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Which is Cheaper? Pimsleur or Language Lessons?

A Pimsleur course is cheaper than you may think.


One thing that keeps people from buying Pimsleur courses is the price.† It is true that Pimsleur courses cost a lot more than its bookstore competitors such as LivingLanguage, Barron's, or Rosetta Stone language systems.† Is Pimsleur really worth the money?† Letís compare Pimsleur with three popular alternatives

Private Lessons

I saw and advertisement for a private Chinese language tutor on my local university bulletin board for $25 per hour.† There was an English conversationalist charging the same amount of money for the same service (although that seemed a bit overpriced).† What is the price per hour for a Pimsleur comprehensive set at Cateeís Language World?† Since each Comprehensive set comes with 16 hours of turbo charged lessons, the cost comes down to less than $11 per hour.† Thatís almost half the cost of a language tutor.† And unlike a language tutor, you can practice with your Pimsleur conversation partners again and again!† They will never get tired of you, will practice with you day or night, and are always in a good mood.

College Course

The price of a college course varies with the college, ranging from hundreds of dollars at community colleges to thousands of dollars at private universities.† To get a rough estimate, letís use my local college -- Cleveland State University.† A three credit hour Spanish course will cost you $918 (not including the lab fee).† This course meets one hour, 3 times a week, for about 15 weeks.† A total of 45 hours of instruction per semester.† The price: about $20 per hour.† Of course, some of you will protest by saying that Pimsleur does not teach reading and writing skills like college courses, and I must agree.† The comparison is not completely fair.† But how much attention are you getting from the professor during those 45 hours when each professor has 20 students to teach?† Iíll also let you in on a little secret -- many universities actually use Pimsleur in their language labs...

Immersion Course

For our final comparison, there are language immersion courses.† I imagine few people have actually had the luxury of attending one of these affairs.† Imagine paying thousands of dollars for an international plane ticket, and then also having to pay for food and accommodations while there.† Obviously, this type of language learning is on a whole different level, and a lot more expensive in time and money than many of those reading this article can afford.† Itís impossible to calculate the price per hour, but needless to say, itís expensive and only for the most dedicated.† I canít deny that it may be a better deal than Pimsleur.

Comparing the Numbers

Ding ding ding!† Letís compare the final tally!


Pimsleur: $11 / hour

College course: $20 / hour

Private tutor: $25 / hour (plus or minus $10 per hour)

Immersion course: Price per hour not calculable


So in the end, we find that Pimsleur language courses are a pretty good deal (except for the immersion course, which is unavailable to many).† The price per hour of language instruction is less than that of college courses or private tutoring.† We have not even compared the effectiveness of these courses, and in that contest, Iím still going to put my money on Pimsleur.

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"Just purchased and downloaded Pimsleur's Spanish II, III, and IV...not to mention French II and III. Needless to say the pocketbook is running low! The first units of French and Spanish so impressed me that I had to go on with the series. Your easy download service is simply wonderful, especially for those buyers who just have it right now! I strongly recommend your service to others interested in linguistics." -J. Casey
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