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Foreign Language Resources

Pimsleur Language Courses

Pimsleur courses are the only competent language tapes that can be used without redubbing and are the best way to get started in the languages they cover. Of the Pimsleur courses I have used, there aren't any that I don't highly recommend, although there is variation in quality and difficulty, as noted below. My estimated times for mastery of the courses assume no prior experience with the language and diligent, daily study of at least one hour per day.

Each course includes 30 half-hour recorded lessons and supplemental reading material. The point of the Pimsleur courses is to teach you how to speak and how to understand speech. For reading and writing, see the additional resources below.

The "US" and "CA" links are to Amazon.com and Amazon.ca respectively. Used Pimsleur tapes and CDs are frequently offered on Amazon, often priced more favorably than prevailing auction prices on eBay. Earlier editions should be much less expensive but sometimes politically out of date (ie, "Good morning, comrade policeman. Where is Red Square?")

I find tapes much easier to use than CDs because CD offers nothing equivalent to the "review" button on tape recorders. While the audio quality may be better on CD, the audio quality of the tapes is fine. The Sony TCM-5000EV is an excellent tape recorder for studying languages.

To encourage children to study foreign languages, I have put up a page of Harry Potter books in foreign languages.


Spanish I (Latin American). Too easy: 30 days or less.
CDs: US | CA
Cassettes: US | CA

Spanish II (Latin American). Excellent: 45 to 60 days. 3d. ed. 2003.
CDs: US | CA
Cassettes: US | CA

Spanish III (Latin American). Excellent: 45 to 60 days. 2d edition, 2004.
CDs: US | CA
Cassettes: US | CA


Portuguese I (Brazilian). Excellent: 45 to 60 days.
CDs: US | CA
Cassettes: US | CA

Portuguese II (Brazilian). Excellent: 45 to 60 days.
CDs: US | CA
Cassettes: US | CA

Portuguese III (Brazilian). Excellent: 45 to 60 days.
CDs: US | CA
Cassettes: US | CA


French I. Too easy: 30-45 days.
CDs: US | CA
Cassettes: US | CA

French II Very good: 45 to 60 days. (3d ed. 2003):
CDs: US | CA
Cassettes: US | CA

French III (2d ed. 2005). Excellent: 45 to 60 days.
CDs: US | CA
Cassettes: US | CA


Chinese (Mandarin) I. Excellent: 4 to 6 months. Quite difficult, but well worth the investment of time. No attempt is made to teach written Chinese. Mandarin is the official language of China and Taiwan, but Cantonese is spoken in Hong Kong and by most overseas Chinese in Malaysia, Indonesia and the US. Spoken Cantonese differs at least as much from Mandarin as German from English.
CDs: US | CA
Cassettes: US | CA

Chinese (Mandarin) II. 2002.
CDs: US | CA
Cassettes: US | CA

Chinese (Mandarin) III. 2003.
CDs: US | CA
Cassettes: US | CA


Chinese (Cantonese) I. (I have no experience with Pimsleur Cantonese.) Cantonese is useful in Malaysia and Indonesia, as well as in Canton and Hong Kong. Many Malaysian Chinese who attended Chinese schools do not speak English. Even though the Chinese language is banned in Indonesia, many Indonesian Chinese can speak Cantonese.
CDs: US | CA
Cassettes: US | CA
Russian I. Excellent - 60 days.
CDs: US | CA
Cassettes: US | CA

Russian II (2d ed. 2003)
CDs: US | CA
Cassettes: US | CA

Russian III (2d ed. 2004)
CDs: US | CA
Cassettes: US | CA


Japanese I. (I have no experience with Pimsleur Japanese.)
CDs: US | CA
Cassettes: US | CA

