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5.0 out of 5 stars Confidence Building
I bought the 30 tape course in November 2001 for a trip to Beijing in February 02. Now maybe I was being a little ambitious expecting to learn much however I have to say that I was very pleasantly surprised.

The course was easy to follow. As other reviewers have done I listened to the tape driving to work. Due to the rapidly approaching holiday I also went out...
Published on May 6 2002

versus
2.0 out of 5 stars Mostly Garbage
Seriously folks, if you go abroad, you will say good morning a thousand times your first week-- the same goes for all the set phrases the Pimsleur stuff teaches you. You don't need to spend hundreds on something that you can do with a book and making an effort.
It's fun, though (hence the 2 *'s), because it's easy and it makes you feel like you learned something. But...
Published on Dec 28 2001 by Skeezix


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5.0 out of 5 stars Confidence Building, May 6 2002
By A Customer
I bought the 30 tape course in November 2001 for a trip to Beijing in February 02. Now maybe I was being a little ambitious expecting to learn much however I have to say that I was very pleasantly surprised.

The course was easy to follow. As other reviewers have done I listened to the tape driving to work. Due to the rapidly approaching holiday I also went out in my lunch hour and parked up in my car in a quiet place listening and repeating. Then driving home I played the tape again. Maybe once more that same night before bed or in the early evening. So each tape was listened to at least 4 times. Sometimes I'd do the same tape for 3-4 days as quite often it was just on as background accompaniment during my commute. Over the Christmas/New Year holiday I was about half way through the course.
The system works. The words and phrases stick in your memory. By the time I went to Beijing I felt able to tackle conversations. I was able to make myself understood to the extent that I had taxi drivers speaking to me in rapid fire Mandarin expecting me to follow the conversation. If I had the money and had another trip back to China I'd definitely buy Mandarin 2 as the only downside is the lack of a really comprehensive vocabulary. Having said that it really is survival Mandarin which is needed in China away from, and even in, the tourist areas.
Finally, to show how good the system was and without being a big head, I was speaking better Mandarin than a guy who'd been living in Beijing for 7 months. Another local Westerner who'd been there for 10 years told me that it had taken him about 2 years to get to the level of speech/understanding that I was at. So thank you Pimsleur.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Learn Mandarin while u drive..., March 16 2002
By 
After taking traditional courses in Latin, Italian, and German, I thought it would be a real challenge in my senior years to learn something completely different. Enter Mandarin. After searching out various taped programs to use while I commuted to work, I opted for the small Pimsleur tape version. Soon I realized I needed to upgrade to the full 30 unit CD version(the beginning was identical to the sample tape version). It was an excellent choice. Yes, they sometimes speak faster than you can respond; no, I don't mind replaying a disk to improve diction; and yes, it is expensive. But when I finished Mandarin I, I replayed the entire set of 30 units randomly to improve my own spontaneous responses. My vocabulary became more natural and my pronunciation improved (as confirmed by speaking to Chinese students at my university). It is clear you get one dimnension of instruction. I tried Transparent Language and it didn't engage me as much. After six months, I started sitting in a traditional college Mandarin course which helped even more. Most cities have a Chinese-American community where people get together to learn Chinese, so this should be available to most. I enjoyed it enough that I now bought Mandarin II. This picks up the pace and expects you to be in good shape from Mandarin I. I am most satisfied. Starting with listening and speaking is a good way to learn pronunciation naturally and accurately, but you still need real-person feedback (even with CDs I sometimes had problems with consonants). So it's now 15 months later (I only listen while I commute for 20 min.), and I have very positive feedback from my Chinese friends. So go for it. Beijing here I come.
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4.0 out of 5 stars They need to add the pinyin, Sept. 5 2001
By 
Phil (Chino Hills, CA USA) - See all my reviews
I'm a beginning Chinese language student. I actually started these tapes a few weeks before my class began. I drive around in my truck and listen and speak while going back and forth to work. I get in about 1 hour per day and am currently on lesson 12. I have listened to each lesson over 10 times. It takes me that long to know what to say when they ask how to say "I can speak a little Chinese". I usually know what to say at each pause and they have continually reviewed earlier material. It is surprising how much I can remember.
