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Choosing the best tools to study a new language can make the process much easier, but finding the right resources can be time-consuming. If you’ve been looking for apps, you may have heard about Pimsleur and Assimil. These are well-known apps that can both teach you a language. But if you want precision and convenience, Pimsleur is the clear winner.
The Pimsleur and Assimil language programs are often compared because both use audio lessons and aim to help you speak a new language accurately. Yet, there are key elements that make the learning experience in these apps very different from one another. In this article, I’ll compare Pimsleur and Assimil’s pros and cons to help you decide which is the best app for you.
Pimsleur vs Assimil: A Quick Breakdown
Pimsleur and Assimil’s goal is to develop your conversational and listening skills as soon as possible. Both apps use audio to introduce you to new vocabulary, but each has a different focus. Pimsleur is completely audio-based and has native speakers voice all its content. Assimil shows you new words, their spelling, and their English translation. Assimil primarily teaches you your target language through translation, while Pimsleur is more immersive.
The table below shows you a direct comparison of Pimsleur and Assimil based on the languages they offer, their price, and their free trials available.
|$14.95 per month
|$41.99 per course
|7-day free trial
|1 free lesson
Assimil vs Pimsleur: Cost Comparison
Assimil gives you access to the first lesson of each language course for free, but if you want to unlock all the features and tools available, you need to purchase the full version. An Assimil language course sells for $41.99. The app has no monthly subscription, and you must buy each level for each language separately.
You can get a Pimsleur monthly subscription for $19.95 per month to study one language. If you want to learn multiple languages, Pimsleur’s All Access subscription costs $20.95 per month and gives you access to all the language courses on the app. With Pimsleur, you can buy one or multiple levels in bundles. One level sells for $150, two for $300, and five for $575. You can try Pimsleur for free with a 7-day trial for its All-Access subscription, so you can try all its features.
Buying a language course you can keep can be tempting, but it might not provide you with the best value. While Assimil gives you lifetime access to all the content to buy in its store, it sells each level for each language course individually. But, you shouldn’t have use for the previous levels once you move on to the next one. Pimsleur offers a monthly subscription that is much more convenient if you plan to use the app for a while. You can choose which plan fits your needs and stop and continue whenever you want. In general, I prefer Pimsleur’s monthly subscriptions.
If you want to see more options before you commit to an app, we have plenty of useful recommendations for you. Here are some similar alternatives.
Pimsleur vs Assimil: How They Work
Pimsleur and Assimil include audio recordings to help you study a new language from zero. You can use both to develop your pronunciation, but Pimsleur focuses more on listening and speaking. Assimil has interactive exercises you can use to review what you previously learned, including fill-in-the-blanks and quizzes. Pimsleur shows you how to pronounce each sound, word, and phrase and briefly teaches the grammatical rules you need to understand the language. Assimil shows you the spelling of each word and plays slow-paced audio so you can listen to the pronunciation.
Check out the table below to see how Pimsleur and Assimil rate across the Internet.
How Pimsleur Works
The Pimsleur method is based on research done by Dr. Paul Pimsleur with the goal of helping you start speaking as soon as possible. With this language learning app, you can start studying a language from the beginning and focus on improving your speaking and listening comprehension skills. Its courses follow a logical structure, so you are always expanding what you previously learned.
In each Pimsleur lesson, you listen to two native speakers have a conversation. Then, the instructor breaks the dialogue down into phrases, words, and sounds and asks you to repeat them. This way, you can exercise your speaking skills and work on your pronunciation. Pimsleur uses quick grammatical explanations to help you understand how to use the language in the proper context.
The app also has different features to review and expand what you learned in the lessons, like flashcards, speed rounds, cultural notes, and a Speak Easy feature. You can download Pimsleur’s lessons to your mobile device once you subscribe. Each lesson lasts around 10-30 minutes.
If you want to learn more about the app, you can read this Pimsleur review.
How Assimil Works
The Assimil method helps you understand what you read and hear in a foreign language. The app has different language levels with units that focus on translating the words from your target language into English. With Assimil, you can start as a complete beginner and reach the advanced level.
Every lesson has audio in the language you are learning. The instructor speaks slowly, so you can easily understand what they are saying and hear the pronunciation. Then, you can use Assimil’s voice tool to record yourself and compare your pronunciation to the speakers. You can review the words and phrases you learn in the lesson and reinforce your study with its translation and fill-in-the-blank exercises.
The app also includes additional features to help you study, like a language-English dictionary, number charts, a grammar appendix, glossaries, and more. However, some of these extra features are only available for certain languages.
Pimsleur: The Good and The Bad
One of my favorite Pimsleur features is the level of detail used to describe the way each word is pronounced. Most apps have audio tools to show you the language sounds, but only a couple break down sentences into sounds so you can repeat each with precision. In addition, native speakers voice all the audio on Pimsleur, so you can learn to speak your target language the way it is spoken in the real world. I tried the Japanese and Icelandic Pimsleur courses before and had no issues remembering or talking in these languages after. Its language courses are so thorough even complete beginners won’t have trouble understanding.
