Pimsleur Instructions

From the Pimsleur instruction booklet.


To get the full benefit of each lesson, choose a quiet place where you can practice without interruption and a time of day when your mind is most alert and your body least fatigued.


The length of each lesson, just under 30 minutes, is that recommended by teaching specialists for a concentrated learning task. Once you’ve started the program, simply follow the tutor’s instructions. The most important instruction is to respond aloud when the tutor tells you to do so.  There will be a pause after this instruction, giving you time to reply. It is essential to your progress that you speak out in a normal conversational voice when asked to respond. Your active participation in thinking and speaking is required for your success in mastering this course. 


The simple test for mastery is whether you are able to respond quickly and accurately when your tutor asks a question. If you are responding correctly about 80% of the time, then you’re ready to proceed to the next lesson. It is important to keep moving forward, and also not to set unreasonable standards perfection that will keep you from progressing, which is why we recommend using the 80% figure as a guide.


You will notice each lesson contains both new and familiar material, and just when you may be worrying about forgetting something, you will conveniently be reminded of it.  Another helpful feature of the Pimsleur Language Program is its rate of of “saturation.”  You will be responding many times in the half hour.  This saturation enables you to make substantial progress within a short period of time.




Complete the lesson units and strict consecutive order (don’t skip around), doing no more than one lesson unit per day, although the lesson unit for the day may be repeated more than once. Daily contact with the language is critical to successful learning.

Listen carefully to each lesson unit. Always follow the directions of the instructor.

Speak out loud when directed by the tutor and answer questions within the pauses provided. It is not enough to just silently “think” of the answer to the question asked. You need to speak the answer out loud to set up a “circuit” of the language you are learning to speak so that it is heard and identified through your ears, to to help establish the “sounds” of the target language. Do this prior to hearing the confirmation, which is provided as reinforcement, as well as additional speech training.

Do all required activities according to instructions, without reference to any outside persons, book, or course.

Do not have a paper and pen nearby during the lessons, and do not refer to dictionaries or other books. The Pimsleur method works with the language-learning portion of your brain, requiring language to be processed in its spoken form. Not only will you interrupt the learning process if you attempt to write the words that you hear, but you will also begin to speak the target language with an American accent. This is because the “sounds” represented by the American letters are different from the same-looking letters from the foreign language. 

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