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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on July 10, 2003
There is little doubt that The Pimsleur CDs for Spanish I will get you off the ground and learning Spanish painlessly (if not exactly rapidly). If the thought of learning Spanish while being stuck in rush hour traffic, or driving across country, is appealing to you, then Pimsleur is the good stuff.
Having said that, I think it pays to be aware of a few things before making the Big Purchase.
Because the price tag for these CDs is high, you might find it helpful, as I did, to try Pimsleur's "Quick and Simple" set of CDs for Spanish first. Those CDs duplicate (with minor differences) the first 8 lessons of the Spanish I collection. So if you wish to be cautious, that is probably the best way to get started with Pimsleur products, rather than buying the more expensive, more comprehensive products right away. You'll get a sense of whether this is the route you want to go if you want to learn more Spanish.
Whether you start with the Spanish I package, or the Quick and Easy CDs, you will be exposed you to the heart of what makes the Pimsleur method unique and painless. The approach is based on (1) The Principle of Anticipation (a mastery technique that is different than rote recall), (2) Graduated Interval Recall (an approach that provides new stuff to memorize at optimal intervals), (3) Core Vocabulary (an efficient, optimal selection of a small number of key words that you need to know, as opposed to an extensive vocabulary), (4) and "Organic Learning" (learn speech, eg sound, rhythm, intonations, as opposed to a bunch of textbook gramatical rules). I should add that there's something subtly humorous about the content of the CDs, so if you have a sarcastic or wicked sense of humor, you won't be totally bored.
Like many, I found the approach efficient and useful, and I had lots of fun with the CDs as I drove around town blathering away in Spanish.
But it is worth emphasizing that Pimsler is not the only game in town. There are other very high-quality competing approaches (e.g. Platiquemos Spanish), that are generally less expensive. On Platequemos, for instance, the speakers sound like they are from Central and South America, and one gets the impression that they are teaching a version of Spanish that is useful in the Americas.
I think it pays to be aware that with Pimsleur you are learning a very general form of Spanish that does not always play well in some Spanish-speaking counries. In the lessons, for instance, you are quickly instructed to say "Encantado" (pleased to meet you) after meeting someone. When I mentioned this to some Mexican friends, they just laughed and said "you probably won't get killed for saying that, but from know on just say 'mucho gusto' and nobody will get hurt!" A little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing!
The culture-specific meaning of some words is a big issue. Take words like "familia," "confianza," "amigo," "amor," and "tu." We may think we understand the implications of these familiar words, especially after learning a little Spanish, but newcomers are unlikely to understand their deep and subtle meanings within the context of (for example) Mexican culture.
So, I think it pays to learn phrases and code words from a specific culture or country that most strongly interests you (something you'll never get from plodding through the simple and general Pimsleur approach). To this end, there are books that often discuss a specific country's idiomatic expressions or slang. For instance, I've been interested in learning more about Mexico's version of Spanish, as well as its culture. I benefitted greatly from Boye Lafayette De Mente's book, "There's a Word For It In Mexico" (also marketed as "The NTC's Dictionary of Mexican Cultural Code Words"). In the case of Mexican Spanish and culture, Octavio Paz' "The Labyrinth of Solitude" is excellent, too. Travel guides for specific countries, such as the Insight Guides, often provide a few words of slang that are unique to specific regions.
It pays to have a fluent spanish speaker as a co-worker, friend and/or lover while you are learning from the CDs, as they might, on a good day, rescue you from whatever linguistic cliff Pimsleur sends you over. If you don't yet have a Spanish speaking lover, you may need to purchase some additional resourses, e.g. "Wicked Spanish", "The Lover's Dictionary," or "Hot International Phrases" to help you get into/out of trouble. And don't forget to buy every Shakira CD that has ever been recorded!
Don't be fooled by the $$ coupon that comes with the Pimsleur CDs. In my experience, a much better price can be found using
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on June 9, 2007
As the editor of the Learning Spanish Products Reviews (LearningSpanishProductsReviews) site (and as a native Spanish instructor), many of my readers and students have requested that I provide a very thorough, unbiased and accurate review of Pimsleur one. I will begin my review with an in depth summary of the content.

In lessons 1 through 5 you will learn how to conjugate the verb "entender" in the present tense and say "I understand" and "you understand" in the "usted" form as well as ask the same
You will also learn how to say I speak "Castellano" or you speak "Castellano." You will also learn how to inquire about one's health, and ask about one's nationality. basic greetings such as good morning, good afternoon, and good night. And you'll learn how to say "here" and "there," and inquire about the location of hotels and restaurants. Lessons 1 to 5, will also teach you how to say "I know" and "you know," as well as I have and you have.

From lessons 6 to 10, you begin to learn numbers from 1 to 11. You also learn how to ask how much do things cost and saying "I want" and "you want" and how to ask the same. The verb gustar is also covered. You will also learn how to say let's go eat.

From lessons 11 to 15, you will learn more numbers (numbers 12 to 59). And how to say "I pay" and "you pay," and "I buy" and "you buy." Pronouns such as "la" and "las" are also introduced and also how to tell time, as well as the substitute future tense (e.g. I am going to eat as opposed to "I will eat.")

