Intro

Pimsleur French Product ImageDo you want to learn French, but can’t decide which program suits you best? I have spent a good portion of my life studying language and have used all of the major language courses, including Pimsleur French. So I decided to build this site to show you the ins and outs of each system before you buy.

I’ve studied French for 7 years and much of that has been spent with the classic Pimsleur audio programs. With Pimsleur Unlimited they have added a series of software tools that build on these same core audio lessons. Let me walk you through the specifics of their program and teaching method in the full Pimsleur French review below.


Features

Here are the key features of Pimsleur Unlimited French:

  • Audio lessons were developed by the linguist Dr. Paul Pimsleur and employ his scientifically-designed, time-tested teaching method
  • Downloadable MP3s of all 30 core audio lessons
  • Supplemental exercises for reading and speaking that correlate with the audio lesson
  • Review exercises
  • Live chat sessions to discuss cultural topics


Screenshots

Pimsleur French NavigationPimsleur French Reading


FAQ

Q: If I don’t like it, can I get a refund?
A: They offer a free trial audio lesson, but if you want a refund after purchase you will need to complete all 30 lessons and then fail a proficiency test that they provide. It’s not the most buyer-friendly policy, but I suppose that it’s fair.

Q: How long does each lesson take?
A: The audio lessons are each 30 minutes long. The reading and speaking sections each take an additional 10 minutes and then another 20 minutes for the review exercises. So in total it is about 60-70 minutes per lesson. The Pimsleur method recommends no more than one lesson per day.

Q: What are the technical requirements?

A: For all computers:

  • Minimum 1GB RAM
  • Minimum 10GB free disk space
  • Minimum 1024 x 768 display resolution
  • DVD drive and internet access for installation
  • Headset or built-in microphone for chat sessions
Windows:
  • PC with 2.33GHz or faster Intel or AMD processor
  • Microsoft® Windows® XP Home, Professional, with Service Pack 3
  • Windows Vista® Home Premium, Business or Ultimate, with Service Pack 2
  • Windows® 7 Home Premium, Business or Ultimate
Mac:
  • Mac with Intel Core™ Duo or faster processor
  • Mac OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard) or 10.7 (Lion)

Still have questions? Ask them in the comments below.


Properties

French Lessons
Overall Rating

Using a weighted rating algorithm based on 31 different criteria, this is the rating for the program as a whole.

80.9/100 Rating
Rating: 80.9%
Ranked #1

Every product has it's strengths. Choose a product whose strengths match your priorities.

Learning on the go
Price

This is the price for the recommended version of the product.

$150
Value for Price

A program may not be the absolute best, but if the price is relatively low it will offer much better value for the price.

84.0/100 Rating
Value for Price: 84.0%
Guarantee

The number of days of the guarantee period. During this time you can return the product for a full refund if desired.

90 Days
Lesson Format

How is the material accessed: Mac/PC, online, and/or mobile.

Audio & Flash Cards
Levels Available

Number of levels produced by the company. Typically these can be purchased individually or packaged together for a discount.

3
Delivery

How quickly the product will arrive.

1 - 5 Days
Lifetime Access

Is it a limited online subscription period?

24/7 Access

Is this program available at any time of day?

Educational Help

Is there a support forum where I can ask questions about grammar and vocabulary?

Technical Help

Do they have a dedicated team to solve any technical issues that might arise?

Visit Site

The site where you can purchase the recommended version of the product.

What's Included

What is in the box or what will be available online.

15 hours of MP3 audio lessons, 15 reading lessons, 300+ digital flash cards, Live tutoring sessions with Pimsleur Ambassadors
Lesson Length

How long does each lesson last? How much extra time will I need to devote to studying the material between lessons?

30 minutes for audio, additional 30 for reading and flashcards
Lessons/Level

How many lessons are there in total for each level of the program?

30 audio, 15 reading
Education

This rating is based on the criteria of: reading, writing, speaking, listening, vocabulary etc...

86.9/100 Rating
Educational Quality: 86.9%
Interface

This rating is based on the criteria of: aesthetics, layout/flow, and production quality.

85.0/100 Rating
Interface Quality: 85.0%
Live Tutoring

Will I have the opportunity to practice with a native speaker as part of the program?

Downloadable

These are supplemental materials that can be downloaded as desired.

Games

Are there fun supplemental opportunities to practice the material?

Vocab Builder

Is there a tool for reviewing vocab outside of the standard lessons?

Quizzes

You can use these to check if you really absorbed the content of each lesson.

Track Progress

This will tell you where you are in each lesson and how close you are to completion of the course.

Certification

When I finish the program, is there a certificate that I can show to others as proof of my proficiency?

