On December 1, I finished Duolingo Spanish, getting all lessons to gold. I was expecting a bit more payoff from the “gamification” in the app, but when I finished that last lesson, all it did was add a trophy to the bottom of the lesson list. No “Congratulations!” or special announcement at the end of the lesson. It treated it just like the end of any other lesson, returning to the lesson list with a little trophy at the bottom.
Duolingo helped me with vocab and grammar, and I can certainly read, write and speak slowly. But Duolingo does nothing to help you understand a native speaker. And that makes sense, since Duolingo’s business model is training people translate written documents.
My language teacher friends Curt and Bonnie told me about Pimsleur, which they said is the best audio-based language program they’ve seen. So when I finished Duolingo, I decided to try Pimsleur’s free lesson. I was hooked. The lesson begins with a short, full-speed native conversation, then spends a total of 30 minutes with the lesson. It is incredibly well done, using spaced repetition and recall to help you learn the language naturally.
It’s also really expensive—over $550 for all 5 levels, each with 30 lessons.
After doing some research, I discovered that Audible.com has all 5 levels, and are available for 5 membership credits for each level. So I just needed 25 credits to buy the whole set. Typically, a membership provides 1 credit per month for $14.95 a month, which would take a little over 2 years for a total cost of $373.75. That’s a good start, but I was ready to get started and a little impatient. I’m already an Audible member, and had 1 credit in my account. I found I could upgrade to an annual Platinum membership, which gives you 24 credits all at once, for just $229.50. When I did that, I was able to download all 5 levels, paying a total of $244.45—55% off Pimsleur’s discounted price.
Before I pulled the trigger, I did email Pimsleur directly and offer to pay $250 directly to them for the course, bypassing the middleman. But they declined, sending me the same coupon to buy it for $550. They did offer a “Flexi-Pay” option, which is basically free financing. I declined and bought it from Audible.com.
I’ve been studying almost every day with Pimsleur, and it’s really helped. I set aside 30 minutes right after breakfast, before I start my work day, and push through it. I’m already understanding more after just a few weeks.