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"Expensive, and expect to buy a good dictionary to use along."

Pimsleur Portuguese Review

Pimsleur Portuguese - The Review With Brazil hosting the world cup in 2014, a booming local economy and world famous beaches there is more interest in this exotic country than ever before. Whether you are planning a holiday, have a business trip coming up or even thinking of residing in Brazil long term you are probably trying to decide which language course will help you master Brazilian Portuguese fastest.

One of the most popular and well recognized of these languages courses is Pimsleur Brazilian Portuguese. This course offers a unique, organic approach to language learning as it is almost entirely based on listening and speaking Brazilian. In this course you won't find lists of vocabulary to memorize, grammar lessons to complete or quizzes or games. Instead you simply need to start the CD or MP3 listen and provide the answers in the pauses provided.

Sounds simple, right?

And for the most part it is but before you choose to purchase this course read my review below so that you are able to see some of the disadvantages of this course as well as the things it does well. You will also find out the type of people who this course most suits and those who may prefer a different approach to Brazilian language learning.

Key Features

  • 3 Levels from beginner through to advanced
  • Each level contains 30 lessons with approximately 16 hours of material
  • Supplementary reading material provided
  • Audio based learning approach which stresses spaced repetition, forced language production and an organic learning style


Each of the three levels of this course is available to be purchased separately for either $345 for the CD option or $119.95 for the downloadable option. The material on both courses is the same and so I recommend if you are going to purchase the course that you go with the cheaper downloadable version.

You can also choose to buy the CDs as a bundle. For levels I and II the bundle is $495 and for levels I - III the bundle is $695. There is also an introductory version of the course available for $49.95. This includes the first 16 lessons in the first level. This is a good choice if you want to tryout the Pimsleur approach or you are just planning a short visit to Brazil and want to know a few rudimentary phrases.


  • It's challenging - Provided that you follow the course correctly you will find that it constantly challenges and engages you. With the Pimsleur approach you are constantly being forced to produce sentences and to reply to the questions posed.
  • You can get started quickly - Some course such as Living Languages can be very frustrating when first beginning. All of the features included with software products such as Rosetta Stone and Living Languages may sound great but actually coming to grips with them can waste valuable learning time. The Pimsleur approach in contrast couldn't be simpler. If you don't like having to read through user manuals or following tutorials then this course might be the one for you.
  • Offers an organic learning experience - Another great thing about Pimsleur is that it offers an organic learning experience which closely replicates what you experience if you are trying to actually speak in Brazilian. There is no textbook learning and so even if you don't like a traditional approach to study you can still learn using this method.


  • The pauses could be longer - During the lessons you are provided with pauses where you need to produce your own spoken Portuguese. With the easier lessons or where the material is not new the length of the pauses is pretty ideal, however with harder or fresh material the pause seems to be too short sometimes. If you are driving while learning (as many Pimsleur learners are) then you cannot pause the audio. While this can be a little frustrating it does force you to try and quickly produce the language which I believe is part of the science behind why the Pimsleur method is effective.
  • It's difficult to know where to start - If you are new to learning Portuguese then this will not be an issue for you but if you have studied Portuguese in the past then you might find Brazilian Portuguese Level 1 too easy. At $345 for the CD version of each level it can be a costly mistake to realize that you didn't need the material provided in that level. Some form of testing would be useful so that you could grade which level of the courses you should begin with. If you are unsure which level you should purchase you may want to try out the sample lessons first which can be found on the Pimsleur website and see how hard you find these.

Who would benefit from this course

Pimsleur is one of the most divisive companies when it comes to language learning. Some people love the Pimsleur approach and wouldn't use any other method, where as some people believe it to be over priced and less effective than its promotional material suggests.

So who is this course most suited for? Firstly people who are strong auditory learners usually love the Pimsleur approach. If you like to learn by hearing rather than reading a textbook or writing out lessons then you are going to enjoy using this course.

Another group of people who really take to the Pimsleur method are those people who are interested in learning Brazilian but dislike a traditional "classroom" approach. There are no complex grammar structures to memorize and no rote learning is required. Even if you failed at language learning at school you can still succeed using this method.

Pimsleur is also great for people with full time jobs and those who may not have a lot of time to devote to language learning. You don't need to set aside a separate time during the day for learning as you can study while on the go. Each of the lessons in the course is 30 minutes each which is ideal for a morning commute. Provided that you follow the instructions properly and produce the language on demand you should find that you don't need to repeat any of the lessons as you will have memorized the material. With 30 lessons for each level if you use the course every day you will find after a month you will have made good progress in your language learning.

Who won't like the Pimsleur Approach

People who don't have a lot of money to invest in their language learning should look at more affordable options. Pimsleur is expensive and if you want to cover the written language and grammar in more detail then you will need to invest in a textbook as well. If you do plan to buy this course you may also want to pick up Dover Portuguese Grammar and Portuguese / English dictionary as these will help to round out the gaps in the Pimsleur approach. Alternatively you could choose a course like Rocket Brazilian Portuguese which is only $99.95 for the online version.

Another group that will probably want to avoid the Pimsleur course are college level students and more advanced learners. These learners will probably need to invest in further material in order to cover the complexities of grammar as well as to expand their grammar. Pimsleur can still be a good place to start provided you can afford the additional expense.


  • Includes a set of great audio lessons.
  • Constant repetition keeps you busy and makes you memorize words quick.
  • Uses an organic learning method, which follows the principles of "how children learn languages".
  • Someone might call a price of over $1000 (for all the physically-shipping CDs) a tad expensive.
  • Doesn't evolve through to advanced levels.
  • Level IV adds little value for its high price.


For time poor adult learners and those who dislike a traditional approach to language learning Pimsleur can work out great. However as noted there are some serious limitations that you need to be aware of before you decide to invest your money. Pimsleur is expensive and you should still expect to buy a good dictionary and a grammar textbook.

Another important point is that the Pimsleur method is not as novel as it was when it was first introduced in the 1960's. Many other courses such as Rocket Portuguese incorporate effective elements of this approach such as spaced repetition and forced production of the language. With its cheaper price, along with its additional features, many people prefer to purchase Rocket Portuguese.

Overall his approach is one which are you are likely either going to love or hate, so make sure that you try out the sample lessons before you decide to buy the full course.