The reason I didn't write the Chinese version of the above question is the same reason I only gave Pimsler 4 stars. They do not supply the pinyin translation for the tapes. Having been in Chinese 1 for 4 weeks now, I find this to be a serious omission. (From my Chinese class I can now write "Wo3 hui4 shuo1 yi4 dianr3 pu3 ton1 ghua4." The numbers indicate the tone for each syllable.) There have been many times where I am not sure what the speaker is actually saying. I try to parrot what he/she sounds like, but often I just have to guess. I wouldn't have to do that if the pinyin translation accompanied the tapes.
One of the other reviews says that a child just learns by listening and doesn't need to read or write. However, a child doesn't have any timeline to learn either. It is a very long process, spanning many years and the child lives in total immersion (the best method). Every moment of every day is a language lesson for a child.
When you are an adult, you don't have that luxury and you need to be more efficient to overcome the discouraging ineptitude of a beginning speaker (your expectations are at a higher level). This is the fourth foreign language I have studied (French, Spanish, Japanese are the others) and this is the toughest. The sounds are very difficult to master, with a single syllable like "ma" having 5 different possible emphases and meanings. I have found I need to use my ears to hear, mouth to speak, eyes to read and hand to write. The tapes are a 5+ for the ears, but I am still not certain what I am saying in many of the phrases. If the pinyin was included I could easily correct that problem. Pinyin has some funny associations between the letter grouping and the sounds, but you will never learn Chinese without learning them (unless you move to China for the total immersion approach).
The tapes are good for training your ear to the up/down tonal sounds of Chinese, but you will have to supplement them with pinyin training so you can read and write too.
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5.0 out of 5 stars We Learn Language through the EAR, not the EYE., June 23 2001
PIMSLEUR : CHINESE MANDARIN - I. 2nd Edition. (30 Lessons on Audio Cassettes). Simon & Schuster Audio, 2000. ISBN 0671045849
Every country in the world is agreed that a knowledge of foreign languages is important. Every year the world devotes an enormous amount of time, energy, and money to trying to teach its young people to understand and speak some foreign language or other.
In the West, millions of high school and college students are busy desperately trying to learn French, German, and Spanish; in China and Japan they are undergoing the torture of English courses. But despite the intense effort and enormous resources that are devoted to these studies, the results, as everyone knows, are pitiful.
After years of study, students might be able to read simple passages in a foreign language, but usually won't be able to say much beyond such things as - "Good morning. How are you?" - and they will be completely baffled when hearing foreigners speak.
I've often wondered why no-one ever seems to ask why the teaching of foreign languages is such a catastrophic failure. Why does it produce so few who become fluent? I've wondered because the answer is painfully obvious, and can be stated very simply :
WE LEARN LANGUAGE THROUGH THE EAR, NOT THE EYE; LANGUAGE CANNOT BE LEARNED THROUGH THE EYE.
No child ever learned its own language by studying a book and working out exercises. We learn our own language through the ear, first by listening to others and then by participating. That's why we learn it so effortlessly and so well. Reading is a secondary skill that comes much later. It has never been the case that the ability to speak a language required that one be able to read it, and traditionally the Chinese writing system was mastered by very few.
If PIMSLEUR is an anagram for SIMPLER U it makes sense, because not only is the PIMSLEUR method SIMPLER for YOU, its also the ONLY method that has any hope of real success. Language is primarly an AURAL-ORAL phenomenon, a matter of listening and speaking. Using these tapes gives you lots of practise in both. Repeated use will bring a basic fluency that will give you the confidence to start interacting with native speakers of Chinese or French or whatever language you are studying. And if you have enough opportunities for that you'll soon be on your way to real fluency.
These tapes require application but they do work, and it's not only work but fun. But what a wonderful idea the PIMSLEUR method is! I wonder why no one ever seems to have thought of it before? After all, if you do think about it, it's the only method that makes sense.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Cantonese the right way, May 28 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Chinese (Cantonese): Learn to Speak and Understand Cantonese with Pimsleur Language Programs (Audio Cassette)
Ok. Pimsleur won't get you very far, is expensive as hell, and is somewhat cumbersome to work with. So the rest of this review will be about how in hell did I get to giving it five stars. There are several ways to go about when wanting to learn a language in an audio-only manner. You can get the "Learn in your car" from Penton Overseas. You can get the audio-only course from Living Language. Or you can take Pimsleur. From the lot, Pimsleur would be the ONLY decent answer for the utter beginner, with the other options, you will find yourself replaying the tapes a couple of times. Does any language course that is a self learning course worth this kind of money? No. That's why we have the next paragraph.