Pimsleur also has a greater variety of languages available than most apps. You can use the app to help you learn essential communication for some less popular languages and dialects, like Swiss German, Croatian, Haitian Creole, and Swahili. Few other apps can teach you to speak these languages like Pimsleur, so it’s nice to see them included in the language list.
But Pimsleur has some areas of improvement, like its lack of written exercises. While its audio-based courses introduce you to grammar and improve your speaking and listening skills, the app doesn’t have a feature to teach you how to write the language you are studying. Some of its review features include the spelling of the words, but this won’t be enough if your target language has a different written system. In my opinion, trying to learn a language like French or German without practicing writing as you go can make things confusing in the long run because the sounds don’t always match the spelling. I’d like to see Pimsleur add some written practice in the future.
While Pimsleur’s quick grammatical explanations are a good way to learn as you go, they might not be enough to explain more complicated topics. Because Pimsleur builds upon what you learned in previous lessons, moving on to more complex grammar rules without understanding the foundation can lead to misunderstandings and frustration. Overall, I’d recommend using Pimsleur with other resources like a textbook or online course to fill in any gaps.
Assimil: The Good and The Bad
With Assimil, you can learn the exact translations of the language you are learning. Some apps teach you the closest approximate translation to help you communicate in real life, but Assimil provides the precise meaning for each word and phrase and shows you how to apply them in the real world. For example, if you are studying a language with a heavy importance on formality, Assimil makes sure you address each subject correctly (like the formal Sie in German) in its exercises. Assimil has different language pairs, so you can study a new language with translations into your mother tongue. This way, you aren’t relying on proximity but actually developing your understanding of the language.
Many users like Assimil because it has a friendly and familiar “textbook” approach to language learning. It has a stronger focus on translation, so you won’t get overwhelmed with its lessons and the information they introduce. You can start as a complete beginner and learn basic phrases like introductions and greetings, and ask someone if they speak your language. I tried the English to German and English to Japanese courses and thought they were a straightforward way to start learning a language.
Even though people have compared Assimil’s language courses to textbooks in the past, I didn’t feel that they were nearly as thorough as some books. Its exercises weren’t as varied, and you only practice using specific phrases and words a couple of times before you move on to the next lesson. You can complete them in a few minutes, which might be a plus for some people, though.
Another area of improvement for Assimil is the pace and quality of the audio included in its lessons. While Assimil helps you improve your reading and listening skills, the app uses robotic voices instead of native speakers. You also can’t speed up the audio, so there’s not too much challenge when it comes to listening and understanding. I think Assimil is a good way to start exploring a language, but it could benefit from adding advanced elements to help students learn a language more accurately.
Pimsleur or Assimil: Which is Better?
Pimsleur and Assimil have audio elements to help you speak a language, but their approach and tools differ significantly. They are both solid apps, but they are built for opposite kinds of language students. However, if you really want an app that can improve your speaking skills, Pimsleur is the best choice.
For example, Assimil has a much friendlier approach for complete beginners to start studying a new language. It provides exact translations from the language you are learning to your native language, so you know that the phrases and words introduced are as precise as can be. Yet, Assimil relies too much on translation, which is not the most effective method if you want to be able to speak with native speakers in the real world. Its voice recognition tool is less advanced than the ones in other apps, and the audio could be faster-paced to present a challenge for more advanced learners.
Pimsleur doesn’t have interactive exercises to teach you sentence structure or spelling, but its method is very effective. You can start a Pimsleur language course as a complete beginner and be able to speak after just the first lesson. Native speakers voice all its lessons, and it includes multiple features to reinforce what you learned. Its subscription options are also more budget-friendly in the long run. If you want to get the best value for an audio-based app, choose Pimsleur.
Pimsleur and Assimil: FAQ
Assimil can help you learn basic phrases in your target language, but you need to use more resources to reach the intermediate B2 level. To achieve the B2 level, you need to be able to understand and communicate in the language with ease. However, Assimil can’t replace speaking with a native speaker. You can hire a tutor or find a language exchange partner on apps like italki and Tandem.
Depending on your language goals, there might be better resources for you than Pimsleur. Pimsleur can teach you how to speak a language from the first lesson, but it doesn’t have any written additional material to help develop the rest of your skills. You can use a language textbook or find free authentic language resources like news articles online to fill in the gaps.
The main difference between Pismleur and the Assimil courses is their approach to language learning. Pimsleur offers a more immersive experience and relies fully on audio to introduce you to the language you want to study. Assimil is better for complete beginners who want to learn a new language in a familiar way because it uses a blend of audio and interactive exercises to teach you vocabulary and grammar.
Pimsleur is a legitimate app that can improve your listening and speaking skills. Its focus is on speaking, and after just one lesson, you should be able to express yourself with basic phrases. Native speakers voice all their lessons, so you know you are learning the language accurately.