Pimsleur is one of the most effective learning methods available. I started my French by listening to these tapes, and advanced very quickly compared to traditional studying at school. I had tried to study French at a traditional class (provided my university). The main problem was, that I learned grammar and reading, but not much speaking or any practical things. I actually failed the test and thought, that I’m too old to learn any new language. Then I acquired Pimsleur-tapes and tried them, and they really worked for me. I’m that kind of type of a person, who likes to study on my on pace, and self-study materials like this are the best.
Recently Pimsleur has also provided us with Finnish material. Unfortunately it’s only the basic course. This level 1 –material covers some basic things, such as saying hello, asking for or giving information, scheduling a meal or a meeting, asking for or giving basic directions. In my opinion, it’s not enough (French has 3 levels + bonus material), but surely gives you a good start.
Listening and repetition are the cornerstones of Pimsleur method. There’s only the tape, no book (except for a small booklet for reading practice). It’s a bit mechanical, but not mechanical as those “learn in your car”-series and such. Instead of just repeating after the tape, you need to actively participate and put your brain into work. You need to use the words you have learned to produce phrases. I like that, because it really encourages you to talk (if not aloud, then at least inside your head). When I studied French at class, I was able to learn individual words and some conjugations, but I wasn’t able to put them together. Now I’m able to say many things in fluent French.
The main problem with Pimsleur is, that it focuses solely on oral skills. That’s why I recommend you to read some books in the target language in order to improve your reading skills and enlarge your vocabulary. Also, it doesn’t hurt to have a good grammar book (for example Leila White’s grammar book of Finnish), to go alongside the tapes.
Pimsleur method is often compared to Michel Thomas. I think Michel Thomas is slightly better than Pimsleur, but unfortunately, there’s no Michel Thomas Finnish course (yet). The reason is, that Pimsleur is more mechanical, whereas MT explains things more and covers some grammar points more systematically.
I have also got lot’s of influence and new ideas from Pimsleur and Michel Thomas. I hope that in the future my own materials are better and based on creative learning methods.
In the meantime, you can check out Pimsleur’s website . You can order the tapes there (cd or download), or try the free sample lesson in Finnish.