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Thread: Pimsleur Progress

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    Pimsleur Progress

    Pimsleur I

    I've just completed the first thirty days of the Pimsleur program, while simultaneously working on grammar in textbooks. I thought I'd take a moment to record my thoughts here as I complete each segment.

    First, who I am and what I am doing - I am a theatre student who spent three months in Moscow last spring with minimal (almost zero) Russian backgound. Being there immersed in the theatre culture made me want to return, and begin self-study of the language on my own. I had a tutor in the fall, but now I am on academic leave from grad school to care for my father. I am trying to make up for the tutoring I am missing by doing the Pimsleur program and studying Golosa I and II, the texts used in the first two levels at Middlebury, where I'll be studying this summer.

    So - Pimsleur, Part One. I probably completed the first fifteen lessons last summer, before I got my tutor, and found them very useful for training my tongue to make the proper sounds. Since I am studying alone, I don't have hours of drill, so the patterns of repetition and the thorough approach to learning a very few patterns of speech are very helpful. Although I set the CDs aside in favor of a flesh-and-blood tutor, I did notice that she was very impressed by my pronounciation (calling it "fantastic") - though I assume it was only fantastic in comparisson to the beginning students she met in class.

    The fact that I spent three months listening to Russians in Russia, then two following Russians around over the summer, may have contributed to that, though I can't say I have a natural ear for hearing and reproducing sounds without intensive drilling. If I had, I woukd have learned more easily while I was IN Russia.

    Starting about three weeks ago, I recommensed the Pimsleur 1 program, repeating all the lessons I had done before (lucky, since the program I downloaded online is slightly older than the one I had at school -- more on that later) then moving forward, sometimes doing one, sometimes two per day. I just finished two days ago, and moved on to Pimsleur II.

    The best things about it:

    - Careful and meticulous pronouncation practice. It has helped me train my mouth to make the very different sounds of this language. I pronounce and read other words more easily than I did before, simply because I've had so much drilling. I would predict that by the time I get through 90 days of this, I will be much stronger in pronouciation and better prepared for FORMAL study this summer - at least better than your typical self-study-from-a-book student.

    - Simple, functional scripts. The material has been chosen intelligently, and although the pace is slow, you end up being surprised at how many things you can say and generate with this material. It builds nicely, and by the end of the first thirty days one can say a FEW fairly complex things.

    - The question-response format. Responding to another speaker who is questioning you in Russian (and the tapes use more and more instructions in russian as they advance) does help both with training the ear and the ability to create the appropriate response quickly and without much mental "translating" - this may be almost as useful as the pronounciation practice.

    - Introduction to cases - it isn't taught directly as grammar, but through repetition and recognition. I wouldn't usually agree with this strategy because grammer is so important, but I *do* find that using these recordings in conjunction with textbook study has helped me "feel" what the right cases would be more quickly.

    - Recognition. I listen to music and radio as much as possible, even though my comprehension is low, but it has improved with the use of the Pimsleur tapes.

    Bad Things:

    - The scripts are very consumer-tourist oriented. It leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I am not learning in order to be a better tourist. I don't particularly want to learn how to say "I want to buy something" or "Are the stores open?" - and they wouldn't be my first choices. But then, I feel that way about Golosa too - do I really have to memorize the names of every department in the university before I learn how to say more important things?

    - Some simply stupid phrases. I'm sorry - but "Do you have gas in your car?" "How many rubles per litre?" - I comforted myself by saying that I was drilling the pattern for "У вас в руке / у тебя в кармане" etc, and that could be good to staple into my brain.

    - Prices are out of date. As it is consumer oriented, the tapes deal with buying things in restaurants and stores. The older Pimsleur 1 tapes say wine and beer cost 2000 rubles - whereas a bottle of Baltika beer cost 17 rubles while I was in Moscow. Thus, the tapes spent a lot of time drilling numbers in the thousands when I could perhaps have used more practice with numbers in the hundreds.

    ---
    Observed differences between the older Pimsleur I (which I just completed) and the newer (which I partly listened to last summer):

    The older one concentrates on a simpler construction for saying what one wants - which I assume is less polite. It is, however, easier to say as a complete beginner. Also, there is some difference in word order (if I recall correctly), and choice. So, for example, you would have:

    Older Pimsleur I - Speak and Read Essential Russian I
    Вы хотите пить что-нибудь?
    Да, Я хочу пить кое-что.
    Сколько с меня?

