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Pimsleur Spanish Review (My Favorite Way to Learn Spanish)

pimsleur-spanishHow’s your Spanish? No doubt you have heard about the Pimsleur Spanish course. In this post, I’ll review the Pimsleur Spanish course. 

The Pimsleur Method (developed by Dr. Paul Pimsleur) is popular among travelers, expats, and business people – and is my favorite way to learn Spanish.

When we first moved to Ecuador I was really struggling with learning the language. Some friends told us about the Pimsleur method, and I’m so happy they did!

I study the language in a number of ways: workbooks, computer programs, vocab study… and while they all help me progress with the language, I’ve experienced the most benefit from the Pimsleur Spanish audio course.

If you just want to give it a test, get a 7-day trial for free. After that, there is a monthly subscription fee. But even if you subscribe for a whole year, it will cost less than a week class we took in Cuenca, Ecuador. But you probably won’t need it even half of that time. 

In this review, I’ll cover the following:

  1. How Pimsleur Spanish teaches
  2. How I study with Pimsleur
  3. Why the Pimsleur method works
  4. How to get Pimsleurs for less 

Why I Love Pimsleur Spanish

I really like the Pimsleur Spanish learning method because it starts off with basic conversations that are needed when learning a foreign language.

For example, greetings and basic conversation like:

  • “hi my name is —“
  • “what is your name?”
  • “it’s nice to meet you,”
  • “how are you feeling?”

Pimsleur gave me what I needed to actually start talking to people. I found that courses which teach vocab like “apple” and “house” are only good for building vocab.

That might sound like an obvious observation, but when we were getting started with language learning we felt so overwhelmed! We didn’t know where to start.

We tried so many different books and courses! So, when I didn’t know how to string those vocab words/verb conjugations together into a sentence, I couldn’t really apply what I was learning to have conversations. And because they didn’t really have any context, they were hard to remember.

When I started with the Pimsleur method, it did the trick because what I wanted most was to get started talking to people.

The vocab/verb conjugations included in the Pimsleur course are all presented in context within conversations, making it much easier to remember.  I’ve found that a bit of vocab learning and Pimsleur practice is best, but when my time is really limited I choose Pimsleur for conversation learning.

The Pimsleur method has also been very helpful because the instructions are spoken in English, so I’m not confused about the conversations or what it is that I’m supposed to be learning.

More reading: Guide to The Best Way to Learn Spanish (Immersion, Books, Classes, Resources)

How I Study Pimsleur Spanish

We purchased Pimsleur with Audible which has made it super easy to multitask. At the end of the post, I explain how to save big on Pimsleurs with Audible – more than 76% less than the cd package.

I often listen to the courses on my phone or tablet while washing dishes or doing house cleaning. That may not sound like a big deal, but when you have a busy schedule (working part-time, volunteering, homeschooling, raising a family…) and are living in a foreign country immersed in the language – it is!

I also really like that the course uses native speakers. I’m confident that I’m learning the correct pronunciation.


Why The Pimsleur Method Works

Dr. Pimsleur did extensive research on language learning and retention.

The conversations in the course use a lot of repetition. After you hear a word you repeat it, then eventually you start repeating sentences and responding to questions. As the course goes along the vocab you learn is spoken again in future conversations ensuring that you remember it.

It’s recommended in the course that you only do one lesson per day. The lessons are 30 minutes each. This method works because it does not overwhelm you with too much information, it’s presented at a rate you can process and retain.

How to Save on Pimsleur Spanish

There are two primary ways to purchase this course. There is the traditional way and then there is the better, cheaper way.

  1. Direct from Pimsleurs: The course is available as pay as you go audio. Try a 7-day trial for free. And then it costs $15-20/month depending on your package. While you can still get hard copies, the digital format is the best for most people. And it is less expensive. The full 4 phases (120 thirty minute lessons) will cost $450 in MP3 format. Compare at $970 for CD’s.
  2. From Audible: This will cost less and it’s better. Audible is an application that runs on smartphones, tablets and computers. It remembers where you stopped listening and syncs your automatic bookmark across all of your devices. You can purchase directly from Audible if you become a member. You’ll get a free audiobook. And if you buy credits (the Audible currency) you can save even more. At the time of writing, it was less expensive to buy the full package from Audible than order CD’s or the MP3 package from direct from Pimsleurs.

