Whom do I hate, again?

See the ad on the left?

I would challenge whoever wrote this copy to name a single language professor that hates the man pictured.

Then I would challenge that same person to name a single language professor, period.

They could, if they were so inclined, name the man in the picture.  If you don’t already know, it’s Dr. Paul Pimsleur, linguist and, wait for it… language professor.  He is a doctor; he earned a PhD in French from Columbia University.

His “sneaky linguistic secret” was graduated-interval recall, and it’s only a secret because people don’t know about it, it’s not like people stop talking about it when you walk by.

His distinguished work in language acquisition research and teaching methods have lead the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (of which Dr. Pimsleur was a founding member) and the Modern Language Journal to award the ACTFL-MLJ Paul Pimsleur Award for Research in Foreign Language Education in his honor since 1976… to language professors.

So the whole “Language Professors HATE HIM!” is a fat lie.  Tacky; it dishonors his life’s work.

The whole thing is a straw man argument.  There are language learning and language teaching experts in the world, telling you things like “listen attentively, practice your target language often and well; stop focusing on English” etc;  however, we are incapable of listening to that expert advice.

No, it has to be re-packaged as a “sneaky linguistic” secret; the experts themselves have to be disguised as some medical doctor (you KNOW that was the subtext) who has gone rogue and whose secret method can no longer be suppressed….

I used Pimsleur Mandarin.  I thought I was learning phrases and responses, but it didn’t take long for me to realize that the real benefit was the phonology; I was getting excellent pronunciation and tone training.  In fact, if you’ve taken a phonology class, or if you just have a really good ear, the Pimsleur series might just be the best product on the market for pronunciation.

I wouldn’t spend any money on it though.  Dr. Pimsleur has long since passed away; his language course legacy was sold to Simon & Schuster in 1997, so your hard earned money is only going to helping them buy these insulting internet ads.

Most, if not all, of the Pimsleur audio courses are available at your local library… or, if you are so inclined, you can pirate them all off the internet.  If Simon & Schuster are going to so crassly use his image and his name, then I’m just going to fail to care if people steal from them.

9 thoughts on “Whom do I hate, again?

  1. I couldn’t agree more with this article. I’ve used Pimsleur, all from the local library, for Spanish, Italian, French, and Portuguese and while I wouldn’t by any means claim to be fluent in any of these, using Pimsleur has given me the confidence in each of these languages to strike up conversations with native speakers in random places because I’ve never found myself misunderstood and have been able to carry the simple conversation. A great beginning in my opinion to studying a language.


  2. Not to defend Simon & Schuster, but was the ad actually run by them? It seems that most of the Pimsleur ads I see are run by resellers.


  3. Pingback: Whom do I hate, again? | you don't have to read v2.0 « Pimsleur

  4. Yes, thanks for this informative post. I blogged about it last week, but I didn’t pour in the time that you did to actually research it. I had no idea that that is Dr. Pimsleur in the picture–I figured it was just a model. No doubt, it’s a stupid and crass advertisement. “Sneaky linguistic secret”– yes, they know all the trigger words to use to reel in customers. I wonder how many people end up purchasing the product based on that hook.


  5. I see tacky ads for Pimsleur on Facebook (A woman with a seemingly open shirt) and it seems strange because I thought Pimsleur was somewhat respectable. I agree with the library idea. Our local has plenty of Pimsleur to check out.


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