that will teach you conversational Spanish to a comfortable level. Both courses also include Lightbulb Moments that teach you about each dialect’s history and culture.

Or check out more apps to learn Spanish

Pimsleur Arabic Review

Pimsleur offers Arabic courses that teach you the following dialects: Eastern, Egyptian, and Modern Standard Arabic (MSA). From your first lesson, you start hearing and pronouncing Arabic words and phrases. The audio lessons always include native speakers, so you’ll learn how native speakers actually talk. While Pimsleur Arabic will definitely help you become conversational, you’ll need to use other tools to learn how to read and write in Arabic.

Here’s a quick look at what each course includes:

  • Pimsleur Eastern Arabic: 3 levels with premium features
  • Pimsleur Egyptian Arabic: 1 level of audio lessons
  • Pimsleur Modern Standard Arabic: 3 levels with premium features

Or take a look at this list of the best Arabic apps

Pimsleur Korean Review

The Pimsleur Korean course has 3 levels to help you master the basics of conversational Korean. Additional features like flashcards and games reinforce what you learn in the lessons. While the activities sometimes include Korean writing, Pimsleur doesn’t actually teach you how to write in Korean. If this is what you want to learn, you’d be better off using apps like Drops or Skritter. However, if your goal is to speak Korean naturally and conversationally, Pimsleur is an excellent option.

Pimsleur Korean Review Screenshot

From the first lesson, you’ll learn how to pronounce Korean words from a native speaker. You’ll also learn additional skills, like polite phrases and survival skills.

You can also check out this list of the best apps to learn Korean

Pimsleur Brazilian Portuguese Review

The Pimsleur Brazilian Portugese course has 5 levels to learn conversational Portuguese quickly and effectively. Native speakers voice all of the audio lessons, and additional games and practice activities help you remember what you’ve learned. Pimsleur is one of the best apps to learn Portuguese because of its focus on listening and pronunciation.

Or check out more of the best apps to learn Portuguese

Pimsleur Mandarin Review

The Pimsleur Mandarin Chinese course has 5 complete levels to teach you conversational Mandarin. It also has premium features to help you master what you learn in the audio lessons. Because Mandarin is a tonal language and can be difficult for English speakers to pronounce, Pimsleur is one of the best ways to improve your speaking skills. The audio in the course is high quality and always voiced by native speakers, which makes Pimsleur stand out from other language apps.

Pimsleur Chinese Review Screenshot

The only downside to the Pimsleur Mandarin course is its lack of writing instruction. Apps like Drops can be a great supplement to the Pimsleur course though. Using Pimsleur and Drops together will help you practice both speaking and writing.

Or check out more apps to learn Chinese

Pimsleur Review: Overall Learning Experience

Overall, Pimsleur is a strong language app that can help you build a solid foundation in your target language. I think the Pimsleur Method is an effective way to learn a language quickly, and the lessons cover a lot of useful topics you’ll encounter in everyday life.

In my opinion, the best way to use Pimsleur is to focus on the audio lessons. They walk you through complete conversations and you’ll be surprised how quickly you start picking up the words and phrases. They’re also motivational because you hear the whole conversation at the beginning of the lesson and don’t understand much at all. At the end of the lesson, you understand every single word and can follow along as the native speakers talk to each other!

Pimsleur Learning Experience Screenshot

While the premium features can help you review the vocab you study in the lessons, I didn’t find them to be super useful. I preferred to just focus on the core lessons (and repeat them, if necessary). That doesn’t mean they aren’t helpful for others though! If you want to try them for yourself, you can sign up for a free trial of Pimsleur to see everything it has to offer.

Pimsleur Review: Areas of Improvement

I think using the Pimsleur app is a great way to learn a language. Every language learning app has areas of improvement though, and Pimsleur is no exception.

You can easily become conversational by working through the audio lessons, but the lack of reading and writing practice can make your language learning a little uneven. Pimsleur has started developing some features that address this though (flashcards, the Speak Easy and Speed Round games, etc.). I hope they continue to expand these in the future.

The quality of the courses is also different depending on which language you want to learn. If you want to learn Spanish, French, or Portuguese, Pimsleur offers a complete 5 level course with additional features.

However, less popular languages like Egyptian Arabic only have 1 level of audio-only lessons with no features. If you’re learning a less common language, definitely try Pimsleur for free before subscribing just to make sure it’s worth it.