Lesson 16 to 20 teach you how to say more numbers (from sixty to ninety-nine). You also learn how to say "my spouse has" and "we speak," "we eat," and "we want." You will also learn possessive adjectives such as "my," "your" and "our." The irregular verb "poder" and the "para que" structure" are also introduced in the present tense. Lessons 16 to 20 also contrast "estamos" and "somos." Reflexive verbs are also introduced while you learn how to say "I am leaving" and "we are leaving."

From lessons 21 to 24, you are introduced to formal commands and learn such commands as "give me a glass of water/wine" and "write it." You are also introduced to demonstrative
pronouns for "this, that, and those." The regular "ar" verb is also introduced. You also learn how to inquire about a doctor and say "give me his number." The personal "a" is also introduced as well as how to state if a location is near or far, ask one's name and state one's name, ask where does one live, and give directions.

From lessons 25 to 30, you will learn more commands. For example, how to say the command "come." But only the formal commands are covered. Direct pronouns are also covered in greater detail. The present perfect tense is also introduced along with numbers in the hundreds. Diminutives are also covered. In the final lesson (#30), the informal word for you is briefly introduced: tu (I have omitted Spanish punctuation marks because they sometimes appear as fuzzy characters on my Amazon reviews.)

Pimsleur Spanish has an extremely fun method to learn Spanish. Not only is it fun but also quite effective. The speakers are also all natives with excellent pronunciation. The sound quality of the lessons is also excellent. The course also comes with a small booklet to give the student an introduction to reading Spanish.

Although it is one of the best Spanish courses that I have ever reviewed, it is not worthy of 5 stars. I say that for two reasons. For one, with 15 hours of recorded audio, Pimsleur Spanish provides the student with very limited grammar and even less vocabulary. The student only learns two verb tenses. The present verb tense and the present perfect tense. Actually, three if you include the imperative. In my professional opinion, with 15 hours of recorded audio an adult of average intelligence is capable of learning several times as much vocabulary and grammar than what Pimsleur I covers.

The second reason why I cannot give Pimsleur Spanish 5 stars is because the Spanish is not representative of the Spanish that Latin Americans actually speak or at least not the Latin American Spanish that is spoken today. In the first lesson "hablo Castellano" is taught. It is 100% correct to say that phrase but nowadays it is not how one would normally say "I speak Spanish" (unless you were really trying to impress someone). The same applies to Pimsleur's approach of teaching "encantado" instead of "mucho gusto." And "adios" is taught instead of "chao." With the exception of Mexicans, most Latin Americans today use "chao" for bye. Maybe "back in the day" we didn't -- but now we use chao.

