Pimsleur Caveats

I"ve been doing one Pimsleur lesson a day and halfway through the beginner volume. So far it’s been fantastic in terms of shadowing useful phrases, and has improved my listening comprehension as well.

However, I’m wondering if there is a resource out there that points out what Pimsleur gets wrong.

For example, it sometimes teaches you to use あなた to invite an acquaintance/business colleague to lunch. According to the following article I don’t think it should be?

Shouldn’t you only use X-さん?

Also wondering:
What accent do the example speakers use?
Do they sound formal in a natural and elegant way, or do they instead sound stiff and stilted?


You always have videos like this one:


Lol, thanks will check out that channel!
I’m looking rather for a list of everything that the Pimsleur program in particular gets wrong though so that I get a heads up while going through all the lessons.

I would also be interested in that list if it exists! I really like pimsleur for speaking/shadowing practice and haven’t found a good replacement but have also heard that it teaches some too formal/outdated stuff.

On あなた - I’m in unit 3 now and I can’t remember the last time it prompted you to use that so I think it’s maybe something that they at least move away from in favour of "x-さん” or just omitting most of the time.


Ugh. Any textbook that uses any of the second-person pronouns anywhere in the first half of the teaching material needs to be burned.

English uses “you” in almost every sentence, and the only way to break that habit for English speakers learning Japanese is to not teach how to say it at all. Don’t use it in examples at all. Start teaching them only when learners have a firm concept of just what Japanese sentences sound like.


I would also be really curious about this! I’m considering using Pimsleur as a way to drill pitch accent and pronunciation, but if the pitch accent is incorrect or the speakers sound stilted, I wouldn’t want to spend time and effort squishing it into my brain. I’m not so worried about grammatical and cultural stuff, since that’s the sort of thing I expect to absorb through exposure. Pitch accent I’m finding needs much more deliberate practise.

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The only credit I could find for Pimsleur was this guy:

If that’s him then it’s standard Tokyo pitch accent and his delivery is pretty smooth.

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Yeah, I went into this knowing it wasn’t perfect. :stuck_out_tongue: I really like the format though and how easily I can fit it into my schedule! So I’m not quite yet ready to ditch it altogether.

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If you’re not currently needing to speak to Japanese people, I would recommend focusing on the physical-exercise benefits of using Pimsleur (because speaking is physical exercise), and continue taking it’s content with a grain of salt as you’ve already done.


Been watching her videos a lot lately, she’s great!

Another great channel that I can recomend for a more “common/casual” japanese is Japanese Ammo.

And if you like shadowing, you can also check NativShark!

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Well, that escalated quickly.

Who hurt you?


Agreed. Words fall in and out of general use all of the time and any language resource- unless it’s updated regularly- is just a snapshot in time. Getting too caught up in what is “wrong” (aka what is no longer part of the current lexicon), when it doesn’t necessarily effect the skill of speaking or having people understand you (as an obvious language learner), is not worth the trouble in my opinion.

My focus with Pimsleur is to supplement my grammar studies- I totally ignore the non-relevant vocabulary because I am more interested in the difficult (for me) mental exercise of building sentences without a visual aid. Plus, once one has sentence structure down, vocabulary can be swapped around easily enough.


あなた did :joy:


Well, it’s not, but still, if Japanese people think it’s lowkey disrespectful to forget their names, who are we to judge?


Well see, this one time, at about 3.27pm Tokyo Time, I was at Asakusa station. While I was there I walked passed an advertisement that said あなた. Knowing that this was single handedly the worst word in the Japanese language, I didn’t want any old ladies to have a heart attack upon seeing it from the massive offense. So I destroyed the ad.

I was so proud of saving Japan from that nightmare that I went to the Koban and told them what I did. However, the cops, all they saw was a foreigner talking to them, and as they do, arrested me for making them have to do work. I sat in a holding say for somewhere between 72 hours and 3 months, I’m not sure exactly.

Eventually I went in front of the judge, for the severe Meiwaku I had caused to the police, and presumably the printer of the advertisement, who had actually committed seppuku the week before as he couldn’t stand the dishonor of what had happened. The Judge asked me what my defense was. I told him that some J-vlogger had explained the situation about the word, that it was as almost as bad as sticking your chopsticks directly in a bowl. The judge was pretty impressed by this. No one with the respected career of J-Vlogger could ever lie, and you have to pass a pretty important test to get your Vlog license in Japan. So, they told me my Nihongo was Jyozu and let me off.

Shortly after, I met the Emperor, who told me that he personally would make sure the two cops were fired, out of a canon, into the sun. In addition, he saw the arrest as a personal failure of his Imperial duties, and decided that he was going to step down. However, to save face I decided that I’d keep it a secret for him, and he can just talk about how he was old and bored of being Emperor.

And that is the story of how I got Japan an new Emperor.


Ah, I was wondering why he suddenly abdicated. You couldn’t have convinced him to wait two more years, so the imperial-year-to-calendar-year conversion would be that much simpler to do in your head?


I had also watched a video about all the different Era names from a different J-Vlogger and was hoping to do one of those random 1 or 2 year Eras that exist.


Are you only using Pimsleur for shadowing? If so, I would personally switch to something else to avoid those problems altogether. I finished all of Pimsleur 1 and half of Pimsleur 2, and I enjoyed it a lot until I realized there are better ways to learn.

This is a good resource for shadowing Shadowing Let's Speak Japanese 2 Books Bundle Set, Beginner to Intermediate & Intermediate to Advanced Edition, Original Sticky Notes: Hitoshi Saito, Rieko Sakai: Books - Amazon.ca

Podcasts in native Japanese will do much more for you in the long run (especially for listening comprehension). If you slow them down a bit you can also use them for shadowing practice. I recommend Nihongoconteppei for beginners - there are hundreds of episodes and you can learn a lot of useful stuff

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Thank you, this looks good. Yes I do listen to Nihongo con Teppei; it’s great and what I used before Pimsleur. He doesn’t give you time to repeat the materials he presents though, which was what I appreciated about Pimsleur. I will check out Shadowing Let’s Speak.

In the end, figure out what works for you.

If you like Pimsleur, stick to it until the end or for as far as you want to go. There is no reason to keep resetting and resetting too often to use another “this amazing tool” has set me back quite a bit in my studies.

There is no perfect learning resource. They are all flawed. All have pros. All have cons. The only tools that actually matter are the tools you use and work through.

I personally use Pimsleur. It’s easy (easy in that easy for me to use and find time for it). Do I agree with some of the word choices? Not always but that’s not the point for me. Practice is the point and Pimsleur gets me practicing.

The other great thing? Just because you start using another tool, doesn’t mean you can’t keep using Pimsleur as well. Practice is practice!

I may be coming off as kind of preachy here. Not my intent. I am just coming around to accepting that this Japanese journey has taken me 20 years because I don’t focus. Don’t be me is my point :smiley: