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“Probably no aspect of learning a foreign language is more important than memory. Yet no aspect of language learning has been less well examined.”

Dr. Paul Pimsleur

THE PIMSLEUR METHOD™


The Pimsleur® Method is the foundation upon which every Pimsleur course is built. It’s a scientifically proven set of principles designed to take a learner directly to the heart of the language, eliminating noise, confusion, and information overload.

People all over the world are using Pimsleur programs to start speaking and understanding new languages quickly and easily. If you haven’t experienced it for yourself, you may find it hard to believe that something so simple could work so well. The Pimsleur Method is made up of a few key principles:

Graduated Interval Recall

Dr. Pimsleur’s research on memory was perhaps one of his most revolutionary achievements. He discovered that if learners were reminded of new words at gradually increasing intervals, each time they would remember longer than the time before. He documented the optimal spacing for information to move from short-term into long-term, or permanent, memory. This theory is at the base of all the Pimsleur programs.

Principle of Anticipation

Our brains are hard-wired to automatically process speech and “anticipate” a correct response. It’s an intricate thought process that most of us take for granted. Dr. Pimsleur’s research demonstrated that new connections are activated whenever this dynamic system is triggered. By systematically asking for understanding, pausing for a response, and then reinforcing the correct response, Pimsleur courses accelerate learning, increase understanding, and activate new neural pathways in the learner’s brain.

Core Vocabulary

Effective communication in any language depends on mastery of a relatively limited number of words and structures. Trying to learn too much at once substantially slows the process, and many people quickly become discouraged. Pimsleur courses deliberately limit the amount you learn at any one time, giving your brain a chance to internalize each new item before moving on. Once this foundation is built, adding new words and phrases becomes easy and natural because there’s a clear framework to attach them to.

Organic Learning

Every new item introduced in a Pimsleur course is given within the context of a conversation or exchange. This helps learning and retention in a multitude of ways, from allowing your brain to automatically integrate intonation, rhythm, melody, and pronunciation, to embedding prompts for your memory. When you need a word, it’s there – seamlessly on the tip of your tongue.

Paul Pimsleur (1928-1976)

Dr. Pimsleur was one of the world’s foremost experts in applied linguistics. He taught French phonetics and phonemics at UCLA after obtaining his Ph.D. in French and a master’s degree in psychological statistics from Columbia University. After leaving UCLA, Pimsleur went on to faculty positions at Ohio State and SUNY at Albany, where he held dual professorships in Education and French.

His research focused on language acquisition, especially the organic learning that takes place as children learn to speak their native language. He discovered how to select and organize the materials of the second language to fit the one way that the stream of speech of an unknown language can enter the consciousness of the adult and be processed through the language learning power of the human brain.

He applied the results of his research on the acquisition process to second-language learning and the results became the Pimsleur Language Learning Method.