    Newer Pimsleur I
    Вы хотила бы выпить что-нибудь?
    Да, Я хотила бы что-то выпить.
    Сколька я должна?

    Ok - this is just an example pulled from my memory - and the memory of the newer Pimsleur is six or more months old. Can't double check it, but I thought it might be useful to put down.

    Ok, there you have it. My review of the Pimsleur I tapes. If anyone is interested, I'll continue to update this thread as I move through the other two sets.

    demoiselle

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    uno
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    Pimsleur 1 = Beginner Beginner
    Pimsleur 2 = Intermediate Beginner
    Pimsleur 3 = Advanced Beginner

    At the end of this $ 1,000 plus program you are still, well a beginner. That's about all I have to say about Pimsleur. Thank you.

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    Quote Originally Posted by uno
    Pimsleur 1 = Beginner Beginner
    Pimsleur 2 = Intermediate Beginner
    Pimsleur 3 = Advanced Beginner

    At the end of this $ 1,000 plus program you are still, well a beginner. That's about all I have to say about Pimsleur. Thank you.
    I think you miss the point. The post is about suplimenting self study. To take a year or even a term in college would take much more than $1000, and it is possible to get Pimsleur for free, from libraries, used, or for considerably less than what you quote. The amount of material is small, true, but it is better than nothing. Why such a response when I am trying to give useful information? It doesn't seem very constructive.

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    Thanks for the detailed information!

    I never used Pimsleur, I listened to the first 5 minutes and fell asleep... But now I think I should have done it for the "tongue training" thing...

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    uno
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    Quote Originally Posted by demoiselle
    Quote Originally Posted by uno
    Pimsleur 1 = Beginner Beginner
    Pimsleur 2 = Intermediate Beginner
    Pimsleur 3 = Advanced Beginner

    At the end of this $ 1,000 plus program you are still, well a beginner. That's about all I have to say about Pimsleur. Thank you.
    I think you miss the point. The post is about suplimenting self study. To take a year or even a term in college would take much more than $1000, and it is possible to get Pimsleur for free, from libraries, used, or for considerably less than what you quote. The amount of material is small, true, but it is better than nothing. Why such a response when I am trying to give useful information? It doesn't seem very constructive.
    Don't be too mean to me. I am going to see you in real life shortly. Secondly, my being critical about the program is a form of critique and there is something constructive about it. If I had said the following would you have been upset?:

    To me Pimsleur seems to be too simple leaving the introductory student at a still EXTREMELY basic level after completing three levels of instruction and over 45 hours of instruction (that doesn't include the workbook audio).

    I was just trying to add some humor to it. It wasn't a personal attack on you or the beloved people that recorded the Pimsleur audio. Besides, I used Pimsleur myself...

    Oh and by the way, I am talking about legally purchasing Pimsleur. Yes, people can go check out say Pimsleur I and go burn it on their computer (which is illegal) or download it from the internet like you mentioned in a previous post (also illegal).

    Most libraries won't carry pimsleur because it's too expensive and if they do by some chance have Pimsleur Russian it's probably going to be the "teaser" version.

    I live in a big city now, and we have Pimsleur Spanish I and that's it.

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    Don't be too mean to me. I am going to see you in real life shortly. Secondly, my being critical about the program is a form of critique and there is something constructive about it. If I had said the following would you have been upset?:

    To me Pimsleur seems to be too simple leaving the introductory student at a still EXTREMELY basic level after completing three levels of instruction and over 45 hours of instruction (that doesn't include the workbook audio).

    I was just trying to add some humor to it. It wasn't a personal attack on you or the beloved people that recorded the Pimsleur audio. Besides, I used Pimsleur myself...
    Ah, I understand now. I spent a long time thinking out that post trying to help people - and took your response as simply saying it was a waste to even discuss it. I see that you did not mean that, and I apologize for snapping back. I hope you'll forgive - I didn't intend to be mean.

    It is a lot of investiment (assuming that you pay full price for all three programs) to still be a beginner - but I would have prefered being an advanced beginner when I spent those three months in Moscow, than knowing NOTHING even after the classroom time I had received.

