Pimsleur Spanish I Language Program Review + My Complete Lesson Notes

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Pimsleur Spanish IIf you’re mainly looking for my lesson notes on Pimsleur Spanish I, you can directly download the PDF here.

I love languages. I love listening to people speaking in different languages. But more than that, I love learning them. While I believe the best way to learn a language is to surround yourself with native speakers, most of us aren’t fortunate to have a multilingual circle of friends.

Signing up for language classes is one option, but not always a possibility. Besides, large groups narrow down your chances of receiving adequate teacher-to-student interaction.

The second and, in my opinion, best alternative is self-learning (of course!) And I’ve been lucky to have stumbled across an incredibly good set of language learning tools for self-learners: The Pimsleur Method. Let me tell you about it in greater detail.

Pimsleur Spanish I is the first 30-lesson course for absolute beginners. It assumes that you have no prior knowledge in Spanish, or in language learning in general. In fact, it omits grammar altogether and makes you learn the language organically.

It may sound counter-intuitive to dismiss grammar, but thanks to Pimsleur I’ve discovered an efficient way to master the basics of a language so that you can actually use it in real life. Here’s how it works…

One of the core principles employed by the Pimsleur language programs is a method called Graduated Interval Recall that stores words and phrases in your long-term memory. Your virtual teacher will introduce practical words and phrases relevant to the theme of the lesson at a comfortably slow pace, not to make you overwhelmed with terminology. The words are then transferred from your short-term to your long-term memory by using them in similar contexts at carefully chosen intervals. Your virtual teacher will, for instance, ask you, “Do you remember how to say ‘What time is it?’” The idea is that these frequent pop quizzes make sure that words don’t drift away as you progress.

So is it all about repetition? Absolutely not. While you’re frequently repeating the same words and phrases, you’re also making variations of them and using them in different scenarios. So there is definitely a fair amount of repetition, but not the dull kind (except perhaps during the first couple of lessons when your vocabulary is still very limited).

When I had to study Swedish in junior high and high school, our teacher would take an audio tape from her drawer and play it to us. Later we would answer a dozen questions related to what we had just heard. It was for improving listening comprehension, but it lacked interaction and purpose. At least I just felt like an outsider passively listening to a conversation about an uninteresting topic, trying to figure out what was being discussed. We weren’t part of the conversation responding to expressions naturally as the conversation progressed.

I’ll admit, of course, that Pimsleur does have its share of plain and cheesy conversations, but you’re not going to care when you get to actually use the language yourself. It’s not just listening comprehension because you’re expected to understand what people are saying and respond to them accordingly. You are actually being trained to take part in conversations.

Here’s a simple example:

You meet María in front of your hotel…
She says, “I want to eat something.”
How would you answer: “I know a good restaurant called Bolívar on California Street. Let’s go there together.”

On other occasions you’re expected to come up with your own answers:

You are taking a walk in a small Peruvian town when a friendly old man walks up to you.
Mr Rodríguez: Hello. How are you?
You: [your response]
Mr Rodríguez: Are you from here?
You: [your response]
Mr Rodríguez: But you speak Spanish well.
You: [your response]

The great thing about having no grammar lessons is that you are never asked to memorize complex declension tables or conjugation rules. The program takes care of that naturally. So rather than scanning through a hazy mental image of the conjugation table for the irregular verb estar, you’ll automatically recall how the phrase is going to be constructed when referring to José, that is, a third person. The program conditions you to dynamically employ the material covered in the course based on context, rather than formulae.

So what you’re not going to learn during the first course are the 10 tenses. Instead, you’ll learn how to speak confidently in the present tense, and how to express yourself in present perfect—i.e. “I have drunk Mexican beer.” Why would you want to start off by confusing yourself with dozens of different rules when you could just skip it and focus on learning how to use the most commonly used present tense?

