Pimsleur Method Russian Lessons

About as painless a way as is humanly possible to learn a foreign language. It has worked for us and we highly recommend this if you'd like to acquire some Russian language proficiency.


If you've ever struggled through trying to learn a foreign language the traditional way - in a classroom, with a textbook, as part of a group of students, and with a teacher up front, then you probably think that learning a foreign language is very difficult. I used to feel the same way (after four years of high school French - a gruelling form of torture that left me extremely ill-equipped the first time I ever found myself in France!).

It is hardly a surprise that learning a foreign language the "traditional" way is so difficult, because it is so artificial. This is not how we learned English as a young child. We learned English by listening, by repeating, by making mistakes, by being corrected, in a "one on one" situation with our parents. The Pimsleur programs are about as close a recreation of this natural learning experience as exists, short of returning to our childhood and starting all over again!

Dr Paul Pimsleur based his learning system both on the way that we all learn language naturally, and on the latest discoveries in memory learning techniques. Did you know that there are two different types of memory - short term and long term memory? When we first learn something, it goes into our short term memory, and it is only after continued use and repetition that this thing moves forward into the long term memory. Something in your short term memory can be forgotten again, but once it is locked into your long term memory, it will be remembered for a long time. The Pimsleur Program uses the appropriate techniques to painlessly and automatically move your new language skills first into short term memory, and then from there to long term memory.

If you've ever found yourself losing interest and concentration on something, you'll surely know that there is a limit to how much information you can absorb in a single session. This too is designed into these lessons, which run a carefully structured 30 minutes each - which represents the most productive period of concentrated learning that most people are capable of.

There are currently three Russian language cassette programs offered in this series.

Introduction to Russian

This is an introductory set of eight 30 minute lessons, contained on four cassettes. After only 8 lessons and 4 hours, you'll know a surprising amount of basic Russian, and, better still, you will be able to understand Russian phrases when they are spoken to you by native Russian speakers. Priced at only $25.00 this is a great way to decide if learning Russian the Pimsleur way is for you or not.

Speak and Read Essential Russian 1

This is the main program for most people. It comprises a set of thirty 30 minute lessons, contained on 15 cassettes, plus has an additional cassette to help you with reading skills. After fifteen hours of lessons, you'll be capable of simple interactions and conversations with native Russian speakers on a variety of subjects. Although the Pimsleur people suggest you can work through these lessons at a pace of one a day, we suggest that you allow closer to two days for each lesson (allowing yourself time for review and revision!). You'll know more Russian after fifteen hours of this program than most people would know after a year of schooling! This complete course is priced at $345 - perhaps making it more appropriate for people with a serious interest in the language. Expensive - yes, but perhaps the start of a whole new hobby and interest for you, and requiring much less time and money than a traditional language program. Pimsleur guarantee that you will be able to communicate in Russian at an "Intermediate Low" level upon completing this course.

Speak and Read Essential Russian 2

This follows on from their Speak and Read Essential Russian 1 program, and is another thirty 30 minute lessons on 15 tapes, plus an additional cassette to enhance your reading skills. Priced at the same $345 as the first thirty lesson course, Pimsleur guarantee that you will attain an "Intermediate Mid" level of proficiency upon completing this course.

Speak and Read Essential Russian 3

As the name implies, this is the third in their three part series with another 30 lessons that is claimed to take your Russian language skills up to an "Intermediate High" level of proficiency.

Pimsleur's Five Unconditional Guarantees

All 30 lesson unit Pimsleur language courses are sold under these unique guarantees :

  1. A specific spoken language proficiency guarantee (based upon the results the user has achieved after completing the program as specified).
  2. A replacement guarantee (at no charge) on any defective cassette.
  3. A replacement guarantee (at $30 per cassette) on any cassette you lose or damage.
  4. An upgrade guarantee. Pimsleur guarantees an upgrade exchange on any course they republish in a new version within three years of publishing the initial version. They will exchange your current version for the new version at an upgrade charge of only $50 plus shipping.
  5. An exchange guarantee. Purchasers of Pimsleur courses are guaranteed an exchange of an unopened, unused course for any other Pimsleur language course, in the event of a change in travel plans. The exchange will be on the basis of equivalent dollars.

Spoken Language Proficiency Rating

The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) has developed a four level proficiency scale for knowledge of a foreign language. Typically each level is divided into three grades - low, mid and high.

A novice has no functional ability; their speech is limited to memorised material.
Intermediate speakers can create with language, ask and answer simple questions on familiar topics, and handle a simple situation or transaction.
An advanced speaker can narrate and describe in past, present and future time/aspect, and handle a complicated situation or transaction.
A superior speaker can support opinion, hypothesize, discuss abstract topics, and handle a linguistically unfamiliar situation.
Native speakers possess the possibility of 100% functional language use. They have cultural knowledge and an expanded vocabulary.


Comments? Suggestions? Send mail to David Rowell dr1@rossia.com .