Pimsleur Price

When it comes to price, Pimsleur has a few different options. You can choose a monthly subscription to the app or purchase lifetime access to language lessons. A subscription to the Pimsleur app costs between $14.95 and $19.95 per month. To pay upfront for lifetime access to the lessons, the price ranges from $21.95 for 5 lessons to $575.00 for a complete 5-level course.

Pimsleur Price Guarantee Website Screenshot

You can always get a free 7-day trial of any course before spending any money. Pimsleur also has a 30-day money-back guarantee. These are both pretty generous, so it’s definitely worth at least giving Pimsleur a try to see if you like it.

Pimsleur Subscription vs Purchase

If you try Pimsleur and enjoy it, you’ll need to decide between getting a subscription to the app or purchasing lifetime access to the lessons. If you plan to study for a few months, a subscription to the app would be cheaper. However, if you want to take your time and want unlimited access, getting a lifetime account is definitely the better option. This lets you complete the course at your own pace and listen to the lessons or complete the activities anytime you need a refresher.

Pimsleur Subscription Price

The Pimsleur subscription price is between $14.95 and $19.95 per month. The lower subscription cost ($14.95) only includes the audio lessons from each course. The higher subscription price ($19.95) includes all audio lessons as well as the additional features, like flashcards and the practice games.

Pimsleur Subscription Features Screenshot

The Pimsleur app price is pretty standard when you compare it to other language apps. Cheaper apps like Duolingo Plus usually don’t have very high-quality courses that teach you as well as Pimsleur does. There are also plenty of language apps that cost more than the Pimsleur subscription price, like FluentU.

Pimsleur Coupons and Deals

Throughout the year, Pimsleur offers quite a few different coupons and discounts directly on its website. Your best bet is to check around the major holidays like Christmas and New Years or in August when the school year begins. If you sign up for a free trial, you automatically receive a coupon for 20% off. That means you can save $115.00 when you buy a complete course!

Pimsleur Alternatives and Competitors

There are a lot of language learning apps out there, but they’re not all created equally. The most popular Pimsleur alternatives are Rosetta Stone, Babbel, Rocket Languages, and Busuu. While these are all high-quality apps, Pimsleur stands out for one main reason: It focuses on audio conversations. These Pimsleur alternatives have comprehensive courses that teach you all skills (reading, writing, listening, and speaking), but Pimsleur makes you conversational in a lot less time.

When choosing between Pimsleur and other language apps, think about your language learning goals to help you decide which app to use. Here’s a closer look at some of Pimsleur’s competitors.

Pimsleur vs Rosetta Stone

Pimsleur vs Rosetta Stone is a really common comparison you’ll see when deciding which language app to use. Pimsleur and Rosetta Stone are both very successful language apps, but they have two completely different approaches to language learning.

rosetta stone logo

Pimsleur holds your hand more and helps you become conversational through audio lessons. Rosetta Stone completely immerses you in the language and helps you learn it through more interactive activities. Both apps offer a free trial, so try both and see which one works best for you.

Or read more about the app in this Rosetta Stone review.

Pimsleur vs Babbel

Comparing Pimsleur vs Babbel is interesting because their teaching methods are similar. Both language apps use English to teach you another language, but they focus on different skills. Pimsleur can make you conversational in 30 days, but Babbel gives you a more well-rounded understanding of the language.

Logo of Babbel language learning app

Both have conversation exercises, but Babbel also includes more reading and writing practice. You can try both apps for free, so try a few lessons to find out which you prefer.

Or learn more in this Babbel review.

Pimsleur vs Busuu

Busuu is a language app that offers more than its language courses. That’s what makes Pimsleur vs Busuu such an interesting comparison. Pimsleur is an audio course that focuses on teaching you to communicate effectively in a short amount of time. Busuu’s courses are a lot more in-depth and structured, but they take longer to complete.

Busuu language app logo

One key difference between the two is that Busuu has native speakers who correct your practice exercises, while Pimsleur is completely self-taught. Both Pimsleur and Busuu let you try their courses for free, so explore both to choose the ideal one for you.

Or learn more in this Busuu review.

Pimsleur vs Duolingo

Duolingo is known as one of the best free apps to learn a language, so it’s worth seeing how it compares to Pimsleur. And honestly, it doesn’t really compare at all.

duolingo logo. duolingo shows you how to learn a language fast!

