Pimsleur French

5 French, Audio Lessons, Multimedia

March 10, 2013

Series  Pimsleur
Publisher  Simon & Schuster
Publication Date  2012
Price  $350.00 for Pimsleur French Unlimited 1-3 (multimedia; includes 90 audio lessons), $119.95 for 30 audio lessons
Skill Level  Beginner, Intermediate

Pimsleur is my favorite self-study language-learning product to date. It offers a series of interactive audio lessons, roughly half an hour each, in which the student is cajoled, prodded, encouraged, etc., to speak a foreign language in response to brilliantly constructed cues.

Pimsleur French lessons are an amazing way to get yourself talking immediately and to work on your accent. There is a newer offering as well, called Pimsleur French Unlimited, which is a multimedia product including not only the audio lessons but also flashcards, games, chat rooms, and more.

I haven’t yet tried the Unlimited, but on the strength of the Pimsleur French audio lessons alone, I strongly recommend it. (The pricing is nearly identical for the Unlimited and the audio-only products.) To ensure that Pimsleur is for you before you buy, you can try a sample audio lesson for free on their website. 

If you don’t want to commit to larger chunks of product, you can buy Pimsleur French lessons five at a time and, for the truly commitmentphobic, there is even a one-lesson-at-a-time option on iTunes.

Right now Pimsleur’s French products are in flux and are therefore a little confusing, so let me clarify a few things:

iPod Nano with Pimsleur French
iPod Nano with Pimsleur French
Pimsleur French Unlimited for Sale on Bookstore Shelves
Pimsleur French Unlimited for Sale on Bookstore Shelves

Comments (10)

Robert Adams • Posted on Sat, March 16, 2013 - 7:17 pm EST

Hi Ellen.  Love the new site!!!!!  Totally stoked about Pimsleur French IV, as I am on Lesson 11 of Pimsleur French III, and I too believe Pimsleur to be the best language learning program out there.  However, I have heard that the FSI programs may be better.  Have you ever tried them?  In keeping with the spirit of New York, my goal for the next 2 years is to learn the 5 languages of the UN:  French, German, Russian, Mandarin and Arabic.  You are a great inspiration and I hope you touch other lives as well.  Looking forward to more posts.

Ellen Jovin • Posted on Sat, March 16, 2013 - 11:10 pm EST

Thank you, Robert! Are you talking about the courses that were available at Apparently that site was shut down in February. I have read one can currently download the material from—haven’t tried myself. But in any case, no, I have not to date used any of those for language study. I am impressed by your UN goal; I like the angle.

Alex • Posted on Sun, April 28, 2013 - 2:09 pm EST

I wish there was sort of an official sequel to Pimsleur’s 120 lessons. Just something that digs a little deeper into the language, because you might have the grammatical “building blocks” Pimsleur is famous for, but you can never have too much vocabulary - or even more complex grammar. It’s so much fun, as I’m sure you’ll agree, and it’s more effective than any other language-learning product I’ve ever heard of or even the classes I took in high school (all four of them!).

Another thing - I’ve wondered why they make Plus packages if all they’re going to do is replace them later. Why not just make the first ten lessons of the eventual 30? Just some food for thought.

Ellen Jovin • Posted on Sun, April 28, 2013 - 2:43 pm EST

One thing that has occurred to me about Pimsleur V, VI, and other fantasies of Pimsleur lovers who find themselves in mourning when they get to the end of the last Pimsleur lesson: it gets increasingly difficult to construct such lessons as people get more advanced. More advanced speakers know multiple ways to construct the same concept. Pimsleur’s efficacy depends in part on the student’s limitations. If you know only one way to say something (i.e., the way they have taught you), your correct answer is more likely to line up with theirs. I noticed this as an issue when I tried Pimsleur for languages I already had pretty advanced skills in; my translations rather frequently departed from theirs.

Nonetheless, yeah, I’d still like Pimsleur V, VI, VII, and so on!

Shannon • Posted on Wed, September 25, 2013 - 12:30 pm EST

Just out of curiosity, I’m fairly new to Pimsleur (I recently completed conversational Croatian) and I’m looking for the next step.

Do you have experience with the different Pimsleur programs? What is the difference between the “Basic”, “Conversational”, “Comprehensive” and digital lessons? Is there a difference? Any input would be greatly appreciated.

Ellen Jovin • Posted on Thu, September 26, 2013 - 10:55 pm EST

As far as I know, you have just two meaningful options with Pimsleur French to worry about: oral lessons only (up to 120 of them), or the Unlimited products, which currently contain up to 90 oral lessons plus other types of instruction. I believe the “basic” and “conversational” and “comprehensive” terminology simply has to do with how many audio lessons you get. There is also no difference between the CD-based and MP3 audio lessons (other than price).

Eventually all 120 audio lessons are supposed to be available through the Unlimited product, but right this moment you cannot get audio lessons 91-120 as part of an Unlimited package.

Hope that helps! I will be updating this review shortly to reflect developments since it was posted last March.

Shannon • Posted on Fri, September 27, 2013 - 10:19 am EST

That helps immensely! Thank you so much. I’ll check out the audio lessons and see where I can start after having completed Conversational. I’m willing to bet there’s a bit of repetition… I appreciate your help!

Patricia • Posted on Sat, February 13, 2016 - 11:42 am EST

I feel I’ve successfully mastered French V, can speak and read easily but still have trouble with comprehension.  I’m doing a number of things to increase comprehension, such as French in slow news, Yabla French videos, French movies and a Meet-Up French speaking group but I seem to understand so little of what people are speaking.  Is Pimsleur aware of this problem in other learners and, if so, are there any plans for help with this?

Max • Posted on Wed, August 10, 2016 - 6:28 pm EST

Hi Ellen,

I love your site! I’m looking at learning French and found your site whilst looking for Pimsleur reviews. I like that your site seems to be very honest and you have actually tried the product before reviewing it. Many sites that come up on Google seem to point to one or two top products that, coincidentally, offer good commissions to affiliates!

Anyway I have a question about Pimsleur. I’ve done lots of research on various products and my local library has a bunch of Pimsleur French so I decided to start with that. I have already started on the first lessons which I find inetersting. However a lot of reviewers talk about the french being old and out of date, and only useful for business men trying to pick up women!

So I’m wondering what is your opinion of the French being taught by these courses? Does it translate well to modern life? Or is it starting to feel out of date?

Also I’m in Canada and hoping to be able to speak Quebecois. Is the Pimsleur French a good starting point for this? Ive been searching for a French Canadian product but so far haven’t found one.

Thanks again for a great site!


Ellen Jovin • Posted on Wed, August 24, 2016 - 11:09 am EST

Hi Max, and thank you!

I really think the French on Pimsleur is fine for modern life. (And I’m sorry I didn’t reply sooner to tell you that!) I am not a big fan of starting with street conversation and trying to fill in more formal language later; I think the other direction works a lot better. I tend to find that in some languages Pimsleur uses formal second person a bit longer than one might in real life—but you still need to know those things. Excessive formality acquired in language lessons can easily be softened later.

I am not knowledgeable about the details of Québécois. I will post a question about that right now in a language group on Facebook and report back if I hear anything exciting, but I think you are fine proceeding with Pimsleur and hope you already have! Getting that free from the library is an amazing deal!!!


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