What you’ll learn…

  • In a nutshell: you’ll learn to have basic conversations in Spanish, with variety.
  • Get a solid foundation.
  • Present tense (“I eat,” or “I’m eating.”)
  • Present perfect (“I have eaten.”)
  • Verb conjugations for I, you, he/she/it, we, you (plural), they
  • The casual you (Tú quieres.)
  • How to ask for directions
  • How to order food and drink in a restaurant
  • How to introduce yourself
  • How to ask a girl to write down her phone number

…and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. It’s hard to categorize everything since there are so many small things that make up the whole. To get a complete list of topics covered in the program, you should download my notes, and explore.

Some Bottlenecks

Of course, rarely does a product come without any flaws. Let’s take a look at the two main weaknesses that I’ve personally found while using the language program. Pimsleur Spanish I is such an excellent program that I’m going to be nitpicking rather than giving solid criticism…

Since Pimsleur Spanish I is primarily a course on Latin American Spanish (it’s clearly printed on the cover), the first course does not cover the pronoun vosotros (casual form of the plural you), which is more commonly used in Spain, nor any verb conjugations associated with it. This means that you’ll either have to learn it in a later course or use alternative sources to figure out how it works.

The reading booklet that comes with the audio discs is extremely shallow. I know that it’s an audio program, but since they decided to include a booklet, they could’ve put a bit more effort into it. The booklet just covers a handful of phrases used in the last unit of the course, and doesn’t really have any substantial benefit. You’re obviously not going to learn how to spell your Spanish words correctly just by studying the booklet. This is actually why I’ve created my own “booklet” for revision and for learning how to read and write Spanish.

My Lesson Notes

These are my personal notes I’ve taken while using Pimsleur Spanish I. They’re not to be taken as a transcript of any kind. I’ve only tried to record the main concepts covered in the program. While there certainly is repetition in the notes, I’ve handpicked the variations that I’ve deemed most important. The notes alone are not going to teach you how to speak or understand Spanish, so you’ll definitely need to get a copy of the audio program to accomplish that. My notes are only there to complement the audio lessons.

I’ve decided to publish my notes because I believe they can help those who already own Pimsleur Spanish I and are looking for a more comprehensive reference than the official booklet. I’ve used Google Translate to get the correct spelling for every Spanish word used in the notes, but if you notice any typos or other errors please let me know.

» Download Pimsleur Spanish I Notes (PDF 90 KB)

If you’re interested in learning Spanish on your own, I recommend you either buy the Pimsleur Spanish I language program or borrow it from your local library. It’s pricier than other self-study courses, but it’s definitely worth the investment. I don’t know of any other language learning program that can teach you how to speak Spanish as effectively and without hassle as the Pimsleur program.


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If you’re interested to learn other languages using Pimsleur’s innovative method, you might find these language programs interesting:

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56 Responses to “Pimsleur Spanish I Language Program Review + My Complete Lesson Notes”

Aug 8, 2011

Hi Eric,

Do you have notes for Pimsleur Spanish II ?

I am stuck on their use of what sounds like “cada” for the english word “located”.

Aug 9, 2011

Hi brianna, I haven’t started working on Pimsleur Spanish II yet, but stay tuned. ;)

Could the word be ubicada? Por ejemplo, “una tienda ubicada en el centro comercial.”

Aug 20, 2011

Your notes are great! Saves me a lot of trouble! Thanks a ton, Eric! Hope you’ll have Pimsleur Spanish II out soon!

Aug 20, 2011

You’re welcome, pashya! :)

Oct 4, 2011

Hi Eric,

I would like the transcript for Spanish II also. There is a website with free transcripts called, “TorrentReactor.net/PimsleurSpanishTranscripts
I am unable to download it and am wondering if it is safe to continue to try to.
Your opinion would be appreciated.
Thanks, Shirley

Oct 8, 2011

Hi Shirley!

I’m planning to take notes (not a transcript) on Spanish II in the future, so I’ll let you know when that happens.

I recommend that you practice caution when using torrent sites in general since files are shared semi-anonymously, and you never know if they contain malware.

Eric

Oct 10, 2011

A transcript isn’t needed, in fact a transcript defeats the Pimsleur learning theory.

