A Pimsleur Spanish Speed Demon

Last post I wrote about the zero-sum system I developed with Julie to keep her motivated and listening to Pimsleur Spanish lessons. Well, I found out the other day that there’s someone else I know who is apparently not in need of such a system: my brother Baruch.

king-of-spanish.jpgA very little bit about Baruch: He’s 19 years old (five years my junior), and had been living in LA for about 12 of those years, until a couple weeks ago, when my family moved to Cleveland, Ohio. Baruch started studying Spanish (to my knowledge) several months ago. He began listening to Pimsleur lessons I had put for my mom onto her mp3-player (these amounted to the whole of Pimsleur Spanish I), and also started going through some textbook. He seemed somewhat serious about it, and so this was a good part of the motivation for me to begin learning Spanish, for if my brother is learning another language, it would be silly for me not to do the same. (If you don’t see the logic here then you haven’t been reading enough of this blog.)

So I began to listen to Pimsleur Spanish, and occasionally would talk to Baruch on the phone a bit in the simple Spanish that we knew. Initially, Baruch was ahead of me, but by the time I finished Spanish I, I found out that he’d stopped listening at some point in the 20s. (Remember, each level contains 30 lessons.) He claimed it was because he didn’t know where the mp3-player was, but I figured it was just an excuse, אַ תּירוץ פֿאַר די בענטשליכט. I thought, “Other friends have flown before; oh that Baruch, he has left me, as my hopes have flown before!” (This wouldn’t be the first time I started learning a language as a result of someone else, only for the other person to stop learning while I remained propelled forward by the irresistable language tide.) So as I continued along in Spanish II, I kept nagging him to find the mp3 player, or recharge it, or whatever, and finish Spanish I. I think he kept reading his textbook at this time, but it was frustrating that when we talked on the phone (in Spanish), he wouldn’t understand things I said because I’d learned them at a point further in Pimsleur than he’d reached. Weeks went by like this, and I finished Spanish II and moved on to Spanish III. I haven’t been keeping close track, but on my Dec. 21 post I noted that I’d reached lesson 12 of Spanish III.

A few days later, as my family was packing the house up for the trip to Cleveland (they’d be making a road trip of it), Baruch mentioned that he’d found the mp3-player. I urged him to keep listening to Spanish lessons. He said he would, and I guess he did because at some point on the way to Cleveland he asked me to send him Spanish II. I did so, and he received it on Dec. 28. I wasn’t sure how much he was listening to the lessons, but his Spanish did seem to be improving again, so I was satisfied he was back on track. Still, I was flabbergasted a few days ago when he asked me to send him Spanish III: He’d finished 30 lessons in a week-and-a-half! I was quite impressed. I haven’t had the chance to send him Spanish III yet, but hopefully will do so this weekend.

Incidentally, I’ve most recently finished lesson 19 of Spanish III. At this rate (and with Julie slowing me down by listening to lessons almost daily), Baruch will finish Pimsleur Spanish before me after all! The next step, of course, is to get him to learn Yiddish too. Muahahaha…


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6 Responses to “A Pimsleur Spanish Speed Demon”

  1. אַרעלע/Arele Says:

    Too bad my siblings aren’t as driven as yours. It makes for poor competition, me studying a textbook and them staring at me thinking, “This kid has no life.” Maybe your parents can adopt me? Eh? (Or I could just push my sisters to become obsessed with language. I gave up on Meena-Lifshe, but Malke expressed an interest in French, so who knows…)

  2. Baruch Says:

    I would like to express my sincerest flatteredness for the honor of protagonism in this particular column of the Bored Strakhir-Statistiker. I was wondering why Yakov was so eager that I check his blog as of late.

    You might be asking how I achieved this honor of making a main appearance in one of BSS’s pieces. How is it that I was able to speed-demon my way through those Pimsleur lessons, leaving Yakov in the dust (though still somewhat ahead of me…)?

    Well, no offense to the Statistiker in all his emerald Boredom, but my secret for speedy language acquisition might very well be superior to any tips he happens to offer in these blogs.

    My method, you see, as I took pains explaining to Yakov himself, is to have vast expanses of free time.
    Recently I have used a good amount of this time with Pimsleur Spanish, though I imagine the time would have worked just as well with say, German, or French. I suggest vast expanses of free time to anyone trying to learn any new language.

  3. bekkster Says:

    Well it looks like you, Julie, and your whole family will have to come down here so they you can all practice your Spanish!

    I’ve given up on Anki, sadly. I’ve neglected it for maybe a week and a half and I am afraid even to open it. Maybe someday when I have vast amounts of free time, as Baruch says…or maybe Anki is just not the system for me.

  4. boredstrakhirstatistiker Says:

    Arele: While I’m glad Baruch’s getting into Spanish, it’s hard for me to linguistically pity you when both your siblings are at least quadrilingual, and you’ve hardly ever spoken English to anyone in your family! Still, I heartily suggest a pooling of our respective familial resources.
    Baruch: I must agree. However, while VEFT is an extremely useful resource in any language-learning endeavor, it is NOT sufficient for successful second-language acquisition, as, say, Paris Hilton has been so good as to teach us.
    bekkster: ¡Qué lástima! Perhaps you added too many words too quickly? Like any method of language-learning, Anki is far better utilized in little bits regularly than in big spurts irregularly. Leaving it alone for a while, especially with many entries, can be fatal. If you ever start over, I’d suggest just putting in a few words at a time, at least at first. That should keep the time commitment at not more than a few minutes daily. Meanwhile, maybe you can send me your anki file? I wouldn’t mind adding some German.

  5. bekkster Says:

    Hmm, I hadn’t thought of that. I just went on this binge when I downloaded it and uploaded like every German word I’d tried to learn before, haha.

    How do I send you my file? Do you want it?

  6. Jacob Lumbroso Says:

    I love Pimsleur; I used it for Hebrew and French. I think the critical thing to remember that podcasts and other approaches should be viewed as the entry point to get to the starting gates of learning Spanish or any language. A one on one dialog is I think ideal but not always realistic given time constraints or location. That being said Pimsleur definitely an excellent starting point.

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