Plimseur Approach Overview.
Primseur is a unique method of learning languages, developed by Paul Plimseur, the applied linguistics scholar. The approach is based on the audio material allowing people to master 30 languages, and is claimed to make anyone reach conversational fluency of the language studied in only 10 days. At least so says the commercial of the product.
In order to achieve this magnificent result, all you have to do is only sit back and listen to the recorded audio teaching course while you’re driving, doing exercises or just relax in your leisure time. The Plimseur Approach doesn’t contemplate reading textbooks, writing or long boring lectures on grammar, for that reason the company’s website without vanity calls it “the best language learning products in the world”. But can the product really live up to its marketing promises? To find an answer it’s necessary first to take a closer look at the details of the offered method.
What Does the Plimseur Approach Offer?
According to the Plimseur Approach website, every language has 4 levels of study. By ordering the course, each customer receives 4 CDs that contain overall 8 lessons of the language with the material oriented on 15-45 hours of learning material, depending on the particular language. All the recordings are made by the native speakers, which helps people build up the correct pronunciation and communication skills.
Every lesson is encouraged to complete during one day. It lasts 30 minutes and is organized as dialogue between two people, after which the learner is challenged to say a particular word or phrase in the target language, and in a few seconds the native speaker says the correct answer. Therefore the lessons are based on the so called “space repetitions”, when the listener is constantly repeating the words and phrases that helps memorizing the whole material by end of the lesson. As a learner proceeds with the next lessons, the material is getting gradually more and more complex, making the student able to naturally make up short sentences and conversations.
The target of the teaching course’s developers is to supply the learner with the everyday conversational language instead of more traditional academic way of studying that is practiced in most of the classrooms. The idea is very simple: they prefer not to overwhelm their students with information that usually slows down the learning process, providing instead the most frequently used vocabulary of the target language that is enough for the basic conversation topics.
The Plimseur Methods.
The teaching course is built up on four main methods. They are:
- “Graduated Interval Recall” (or “memory schedule”). To make learners memorize the material same words and phrases are constantly repeated not only during the lesson they were introduced in, but throughout the whole course, so that students recall the learnt material within particular intervals of study, which makes it retain in memory for a long time.
- Core Vocabulary . As mentioned previously, the students are encouraged to learn the most frequently used words and phrases of the target language used in daily life.
- Organic Learning . This method implies the introduction of the target language in the way that children learn their native one by listening to what the relatives and other adults say. The knowledge of grammar according to this method comes naturally with time, one first learns the words, then phrases as they are used in a particular context of conversation, then a person starts compiling simple sentences, and finally realizes how the language is organized structurally and understands grammar, just like a toddler who learns to speak. This method was initially discovered by Paul Plimseur, a scholar in Applied Linguistics in the 1950s - 1960s, and though at that time it was considered revolutionary, it’s hardly been improved or somehow elaborated till today.
- The Principle of Anticipation . The students are challenged not simply repeating after the native speaker, but trying to pronounce the word first, and then get corrected by the native speaker. At first it seems the same, however this method encourages more independent thought.
Applying these four methods together, it seems the Plimseur Approach has indeed picked out the most essential scientific principles for learning foreign languages, and the tem of 10 days doesn’t look so doubtful now. However, looking over the reviews of the Plimseur Approach, written by its users, as well as the comparison of it with the other alternative language learning systems, the impression changes.
The reviews about the service are very different. People note both strong and weak points of the Plimseur Approach.
For instance, the review from Fluent In 3 Months website claims the teaching course is on the top of the best and the worst language learning systems. It lists the advantages of hearing the correct pronunciation of the native speakers, the repetition of the material from the previous lessons, and a unique way to memorize the long words by the backwards method (students pronounce the word by syllables starting from the last one and moving to front; after what the word is repeated in natural way). Nevertheless, the vocabulary is very limited in context, and often listeners learn the words they wouldn’t study if they could choose, and miss the words they would be willing to learn. This occurs because the method of Plimseur was developed around 50 years ago for the contemporary users and their needs, but it hasn’t been changed within time, while people and society have.
Another review from Languageholic also affirmed the ability to greatly improve the pronunciation and get the basic knowledge of the target language enough to use for short daily conversations. But, again the narrow context and the absence of writing and learning of language structure in the process of studying are claimed to somewhat lower the effectiveness of the service.
The reviews from the Plimseur Approach users also vary in estimation. According to Amazon, people evaluate the teaching course positive, but there are many complaints on the service as well, lowering the rating to 3-4.5 stars on the website. Most of the customers criticize the dull material, deceitful marketing promises, and especially prices.
Prices and Refunds.
According to the Plimseur Approach website there is a special offer of the 30 days trial of the product costing $9.95. The user is also recommended to sign up for the Pimsleur Rapid Fluency Purchase Program; however there is no information on what this program precisely on the front page. One has to search over the site a little to find out there are additional costs. Turns out, after the trial ends up, you get automatically involved with the Pimsleur Rapid Fluency Purchase Program that will charge additional $64 for each next level of the course. Some users even claimed in their reviews the company continued charging money and sending the CDs after they cancelled the orders.
Those who are sure they want to get the complete set of lessons can pay for all 4 levels of the teaching course, each costing $64 (i.e. overall $256).
The company guarantees free shipping, and refund in the case the user inquired it within 30 days from making an order, and kept the CDs in the excellent condition. The site also provides the RMA number of the customers’ service 877-802-5283.
One more important detail: if you want to stop using the servic, you are supposed to call the customers’ service and cancel the future shipments in advance. The materials you send back for the refund must be shipped within 10 days, otherwise you’ll have to pay the 25% restocking fee.
The Bottom Line. Does Plimseur Approach live up to its Marketing Promises?
The service is a unique method of studying foreign languages, developed by the linguist, and applying effective methods to the learning process. In fact the website claims it’s so effective that the course is used by FBI instead of 2009 FBI contract, but they don’t give any solid proof of it.
The course has been created half a century ago, and now needs a few changes to make it more authentic. Furthermore, the lessons are audio-based that allows to learn the perfect pronunciation from the native speakers, but lefts out reading, writing, and grammar study without learning which any gained knowledge would stay at average level. Besides the vocabulary learnt in this way stays very limited by narrow context and sometimes can be considered too formal when talking to the native speakers.
The advertisement of the product makes people believe they can learn foreign language within 10 days, however it’s very individual thing; it depends on time that a person can dedicate to learning, and ability of a person to learn languages. The well known PLAB test, indicating this ability, by the way, had also been invented by Paul Plimseur, so promising great results in only 10 days for everybody is a marketing tool that actually contradicts the author of the method they advertise! With the high prices, many cheaper alternatives of the service existing, and complaints of the users it’s obvious the product doesn’t live up to the commercials.