But notes (like your level I notes) would be awesome because there are a series of words in the lessons that are not pronounced clearly or consistently. It is hard to be certain what you are hearing. It would be like you grow up thinking the place with the books is a liberry, instead of library.

Oct 14, 2011

I think the word Brianna is looking for is quedar. the verb to be kept, to locate. La tienda se queda en la calle primero. The store is located on first street.

Oct 22, 2011

Thanks so much for sharing this! I’ve been enjoying the Pimsleur Spanish I program, but I’m a visual learner, so your notes will be a great help.

Dec 31, 2011

I appreciate your notes. They are very helpful. I echo the point that Brianna made, some of the words are difficult to hear properly. In those cases it is necessary to see them. The analogy of hearing a word like library and thinking it is liberry is a good example.

Jan 22, 2012

Eric. Thank you for the work you did on these notes. Man, I was really struggling with Unit 27 and you completely clarified it for me.

Much gratitude!

Jan 22, 2012

My pleasure!

Mar 15, 2012

Thanks Eric,

I was struggling on lessons 27 & 28. Now that I clearly understand what’s been asked\said, learning Spanish is fun again!

Keep up the good work! ;-)

Mar 15, 2012

That’s awesome, John!! Are you planning to continue with the Pimsleur series?

Mar 25, 2012

I have been using Pimsleur for Brazilian Portuguese and your review accurately highlights the strengths (and some minor weaknesses) of the program. I do wish that there were more written materials included, but having looked at the notes you created for Spanish I, I’ve decided to make my own. In a way, the lack of written material in Pimsleur forces the learner to decide what he/she needs to know, and then go find it. I can’t imagine using the program without a decent grammar book and a dictionary, for example. I’ve also found some other helpful resources to support my learning. Thanks for an informative review, your other posts on learning a language, and your outstanding notes, which have inspired me to do it myself!

Mar 25, 2012

Cheers, Phil! I encourage you to do so. You’ll learn a lot just from making the notes.

When you’re done, I’d gladly like to link to your notes if you decide to publish them.

Apr 25, 2012

Thanks alot for sharing your notes, they’re great! I listen to Pimsleur as well as study Fluenz. They are great together and complement each other if you want to try that approach. I’ve finished Fluenz (latin) spanish I+II and Pimsleur (spanish) I+II. I will be starting on the 3rd parts of both of them soon and would love to be notified if you do release notes on Pimsleur II so that I could pick up all the little words I probably missed. Thanks

May 2, 2012

Thank you so much ! I listen to the last two lessons I’ve done, and then a new one each day. So I do each one about three times. (I did the full French set this way and it worked.) I won’t use your notes for any of those verbal lessons, but thay are really useful for reviewing older lessons and (by adding a second column) highlighting words or phrases that are particularly problematic. I was just about to do the same thing when I found your site….THANK YOU. I’ll look forward to Spanish 2 notes — which I’ll be starting in about a week ! (Perhaps I’ll turn your notes into flash cards as well.) I would be great if Pimsleur provided a single “total review lesson” or a lesson comprised of review sentences that cover all 30.

May 6, 2012

I just found your site with the Pimsleur notes for Spanish I and today is when I really needed them. Lesson 26 is giving me some trouble. The words seem easy but it is hard for me to pick up the correct pronunciation on this lesson. I read earlier that 27 and 28 are problematic also. I will be starting Pimsleur II in about 5 days and am looking foward to those notes. I have your site bookmarked and will share it with some friends who are also trying to learn Spanish.

May 7, 2012

I am thinking about creating notes for Pimsleur Spanish II & III, is there a system you used Eric that simplified this process? In addition, I would gladly pay someone for the additional notes if they have them.

The transcripts on the torrent site are of very low quality. There is only a list of the new words for the first five lessons and there are huge gaps of information so it is virtually impossible to follow. A list of the new words introduced are all I need.

May 7, 2012

Hi Rodney. I mainly used Google Translate to make sure I was spelling the words correctly.