Pimsleur helps you with real-world conversations and Duolingo makes you translate a bunch of random sentences. While this may be helpful for vocabulary (sometimes), Pimsleur is the only one of the two that actually helps you communicate with native speakers. Overall, Pimsleur is a much better language app than Duolingo.

Or learn more in this Duolingo review.

Rocket Languages vs Pimsleur

Rocket Languages and Pimsleur have both been around for years. Rocket Languages has been making some major upgrades to its app the past few years, so it’s worth comparing the two. In terms of quality and price, they’re both pretty similar.

rocket languages logo

Pimsleur is more audio-heavy, but Rocket Languages’ practice activities are more engaging and detailed. If you’re learning a language with a non-Latin writing system (Arabic, Chinese, Korean, etc.), Rocket Languages is definitely the better choice. Sign up for a free trial of both to see which you prefer.

Or read more about Rocket Languages in this review.

Assimil vs Pimsleur

The Assimil method of language learning has been around for a while, just like the Pimsleur Method. The two methods and their corresponding courses are worlds apart though. The Pimsleur Method is backed by research and data, while the Assimil method is a little more obscure.

The Assimil logo. It contains while text over a blue and red background. Assimil offers a course to learn Arabic.

Assimil also focuses exclusively on translation and Pimsleur has you actively participate in conversations. Both programs have high-quality content, but the Pimsleur Method is more effective than Assimil.

Pimsleur vs Michel Thomas

Michel Thomas is a high-profile language learning program but isn’t as well-known as Pimsleur. And honestly, that’s a good thing. Michel Thomas doesn’t really have any science to back up how it teaches languages. The Pimsleur Method, on the other hand, is well-documented and effective.

The Michel Thomas Method logo. It consists of these words written in a light blue text. This brand offers a course to help students learn Arabic.

Michel Thomas also uses a lot of English to explain difficult concepts, but Pimsleur actually has you practice them. At the end of the day, Michel Thomas seems to focus more on marketing than actually teaching a language. Pimsleur is a much better option.

Pimsleur Review FAQ

What’s the best way to use Pimsleur?

The best way to use Pimsleur is listening to the audio lessons every day and using the app’s flashcards to reinforce what you learned. Pimsleur teaches you to become conversational, so it’s important to use it consistently. It also builds on what you learned in previous lessons, so completing the flashcards and practice activities helps you learn to speak a new language quickly.

Is Pimsleur worth it?

Pimsleur is definitely worth it if you want to become conversational in another language quickly. The audio lessons teach you useful words and phrases, and they help you communicate effectively with native speakers. However, if you’re learning a less common language like Egyptian Arabic, Pimsleur may not be the best choice because its course is not very comprehensive.

Is Pimsleur Premium worth it?

If you’re studying a popular language like Spanish or French, a Pimsleur premium subscription is worth it. The additional features that come with a premium subscription help you remember everything you learn in the lessons. You can also create custom vocabulary lists to practice words that are important to you.

Can you do more than one Pimsleur lesson a day?

With a Pimsleur subscription, you can do as many lessons as you want each day. However, it’s important to remember that doing a lot of lessons at once makes it hard to remember everything. Instead, it’s a better idea to do one less a day and then complete the additional learning activities available in the Pimsleur app.

Is Pimsleur only for beginners?

Pimsleur is always a good option for beginners. Each course starts from zero and gets you speaking during your first lesson. However, if you’re studying a popular language like Spanish or French, it can also be a great choice for more intermediate learners. These courses contain 5 levels and can radically improve your communication skills.

Can you become fluent with Pimsleur?

While you probably won’t become completely fluent with Pimsleur, you will definitely become conversational. And quickly! Pimsleur is an excellent course that teaches you how to speak from your very first lesson. By using Pimsleur, you can reach an intermediate speaking level within 30 days.

Is Pimsleur better than Rosetta Stone?

Pimsleur and Rosetta Stone are both popular language learning apps, but they have two completely different approaches to learning. If you want a more guided language course that holds your hand as you learn the language, Pimsleur is by far the better option. If you want complete immersion and interactive activities, Rosetta Stone is the best choice.

Pimsleur Review Methodology

This is a completely independent Pimsleur review. I didn’t receive any compensation for this review and all of the opinions in it are my own. I personally used the Pimsleur app before writing this review, and I also scoured the web to see what other users thought of it.

Chad started Langoly to help others learn and teach languages more effectively. He's a language enthusiast, and loves reviewing language learning and teaching resources.

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