When comparing Duolingo vs Pimsleur, the Slant community recommends Duolingo for most people. In the question“What are the best sites for learning foreign languages?” Duolingo is ranked 2nd while Pimsleur is ranked 16th. The most important reason people chose Duolingo is:
Progress is measured gaming-like by gaining XP, leveling up and knowing how many words are learnt. Also, lessons have a limited amount of lives, which you must preserve to pass the lesson. They use other creative gamification techniques to keep you motivated such as making wagers and improving your position on the leaderboard.
Ranked in these QuestionsQuestion Ranking
Pro Motivates through creative gamification
Progress is measured gaming-like by gaining XP, leveling up and knowing how many words are learnt. Also, lessons have a limited amount of lives, which you must preserve to pass the lesson.
They use other creative gamification techniques to keep you motivated such as making wagers and improving your position on the leaderboard.
Pro Generous free plan
Duolingo is completely free to use, with no features limited to upgraded accounts. If you want to go ad-free, the cost is $12.99/month.
Pro Frequently adding new languages
You can check out the courses page to see what languages are "hatching" (being developed) and what languages are in beta.
Pro Engaging learning method
Each lesson uses a variety of different learning methods to keep it interesting and fun.
The lessons are short so you aren't forced to focus for long periods of time.
Pro Has a mobile app
Duolingo is exceptionally thorough when it comes to teaching the nuances of language. It has plenty of audio material, articles to translate, and a cooperative development made by users.
Pro Principle of anticipation
Rather than simple listen-and-repeat, you also have to translate phrases and answer questions in the target language during the lessons.
Pro Learn while you commute
Pimsleur uses daily 30-minute audio lessons. You can probably fit this in while you're driving to work.
Pro Very effective for beginners
Pimsleur is based on proven memory science, it's not perfect, but it is very effective. Intermediate learners may not get as much out of it.
Pro Graduated interval recall
Spaced repetition in and between lessons are timed for maximum recall. This also means you can't skip days between lessons, or work ahead. Each level takes one month.
Pro Teaches pronunciation well
Uses the backchaining technique with native speakers.
Con Mobile app is less beneficial because it's too easy
Some of the games available on the mobile app are different from that on the desktop version, and are oversimplified/make it very easy to guess.
Con Little production of target language
Duolingo focuses heavily on reading comprehension and translation into one's own language rather than encouraging production of text/speech in the target language.
Con Available languages are predominately European
Duolingo teaches 23 languages from English at the moment: Latin American Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch, Swedish, Irish, Turkish, Danish, Russian, Norwegian, Esperanto, Ukrainian, Polish, Welsh, Greek, Romanian, Hungarian, Hebrew, Swahili, Vietnamese and Japanese (the last currently only on the app). Popular non-European languages such as Mandarin and Arabic are not currently available (although Korean and Indonesian are in development).
Con The hype in the community creates false ideas about what level Duolingo gets you to
Duolingo is a good tool for a beginner, and a good supplement to other resources. But it cannot get you from zero to understanding natives, tv, and books; and their "do the reverse tree and just speak" is usually not the correct answer to "what should I do after finishing the tree".
Con The health system on the IOS app disrupts learning
5 mistakes and you're out, unless you pay, wait several hours, or use a special review that currently doesn't let you choose what to review. Especially terrible if you're learning multiple or more difficult languages.
Con Counting only on Duolingo is a waste of time
Con Doesn't take you to an advanced level
Con Dangerously addictive
Con No writing practice
Pimsleur is an audio-only course. This can be easier for beginners learning languages that don't use the Latin alphabet, but for serious language learners, it's a gap they'll have to fill using something else.
Con Limited vocabulary
It teaches hundreds of words. A great start, but not enough to achieve the thousands required for fluency, even with all three levels. Pimsleur deliberately focuses on the most common words of the target language for maximum recall.
All the CDs for one language cost nearly a thousand dollars. The .mp3's are about half that. Your local library may carry the CDs, those that don't may be able to get them via inter-library loan (ask your librarian). You can also find them used and re-sell them for nearly as much (depending on how long you want to wait), after you finish. Be certain to get the same edition for all levels.
Con Too slow-paced and repetitive for some learners
If you learn quickly, you may find that the 30 minute lessons covering only a small handful of vocabulary move too slowly for you.