Bonus Materials

What materials are available outside of the core lessons?

n/a
User Experience

This rating is based on the criteria of: aesthetics, layout/flow, and production quality.

86.8/100 Rating
User Experience: 86.8%
Best Deal

We do not sell guitar lessons; we are a free guitar lessons review service. This link goes to Pimsleur Unlimited French

Full Review

Summary

Rating: 80.9/100. Based on the linguistic research of Dr. Paul Pimsleur, these audio recordings have led the industry for decades. They still deserve recognition as such, but the tacked-on software comes up short when compared to other products on the market.

Pros:

– Audio lessons are perfect for commuters
– The Pimsleur method reviews material according to a specific timing pattern for optimum retention
– Decent price ($150)

Cons:

– Requires internet connection for software to function
– Marginally useful software doesn’t add a ton of value to the audio lessons

User Experience

Let me take you through the software first, then the audio. For general design, Pimsleur Unlimited looks quite nice. It has a big, beautiful photo to serve as the background for your French studies. At the bottom of this photo are three tabs which outline the learning process:

1. Learn: audio, reading, and speaking
2. Review: flash cards and matching
3. Engage: live chat sessions

Pimsleur Navigation

Everything works smoothly and is laid out in a logical manner, though if you don’t have an internet connection you’ll only have access to the audio lesson. I imagine they did this to cut down on piracy, but it’s a strange effort considering that the audio components are the most valuable part.

However, they do give you complete flexibility with the audio, so you can save those files as unrestricted MP3s and take them with you on your mobile device. The ability to have a high-quality core lesson in audio-only format makes this the best product for commuters. Rosetta Stone also offers mobile apps that replicate it’s standard interface, but if I’m driving or getting jostled in the subway, audio is the only format that works in these circumstances.

Educational Value

Within the Learning section are three components: Audio Lesson, Reading Lesson, and Speak Easy. The core audio lessons use the same recordings that have made Pimsleur products famous. In his research, Dr. Paul Pimsleur focused on language acquisition and specifically, the process by which people naturally retain language. What this means for you is that each of the audio lessons will introduce some new words or phrases, repeat them a few times, and then ask you to repeat while trying to match the pronunciation of the native speaker.

As the lesson progresses you will revisit these words with more time in between each time. There will also be less review of the translation each time until you have internalized the word or phrase. This decreasing frequency also spans across lessons so that when you start the next lesson on the following day, you will review the previous day’s vocabulary to ensure retention. Occasional returns to the vocabulary will continue throughout the entire course as you use old words in conjunction with new ones.

The reading lessons take the key words and phrases of the audio lesson and combine them with text so that you can see the text as you listen to it. I find that having the audio lesson first, without the text, allows me to focus on listening and pronunciation. Then, when the reading lesson comes, seeing the text cements the word in my memory.

Pimsleur Unlimited French Reading

The last portion, Speak Easy, will play the phrase and then ask you to repeat it at the same speed as the native speaker. The bar below the phrase will move to pace you through the phrase. However, it won’t tell you if you matched the pronunciation, nor does it allow you to record yourself so that you can compare it with the native speaker. The ability to compare recordings is what really matters so the Speak Easy tool is only moderately useful.

Pimsleur Unlimited Speak Easy

After you finish with Speak Easy and the Learn section, you will then proceed to the Review section for flash cards and matching exercises. These tools do help to review the material, but they’re not really on the same level of pedagogical innovation as the audio lessons designed by Dr. Pimsleur. I have similar feelings about the Engage live chat sessions. These sessions are an opportunity to discuss a cultural topic with an instructor, but they are offered on a very limited basis. So yes, they offer live sessions, but they’re not an integral part of the software and can’t really be compared to the Rosetta Stone sessions.

In fairness, there is nothing technically wrong with the Review and Engage portions and they do add value to the audio offering. I just want to make it clear that the audio lessons are the main attraction and the computer-based exercises are more supplemental than essential elements.

Is Pimsleur Unlimited French for You?

The real determining factor is where you want to study. If you lead a busy life and would like to learn French on your way to and from work, then Pimsleur French is the best product for you. I’ve used various audio courses as a commuter and I can say that Pimsleur offers the finest audio language courses available. The computer exercises will help you to review what you learn in the audio lessons, but don’t expect a captivating experience. They are there simply to augment the highly-effective audio lessons. But if you are more interested in an at-home, computer-based learning experience, I recommend you check out either Fluenz French or Rocket French.

Conclusion to my Pimsleur Unlimited French Review

I hope you enjoyed my review of the Pimsleur Unlimited French program and that this has helped you figure out if it’s right for you.

Still not sure? Have a question about Pimsleur’s programs? Leave a comment below. I’d love to hear from you!



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