Pablo Pimsleur: Your Guide to Foreign Languages

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Call him 保罗, Pablo, or Bulus. Anyway it’s written it translates to Paul, my Rosetta Stone for foreign languages. The importance of learning the local languages for international travel goes without saying. It can be helpful when you’re stuck in no man’s land in Sudan, in dealing with shady taxi drivers in Shanghai, or when buying bottles of Malbec at wineries in Argentina.

But how are you supposed to brush up on your español or practice your putonghua when you don’t have a moment to spare? My tried and true method is the Pimsleur Approach. Pimsleur is an American linguist who theorized that the easiest way to learn language was by listening and repeating. His courses are broken down into three units. Each unit has 30 lessons and each lesson is 30 minutes long.

Using 保罗Pimsleur, I taught myself enough Mandarin in 90 days to run around China for the summer. Before heading to Latin America, I put Pablo Pimsleur on chipmunk speed and zip through the Spanish courses. This time around, I’m tackling my parent’s native tongue and using Bulus Pimsleur for Arabic before heading to Egypt.

Pimsleur gives me the confidence to at least attempt to speak the language when I arrive in a new country and the brashness to believe that I am a native speaker after I’ve had a couple. These conversations indubitably enhance my travel experience and allow me to get into/get out of situations I would not normally encounter but for my purported language skills.

So the next time you are deciding if you should go to Australia or Azerbaijan, opt for the latter and pick up a copy of Pavel Pimsleur and opt for adventure.

*Note: The courses are expensive to purchase but your local library may have them available for free.

Arabic is handy in the desert of Dubai
Arabic is handy in the desert of Dubai

 

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