Amanda is a language enthusiast and a linguistics major at Brigham Young University. She is a lover of all things Russian!
Oh Yes, Pimsleur Is Where It's At!
Even though a visual aid can help us make that connection in our brain between an object and its name, the truth is that most of us learned by sound growing up. Hearing certain noises, stringing them into patterns and then connecting those noises to an object or action is a great way to retain language.
We've all heard someone speaking English with a Slavic Accent. It's intriguing, there are so many questions that pop into our heads attached to the sound of that accent (I mostly blame Hollywood for this.) But mainly, I think we can all agree, it sounds very interesting. Imagine being able to actually speak the language from which such an accent is derived! To be able to interact with the people who are native to these sounds and have them be surprised at your ability to speak it too!
Audio Vs. Visual Aid
Based on my own experience, I have noticed that even though visual aids can be helpful in connecting an object with a word, it can somehow lack impact and be a tad overwhelming. At times, it can even be easy to ignore or forget what we've just seen. There is a reason we learn our very first language through hearing. So, if it's effective at such a young age (when we're toddlers) why not follow the same pattern as adults? Visuals can't be ignored, they help us learn as well, but in the battle between visual programs versus programs that rely on visual aids, I recommend audio programs.
Additionally, Pimsleur asks you to imagine things as you go while they describe various scenarios, people, and real places and very relevant subjects of conversational use. But because you're hearing it, it's easy to imagine real concepts as opposed to connecting a specific image to a word. That's not all Pimsleur offers, it is a very engaging program, and as such it will keep you talking and thinking out loud. You will be surprised at how fast and how easy you are able to understand and reply to the questions asked in the lesson. You can count on being able to understand and say meaningful phrases in a matter of days.
One of the most amazing feats of Pimsleur is that it not only helps you speak and understand a language, but it's method is focused on helping you speak like a native speaker! When Doctor Paul Pimsleur, an applied Linguistics scholar, first took to language learning methods, he was very frustrated with the learning methods of the time. After many years of corporate acquisitions Simon & Schuster have, in my opinion, done a great service of honoring Dr. Pimsleur's effective system.
How Difficult Is It to Learn a New Language?
Learning the second language is the hardest. After that, it appears that the brain has mapped neural pathways that would make it easier to add a third, a fourth and so on. There has also been proof that learning a language is easier if you're still a child, however, learning a new language as an adult, despite it's challenges, has many benefits. According to a study done in 2014, it can help slow the decline of the brain and even hold back dementia! Personally, I believe it's a journey worth taking.
Cyrillic Alphabet Bonus
Pimsleur will also provide a comprehensive understanding of the alphabet used in Russian. There will be the letter accompanied by the sound and a comparison to it's equivalent sound in English. All the while this reading exercises are to be paired with the available audio. Truly the design of this program is genius. Additionally, the meaning of the words may be added to the bundle, thus expanding your vocabulary!
Overall Experience With Pimsleur
Pimsleur has never let me down. Back in college, I only had access to their demo, and I was able to trick a Russian friend into questioning whether I truly knew Russian because I sounded too native! They have multiple formats, the one I have used is the audio CD's, but they also have an application where you can purchase a monthly subscription. Their catalogue offers 59 languages already! Don't wait any longer, jump on the Pimsleur train! I highly recommend it.
Stephanie Rosenbloom 10 Paths to a More Fluent Vacation The New York Times, 2012 - https://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/29/travel/paths-to-a-more-fluent-vacation.html
Emily Petsko This is Why It's So Hard to Learn a Second Language as an Adult, Mental Floss.com 2018 - https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/544563/why-its-so-hard-learn-second-language-adult
Pimsleur? What's he's got to do with communicative 2.0? Language Learning with New Media and Videogames - http://www.lingualgamers.com/thesis/why_pimsleur.html