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Dr. Paul Pimsleur devoted his life to language teaching and testing and was one of the world’s leading experts in applied linguistics. After years of experience and research, Dr. Pimsleur developed The Pimsleur Method based on two key principles: the Principle of Anticipation and a scientific principle of memory training that he called “Graduated Interval Recall.” This Method has been applied to the many levels and languages of the Pimsleur Programs.
So I finally made it through the 3rd installement (Pimsleur Mandarin Level III). It took me six months to get through all 3 levels, including some breaks and weekends off. I also did each lesson two or three times. I have a long commute, so I was able to get through 1 lesson twice in one day, once in each direction. Overall, I'd say Pimsleur a great way to get started, with any language. I previously got through Pimsleur French levels 1 and 2, and I found that it really got me on my way with that language, which I am now fluent in. Chinese is harder, because it is so different from anything I know. (Althought in my opinion the pronounciation is easier than French.) Still, Pimsleur helped me get oer the intial hump. I think that Pimsleur is particularly good at inculcating good pronounciation, some sense of grammar, and an intuitive sense for a language. It's also perfect for learning on the go, as you are not tied down to a computer. And I totally buy into the theory that a language is best learned orally at first. At the same time, however, I have been using an on-line flaschard program (Remembr.it) and I can now recognize and pronounce about 800 characters. (I recommend this program as well. I am now rereviewing levels 2 & 3 of Pimlseur Mandarin, which is going very fast and I expect to complete in six weeks. I'm doing this to increase the amount of material I remember cold. To get to the next level of with Mandarin, I definitely think I will need some private lessons. I know I have a ways to go before I can speak and understand spoken Mandarin with some fluency. Probably another year or two. Sounds like a long time. But having gone through it in French, I know it can be done. Bottom line: Pimsleur will not make you fluent. But it will give you a great base to work from.
Pimsleur is really great. You will enjoy a fun time in your car learning Mandarin Chinese. Pimsleurs teaching techniques are based on scientific research on how learning works best. It's called interval training. They reintroduce previously covered material periodically to improve recall and retention and reinforce your confidence and proficiency. Buy this program. I was going to buy "rosetta stone," but I did my research, and man I'm glad I did. Pimsleur is the way to go. Best of luck! You will be speaking Mandarin in your local Chinese restaurant in no time. :D
I bought this as something of a lark to kill time in my daily commute (about 35 minutes each way). It's turned out to be great fun, and I am actually speaking a bit of Mandarin. My vocabulary is limited. I'm on lesson 24 and I know perhaps a hundred words, but I know them pretty well. I can understand and speak at near conversational speed given the limits of that vocabulary. Now here's the good part. I've only been working this for about 6 weeks. I took two years of college Spanish and I never reached the proficiency in Spanish that I have in Mandarin. There are caveats. I could, at the end of the fourth semester of Spanish, read it fairly well, given time. I can't read a lick of Mandarin. Literacy in Mandarin is a whole different beast. But if you're putting in a lot of time behind the wheel of a car, are tired of talk radio, and have wanted to learn to speak a language. Primsleur could work for you. I usually need about 4 times through a lesson to have it down well enough that I feel comfortable to move on to the next. Some lessons are a bit harder or easier than others. There is a lot of repetition, but they mix it up so just when your brain is ready to just repeat a phrase they change the context or ask for something from two lessons ago so you constantly have to think. I've also noticed they gradually reduce the time you have to answer so you are, little by little, getting used to conversational speed. All in all, well worth the money.
You can leave the CDs on all day, while you do driving, exercise, and housework etc., when you do not need to use that part of the brain. You spend serious 30 minutes with the one CD you are working on, and you can make a very rapid progress. If you like music, Chinese is like learning songs. The verses and tones. The program is not geared at all for reading and writing, so if you want to do that, you better get another textbook such as New Practical Chinese Reader. However, for listening and reading, this is a very good program. I originally bought 5 CD basic program, which happens to be the first 5 disks of this program.
I got a new Chinese neighbor, who cannot speak a word of English. Fortunately, I can write Kanji, so we can sort of communicate by writing Kanji, but we understand each other 50-70%. So, what little Chinese I learn from CDs have been the main tool for communication. Within two month of this program (Lesson 15) I can talk to her on the phone and make appointments etc. Every phrase I learn I can use on her, and she understands, although her dialect has slightly different pronunciation. I have been helping her with various aspects of getting used to the US. Getting internet, getting phone, filling up school forms, getting her son to understand math questions, etc. Everything I learn has direct imapact on the betterment of communication.
A lot of the people talk about Rosetta stone. Unfortunately, I have never used it, so I cannot compare. For that you better read reviews from those who used both programs.
If you are going to China, try this program, for two months, and it will make a great difference in your experience there.
In the past, I have tried to learn a new language using different systems or methods. I have to say that Pimsleur's system is the best l have come across so far. It is structured in a manner that gives the user the ability to learn fast. The amount of information and the length of each lesson is just the right amount. The instant translation to the student makes comprehension, attention and interest stay at a high level. Also, the use of native speakers of the language being taught helps tremendously.