Is Pimsleur effective?
Many people like using Pimsleur. I consider it a poor investment of time. I think the difference is in how different people study and what their goals are.
My goal is to acquire as many words as possible, in the shortest period of time, so that I can understand what I read, and what I hear on radio etc. I am less concerned about speaking right away. I am confident that I will be able to speak once I have enough words. Pimsleur does not cover a lot of words, but tries to get you speaking from the beginning.
I find it useful to measure the time I spend on a language in hours rather than in months. I have spent about 100 -120 hours or so on Czech. I can make out what the newspaper is saying on a familiar subject and am reading a history book on Central Europe in Czech. I listen to Radio Prague and can understand a lot of it if I listen after I have read the article. I don’t think that 100-120 hours on Pimsleur would enable me to do that.
For reference, when I studied Chinese I spent 7 to 10 hours a day at it. For Russian I was only able to spend an hour or so a day. After 10 months of Chinese I had spent over 3,000 hours on Chinese. In five years of Russian I had only managed to spend half that amount of time, or 1,500 hours. My Chinese is better than my Russian.
100 hours of Czech is not a lot. But the structure and some of the vocabulary is the same as Russian. In think that in another 2-300 hours I will be able to read quite well, and by then I will be able to discuss certain subjects. I expect to understand much of the radio without having to read the article ahead of time. Again, I don’t think Pimsleur would enable me to do that.
If I can understand, I can always learn to speak when the opportunity to use the language arises. If I master the most common words and phrases, I will still not understand most of what I hear and read.