I firmly believe that every person should know how to speak at least two languages – their native language and one other. The second one could be something that you feel would come in handy for work or for travel, or it could be one that you simply want to learn. In this increasingly globalized society, not knowing more than one language can limit your opportunities. That is why I am determined to learn another language. When I was offered the opportunity to try out the Pimsleur approcah to language learning, I jumped all over it. The language: Italian. Imagine, being able to visit Italy and speak to someone there in their native tongue. At least conversationally. That would be amazing!
This audio program was devloped by linguistic expert, Paul Pimsleur and has been teaching countless people to speak other languages since 1963. If it’s good enough for Harvard and the FBI, I figure it’s good enough for me.
This course is very straightforward. It doesn’t include any workbooks that you have to write in and you don’t have to spend 2 hours a day trying to learn. You just pop the cd into your cd player, listen, and respond. The first thing you will listen to is an explanation of the program and how it uses four proven principles to teach you how to speak Italian conversationally.
The Four 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.
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.
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.
I actually really like this method of learning a new language. All I have to do is dedicate 30 minutes to listening to the lesson and repeating that lesson until I feel confident with understanding and using the vocabulary. While there is not an official workbook, the course does come with a downloadable reading booklet and owner’s manual should you want to see the words written down. As long as you are able to listen and respond to directions, you can learn how to speak Italian with this program. I’d definitely like to get the next level of the course.
I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.