Which way is best? When we bought Pimsleurs, we got it  from Audible. Now Pimsleurs is offering the same audio format – and it’s a subscription instead of an outright purchase. We have all used this tool and Bryan and I continue to study with it.

UPDATE (April 8 2014): After writing this post we received an email from the people at Pimsleur explaining how they have improved the course. The email was as follows:

Hi Dena & Bryan,

Thank you so much for the wonderful article on Pimsleur!

I just wanted to mention two little details.  If you purchase direct from Pimsleur, the MP3 course comes with a free app that runs on smartphones, tablets, and desktops. The app keeps track of your progress, displays the reading exercises, etc.  If you purchase a 30-lesson course, you get a free eBook copy of Dr. Pimsleur’s celebrated book How to Learn a Foreign Language (a $10.99 value).

Lastly, the Spanish series is also available in interactive software format.  This is our newest and greatest incarnation of the Pimsleur Spanish series.  Same audio content, but it comes with visual tools to help you review the course content and enhance your learning.

I hope this helps and thanks again for taking the time to review our course!


These look like really good improvements! Have you tried this yet? If so please tell us about it by adding to the comments below.

Learn Spanish on the Go: The Pimsleurs Concept (Video)

So here’s the concept: set aside the books and really learn Spanish.

It is true that books are important. But they offer limited value in pronunciation and flow of the language. With an audio program like Pimsleurs you can learn Spanish in just 30 minutes a day.

Or like in the video – learn it all in a really long road trip. 🙂

Learn Spanish on the go
Of course, this isn’t the recommendation with an audio language program. I think my brain would fill up much before the 13 hours… but the concept (and the science behind it) is solid: learn Spanish by interactive listening.

Learn Spanish on the Go: Video

We find this commercial for the VW Passat (which can go 795 miles per tank) hilarious.

They go from not being able to say “gracias” to being completely fluent with attitude. Thanks to Jakob for sharing this video in his comment.

Have you tried the Pimsleur method? What did you think of it? Please share your thoughts with us in the comment section below.

Selena Hughes

Wednesday 19th of August 2020

Wow, thank you very much for sharing such an interesting article. I am sure that this is very useful for those who dream of ideally learning Spanish. I hope that you will continue to share your experience and knowledge in learning foreign languages.


Monday 20th of February 2017

Thanks for the review! Does this program make you buy it separately for each user if my wife and I both want to learn?

Bryan Haines

Monday 20th of February 2017

Thanks Chad! If you buy via Audible - you can use your one license on multiple devices but you'll have to use the same login. This is what we did and it worked great.

Deanie and Val Hohn

Tuesday 29th of December 2015

Val and I love Pimsleur in any language and we will be using it to learn Spanish. We had so much fun leaning Pimsleur Japanese and volunteering in the Japanese community. Now we are planning to go to Ecuador for at least a year, so Spanish is going to be our next project. We have one year to learn the language before we set off for Cuenca! Of course having lots of friends who speak Spanish and who want to help us learn will be a great benefit. I too love learning a new language while doing household chores Dena. Great time management! This is such a great blog Dena and Brian! I have learned so much just from the information that you provide and now I am just so full of excitement about moving there. Thank you so very much! Deanie Hohn

14 Business Books I'm Loving (My Reading List) – BloggerAbroad

Friday 10th of October 2014

[…] go from zero to fluent using just this course – and maybe a little immersion. Read our full Pimsleurs Spanish review. Get your first lesson for free on […]

Thomas Stanford

Tuesday 1st of July 2014

Not to knock pemsleurs, because I have both Spanish 1 and 2. But I have found that the online app Fluencia is a much faster and better way for me to learn Spanish. It' spree to try and costs a lot less. I hope this is helpful to someone.

Bryan Haines

Friday 4th of July 2014

Thanks Thomas. Dena is also using Fluencia - to polish her Spanish.