Any good? Why do you guys who live in Taiwan think of it. The accent is heavily Beijingish (lots of -er), but other than that will they help you with tones, etc?

I’m on the third unit at this point and I think it has helped me a lot, but what is the opinion out there on forumosa? I hoped all that time hasn’t been in vain!

There are also other listening programs out there like chinesepod, how are these? I know they used the simplified characters though, which I personally can’t stand to see.

Hey again Kushluk :stuck_out_tongue:

I haven’t tried the Pimsleur Mandarin before (it would be bit too easy for me), but I did do all three levels of Pimsleur Japanese, and thought it was pretty good. Actually, I didn’t really learn anything new from it since it was too easy for me as well, but I think it was useful as a review, and a great way to get used to hearing the sounds of a language. The only complaint I would have is the lack of a written transcript.

I have only tried a few episodes of Chinesepod, so I can’t really comment on it, but I know they do have Traditional characters in their pdfs; it may have only started in the later units or found at the end of the file, but it’s there. I’ve been meaning to start Chinesepod, but I’m still trying to catch up with my Japanesepod lessons, which I think are great. I listen to them mainly for laughs cause most of the lessons are beginner level, but even if you don’t retain all of it, just hearing the language every day is helpful.

the accent is hilarious… other than that I thought it seemed pretty good… the portuguese one is nice :slight_smile:


My tutor’s suggestion to buy Pimsleur was a godsend!

I’d studied six languages before studying Chinese without a problem–it only took me three months to become conversant in French–so I knew how to learn a language. I knew I was good at learning languages. But Chinese! CHINESE!!! Chinese was killing me! I was beginning to lose confidence in myself. No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t remember any of the words I was learning. I listened to CDs for hours, bought all sorts of books, practiced with my two language exchange partners. But every week, the same thing would happen in class: the teacher would ask, “Did you study?” My partners would say, “You’ve got to study more.” They didn’t believe I was really trying. All my friends were frustrated with me, and I was wondering what was wrong with me.

Of course, I did know that part of the problem was that I couldn’t read; I’d learned the other languages by reading interesting novels. But, I didn’t have time to learn how to read. I needed to speak, right away! So, I was slogging through PinYin and CDs that made me fall asleep or spoke so quickly that I could never quite keep up. Watching kung fu movies helped a bit, but it still wasn’t enough. And really, how much vocab from a kungfu movie can you use on a regular basis?

Anyway, I got the Pimsleur CDs and started listening. My tutor noticed a difference in my fluency within two days. My vocab retention increased tremendously because of the repetition incorporated into the tape. Plus, they use a systematic breakdown method for the more difficult words/phrases in which they say the word/phrase backwards, part by part, and then two parts at a time, so you get physically used to positioning your mouth before you say the whole thing properly. Each new lesson builds on the previous one, with the timing of the repetions being lengthened so that you are encourage to store it in your long-term memory. Plus, it encourages a natural learning of the phrases by teaching the words in context, and using the same word in different contexts so you can see how just a few key words can be put together to make numerous useful phrases. I especially like that it doesn’t make you wait to learn past tense and adverbs until the end. And I always get complimented on my tones. :rainbow:

As for the downsides to Pimsleur, yes, it is basic. So, if you’ve already studied Chinese for a year, or intensively for a semester at a university, you probably don’t need it because you already know all the vocabulary. However, if you haven’t studied much Chinese, or you’ve studied, but don’t feel comfortable listening or speaking, then Pimsleur is a great buy. Don’t worry about the Beijing accent or mainland-specific vocab. That will be easy enough to sort out during your first three months in Taiwan.

Basically, Pimsleur helped me reach that “critical mass” level at which I have enough of a foundation in Chinese to learn (or at least understand) new words quickly–because I have a knowledge base to stick/relate them to.

I met a guy with pretty good Chinese that said he only used Pimsleur (and talked to a bunch of ladies.) Living in Taiwan long enough will “fix” that accent.

Based on my own limited experience with Pimsleur, I would only recommend it to a curious tourist with money to spend. For the absolute beginner, it’s probably useful for very basic vocab, grammar, and a general idea of what the most “prestigious” accent sounds like (hence the -er).

I’ve grown to love the book my class used: “Colloquial Chinese” by Pollard/Tung, I think. It gives you the standard accent, but the recorded dialogues and presentations flow like real speech (at least compared to others) and each has a fairly interesting story and punchline. There are a LOT of grammar points, each one explained in excruciating detail, and a lot of vocab. although some is outdated.

My dream team Chinese-learning materials would be Colloquial Chinese stuff (including Pinyin/grammar book and character book), an Ipod for the audio, Ipaq with PlecoDict, and a 4-inch-tall private teacher to carry around in my pocket.