Money. First of all, by all means get it used. It is an audio course that I recommend going through only once. So if you're lucky enough to find a CD version used, it will be exactly the same (of course - assuming that the seller is decent enough to sell unscratched CD-s). As for used audio cassettes, well, as much as we want to hear the correct pronounciation, we have to remember - this is not Mozart, it is only recorded speech. However even if you don't find it used, you can buy it, and after completing the course, sell it as used. As this is suitable for first time learning, and is too much for review purposes (perhaps the other audio-only courses will be better for review).
One last thing. Usability. I'll talk technology, but it's essential here. When I bought the heavy package, the first thing I've done was to move it to MP3. So then I had the entire audio collection on a single CD. In such a way you take a single disc to your car, play it with a mobile MP3 player, and stock the valuable course in your closet for backup. In that way, when you finish with the course, the originals stay in a good enough state to be sold as used. However, if you won't convert to MP3, the need to each time take another cassette/CD to your car would be a serious drawback, since storing the entire course in your car doesn't sound as a sensible alternative to me.
To wrap it up, buy it, MP3 it, learn it, sell it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Overall review, May 28 2001
By 
....
There are several ways to go about when wanting to learn a language in an audio-only manner. You can get the "Learn in your car" from Penton Overseas. You can get the audio-only course from Living Language. Or you can take Pimsleur. From the lot, Pimsleur would be the ONLY decent answer for the utter beginner, with the others you will find yourself replaying the tapes a couple of times. Does any language course that is a self learning course worth this kind of money? No. That's why we have the next paragraph.
Money. First of all, by all means get it used. It is an audio course that I recommend going through only once. So if you're lucky enough to find a CD version used, it will be exactly the same (of course - assuming that the seller is decent enough to sell unscratched CD-s). As for used audio cassettes, well, as much as we want to hear the correct pronounciation, we have to remember - this is not Mozart, it is only recorded speech. However even if you don't find it used, you can buy it, and after completing the course, sell it as used. As this is suitable for first time learning, and is too much for review purposes (perhaps the other audio-only courses will be better for review).
One last thing. Usability. I'll talk technology, but it's essential here. When I bought the heavy package, the first thing I've done was to move it to MP3. So then I had the entire audio collection on a single CD. In such a way you take a single disc to your car, play it with a mobile MP3 player, and stock the valuable course in your closet for backup. In that way, when you finish with the course, the originals stay in a good enough state to be sold as used. However, if you won't convert to MP3, the need to each time take another cassette/CD to your car would be a serious drawback, since storing the entire course in your car doesn't sound as a sensible alternative to me. ....
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5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Program, May 15 2001
By 
"mgeorge@ibsx.com" (Columbus, Ohio USA) - See all my reviews
I have "listened" to several tape series and Pimsleur's by far is the best. I have been able to acquire a confident speaking ability simply listening to the CD's on the way to and from work.
Note: The 8 tape series is repeated in the CD series (I wish it was not) so your rebate "breaks even". However, the overall quality of the Speaking program itself is so much higher than other popular series, that it is worth every penny.
Also Note: This course does not teach the writing... fortunately. Sino-Tibetan languages (i.e. Chinese) are fundamentally different than Indo-European languages (i.e. English). In other words, it is harder to learn Chinese than French or German, and requires significantly more time. Learning the character writing "during the same process" as learning the speech greatly increases the complexity of this process. I supplement my character-reading learning during times I am free to read. This frees me to learn during times I am only free to listen, such as driving time.
