By Kristy Ojala
Are you one of those well-meaning people who always said you’d learn Italian (or French, or Spanish)? Maybe it was before your kids came along, or because you felt bad about being a one-language kinda guy/gal. Perhaps you wanted to take that trip to Paris, and didn’t feel like earning the indignation of your café waiter. Yeah, me, too (my Berlitz Italian CD-ROM still mocks me from somewhere back in the hallway closet).
There’s no better time to make good on that long-standing vow to really, truly learn a new language. You’ll appreciate it when you travel or meet someone and get to practice your new-found language skills. My desired fluency is Spanish. It’s fast, furious, passionate. It’s easy to pronounce and it doesn’t require you learning another alphabet. It’s the No. 2 language in the United States and rapidly rising: Currently more than 35.5 million people over the age of 5 claim Spanish as their primary language.
I’ve taken a weekly Spanish class for two and a half years, but I felt like I wasn’t practicing regularly enough or advancing fast enough. Most of us know there’s nothing like regular immersion and conversation to constantly improve your vocabulary and comprehension. And on New Year’s, I made a promise to devote 30 minutes a day to learning and practicing Spanish.
The Pimsleur Unlimited Spanish series has helped me fit that in, particularly during commutes or in the background as I work (audio lessons rule). There are three major components of this program, which you should not and do not use more than 30 minutes per day as you start out.
Learn. The heart of Pimsleur has always been the audio lessons. As you progress, you’ll notice that when you’re asked for a word or phrase, it’s easier to recall. Soon, you’ll be thinking in your new language. When you start DREAMING in said language, wow!
Review. This is my favorite section because I’ve always been a flash-cards nerd. In my weekly Spanish class (intermediate level), the teacher makes us write all the vocabulary words we don’t know on flash cards, then recite the name aloud while reading and rereading them. She says that verbalizing the words you don’t know helps to imprint them on your brain. I do that while I’m flipping through the Pimsleur Unlimited cards, only I don’t have to tote around a pack of recipe cards. “Quick Match” builds on this same philosophy (learning a phrase, repeating it aloud) in a multiple choice format. If you screw up or are in over your head, go back to your 30-minute daily lessons and review.
VIDEO: How Pimsleur Unlimited Works
Engage. Well, short of going on a crazy expensive vacation, you could try using your new skills on a random stranger… or take the safer approach and pop into an audio chat room for language discussions and learning sessions with a Pimsleur Ambassador in your chosen language. The next session on my list? “La Cocina Argentina”—The Cuisine of Argentina, from famous restaurants to common dishes served at home.
Learn more about Pimsleur Unlimited:
—Now available in: French, Italian, German, and Spanish.
—Allows for 4 users on up to 4 devices: tracks each person’s progress.
—One click copies Audio lessons to your iTunes® library or Windows® Media directory, giving you total portability and flexibility.
—15 hours of audio instruction in 30 daily lessons and 15 lessons geared to reading per level
—30 conversations to pace yourself with the native speakers per level
—300+ digital flash cards, and 300+ quick match challenge questions per level