Yes, I am a crazed Francophile, meaning I love everything French, especially the language. I wasn’t always this way. It happened on a trip to France while strolling the streets of Paris; my heart was stolen – never to be the same.
So upon my return to America, my first order of business was to study French and become fluent enough to speak with native speakers on my subsequent trips to France. Thus began my odyssey to learn French as a mature adult. It is much easier to learn languages, child, so I was at a disadvantage to start. However, my motivation is high, a key factor in any learning endeavor. So I persevered through many pitfalls to come to the realization that audio language learning is the best method, one that Dr. Pimsleur pioneered in the 1960’s.
Here’s my story of the ways I tried to learn French before I discovered the Pimsleur audio courses:
Language schools – since I live in a semi-rural area, there were no adult education classes in French nearby. There were some community colleges courses, but the high fees and daytime schedule did not work for me. So I enrolled in the Berlitz language school and drove 3 hours round-trip weekly to attend classes. I rate this course, a D; the teachers were not well trained. Perhaps they know the French language well, but they did not know how to teach effectively. The class was boring and de-motivating. Thus $300 and many hours of driving and class time wasted.
Ipad Apps – Next attempt to learn was the much advertised Rosetta Stone language app. I purchased it and installed onto my ipad and began studying every day. This program reversed my learning progress backward. While Rosetta Stone may work for other languages, it was a disaster for French. The French language has many idiosyncrasies and grammar rules that were not adequately explained in Rosetta. Another waste of time and money.
Books – After spending lots of time and money, I decide to go back to the old-fashioned method and get a paper printed book. The only problem was that were so many to choose. I didn’t know where to begin. I picked up a few textbooks from Amazon that were highly rated and learned a few things but not very much. Then I stumbled upon a book called the Berlitz Self-Teacher French. Eureka finally, a book that instead of using the unreadable phonetic language, they used English-based words to explain pronunciation. Now, this I could I understand. This book was fun and made a dramatic improvement in my understanding and pronunciation.
Library – Now I was finally making some progress, and I wanted to add audio into my learning curriculum. So off to library went and I took out the Pimsleur French, and it was love at first listen.
Audio learning is the way experts recommend to learn a foreign language. Also, it’s a lot more fun. It’s like spending time with a native speaker friend. No duller school classrooms, nor textbooks and tests for me! This is a 100% audio learning program. Dr. Pimsleur developed this theory of self-education which resulted from his years of study and teaching linguistics and language psychology. He was interested in how memory could be used to teach new languages with a particular sequence of “spaced repetition”. Instead of the previously standard method of learning a word and then repeating it immediately. He would circle back and ask you to repeat that word a minute later and then maybe 5 minutes later and then the next day. This method helps your mind remember the new word for a longer period until it becomes ingrained in your memory.
Dr. Pimsleur studied language learning and models his successful program upon the way that humans learned their primary language – audio first and written second. His method was so successful that it had been used for over 50 years language students in the government, major corporations. And diplomatic corps. America first learned of Dr. Pimsleur methods when Harvard University set up a listening booth so students could try lessons using this approach. People found it revolutionary and extremely helpful in learning new languages quickly and easily. Thus, the Pimsleur for method began to grow.
I love how super convenient it is. It is like having an entire language school in my pocket when I have the courses downloaded on my phone or the easy to use iPhone and ipad app. My drive time is one of my favorite ways to practice French. No, I’m not stuck in traffic I’m really in a Parisian cafe. Why not take the dog for a walk and practice your new language or while doing housework, or relaxing at home. Your French class is on your schedule. I found that the convenience factor accelerated my learning because it was so easy to use. I discovered that I practiced more often and thus my progress was substantial. Can’t wait to my next trip to France to practice my fluency and enjoy all France has to offer. Au revoir (Good Bye in French)