I finally finished all 5 levels of Pimsleur Russian. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and loved being able to use my commute to work in a productive way.
Part of me wanted to move on to another language just so I could keep using Pimsleur. But I am going to keep going with Russian, for now anyway.
Pimsleur is an amazing course that I would highly recommend. It is a fantastic way to build basic vocabulary, develop good pronunciation skills and develop an ear for a language. That said, it does have its limitations.
At the suggestion of someone in a Facebook group, I began the Michel Thomas Russian course. I have read so many mixed reviews on MT language courses that I have decided it is the Marmite of language courses. People seem to either love it or absolutely hate it. Some reviewers whose opinions I respect even go as far as to say they wouldn’t use it even if it was free.
I started it last week and am about 5 hours into the course now. My first impression is that it is really good, which surprised me. Here are a few reasons why:
- Word order. I went into the course expecting it to be essentially review of what I had already learned in Pimsleur. And so far, I’ve learned only a handful of words that weren’t covered in the Pimsleur course. However, the MT course taught me that Russian word order is incredibly flexible, and constantly gives examples of this. I never picked up on this from Pimsleur. This is very valuable in terms of learning to speak Russian.
- Constructing sentences. Pimsleur taught me to memorize words, phrases and sentences. And to connect these. But the MT course does a much better job of using words and phrases in a wider variety of contexts and putting these together in new and interesting ways. It will strengthen my ability to create my own sentences a lot (rather than just re-call memorized ones).
- Engagement. I actually find the course to be very engaging. This surprised me the most as a lot of reviews talk about how annoying the student’s mistakes and the teacher’s corrections are in the audio. I understand why people might not like it, but I have found the pace of the course and the variety of examples to be interesting and engaging.
- It explains why. Pimsleur doesn’t give a lot of explanation for grammar or why things are said in a certain way. The MT course is much better for people who like to ask why. I am not really this kind of person, but after the Pimsleur course, I do think that I am ready to get a better grasp of Russian grammar.
Final thoughts? I would still choose or recommend Pimsleur over Michel Thomas to start with and if I had to choose just one. But neither course is going to be enough on its own, so why not use both if you can?