I want to share here my experience with Pimsleur and some advises that worked for me.
A couple of years ago, I wanted to learn Mandarin. I have used (amongst others) Pimsleur CDs (all 3 series, up to advanced) and I must say that I liked the method a lot, as it really ‘prints’ the words and sentences into your brain. Before you realize, you have all these new words and sentences at your disposal in the new language.
What I really missed was being able to exercise real conversation plus someone correcting me, especially the pronunciation. I was never sure that what I was repeating after the CD was right (and with Mandarin in particular, correct pronunciation is even more critical: just a slight mistake in ‘tone’ and the word has a totally different meaning). Also, when listening for the first time to natives I had difficulty understanding them, because they normally speak with different speed and intonations then the recordings in CDs.
What I noticed is that I could repeat all the sentences as learned, but I was not able to have a conversation in a real life situation.
This is where I think a good teacher can make a difference. I tried a couple here in Holland, where I live, but they were either too expensive or not good enough.
Until I found the solution: I am now taking one-on-one conversation classes with a native Chinese living in China using Myngle.com.
I have sent to my teacher the transcript of the main sentences and words learned with Pimsleur, and he structures the conversation lessons around these, with a lot of questions and answers, adding different way of saying the same thing, as well as different combinations of words and sentences.
I must say that this is an incredibly effective combination.
After just a few lessons I feel I can now have basic but already interesting conversations.
At 10EUR per private lesson, that is not much compared to what I would have paid here in Holland.
For the sake of being completely transparent to any reader of this Forum, I want to add that I am the founder of Myngle, but believe me, this is not advertising.
I founded Myngle exactly because of my need while learning Mandarin. I was wondering ‘Is there a not so expensive way of really learning the language?’ I was the first customer of Myngle myself.
For those of you who wonder: Myngle is the online global marketplace for language learning where VOIP is the medium that connects teachers to students. Live one-on-one lessons are being taught with sometimes over 10.000 kilometers between student and teacher. While sitting in front of their computers, both teacher and student do not have to leave home to have lessons.
I really believe blended learning can be extremely effective, as it combines the convenience of asynchronous methods as Pimsleur with the interaction with a real teacher. This is often done within language schools. So why not giving the possibility to everyone to do its own ‘self service’ combination of blended learning from home?
This is only my experience, but I hope it can be useful to some of the readers out there who are really interested in learning a new language.
Does any of you has also experience of combining Pimsleur (or similar programs) with teacher’s support?