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Customer reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars

on January 17, 2003
I have always loved foreign languages but am not particularly talented or adept at them. I suppose it is my lack of discipline. And trying to learn to pronounce things by looking at a written "pronounciation guide" is pure misery for me. I loved this program. With my long commute to work, I listened at least an hour a day and finished the course in less than two weeks. Now I'm ready for the comprehensive course.
I even ordered the Mandarin Chinese program for my husband. He loves Chinese language, food, and culture, but struggled through his college Chinese class. I hope it works as well for him as it did for me.
Thank you, Professor Pimsleur!
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on May 23, 2002
First of all, I would like to thank Dr. Pimsleur for creating such a wonderful method for learning languages. His method really works! I received my copy of Quick and Simple German 2 days ago and I've already masterd lessons 1 and 2. I never thought that I would be able to speak German. I just decided to buy German along with Italian since I did so well with the French. I've been having so much fun that I study each lesson twice a day. Also I love to go to the Pimsleur website and practice languages there to get a feel of speaking a new language. Granted this may not be the comprehensive course but I'm sure it would've taken me at least 3 years of school to be able to accomplished what I've learned in two days. This method is simple unbelievable!
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on January 24, 2002
I got this same set of CDs in German, Japanese, and Russian. With Russian only, it was my first time speaking the language. It was still very easy to learn with, just about 25 minutes (per lesson) a night before I went to sleep. I bought Japanese and German to listen to every once in a while since these are languages I don't get to use that often and I don't want to lose my knowledge of them. I grew up speaking French and haven't used it in only a couple years, and it is possible to lose a language you know very well, without practicing. Therefore, these serve that purpose just perfectly. People complain in their reviews.... maybe they should spring for the pricier versions next time. These are not meant to be thorough courses in any language. They are "Quick and Simple", says their name. When people from foriegn countries come to America with the wrong pronunciations, you will usually understand them nonetheless. So, going to Germany with the information from these CDs should get you around okay.
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on January 14, 2002
I don't mean my comment to criticize the tapes, but to emphasize the repetition in the tapes. I think many people would secretly tell you that the "____ for dummies" books were actually quite helpful. They used the KISS method, Keep it Simple, Stupid. Meanwhile, I found the repetition to be very helpful in helping me to remember what I had learned, and that the tapes did progressively teach me more about German. It did reach a point in lessons 3 & 4 that seemed redundant, but I didn't mind that too much. I found myself rewinding and listening to the later lessons because I couldn't get it all in that fast. The Germans have a unique language in that they really do speak all the syllables in a word, but there's a trick to it. The tapes helped with that.
IN CONTRAST, I tried a set of tapes from Educational Services Corp. LANGUAGE/30 GERMAN tape set. The program is based on an accelerated learning approach developed for U. S. government and military personnel which included two cassette tapes and a 56 page study book of general expressions with pronunciation. Whoa! The speakers spoke really fast and I could not get anywhere without the book. The french lessons were horrible, and I remembered french from school but these people did not help you out with the word pronounciation at all.
SO, I found these tapes to be very helpful. Breaking up the pronounciation was ultimately, very helpful. Yes, a book would have helped, but I wanted to learn to speak German - not read it.
I am now able to present myself with some credulity because I am using the correct pronounciation. And, I am able to think out how to build on the phrases and sentences that I have learned.
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on December 2, 2001
A terrible course with a useless tape and no book. If you are thinking about learning German. This course is not for you, it may serve as well as a blank tape, but that is all.
Ronald Berger
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on August 16, 2001
No books! No classes! Totally audio! Learn NOTHING!!!
This course is divided into four CDs, each with two lessons for a total of eight lessons. I got halfway through it and had to stop. After four lessons -- probably a total of two audio hours, although I did a lot of fast forwarding, I had "learned" how to say:
- Excuse me, do you understand English? - No, I don't understand any English. - Do you understand German? - No, I don't understand any German. - Oh, yes, you understand German very well! - No, only a little. - Hello. - Goodbye. - Are you an American? - No, I'm German. - How are you? - I'm fine. - Please. - Thank you.