Japanese II (2d ed. 2004)
CDs: US | CA
Cassettes: US | CA

Japanese III.
CDs: US | CA
Cassettes: US | CA

Japanese III (2d ed., forthcoming 2006)
CDs: US | CA
Cassettes: US | CA


Vietnamese I. 2005.
CDs: US | CA
Cassettes: US | CA
Polish I. 2004.
CDs: US | CA
Cassettes: US | CA
Czech I. Forthcoming 2006.
CDs: US | CA
Cassettes: US | CA
Korean I. 2005.
CDs: US | CA
Cassettes: US | CA
Turkish I. Forthcoming 2006.
CDs: US | CA
Cassettes: US | CA
Eastern Arabic. 2003.
CDs: US | CA
Cassettes: US | CA
German I. Very good: 30 to 45 days.
CDs: US | CA
Cassettes: US | CA

German II. Excellent: 30 to 45 days.
CDs: US | CA
Cassettes: US | CA

German III. Excellent: 45 to 60 days.
CDs: US | CA
Cassettes: US | CA

German III. 2nd edition, forthcoming 2006.
CDs: US | CA
Cassettes: US | CA


Italian I. (I have no experience with Pimsleur Italian.)
CDs: US | CA
Cassettes: US | CA

Italian II (2d ed. 2004):
CDs: US | CA
Cassettes: US | CA

Italian III (2d ed. 2005).
CDs: US | CA
Cassettes: US | CA


Greek I. (I have no experience with Pimsleur Greek.)
CDs: US | CA
Cassettes: US | CA

To see what else may be available or forthcoming, check the Simon & Schuster website, then plug the ISBN numbers (if any) into the Amazon search box. Many of the Pimsleur courses are poorly indexed and incorrectly captioned by Amazon and are findable only by using the ISBN numbers.

Other Useful Language Resources

Michaelis Moderno Dicionário English-Portuguese / Portuguese-English. 1735 pages. Details. (Melhoramentos, 2000). The most complete bi-lingual dictionary, with more than 167,000 words. Most Portuguese-English dictionaries are woefully inadequate, even for translating newspapers and websites. US | UK | CA
Le Petit Larousse illustré 2005. 1855 pages. US | UK | DE | FR | CA | JP
Christopher Kendris. Master the Basics: French. Barron's. 2d edition, 1995. US | UK | CA
Christopher Kendris. Master the Basics: Spanish. Barron's. 2d edition, 1995. US | UK | CA
Backcountry MexicoBob Burleson & David H. Riskind. Backcountry Mexico: A traveler's guide and phrasebook. Not a language instruction book, but a good Spanish phrasebook and dictionary for birding trips. 311 pages. U. of Texas Press. 1986. US | UK | DE | FR | CA | JP
Lusin Natalia & Susan Follett Lusi. Master the Basics: Russian. Barron's. 1995. US | UK | CA
Paul G. Graves & Henry Strutz. Master the Basics: German. Barron's. 2d ed. 1995. US | UK | CA
Marcel Danesi. Master the Basics: Italian. Barron's. 2d ed. 1995. US | UK | CA
Avenida Brasil Vol. 1Avenida Brasil Vol. 2Emma Eberlein O.F. Lima et al. Avenida Brasil: curso básico de português para estrangeiros. Editora Pedagógica e Universitária Ltda., São Paulo.

Vol. 1 - Cassettes: US | DE | FR | CA | JP

Vol. 1 - teacher's manual: US | UK | DE | FR | CA | JP

Vol. 1 - student's manual: US | UK | DE | FR | CA | JP

Vol. 1 - exercises: US | UK | DE | FR | CA | JP

Vol. 1 - English glossary: US | UK | DE | FR | CA | JP

Vol. 2 - Cassettes: US | DE | FR | CA | JP

Vol. 2 - teacher's manual: US | UK | DE | FR | CA | JP

Vol. 2 - student's manual: US | UK | DE | FR | CA | JP

Vol. 2 - exercises: US | UK | DE | FR | CA | JP

Vol. 2 - English glossary: US | UK | DE | FR | CA | JP

Sutanto Atmosumarto. Colloquial Indonesian Pack: The Complete Course for Beginners. 2 cassettes, 2 CDs and book. Routledge 2004. The 2 yards and a cloud of dust approach to language learning: painful and time consuming, but the only alternative in the absence of Pimsleur Indonesian courses. US | CA

Copyright © 1992-2012 John Wall