Many parents who research Little Pim soon discover my name is Julia Pimsleur Levine, and want to know if I have a connection to well-known Pimsleur Method. The Pimsleur Method was created by my father, Dr. Paul Pimsleur. The next question is usually whether and how my father’s work influenced Little Pim. I grew up with my father’s ground-breaking research into how people acquire second languages, so the Pimsleur Method was certainly part of the inspiration for Little Pim and a big influence. The Little Pim method is entirely different from the Pimsleur Method, as it was designed for young children, not adults. I drew from research on how babies, toddlers and little kids learn languages and worked with Dr. April Benasich, a leading neuroscientist from Rutgers University.
I am proud to be continuing my father’s legacy with Little Pim (Dr. Pimsleur passed away in 1977). In many ways our teaching series is a natural extension of my father’s early work; before he created the Pimsleur Method, he spent many months studying how children learn languages. In fact, he was trying to recreate for adults the ease with which children can acquire second and third languages.
Here are some of the teaching principles shared by Little Pim and the Pimsleur Method as well as an explanation of how they differ:
1. Graduated Interval Recall – One of the key reasons the Pimsleur Method works, is it uses Graduated Interval Recall, first used by my father, in which words you have been taught are brought back to your attention at exactly the right moment before you’re about to forget them. Little Pim also uses a recall method, which is particularly effective with kids since they have a natural love of repetition and keep coming back for more.
2. Immersion – The Pimsleur Method uses total audio immersion, and Little Pim uses both visual and audio immersion. The addition of visuals is integral to Little Pim’s entertainment immersion method. I know as a mother, and it was confirmed by my research, that kids won’t learn unless they’re having fun, so we have brought the fun to the forefront in Little Pim. Making the series’ teacher a loveable panda and including real kids involved in joyous every day activities like blowing bubbles, playing with toys and eating yummy foods, are all part of what keeps little ones entertained. Our focus on immersion is just as central to the Little Pim methodology as it is in the Pimsleur method for adults. Native speakers do all the teaching in our DVDs, through Little Pim the Panda.
3. Core Vocabulary – The Pimsleur Method focuses on teaching commonly used words in order to lead to a comprehensive understanding of a “core vocabulary.” Similarly Little Pim teaches young children a carefully selected 60 words per DVD (180 in the 3-disc series). These are essential words in the language they will be able to use right away and build from, to create a variety of phrases. After all, exposure to language is more than memorizing vocabulary and rote phrases. The 60 words are re-combined to form new sentences, which expands the language experience to include a variety of ways to use words in different daily situations.
Of course, the most important influence of all, was that my father instilled in me a love of language learning and teaching languages. Like my father, I think language learning should be fun, easy, and teach words you can use immediately.