Review of Pimsleur Swedish Compact

This is a review of Pimsleur Swedish Compact, the 10 lesson audio course published by Simon and Schuster. The Pimsleur method is largely consistent from one language course to another, so many of the features of this product are similar to Pimsleur Compact courses for other languages (see the end of the article for a complete list). For a more in-depth look at the Pimsleur method and general review of Pimsleur products, read my Pimsleur Review

The Pimsleur Swedish Compact course is in the same basic format as all other Pimsleur Compact courses. 10 lessons of one half-hour of audio with a small booklet for some reading exercises. The audio material requires no text or reading, it is purely conversational with instruction in English. The reading exercises are tacked on to the last few minutes of each lesson.

The subject matter covered in the Pimsleur Swedish Compact course is similar to the material covered in any introductory language course - basic greetings, saying your name, asking for something to eat or drink, telling time, asking for directions, using numbers etc - all with Pimsleurs unique and excellent conversational method.

This is both good news and bad news. The good news is that Pimsleurs method is excellent. It is effortless to use and it will help you to achieve a better accent and pronunciation than just about any other language method. The conversational approach is great. It gets you hearing and speaking the language right away. This is very important for a language like Swedish. Its pronunciation needs to be heard and imitated, more so than many other languages.

The bad news is that the Compact course just isn't long enough. It is only an introductory course, but Simon and Schuster don't offer any longer courses for Swedish or any of the other Compact Course languages. The Pimsleur method really thrives in a much longer format like its flagship Comprehensive courses. Hearing and speaking Swedish is a little tricky with its tones and unique rhythm and this course just isn't long enough to get a handle on them.

Another drawback to this short format is the lack of useful vocabulary. Pimsleurs conversations are scripted or guided. When applied to real life however, what are the odds you will understand a conversation? Ask someone what time it is and the answer will come in one of 3 or 4 different ways. Ask for directions, and you could get an answer with a great variety of vocabulary. The odds of the native speaker you are talking to using Pimsleurs exact vocabulary is slim.

If you found yourself in that situation with a Swede and asked them to repeat themselves, speak slower, or asked what a word meant, he would probably respond in excellent English and the rest of the conversation would be in English. Almost all Scandinavians speak very good English.

These limitations make it difficult to recommend Pimsleur Swedish Compact as a standalone language method.

Pimsleur Swedish Compact works fairly well as an audio supplment to another method or a more comprehensive method, if the money is not an issue. Unfortunately, there simply aren't many alternatives for learning Swedish. RosettaStone, Teach Yourself, Transparent Language, Penton Overseas and others make products for learning Swedish, but none of them to the same level as for the more popular languages like Spanish or French.

The Pimsleur Swedish Compact course works best as just an introduction to the language - basic structure, vocabulary, the fundamental sounds of the language. For that, it is good, although a little too expensive and not too useful. If this was expanded even to an Instant Conversation course, it would have much more value. I hope there will be a Pimsleur Swedish Comprehensive course someday. That I would wholeheartedly recommend. This, I cannot unless you can get it cheap or resell it on eBay after you are finished.

Other Pimsleur Compact courses

Albanian, Armenian (East and West), Croatian, Danish, Dutch (a Comprehensive level course is scheduled for release in May of 2007), Swiss German, Haitian Creole, Indonesian, Lithuanian, Norwegian, Portuguese (Continental), Irish (to be released in February 2007), Swahili, Romanian and Twi. There are also courses entitled Learn to Speak and Understand that sells for less than Compact. The packaging is different but it is essentially the same course.

In some cases, there are Basic courses (also essentially the same 10 lesson course) for languages that now have a Comprehensive level course, but were available only as Compact courses before. Thai, Farsi, Korean, Polish, Vietnamese, Czech and Hindi are all Comprehensive Level 1 courses now.

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