Do you use PlecoDict? Think it’s worth it? I was considering getting it for my Axim, but it’s so expensive. I guess it beats lugging around 4 huge tomes though.

I can’t recommend PlecoDict strongly enough. The sad thing is, I bought it just after finishing a kamikaze Chinese dictionary course, where one section involved memorizing the 214 radicals along with their formal and common names, stroke counts, and numbers. I try to keep in shape by using PlecoDict’s radical lookup, but since the character recognition option is available, I take the easy path.

The flashcard option makes PlecoDict worth its price, period. It’s pretty complex and you can customize it however you want. I love it. Try a search on this forum for other info (PDA vs. Pocket PC versions, etc.).

Are you talking about the FULL Pimsleur course, or just the abbreviated version they sell for like $25 at bookstores? If you’re talking about the cheap version, I could understand why you think it’s useless. But the complete $600, 3-volume set is well worth the money in my opinion. I found the conversations to be very natural and easy to remember. Not as funny as the Berlitz Beginner’s French 1st Ed., but still good and more suitable to my needs. In fact, one of the reasons I like it is because I use a lot more of the vocab from it than from of the other more tourist-focused Mandarin learning programs. A lot of the situations are about getting a date, arranging activities with friends, and business phone calls.

Also, I think there’s something to be said for having a solid foundation in basic Chinese. Pimsleur is teaching you more than “Hello, how much is that hat?” It is getting you comfortable with grammar patterns and colloquial expressions to the point that they come naturally and you are not searching your memory to remember what the correct word order is–i.e., you are not translating from English to Chinese in your head, you are THINKING in Chinese. That’s important.

The FULL Pimsleur set has 90 30-minute lessons. It takes too much time to study them all and costs too much if someone is just a “curious tourist”.

If you’re interested in learning conversational Chinese and having a good start to getting by on your own in Taiwan, Pimsleur is a great buy. It will improve your speaking and listening skills–and your internalization of Chinese grammar–so that when you do take a more formal course involving written Chinese, you will learn more quickly and with less frustration.

I had already been studying Chinese with a private teacher for about a year before I found the Pimsleur lessons. After I started listening to them in the car, I had a marked increase in the number of compliments I got on my spoken Chinese. I quickly outgrew the Pimsleur series, but I still review level 3, just to keep up. The accent DOES sound a bit funny and put-on to local Taiwanese though.

Thanks for the info, Persephone… disregard my last post. I was actually referring to that basic $25 version, I had no idea they sold anything else. $600 is a ton of money though, would you say it’s really worth it? I still consider myself a beginner so I’m open to anything. I would prefer Taiwanese-accent material if it existed… I can only watch “Eat Drink Man Woman” and “Yiyi” so many times…

I used Pimsleur when I first arrived in Taiwan and I’m glad I did. I worked through the whole series of 90 lessons. Even though it’s a Beijing accent, it was great for getting my pronunciation down early in the game. I would recommend working through it quickly though because you really don’t learn that much vocabulary but you will remember pretty much everything that you do learn because it is arranged for optimal retention and repeats a lot. In my Pimsleur days some people recognized my accent as Beijing but still said that my pronunciation was good and that I could be clearly understood. I just had the problem of still not being able to understand what people were saying to me. It was the lack of vocabulary no doubt, but the exposure to basic grammar and sentence patterns you get with Pimsleur is great. I would listen to it while doing housework and on the bus etc. on my MP3 player. I would always repeat everything to myself to train my pronunciation muscles.
It still doesn’t beat a daily Chinese class but I think it’s a great way for a beginner to start off and a great pronunciation workout.
I’m listening to Chinesepod a little now. I think it’s great for learning new vocab and sentence patterns in context so that they’re easy to remember and for people looking to fill the post-Pimsleur void.

$600 is a lot. I’ve seen it priced as low as $450 on the internet. At that price, I think it’s worth it if you don’t have time for Chinese classes, or the Chinese classes you’ve signed up for are focusing too much on writing for your taste.

The cheapest way to go about it is to find someone who has it and borrow it. Or, you could order it from one of those books-on-tape websites. I’d give you a link, but I don’t remember the one I used. It was a three-month wait though–Pimsleur is popular and they only have a few sets of each language.

I bought all three of the Pimsleur sets on Ebay individually. I got I and II used, but I couldn’t find a used copy of III, so I bought it new on Ebay. They probably cost me around $450.

I thought the Pimsleur CDs were a great way for me to get started. However, once you finish all of them, I personally think that they have no replay value. But, that’s not a problem! You can just sell them again on Ebay and recoup some of your money—which reminds, I’ve been meaning to sell those things.