Brush Up on Your Rusty World Language

As a student of applied linguistics, I often find myself in the language learning section of our collection. Here at AADL, we have a variety of language learning tools, which employ books, CDs, DVDs, or a combination of these. I have always learned languages in the classroom or by immersion, so I was intrigued by the audio-only courses. I wondered: how well could you learn a language in your car, by yourself? I investigated with the Pimsleur courses.

I have had a fair amount of exposure to Egyptian Arabic, and that Pimsleur course was just what I needed to dust off my basic conversation skills. Every language learner is different, but I personally had less success with the Mandarin Chinese course. The reason for that, I believe, is that I have no experience whatsoever with that language. I lacked basic knowledge of the writing and sound system, which I have in Arabic. I found myself wanting more context and visual input as I listened to the Mandarin lessons. Auditory learners may have more success at learning a totally new language with this method than I did, being a visual learner.

I think anyone with at least some rudimentary knowledge of a language, however, could be successful with the Pimsleur courses. I would recommend it to anyone who needs to refresh their memory of a language once learned, and has some time to kill in the car.


Pimsleur courses are great! I listen to their Russian CDs in my car all the time. I too have already studied the language and agree that someone with no basic skills would probably have a hard time keeping up with their fast pace and lack of written materials - but for people who need to brush up on previous knowledge, Pimsleur is a wonderful resource.

Thanks for this information! I've been looking for a good resource to brush up on my French. Pimsleur courses sound like they might be just the thing.