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Spanish Learning Strategy Questions

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 Message 1 of 3
21 May 2020 at 5:41am | IP Logged 

I have the complete Pimsleur series for learning Spanish. Are there any books that I should have to learn the language fluently, or should the Pimsleur recordings be all that is necessary?



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Studies: German

 Message 2 of 3
22 May 2020 at 5:31pm | IP Logged 
!Hola, Dan!

Replacement Forum
You might wish to know that, owing to recurring technical and administrative issues which had rendered the regular maintenance of this forum a very difficult task, a replacement forum was launched in July 2015 as: A Language Learners’ Forum . Since that time, virtually all regular activity has ceased on this forum. I suggest that you register on the new forum and pose your questions to the members.

Pimsleur: Strengths
The Pimsleur program is a well-known and highly-respected introduction to the very basics of a foreign language. The method’s chief strengths lie in: (a) its ability to assist the student acquire a fairly good “feel for” the underlying structure of a foreign language, (b) the development of a certain level of “automaticity” in the L2’s basic sentence structures; hence a degree of “fluency” in some frequently-occurring sentence-patterns, (c) its reinforcement of a narrow range of high-frequency vocabulary items, and (d) a sound guide to pronunciation.

Pimsleur: Limitations
Despite its many virtues, and although the program introduces individual elements of grammar which appear in some CEFR A2 courses, owing to the narrow range of vocabulary used throughout the program, the level upon completion of Pimsleur I-V would be CEFR A0, or perhaps A0+. Please do NOT interpret my assessment as a criticism of the Pimsleur method, I am merely pointing out one of its limitations. I have used the full Pimsleur series for the study of Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch, German, Polish, and Russian. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and, from my perspective, these courses were worth every penny that I paid for them (and, for the record, I purchased them from the publisher).

Pimsleur Transcripts & Glossaries
Simon & Schuster does not publish transcripts of their Pimsleur courses and they will legally pursue anyone who does so without their explicit permission. Now then, some years ago, I prepared a complete transcript (for my own use only; that is, not for publication) of the Pimsleur German course: absolutely every recorded word, whether in German or in English. The experience taught me that transcripts of these courses are a complete waste of time. In fact, they make for very demanding reading, indeed. Ultimately, I deleted the transcripts. Since that time, whenever using a Pimsleur course for the first time, I have limited my notetaking to the preparation of a simple glossary by lesson number. However, to be quite honest about it, having prepared such glossaries, I found that I never really consulted them. That is, the act of looking up the L1/L2 pairs in a dictionary and the preparation of the glossaries in itself, in conjunction with the audio lessons, was sufficient to anchoring the vocabulary in my memory. The absence of any such supplements to the lessons might be one of the “hidden secrets” of the Pimsleur method. Perhaps the editors want students to work this way. So then, my recommendation would be that you consider preparing glossaries as part of your study routine, even though you might never actually consult them. As an alternative, I could send the glossaries that I prepared for Pimsleur Spanish Levels I, II courses as Excel files (just leave me your Email address via a Private Message). However, I caution that, while using my glossaries would assist you in following the audio lessons, using them would also deprive you of the benefits of working things out for yourself.

Studying with Pimsleur
The Pimsleur courses are conceived such that each new lesson builds upon the preceding two or three ones in an unbroken sequence: from Pimsleur I, Lesson 1 right through to Pimsleur V, Lesson 30. I would imagine that, were one to ask the editors of these programs how one should best use them, they would probably recommend that students complete the lessons and the courses in this same, unbroken, sequence. Furthermore, I would imagine that many students do just that. Nevertheless, there are alternatives …

As it happens, when I began studying my small collection of languages, the higher level courses, Pimsleur IV and V, had not yet been released. Thus, having completed Pimsleur III and wishing to progress further, I moved on to more conventional materials. A few years later, when Pimsleur IV and V were released, even though I anticipated that I would not learn much in the way of new materials (structure, vocabulary), I purchased and completed the higher levels all the same. This experience of “staggering” the Pimsleur courses amongst others provided me with a different perspective on how they might be used.

Ultimately, I came to the conclusion that (in my own case) my time was best used by completing Pimsleur I, II, and III, then putting the method aside while I worked with courses having greater concentration (e.g., Assimil, DLI/FSI, Living Language Ultimate, Linguaphone, etc.). Having advanced somewhat using these others materials, but without completing them, I then returned to Pimsleur IV and V.   As I had already moved into the CEFR A2 area (which is beyond that of the Pimsleur courses) this “staggering” approach provided me with a better notion of how the Pimsleur lessons are put together and a better appreciation for Pimsleur’s subtle introduction of the target language’s structure. Finally, I found this approach more refreshing and more beneficial in terms of anchoring the language in my long-term memory. While many seasoned language learners might disagree with my “staggering” approach, I thought that you might wish to know that you’re free to experiment; you’re not in a race with anyone, and no one is in a position to judge how best to use the Pimsleur courses.

Developing Fluency
I suggest that you “adjust your sights” on the notion of becoming “fluent” in Spanish. Is it possible? Absolutely!!!! Can one become fluent in a short span of time? Yes, one can … um, er, in the right circumstances (viz., successful completion of a one-year course of study at the Defense Language Institute followed by full-immersion for a two-year period in a Spanish-speaking community wherein the student will have absolutely no recourse to his native language). Can one become fluent in Spanish through self-instruction while living in the United States in a primarily English-speaking community? Yes, one can. However, this is where the need to “adjust your sights” comes in. Becoming fluent will require the study of other course materials up to the lower-intermediate level, followed by extensive/intensive study of “native materials” (books, magazines, newspapers, radio, podcasts, films, television, internet, etc.) perhaps augmented by work with a competent tutor (good luck finding one!). It takes time, there is no unique one-size-fits-all approach to study, but becoming fluent in Spanish is quite feasible.

Resources for Studying Spanish
There are probably more resources (and very good ones at that) for the study of Spanish from an English base than for any other language. The replacement forum mentioned above hosts a “Master List of Resources” which contains a short list of suggestions. In addition, there is a Study Group wherein members exchange their thoughts and experiences on the subject. Finally, although the selection might seem somewhat limited, the Yojik website (formerly the FSI-Languages website) hosts a selection of excellent, albeit somewhat dated, collection of free materials. Nota bena: the FSI Spanish Basic course, which employs the audio-lingual method of instruction (drill, drill, drill, puke), has the potential for bringing a serious student within the CEFR B1-B2 range (but it ain’t easy). If you go this route, you might want to take a break and mix up your studies with Assimil Spanish, et cetera.

This Forum is Inactive, it is an Archive
This forum is, for all practical purposes, inactive. It serves as a seldom-consulted archive. I was just passing through, noticed the date of your post, and decided to drop you a line. Nevertheless, having done so, I suggest that you register on the replacement forum mentioned above; that’s where the action is. I’m done here. Well, I’m done there too, but that’s another story.

Insertion of a comment on transcripts and glossaries.
Insertion of a comment on how to use the Pimsleur courses.
Typos, as usual.

Edited by Speakeasy on 23 May 2020 at 1:28am

3 persons have voted this message useful

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 Message 3 of 3
27 May 2020 at 12:18am | IP Logged 
Nice summary, especially with the inclusion of information regarding levels above III, which didn't exist when I was still doing Pimsleurs actively. Thank you!

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