You can also use Google to retranslate the English back into Spanish and see if any of the words match.

May 7, 2012

Rodney:

I’d be willing to pay as well. In addition, although I have not had any issues with 1-26. . .27 and 28 are monsters. Although I’m not supposed to read or write anything outside of the audio — I have done 28 about 4 times and have decised I just have to write it down and analyze it. (A quick listen to 29 was not more appealing!)

This to shall pass (I hope.)

May 9, 2012

Hi, doing the notes is a must, I’d picked up one of the Franklin handheld electronic dictionary, perfect for looking the words & having the verb conjugators built in. Plus its fun to see the words after you’ve learned them audibly.

Jun 22, 2012

Update. . . Well I survived 27 and 28 and am now moving forward, albeit just a bit slower. 29-34 are definately easier again. I was just wondering if anyone ever did notes to Level 2 or 3. Thanks !! (Now that I know what I’m doing, I sometimes go on Google Translate and test myself on “new” phrases to see if I can spontaneously ask and answer. I get about 80% — pretty darn good.)

Jul 6, 2012

Just finished lesson 30 of Spanish 1. I found lessons 27-28 to be very challenging as well. I too am looking forward to a study guide for Spanish 2 (and 3 eventually). Any updates on this?

I found it most helpful to use the notes as review after I’d listen to my lesson for the day. Periodically throughout the day I would run through all of the words/phrases.

Jul 9, 2012

Hi Tim, lately I’ve been focusing on Mandarin Chinese, so unfortunately there are no updates on notes for Pimsleur Spanish II at the moment.

Oct 31, 2012

Hello Eric,

I am new to your page, just started the course and was looking for notes. Love your page and thank you for the notes. On to lesson… 2… lol.

Oct 31, 2012

Nice! Good luck, Kimberly!

Nov 9, 2012

Eric, your notes and review of Pimsleur Spanish I are absolutely terrific!

As I continue in Spanish, I’m also going to start French I. Please let me know if you develop in notes for French!

Jan 31, 2013

Hi Eric – thanks for all that work. I’m wondering if you or anyone else understands the beginning dialogue for lesson 28. It’s after the woman says, is that a north american film. He answers something and though I’ve tried many times to figure out his reply,.. I’m not getting it. Any help is appreciated!
Thanks.

Jan 31, 2013

Susan, I listened to unit 28 again and here’s what I heard for the dialogue. The words “me han” run together in spoken Spanish. Hope this helps!

A: Hola, Juan, no lo he visto en mucho tiempo. A dónde va?

B: A ver una película. Se llama “Ayer, Hoy, y Siempre.”

A: Ah, sí? No la conozco. Es una película norteamericana?

B: Sí, y me han dicho que es muy bueno. Quiere ir conmigo? (“me han dicho” = “they’ve told me” or “I’ve heard”).

A: Sí, gracias.

B: Bien, está en el cine Bolívar. Vamos.

Jan 31, 2013

Oops, I made a mistake: it should be “buena” and not “bueno” in the phrase “me han dicho que es muy buena.” Also, I didn’t put in the inverted question mark at the beginning of the questions. I think everything else is OK :)

Feb 5, 2013

Hey Eric, thank you so much for these notes!!!! Do you still plan to do a set for Spanish II?

Feb 5, 2013

Hi Azarias, Pimsleur Spanish II is still on hold, unfortunately. I’ve shifted my focus from Spanish to Mandarin Chinese. But I’ll let you know if I happen to find any resources on Spanish II or later installments.