    I've been trying so hard to cover enough material this spring to test into Level 3 this summer - but I think I'll be in Level 2. It's difficult to fix so much information into one's head with so many distractions.

    Have you taken the online grammar test yet?

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    Quote Originally Posted by basurero
    Thanks for the detailed information!

    I never used Pimsleur, I listened to the first 5 minutes and fell asleep... But now I think I should have done it for the "tongue training" thing...
    It's rather repetitive isn't it? I hope that I find it has actually BEEN as useful as it seems right now. I'll update y'all after Middlebury.

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    uno
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    Quote Originally Posted by demoiselle
    Quote Originally Posted by basurero
    Thanks for the detailed information!

    I never used Pimsleur, I listened to the first 5 minutes and fell asleep... But now I think I should have done it for the "tongue training" thing...
    It's rather repetitive isn't it? I hope that I find it has actually BEEN as useful as it seems right now. I'll update y'all after Middlebury.
    We'll I'm rather rude on the internet and not like that outside of the internet . You probably won't even be able to figure out who I am in a couple of months. Anyways, sorry!

    Well I have not taken the grammar tests and I'd much rather prefer to delay it as I am studying grammar on my own for a couple hours a day.

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    Well I have done all 3 levels of Pimsleur and I would say that it was more valuable than first year Russian in college, and then some. My pronouciation is better than some third year Russian students i know and that is due mostly to Pimsleur. But i will admit Pimsleur does not teach you a very big vocab......... but that will be up to you anyway, whether you are in college or not.

    My personal opinion is that Pimsleur is ideal for someone who completes the entire course and then wants to move to Russia and learning the language immersion style.
    Let me be a free man, free to travel, free to stop, free to work, free to trade where I choose, free to choose my own teachers, free to follow the religion of my fathers, free to talk, think and act for myself. - Chief Joseph, Nez Perce

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    uno
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    Quote Originally Posted by DDT
    Well I have done all 3 levels of Pimsleur and I would say that it was more valuable than first year Russian in college, and then some. My pronouciation is better than some third year Russian students i know and that is due mostly to Pimsleur. But i will admit Pimsleur does not teach you a very big vocab......... but that will be up to you anyway, whether you are in college or not.

    My personal opinion is that Pimsleur is ideal for someone who completes the entire course and then wants to move to Russia and learning the language immersion style.
    Interesting...
    I must say I am surprised by your comment DDT.

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    I have to agree with DDT and demoiselle.

    Pimsluer is a great stepping stone to begin teaching how to pronouce and listen to basic Russian. It is most advantagous for a self taught speaker as demoiselle and DDT mentioned. The misleading aspect of the program is that it does not offer a larger vocabulary in the Advanced programs.

    I found that after the 92 lessons I could understand and speak simple conversations with native speakers and not get laughed at too much.

    I would recommend it for anyone who does not have the ability to talk with a native speaker or tutor.
    "Having no limitation as your limitation" ~ Bruce Lee

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    Quote Originally Posted by DDT
    Well I have done all 3 levels of Pimsleur and I would say that it was more valuable than first year Russian in college, and then some. My pronouciation is better than some third year Russian students i know and that is due mostly to Pimsleur. But i will admit Pimsleur does not teach you a very big vocab......... but that will be up to you anyway, whether you are in college or not.

    My personal opinion is that Pimsleur is ideal for someone who completes the entire course and then wants to move to Russia and learning the language immersion style.
    I am hoping this is the case. I had five years of french, and I can read resonably well but cannot speak/generate language very easily (though I have an excuse - I haven't had a chance to use it except reading for 8 years). While I was in Russia, when I actually tried to use the few phrases I knew, my pronunciation was so awful that whomever I was speaking to -- however little English they knew -- would ask me to speak English instead.

    Having a strong reading ability in French is good enough for me, since I don't intend to live in France any time soon. But if I'm going to be living there, I'd rather have a very small functional vocabulary than a very large one that only gets me through the newspaper or books, but not to discussion of them, or living.

    I'd like to be able to pronounce well enough to be understood.

    And have you ever noticed how people tend to falsely equate pronounciation with fluency? If you pronounce well, even with a small vocabulary, people tend to be impressed. Funny.

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    I read the Pimsleur site. They claim they can teach you Russian faster than a Russian child learns it.

    But anyway. With books and other stuff they are good. But on their own they only have a limited use. They are good to help pronunciation, but not the one-stop-shop they claim to be.
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    Quote Originally Posted by TATY
    I read the Pimsleur site. They claim they can teach you Russian faster than a Russian child learns it.

    But anyway. With books and other stuff they are good. But on their own they only have a limited use. They are good to help pronunciation, but not the one-stop-shop they claim to be.
    LOL, if you start the clock running at birth - in three months you will speak far more Russian than a three month old Russian baby.

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    DDT
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    The problem with Pimsleur is that it is such a short course. It is impossible to be fluent after such a shout course. But i can say that if Pinsleur program continued on with hundreds more of CD's I would continue to use them. As I have said somewhere before, Pimsleur is like taking a cab to a nightclub but before getting there the driver dumps you out on the street in a bad part of town.
    Let me be a free man, free to travel, free to stop, free to work, free to trade where I choose, free to choose my own teachers, free to follow the religion of my fathers, free to talk, think and act for myself. - Chief Joseph, Nez Perce

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    Quote Originally Posted by DDT
    The problem with Pimsleur is that it is such a short course. It is impossible to be fluent after such a shout course. But i can say that if Pinsleur program continued on with hundreds more of CD's I would continue to use them. As I have said somewhere before, Pimsleur is like taking a cab to a nightclub but before getting there the driver dumps you out on the street in a bad part of town.
    I have wondered what it would be like to learn a language orally and get to a really good standard and then have to learn the write it. I wonder how easy / difficult it would be.

    The Pimsleur site pretty much the first lesson of every course online.

    I just wonder when you learn things like

    Я живу в Англии

    If they explain that Англии is a declined form of the noun. And that Англии by itself doesn't mean England.
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    Quote Originally Posted by DDT
    The problem with Pimsleur is that it is such a short course. It is impossible to be fluent after such a shout course. But i can say that if Pinsleur program continued on with hundreds more of CD's I would continue to use them. As I have said somewhere before, Pimsleur is like taking a cab to a nightclub but before getting there the driver dumps you out on the street in a bad part of town.
    I can imagine after 90 days of work you might feel a wee bit of withdrawl once its all over, too!

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    Quote Originally Posted by TATY

    I just wonder when you learn things like

    Я живу в Англии

    If they explain that Англии is a declined form of the noun. And that Англии by itself doesn't mean England.
    Мы живём в Америке. Мы живём в России. Мы живём в Москве. - All these are covered within the first 20 lessons of Pimsleur 1. They do some amount of grammar explanation. Early one, you memorize "in the restaurant" and the narrator explains that the "в" and "е" are what makes it "in the restaurant" instead of "the restaurant." He points out the similar ending changes for countries and cities. However, it isn't an intensive grammar lesson. More like "tips" and then practice speaking the different phrases.

    And they concentrate on their intended audience. They don't make you learn "I live in France" because they suppose their audience is American - so they give you "I live in America" and "I live in Russia." Maybe more nationalities will come later.

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    I think 90 lessons in 90 days is too fast. I think it is better to repeat the same lesson for about 4 days or so.

    The case endings are learnt but they don't tell you the name of the case you are using but if you are using a textbook aswell and you should be, then you will know what case you are in.
    Let me be a free man, free to travel, free to stop, free to work, free to trade where I choose, free to choose my own teachers, free to follow the religion of my fathers, free to talk, think and act for myself. - Chief Joseph, Nez Perce

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    I like the Pimsleur Russian Language program. I must be a very slow learner, but I spend a week on each lesson, listening to it over and over again until I understand 100% and can say everything in the lesson. The cost is very prohibitive, but I downloaded all of Level l, and have now purchased all Levels ll and lll through e-bay for $41 (the local and state library system did not have them). Combined with the on-line Princeton lessons, my Dictionary, and a couple other books I have, I'm happy with my progress. I "sat in" on a first year Russian language course for 8 weeks while recovering from some surgery, they used Goloca. I think the Goloca books teach a great deal of grammar, but not a lot of vocabulary (check out the size of their dictionary in the back of the books. I also have and like "Learn Russian the Fast and Fun Way" by Thomas Beyer, Jr. PhD. It's a good supplemental tool for me. I am both the Teacher and the Student; the student thinks the teacher knows nothing, and the teacher thinks the student is too lazy!
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