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5.0 out of 5 stars life after Pimsleur worrisome, May 11 2001
By A Customer
I am Chinese but have never been able to speak my own language and have always felt intense shame. Chinese people always look at me as if I am weird, since I have an accent. But now after finishing this Pimsleur course, I have a hard-wired Mandarin vocabulary of over 200 words. It is amazing how with the Pimsleur method one retains completely what one learns. Now I don't even mentally "translate" from English to Chinese, but think natively in Chinese. I can pretty much get by in Chinatown and make very small talk with other Chinese people. The only drawback to this extremely valuable program is that there is as yet no second course. Other languages like Spanish have four levels, but there is still no Mandarin 2. I have written to an editor at Simon and Schuster and he claims that Mandarin 2 should be out by this summer, and Mandarin 3 in the near future. I hope so. Life after Pimsleur is kind of worrisome. I really wish to continue learning and since I am so astonished with the results I have been able to achieve with this program I am wary of other Mandarin programs. I hope that Mandarin 2 does come out this summer so that I don't have to resort to other programs.
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5.0 out of 5 stars best system for *introduction* to a language, May 9 2001
By 
Fred Schultz (Albuquerque, NM USA) - See all my reviews
I know from reading other reviews of Pimsleur language programs that people are sometimes taken aback by the rather basic vocabulary the program leaves you with and the lack of written material. Bear in mind, the Pimsleur program is an excellent *introduction* to a language. It can't be beat for helping you with pronunciation and with learning the "core" of a language. If you want to become fluent that is going to take work on several fronts besides the Pimsleur course (or any other tape course available), but Pimsleur delivers on what it's designed to do. My experience thus far is with Pimsleur Mandarin Chinese I and with Pimsleur Spanish I, II and III. They are superb. When used in combination with vocabulary building work, a grammar book (preferably and old fashioned grammar book ), and practice with a native speaker, you will attain your goals of speaking the language in fairly short order. What can I say? Learning a language is a lot of work and if you're looking for a magic bullet that gives you fluency in "30 minutes a day for 3 months!!" you're living in a dream world. But the Pimsleur program will get you well on your way. You will develop an ease for composing sentences, a great pronunciation and an introduction to the vocabulary with their system. After one level of Pimsleur Mandarin I, I've managed to astound a co-worker born and raised in Taiwan with my ability to speak her language. Granted my vocabulary is limited at this point since I haven't done much else besides the Pimsleur tapes in Mandarin, but what I do know, I know very well. Having completed three full levels of Pimsleur Spanish and having worked on vocabulary, grammar, and reading from other sources, my Spanish has reached a very conversant level in only three months. Living in Albuquerque, I have the opportunity to practice my Spanish frequently, and people have commented on how adept I've become. Pimsleur is one of the crucial language learning tools I have to thank for such praise.
To sum up, I believe that Pimsleur programs can be used effectively by several different types of language learners, from those just wanting to pick up a smattering to those that want to become very conversant or even fluent. If you want to pick up some phrases and learn a small but useful vocabulary fluently as well as set up a solid foundation for future efforts, then all you need are the tapes. If you want, on the other hand, to really attack the language and master it, then you'll need more than just the Pimsleur tapes; but the Pimsleur tapes will constitute one of the most helpful tools you have in your language learning bag of tricks.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Wo hue shuo Puntanghua (I can speak Mandarin), May 24 2000
By 
I wanted to learn a little bit of Mandarin in preparation for a business trip to Beijing. I've listened to several language tapes from different companies. Pimsleur is by *far* the easiest to use and work with of the tapes I've sampled. They don't use a book, working on the premise that you will learn by listening and repeating. They use a tremendous amount of reinforcement, at regular intervals. Just as a word or phrase is starting to fade, the narrator refreshes your memory. Personally, I would like to have a vocabulary list of the different lessons in printed form, but I understand that their approach is oriented toward spoken language. I am still afraid that my first attempt to say "Good Morning" will be interpreted as an insult to the sexual habits of my host's grandmother, but at least it will be clear that I am making an effort.
"Wo shi Mayguaren, kashi wo hue shuo idiar Puntanghua. Wo hue shuo da bu hao." (I am an American, but I can speak a little Mandarin. I do not speak it well.)
I highly recommend this series. I wish I'd had it back in school. It would have made "Language Lab" far more enjoyable and productive.
Your Humble Jester,
Philip the Foole
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Chinese (Cantonese): Learn to Speak and Understand Cantonese with Pimsleur Language Programs
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