[ the cards ] immersion learning Learn Smarter.

Compare Us

vs DuoLingo, Rosetta Stone

DuoLingua and Rosetta Stone are both translation-based methods. A word or a sentence is given in your language and the target language. You connect the dots. The positive side of this method is that you have to figure out which word in the target language means what in yours. So a bit of critical analysis going on there. The down side is, you don't have a lot of reinforcement outside of the exact translation. Ie you know how to ask for a coffee, but there's no guarentee you can ask for a tea.

When it comes to Hungarian learners of English, this leads to an intriguing, if frustrating, problem. They feel confident only with a given set of phrases and conversational turns. Beyond that, they're not willing to even guess. Which in essence means they have to learn every possible sentence in the english language, one by one. Lot of extra work, that.

My personal down side with the translation method is that my goal when learning a foreign language is to think in that language. I want to have an idea that expresses itself immediately in the target language, not constantly translate between the target language and my mother tongue. If only for reasons of speed.

In fairness, this leads to a different set of problems. If I'm, for example, having a conversation in mandarin and someone asks me in english what's being said, it takes me a minute to translate into english. Because I'm not thinking in english for those conversations, I'm thinking in mandarin. Fortunately for me, this happens rarely. But it's a point worth noting.

Traditional textbooks

Memorize rules, practice. This is the method most classrooms have been using for a century. Here's the thing. In almost every country I've lived in, people who've learned this way have little to no confidence in their ability to communicate. As communication is, in fact, the point of language, this is a bit silly.

Some people, however, have a turn of mind that is most comfortable applying rules. For those people I highly recommend a very tiny book called 'Really Useful Grammar. It gets english correct where many textbooks get overcomplicated, which tends to lead to erroneous. Grab that book, make a point of using what you're learning, and you're good to go.

Remember, no one method is right for everyone. The sheer variety of human minds is truly astounding.


What Pimsleur is brilliant at is timing. Just when you're about to forget a word, it appears in a lesson. There's a lot of neuro work that has gone into that method, and it shows.

While I do have a beginner English module for the cards, I'm not convinced it's more effective for picking english up from absolute scratch than Pimsleur. That's why it's not for sale.

For the basics, I simply don't think there's a better self-taught method available at the moment. Private tutoring is equal if not stronger, given the constant personalized reinforcement, however the cost would unquestionable be higher. Which is better for you comes down to personal preference and availability. Should you wish to make a comparison, test the beginner cards against another method, do please give me a shout.