Feb 16, 2013

Thanks very much! (If anyone else seeing this happens to know of a Spanish II pdf like this, please post here! )

Mar 2, 2013

Hi Mr. Eric
thanks for all that work. i looking for note like you do or transcript for Pimsleur italian I,II,III ..so can you help me
thanx in advance

Mar 2, 2013

Cheers! I’m sorry, tashane, but I don’t have Pimsleur Italian in my collection. Perhaps you can try to make your own? ;)

Mar 3, 2013

Thanks for your kindly response <<
and beautiful your morals<<

Apr 22, 2013

I’ve just started Spanish I and yes, the notes help A LOT … mainly just the vocab and a few sentences from the lesson is all that’s really need, if I finish Spanish I before Eric finishes the notes for Spanish II I’ll start a blog or something and post the link here for the notes. Thankfully I’m learning spanish because it will make my job easier, and have native speakers to talk to about my issues with the lessons :)

Apr 23, 2013

Lauren: Challenge accepted. :D

Apr 23, 2013

I started with Pimsluer but because of the lack of documentation I switched to “Learning Spanish Like Crazy” which uses the same method as Pimsluer but is more relevant and has notes for each lesson.

May 26, 2013

1st comment was funny, i got stuck on exact same word, sounds like que tha?? for locate, cant find any translations that match… how is that transcript for ii going? i am trying to do myself for study but getting stuck in a few places

May 26, 2013

ok 1st commenter think i found it
that is if you are still interested in knowing some 2-3 years later…
queda : he/she stays.
guessing it can be used in the context on pimsluer. donde queda el metro (where is the station located)
if any on reads this and would like to correct me please do :)

Aug 4, 2013

Thanks Eric for these great notes!

Re the first post I believe the word that sounds like “cada” (located) is actually “queda” (conjugation of quedar).

E.g. “queda en la calle ocho”

My spanish dictionary had a hard time with the location meaning, this dictionary says it means “to stay; to remain”.
http://www.spanishdict.com/translate/quedar

Aug 6, 2013

I have been using your Notes for Spanish Pimsleur 1 and they were great, thank you! Do you have the notes for Spanish Pimsleur 2 and 3?

Sep 3, 2013

Love your Notes for Spanish Pimsleur 1…….Soooo any news on Notes for 2 & 3 Please *^_^*

hey, I was surfing the web trying to find the transcript of the pimsleur italian lessons. i was reading the comments about learning spanish and i had no idea that so many people were studying spanish. in my contry (the Dominincan Republic) it is said that spanish serves only to beg. lol.

I have personlly been transcripting pimsleur in English level 1 and 2.( for my students) and I am thinking about doing it for German, French and Italian. I need Japanese and Chinese notes or transcriptions.
If I can help anybody in Spanish, I would be glad to.

Mar 4, 2014

Your Spanish Notes I made the Pimsleur course worthwhile. Please let me know when 2 & 3 are available either from you or from someone like Mr. Cesar Rodriguez. How can I contact him? Or would you please have him email me.

Thank you very much.
Mary

Mar 31, 2014

Please let me know when 2 & 3 are available either from you or from someone like Mr. Cesar Rodriguez. Please send it to me at sogr666@gmail.com

Thanks,
Sam

Jul 10, 2014

Thanks for sharing your notes. I appreciate the generosity!

Aug 6, 2014

Dear Cesar Antonio Rodriguez! Please, if you will see my message – sent me your transcriptions for Spanish to the e-mail mrbdv@mail.ru

Thank you!

Aug 12, 2014

I need your notes for lesson 2 & 3. Please let me know when 2 & 3 are available

Aug 13, 2014

Hello. Thanks a lot for sharing the notes. very helpful. I wonder if notes for Spanish II and II have been crated. I would really appreciate if if someone can share them. My email: Anaskabanie@yahoo.com

Aug 13, 2014

Hi, I’m sorry but we probably won’t be seeing notes for Pimsleur Spanish 2 and 3 here. I’m primarily focusing on Mandarin Chinese.

Aug 17, 2014

Fantastic! You’ve provided a partial transcription. I’ve been listening to Piimsleur Spanish during my commute for several months. I’ve been thinking a transcription would be great for learning the spelling – and better understanding what I’m hearing.

When thinking about taking more than some rough handwritten notes myself, I had concluded that when I start typing Spanish, standard English Microsoft Word and a standard English keyboard would work fine. Or, has somebody found a significantly better answer?

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