Pimsleur Chinese Mandarin


Pimsleur provides a wide variety of audio-based foreign language courses, including Pimsleur Chinese Mandarin.

Their goal is simple: to enable a new language learner to speak a new language with a native speaker within 30 days by spending 30 mins each day listening to the audio lessons.

Does it work?

The short answer is "Yes". I highly recommend the Pimsleur Chinese Mandarin audio course because it works. Within 30 days you will be speaking simple Mandarin with good Chinese pronunciation.

I believe it is by far the best self-study program available to learn to speak Mandarin.

Why? Beacause their approach closely mirrors how I learnt Mandarin.

Now, I am a fluent Mandarin speaker, but it wasn't like this several years ago. I did not learn Chinese using this program; I learnt it doing business in China.

When I first went to China 10 years ago, I could hardly tell a taxi driver in Beijing where I was going.

Today, if I speak Mandarin anywhere in the world, incluidng China, I often get people disbelieving I am NOT a native Chinese!

How did I become so fluent? By using the Chinese language in practical situations every single day, in a totally Chinese environment. As they say, necessity is the mother of invention.:)

I basically soaked up the language, without referring to a book once, and put to use whatever I learnt everyday.

I did not try hard to learn the Chinese language. Everything occurred naturally and within 1-2 years I could get around and conduct business very well on my own. It helped that I had a strong interest in Chinese culture.

I listened to a 30 min Pimsleur Chinese Mandarin audio lesson, and their approach to learning foreign languages is very similar to what I experienced.

Since you may not have the kind of opportunity I had to learn Chinese in China, this is the next best thing. You can download a free 30min Pimsleur Chinese Mandarin lesson by going here, click on "home" and fill in your email address. Here's what Pimsleur Chinese Mandarin does well and doesn't do:

What Pimsleur Chinese Does Well:
  • As a fluent Mandarin speaker, I can tell Pimsleur Chinese Mandarin gets the nuances of the Chinese language. They don ’t use a “cookie-cutter” language template used for other Romance languages.
  • The course ensures you get your Chinese pronunciation right. The Chinese phrases are broken down into syllables, said slowly and clearly and accurately translated.
  • You acquire core vocabulary and core sentences to start speaking in simple situations e.g. ordering food in a restaurant.
  • You listen then the lesson makes you think and “say” the sentences. You listen to the native speaker, then repeat and listen again. This way you’ll remember what you learn.

What Pimsleur Chinese Does NOT do:

  • Does not have workbook with English, pinyin and Chinese characters to refer to.
  • Does not teach reading and writing Chinese characters
  • Acquiring a large number of vocabulary words is not the focus of Pimsleur Chinese Mandarin.

How you can Supplement Pimsleur Mandarin Chinese:

  • Relying on Pimsleur alone to get you speaking Mandarin is not enough.
  • Practice your conversation with Chinese friends. Join a Chinese class.
  • To build your vocabulary, get a Chinese dictionary or phrase book.

What is the Pimsleur Approach?

Below I've summarized the way it works. "Pimsleur" by the way, is the name of the researcher, Dr. Pimsleur who developed the language courses.

Goal oriented: 30 mins a day, speak a new language in 30 days

These foreign language courses are designed around natural ways of acquiring language:

  1. audio-based (our ears are trained to capture the sounds of the new language)
  2. each lesson is a 30 min conversation with two educated, native speakers (30 mins is the optimum period of learning)
  3. learn daily (our mind gets used to the new language)

They are based on:

Principle of Anticipation:
Requires you to "anticipate" an answer by retrieving from your memory, before lesson confirms your answer

Graduated Interval Recall:
By reminding you of the new words you've learnt at the right intervals, you'll be able to store the words in your long term memory

Core Vocabulary Acqusition:
By focusing on function words which relate to human activities, you'll acquire the "grammatical rules" of the language naturally

Organic Learning Method:
Learn vocabulary, grammar and pronunciation ALL AT ONCE, and put PRACTICAL PHRASES to use right away

Detailed description of Pimsleur Chinese Mandarin approach

I've summarized the benefits of Pimsleur Mandarin courses in L.E.A.R.N :
  • Less Time required: learn vocabulary, pronunciation and grammar all at once
  • Effective audio conversations with educated, native speakers
  • Acquire language naturally
  • Recall words from long term memory
  • No wasting time on boring memorization drills

Which Pimsleur Chinese Mandarin Course is right for you?

Pimsleur offers several options for their Mandarin courses. How do you determine which Pimsleur Mandarin Course is right for you?

Ask yourself this question: Can I speak face-to-face with a native speaker?

If the answer is no, then start with Comphrehensive Level 1 or consider the Quick & Simple sampler of Level I to try out.

Note: The 8 lessons of 30 mins each in the Quick & Simple sampler are included as part of the 30 lessons each of 30 mins in the Comphrehensive Level 1 version.

Comphrehensive Levels 1, II and III are 90 lessons divided into three 30 lesson courses to progressively build on previously acquired spoken skills.

The chart shows the communication skill level of each course.

Instant Conversation consists of 16 lessons, twice the number in the Quick & Simple Course. The first eight lessons are the same as in Quick & Simple. This course is for those who wish to get a rapid grounding in Mandarin for use immediately example, on a trip to China.

* Compact is not available for Chinese.

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