And that, I'm afraid, is just about it. So I gave up. Perhaps if I slogged through the final four "lessons" I might learn to say, "Excuse me, I need a book/CD that will actually teach me some useful German."
Two hours and I haven't learned enough German to get out of the airport. What a waste of money. Oh well, I suppose I can just smile and repeat, "Ich verstehe kein Deutsch" ad nauseam. Haungh ptui on this product.
p.s. because it's "all audio" you also won't know how to read or spell anything. Oh well. You weren't actually going to GO to Germany, were you?
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on May 14, 2001
I'd heard and read about the Pimsleur tapes and was curious to see if they could add anything to the lessons in my Hugo German in Three Months course. And I can say there are both pros and cons.
The Pros: You absolutely will actually begin THINKING in German with these tapes from the get go. There are three speakers - 2 native Germans (male & female) and an english-speaking tutor. The Pimsleur method seems to be based on a special (and HIGHLY effective) form of drilling and recall. The tutor and native speakers will put the words into small blocks (which you again are drilled endlessly on). From the short blocks they will then show you how to insert other short word blocks (again always words you'd previouly been drilled extensively on) to make progressively longer and more complex sentences. Then the tutor will begin to set up a scenario (for example, you sitting on the bus next to a woman and wanting to start a conversation with her). One of the scenarios will be something like, "Tell the woman you understand only a little German". Which in this case is the phrase, "Ich verstehe nur ein bischen Deutsch." You will recognize and understand this phrase or any of the words within it without ever adding the separate step of mentally translating it first into English. Congratulations - you've just achieved the Holy Grail of speaking a language - thinking and speaking those words or phrases like a native born to it. In terms of effectiveness it has no peer.
And now for the cons: Yes it is VERY effective. However, I now understand why some reviewers of similar Pimsleur courses have complained that it gives you a somewhat limited vocabulary. What you do learn you understand like a native. But the method is VERY repetitive - it must be to force you to think in the language itself from the very beginning (they call it Anticipated Recall).
It also provides no explanation of grammar or syntax. Or at least not in the Basic course (it may be different in the Comprehensive Courses). You'll speak the phrases but you won't really know WHY they are structured the way they are. Thus, even if you learned for example, additional verbs on your own you won't know the rules that would permit you to substitute the new verb in sentences you already know. It leads to a really odd result. You'll be highly fluent with the phrases and words you learned. And illiterate and ignorant of just about everything else spoken or said to you (hence these tapes make sure one of the phrases you have burned into your head is "ich verstehe nicht" i.e. "I don't understand".
This is why I have a mixed opinion of these tapes - at least if you use them alone. The Basic course just doesn't teach you enough to depend on them alone. But it does give an excellent idea of how the Comprehensive Courses will work.
I would say for maximum effectiveness it would be good to combine them with a more traditional tutoring course such as one from Hugo, Living Language or Berlitz. The traditional courses will give you a lot more vocabulary and the grammar to understand why the language is spoken the way it is. Then get the Pimsleur Comprehensive courses so that it will drill you in actually thinking and speaking what you've learned.
To sum up, view the Basic Course as a short introduction of how the Pimsleur Comprehensive Courses teaching method works. Sort of a "try-before-you-buy" deal. If you're like me it'll convince you that it's worthwile to buy the advanced tapes. But don't depend on this Basic set to teach you a lot of conversational German - one of the many tourist phrase/cassette sets will have many times the number of words and phrases you would want to know before vacationing in a German-speaking country.
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on February 1, 2001
I learned more from this sub-$20 cd program than I did from an eight session/2.5 hour per session German class at a local college. It stresses the phonetics of the language and gives you confidence that you're learning the language in a legitimate way. I'm now moving on to the German I program to continue. I'd buy it again in a second!
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