Monday, October 03, 2016

Paul Noble vs. Pimsleur

Two of the most popular language course series are those by Paul Noble and Pimsleur.
Let's take a look at which one is best!

Paul Noble's Spanish Course

Pimsleur's Spanish Course
These language courses are extremely popular, particularly as they can be listened to on smart phones or in your car and don't require you to look at a book while you learn. This leaves the big question(s) though: Which should I use first? Which is the simplest to work with? Which is most effective? In short, which is best?

The short answer:

Paul Noble.

The long answer:

So I've given you the short answer if you just want to know "which one is better?" "which one should I buy?" It's the Paul Noble courses - and this applies whether it's for the Spanish, French, German or Italian. So there you are. Be happy. Go buy it.

For those of you who want a longer answer, here goes:

I should begin by saying that both ranges of courses are undoubtedly excellent. They are definitely two of the best ranges of language courses available to anyone wanting to learn a foreign language.

They also both work in a similar way to one another. In essence, all you need to do is sit back and listen to the course as it gives you little chunks of the language and then shows you how to put them together in a way so that you feel absolutely certain how to do it. These courses are very much the definition of foolproof - if you listen, they will work. 

The language both teach starts off fairly simple initially before becoming ever more sophisticated but you never feel confused because everything is incremental. There are no sudden leaps. Both courses are therefore excellent ways to either begin to learn a new language, or to return to studying one after a break or, maybe most importantly, to learn how to construct proper, complex sentences in the language without being bombarded by grammar. Sometimes people study languages for years but can never string a proper sentence together in them - well, these courses will cure you of that problem if you've had it! 

So, they're both great. Why then are the Paul Noble courses better?

Well, basically, they simply explain things much better, you pick up the language more quickly and they're much more reasonably priced. I'll try to explain.

When you learn with Pimsleur, you will start learning how to construct sentences right away, you'll understand what you're doing and will gradually begin to increase your knowledge of the language. Well, that's great. With the Paul Noble courses you'll do the same but you just absorb the language more rapidly. A lot of this comes down to the explanations Paul Noble gives in his courses. They're very simple but useful and keep making you say (sometimes out loud) "oh, so that's why it's like that!" That gives you a great feeling and you know know you're making progress when you get it. But this doesn't happen anywhere near as often with Pimsleur. In fact, frequently with Pimsleur, you'll know how to construct a really big, complex sentence, which is great. But although you can construct it, because the course very often doesn't supply you with an explanation of why it's constructed the way it is, you will struggle to vary it. So, you will know how to say that sentence but maybe if you want to say something that's just a bit different, you might not be able to work out how to express it. With the Paul Noble courses on the other hand, you know why the sentence is the way it is and so you can change it and, in fact, he'll encourage you to change it so that you can manipulate all that you've learned so you can say what you want to say rather than ending up stuck with a set of fixed phrases.

So both of them work in a similar way but the most obvious difference is that the Paul Noble courses explain things better and teach things more efficiently so you pick up more of the language more quickly. And, on top of that, they're cheaper! I mean a lot cheaper.

3 hours of Pimsleur audio costs about 6 times as much as the same amount of Paul Noble audio. I honestly don't know why Pimsleur charges so much for their courses. Maybe they think that people will think it's good if it's expensive? 

It makes no sense to me anyway. You will learn more in those 3 hours with Paul Noble than you will with Pimsleur and it costs less to do so. So that's a simple calculation for you to make.

There's one final thing I want to add to all this however. Just because the Paul Noble courses are better, doesn't mean that you shouldn't use Pimsleur.

To be honest, there actually aren't that many good language courses out there so, personally, I would say use them both. But use Paul Noble's first. Not only are they great value and a very easy way to learn how to construct and manipulate the language but, if you end up deciding you want to do Pimsleur as well, the explanations they contain will help you understand the Pimsleur courses far better. So doing them first will allow you to get more out of Pimsleur later if you decide you want to do it as well.

So that's it, two great language courses series but with one cheaper and better than the other.

Congratulations Paul Noble, you are the winner in this Paul Noble VS. Pimsleur Comparison Review!


  1. These are some interesting comparisons - I really agree with what you say about Paul Noble and Pimsleur. They’re both good, Paul Noble slightly better and it’s crazy not to do both if you can. Please keep writing these comparisons, they’re more useful than standard reviews!

  2. Agreed.

    I've done the Spanish for both. Very good courses. Start with the Noble one. It gives you the best insight into the language out of the two. Then follow up with the Pimsleur. Great way to learn the language.