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How to Learn a Foreign Language Hardcover – 1 Oct 2013

3.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 141 pages
  • Publisher: Pimsleur (1 Oct. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1442369027
  • ISBN-13: 978-1442369023
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 1.5 x 18.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 603,858 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
There were some good tips in here such as breaking down foreign words into syllables from the end of the word backwards to the beginning. That actually helped me. However I am disappointed that the author seemed to focus on languages that share the same romanised alphabet as English. I am trying to learn Hindi, which has a totally different alphabet and I would have liked some tips on how to approach learning this type of language. Should I get to grips with the alphabet before anything else as otherwise I have to translate twice! I have to translate into the romanised version of Hindi then try to 'convert' it into the Devengari script - it's double the work!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program)

Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars 25 reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Encouragement for every language learner 21 Jan. 2014
By Firelight - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is a true gem for anyone interested in learning a language. Dr Pimsleur takes out the fear factor in learning a language. In the book Dr Pimsleur explains why 90 % of American high school language learners give up the language they pursued in less than 2 years; and why that is such an unnecessary tragedy. Dr Pimsleur breaks down how people learn language best and explains various aspects of language learning, including what kind of teacher/method you should look for.

I personally have gone through the Russian Pimsleur system and can attest it is better than any other language system out there; at least for me and many others. Every Pimsleur website or brochure you read will explain to some degree why the Pimsleur system works. This book goes beyond the brochures to teach the reader how it can be enjoyable to learn language and how one can go about it; with or without the Pimsleur system.

This book is a quick read, with short easy to understand chapters. If you have ever been discouraged by language learning, please read this book. In it Dr Pimsleur admits that there may be people out there who theoretically cannot learn a language, but from his experience any student with some motivation to learn can and should learn a language; for the simple reason that it will be an enjoyable journey with a pleasant reward.

Pros:
Short easy read
Encouraging
Real life stories
Easy to understand statistics

Cons:
None found
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More bang for your buck 24 Mar. 2016
By Bobby Phillips - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am behavior analyst by trade who has a particular interest in putting that science to work on teaching foreign languages. I first sampled the Pimsleur Method about two years ago, fell in love with it, later recognized some of its weaknesses, picked this book up not expecting to be fully satisfied with it, and joyously found myself to be very, very wrong.

If there’s one principle that every person learning a foreign language should learn from Day One, it’s that language is contextually functional. We learn to use it because it has a satisfying effect on our environment, given our particular situation. Part of the problem with most foreign-language classrooms is that teachers frequently ignore this principle and get sidetracked in rational-theoretical analyses of the *structure* of language. What they end up teaching is, in fact, how to talk about Spanish grammar *in English*, not how to actually talk in Spanish.

It doesn’t really come across very well in the audio tracks Paul Pimsleur ultimately produced; but upon reading this book, it is crystal clear to me that he understood the principle of functional contextualism. Those of you who have sampled the Pimsleur Method will know that it basically consists of three techniques: (1) presenting phrases and sentences in the student’s native language, then asking the student to translate orally within a few seconds; (2) practicing new phrases and sentences en masse; and (3) spaced repetition, the technique of reviewing previously taught targets according to a schedule that systematically increases the time until the next review. The biggest criticisms I’ve ever had with that method are that (a) it trains the student to translate rather than think in the foreign language, and (b) it doesn’t help the student very much in roleplaying the actual social situations in which the language must be used. Knowing that, I expected to be disappointed with what I would read. What I found instead was a concise handbook of maxims that acknowledges those weaknesses and encourages the student to take steps to counteract them.

Where others waste pages of type trying to explain psychological theory and trying to oversell you on the effectiveness of the techniques advised, Pimsleur is straight and to the point. He briefly critiques traditional methods, tells a short story illustrating the problems they create, makes his argument for what works instead (sometimes with only a single simple graph or table), and then tells you in practical terms what to do to direct your own learning. You may get this book and think, as I did initially, “Wow. Twenty dollars retail for 100 pages of advice and a dinky little appendix? This looks like hero worship on the scale of a preface to an L. Ron Hubbard book.” However, you’d be wrong. There is more packed into those 100 pages than I have been able to extract out of the entirety of the 282-page “An Introduction to Applied Linguistics” (Norbert Schmitt, ed.), and it’s infinitely more readable. It comes across very clearly that Pimsleur was a compassionate teacher who believed that ANYBODY could learn a foreign language, who wanted everybody to have the tools to do it. The book has really renewed my respect for him as one of the greats, probably second only to B. F. Skinner in terms of the level of insight for this field. I highly recommend it.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gave me hope! 8 Oct. 2016
By L. Cannon - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was a true believer that some people have a gift for learning languages, and some people do not. I considered myself to be in the "do not" category. Reading this book as an accompaniment to the Pimsleur Spanish CD's helped me to understand why the lessons are set-up as they are and how it is possible to learn another language as an adult. It is well written and enjoyable. I read it one afternoon, and I am glad I did. Paul Pimsleur and his wife certainly left their mark on the world, and I am grateful for their contributions.
5.0 out of 5 stars Good book 14 May 2017
By Peter - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Great book for anyone learning a foreign language. This book describes much of the secret sauce behind the Pimsleur program. Despite horrible marketing, the program works very well for learning languages. Understanding why it works and how it was designed gives quite a few aha moments. I've reverse-engineered much of it, but there were plenty of things I didn't catch.

Plus, it's a quick, entertaining read. Author is very personable.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very practical. 18 Feb. 2014
By Ryan C. Nagy - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I am reading the Kindle version of this book after doing all four levels of Pimsleur Spanish. I am an American living in Mexico and bought this book because I feel like my language learnings has slowed. Pimsleur gives all kinds of good practical advice, advice that fits well with a person-centered, holistic world view. The book will help you work with your own strengths and desires and will help you to pick a good language learning strategy and modify it as needed. It will also help you pick a good language teacher and language school.

What I am finding fascinating are the instructions for how to record and create your own language drills and exercises similar to what he does in the Pimsleur audio series. I am very excited to try this out.
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