Language Course Review

Pimsleur vs Living Languages vs Rosetta Stone vs Assimil

Learning languages has always been a passion for me. Let me give you an honest review for you some of the language courses out there in the market which I’ve personally used, in some for more than one language.

Pimsleur Conversational Tagalog

Pimsleur is my all time personal favorite. If your aim is just to start get you talking in Tagalog, which in my opinion is the most important thing in learning a language, this is definitely the course you want. One good effect which is overlooked with Pimsleur’s is the great improvement in your pronunciation because of all their repetition. I think the way they introduce words starting with last syllable first down to the first, especially with a language like Tagalog with at times may seem like it’s too fast for your ears catch.

I’ve used Pimsleur’s for quite a number of languages so far. And my experience with all of them have been highly positive. In each of them, you have a 30 minute lesson wherein you either repeat a sentence which is spoken, or you answer back with previously practiced phrase.

It’s an all audio course. At first, this may be off-putting for some, but if you come to think of it, you never actually go out in the street with a book in your hand. At times, you’ll cover a lot more ground know what to say when you’re all flustered and words of the person you’re speaking to are pouring over you like a spray of machine gun fire, the kind of automatic response the PImsleur’s courses train you to do is exactly what you need.

I’ve used Pimsleurs for lots of languages: Hindi, Japanese, Arabic, Mandarin and Spanish so I pretty am familiar with the Pimsleur system. (Yup, I’m a language nerd.)

Length of Course

For Pimsleur’s Tagalog, they a 16 lesson version and a 30 lesson version. I recommend spend those few extra dollars and getting the 30 lesson version. Each lesson is around 30 minutes which is just right. Note that in the Pimsleur’s series for major languages, like Mandarin Chinese, Spanish, French and the other usual suspects, they have a total of 90 lessons or 150 lessons (depending on which language) broken down into into major parts of 30 lessons each. For less popular languages like Tagalog and Hindi, they less lessons. The length of each lesson is 30 minutes, which for me is just the right amount of time. Enough to get some real work done, but not so long to reach a point of diminishing returns.

It’s available in CD version or digital version.

One thing with Pimsleur’s is that your highly pronunciation and the quick way you answer questions will get people thinking you know a lot more about the language than you really do. I take that as a plus though, as it will get you talking a lot more.

Pimsleur’s is one of those systems that has stuck around for decades, and there’s a reason for that. It works. You can check out some of the reviews other users have of Amazon here.

Rosetta Stone Filipino (Tagalog)


I’m very highly skeptical of the speech recognition software it uses. From what I know about it, speech recognition is one of few areas of technology where a human ear can still on average beat a computer program.

Some people are stumped by the technical difficulties in installing the fancy microphone. I know I had tried installing it, and I was so frustrated I wanted to throw it in the trash can.

One good thing I like though is that it helps build vocabulary without using your native language. Check out more about Rosetta Stone here. But I don’t really recommend buying it for it’s price unless you’ve first tried out Pimsleur and Living Languages. Of course, if you do have a generous budget you might just want to play around with it. I think though, there are lots of better ways to build your vocabulary like flashcards.


Living Languages

While I think that Pimsleur will get you speaking at once, The Living Languages series is what I recommend for those who have just want to start getting a very basic sense of the grammar. I’ve used the Living Languages method for two other languages (Japanese and Chinese) and it is what you want once you’ve gotten past the starting “phrase book” level of Tagalog. I recommend also just listening to the sentences and just trying to remember the meaning of these sentences.

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