Pimsleur French and Spanish
I have tried and continue to try a variety of methods for reviving my college French and learning Spanish for the first time. Most audio language methods are not effective and are boring. They seem to consist of someone reading long lists of words. There is little or no opportunity to use these new words. There is certainly no opportunity to absorb these new words as the speaker is moving through so many words that it is impossible to remember them.
And then I discovered Pimsleur. Pimsleur is amazing. The program introduces a few words at a time and then has the learner use those words in natural conversation. There is so much repetition built into the program that the learner quickly learns and uses the new words. I find myself mumbling Spanish and French to myself, showing that I have truly absorbed what I have learned. I listen to Pimsleur when I drive, which is about the only time I have to study. I have computer CDs, links to online courses (I recommend the BBC courses), and books at home, but I rarely have time to use them.
Thanks to Pimsleur, I have a far stronger grasp of French pronunciation than I ever acquired in college.
If there was one improvement to Pimsleur, I wish that the audio had a printed script that I could refer to when I get stuck on a word or concept. Although the program discourages any written component, I find that I learn words faster when I write them down and see them in print. At times I have looked up words in reference books to make sure that I am hearing them correctly.
As a recommended text, I suggest buying French Made Simple or Spanish Made Simple. These books are written in the desired language on one side of the page and in English on the other side, so they make a great companion to The Pimsleur CDs.
As for the cost, if you shop around, you can buy a 30 lesson set for about $160. The site where I buy them has a buyback program, which lowers the final cost to about $70 (when shipping costs are taken in account). This is comparable to the cost of an adult education course, but I believe someone would learn far more from Pimsleur.