I am still glad to recommend that you buy Pimsleur Level I because of its highly effective and fun teaching method. But don't count on it to teach you much grammar and vocabulary, especially not today's Latin American vocabulary. With that said CHAO.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on December 24, 2003
First, beware of those "abbreviated" sets commonly sold for under $50 at bricks-and-mortar retailers. Those "introductory" versions only include the first few (up to 8 or so, but not all 30) thirty-minute lessons. Such "abbreviated" sets are woefully incomplete and are obviously sold as mere "enticements" to encourage the buyer to (subsequently) shell out the requisite big bucks for the FULL (30-lesson) edition(s).
Moreover, to really begin to achieve fluency at the (so-called) "intermediate-plus" level, you will ALSO need, eventually, to purchase Pimsleur's "Spanish II" and "Spanish III" sets (each of which comprise 30 additional thirty-minute lessons). And EVEN THEN you will be FAR from "fully fluent" in Spanish.
Having said this, let me add that I've tried virtually ALL the available Spanish audio, video, and software products that are "mass marketed," and the Pimsleur series (albeit costly!) is, by far, the best single item of them all. This is because you can really "interact" with realistic dialogues, AND the material is very, very carefully and strategically sequenced. I must add, however, that because the Pimsleur approach teaches you (essentially) NO *written* words, well, if you're like me, you'll find yourself wanting to occasionally "pause" the current CD (or tape, if, like me, you own the cassette version) to go look up a newly introduced word in a Spanish dictionary, just to be sure you've heard the native speaker's intonation correctly and are repeating the proper consonants/vowels. (For this purpose, you could do worse than to employ the "Word Ace" (speaking-dictionary/verb-conjugator) software by Transparent Language, makers of the well-known "Spanish Now!" software "bundles" that often have a "Word Ace" CD included "free"). But even a mere paperback Spanish dictionary could be a useful supplement to the Pimsleur "audio-only" approach. After all, even though it's true that SPOKEN language is "primary", sooner or later you obviously will also need to be able to READ some basic words and expressions.
Finally, as a significant "second-best" program (to the excellent Pimsleur "audio-only" series), The Rosetta Stone software is worthy of your consideration, provided (again) that you opt for the FULL set of discs, not merely an "introductory" disc containing the first few lessons.
In my opinion, almost all OTHER "audio/visual/software" foreign-language-learning products on the market--despite their impressive "bells and whistles"--are *chiefly* useful as "supplemental" (not your "primary") learning media.
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on March 28, 2004
This is the best language program I have found. I run on treadmill daily and have been trying all sorts of language program during my workout. Without naming Pimsleur's competitors by names, I found Pimsleur's instruction perfect for language challenged people like me. Prior to Spanish I, I completed Pimsleur's Brasilian Portugues I and II (in cassette tapes) and have no problem roaming around Brasil with my Pimsleur's Portugues (constantly got complimented by Brsailian of my "good" Portugese). I've just completed this Spanish I program. Pimsleur's standard of excellence continues and I enjoyed the program thoroughly and learned a lot.
I humbly disagree with some reviewers who stated that Pimsleur's Spanish program only offers "general" Spanish and not culture specific. I actually consider this as Pimsleur's strength. Firstly, I am planning trips to Argentina and Colombia. Never had interest to visit Mexico. If this program is Mexican specific, it will certainly be a big turn off for me. Secondly, if my experience with Pimsleur's Brasilian Portuguese is any good reference, even Brasilian Portugese has its regional differences, so the opportunity is tremendous that one can pick up more culture specific expressions when visiting the country. Thirdly, I did try the "Encantada" with my Mexican friends. Instead of laughing at me, they are extremely appreciated and impressed that I take the effort to learn their language, albeit a bit gringo stype. So, Castellano de Gringo actually wins points.
Again, bottomline, go buy this program. This is the best investment you can do for your social life. -:)
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on September 1, 2003
Many benefits can be derived from learning Spanish as a 2nd language, not the least of which being able to communicate with those in America who either refuse to or are unable to learn English. Having had no formal Spanish training since 8th grade, I took it upon myself to learn Spanish on my own. Learning a 2nd language may prove too daunting a task for most, but if you have the initiative and intelligence, it makes for quite a rudimentary task - with the help of Paul Pimsleur, of course.
For your own edification, Spanish can be learned, albeit not without effort, without formal training - much of which is useless anyway. Pimsleur teaches the essential Spanish needed for traveling, working, dining, and awkward social situations. The CDs make for an easy learn for anyone with half of a brain. That being said, since one is not provided with a book for the lessons, it is incumbent upon the listener to look up and study any vocabulary and/or verbs that you may find confusing. I would give it 5 stars if only it were accompanied by a more thorough book that coincided with its lessons. Nonetheless, I still feel that this is the best audio reference available for learning beginning Spanish.
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on December 6, 2002
I purchased the Pimsleur 1 Comprehensive Spanish to prepare for an upcoming trip to the Dominican Republic.
Well folks I have to give this 5 stars - it is absolutely probably the best value for money.
Initially I joined the local college for a spanish course but after a month I got frustrated with the teaching method and dropped out. I then took a faith of leap and purchased these CD's ... within a matter of the first 4 lessons I had learnt more than I did the entire month at college!
I only got up to lesson 12 (my laziness) before my trip however I was able to communicate very well with the locals and one of them actually complimented me on my pronounciation!!
If you're unsure about these CD's don;t be - buy them you won't regret it. (you don;t have to trust only me look at all the positive reviews for the Spanish II CD's - if everyone thinks they're this good there has to be something to it!
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on October 30, 2015
Well, I have learned that I am not a strong auditory learner. I need a visual of the word for it to stick in my head. All the sounds were blending together, so I had to "cheat" and look up words to make sense of what I was hearing. The structure of the program is good for building vocabulary. The key is repetition and doing half an hour per day. I also had to get over the expectation that I could do 1 lesson per day. I have to repeat each lesson 4-5 times before I move on. And I go back to earlier lessons to give myself a break from the harder stuff. I don't pick up languages easily but with repetition, I am learning some. I haven't tried other programs so I don't know how this compares.
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on March 14, 2004
I am on CD 23. Some is a review for me, but much of it is new. I am finding it interesting and enjoyable. It is important to point out, that this course does also have a WRITING/READING portion. Another review incorrectly stated that they do not. Perhaps the earlier versions did not come with it. There are CD's and books that come with the course, that teach you how to read the words that you are learning. You may use it as you go along, or wait until you are finished with the course. I have been speaking with a few latino friends. They all say that my accent is perfect. I STRONGLY recommend this course.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on July 12, 2004
The accent heard in the lessons is actually what we in Mexico call "Miami Spanish", a variety of Spanish that isn't native to any particular country but rather the result of a blend of accents taken to the US by all the Latin American immigrants (with an emphasis on Caribbean and Central American accents). I think it would be useful in Mexico and perhaps in Argentina, but certainly not in Spain, where vocabulary, pronunciation and speed make the language almost a different one.
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on October 10, 2003
Pimsleur I, II, and III are a wonderful way to learn spoken Castillian Spanish. That said, you should invest in a pocket dictionary and--if you can afford it--a copy of "501 Spanish Verbs" in order to better develop a sense of the more complex constructions. And you should absolutely pick up those reference tomes if you are someone who visualizes how words look in order to remember them. The Pimsleur approach can actually be frustrating to word-visualizers who don't have a written reference they can turn to.
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