Pimsleur vs. Duolingo: Which is the best language learning platform?

Recommended for Audio Based Language Learning

Suitable for Intermediate and Serious learners

Recommended for Beginner learners

We live in an interconnected and interdependent world. Technological advancements aim to bring the world closer than ever. These advancements are made through various technologies but online language learning platforms are playing a huge role in it. In this Pimsleur vs Duolingo, we will find out the differences between these two popular online language learning platforms.

Learning a new language in this rapidly growing world helps you connect with people from different cultural backgrounds.

Learning a new language is beneficial both for your brain and your career. Multilingual people have a sharp memory, creative thinking, and problem-solving skills. 

They connect better with people, have multitasking ability, and are focused. Hence, they are a valuable resource for the company they are working for. 

While searching for learning new languages online, you would have come across Pimsleur and Duolingo. 

Both Pimsleur and Duolingo are online language learning platforms that aim at equipping you with the required resources to get started with a new language.

If you want to learn a new language in a short time within your budget, then which platform should you choose, Pimsleur or Duolingo? 

Confusing! Do not worry. We are here with a complete comparison between both the online language learning platforms- Pimsleur vs Duolingo.

In this article, we aim to provide you with a clear and competent view of both the online language learning platforms by doing their side by side comparison of their reviews, cost, curriculum, features, learning experience, ease of use, and at the last pros and cons of both. 

Let us start with the comparison of Pimsleur vs Duolingo.

Pimsleur Vs Duolingo: Overview

Pimsleur Home Page

Pimsleur is an audio-based language learning program accessible through its website and app. Based on the listen-and-repeat learning method founded by Dr. Paul Pimsleur in the 1960s. 

Pimsleur language programs have been in the market since then in various forms. After the death of Dr. Pimsleur, Simon & Schuster acquired his intellectual property. 

Duolingo Home Page

Duolingo is a game-based online language learning platform accessible through its website and app. It makes learning new languages fun through gamification

Having been in the market for quite some time, Duolingo is ranked one among the best language learning platforms.

Some features of Pimsleur:

  • Pimsleur language courses are available only on purchase or subscription.
  • The lessons focus on oral language skills rather than grammar, which enable you to speak the language right after the first lesson.
  • Each lesson is 30 minutes long, requiring you to listen and repeat the words and dialogues.

Some features of Duolingo:

  • Duolingo is a free language learning app.
  • It covers broad aspects of language with no proper speaking practice and no focus on grammar.
  • Each lesson requires not more than 10 mins. Lessons feel like games where you can learn and have fun simultaneously.

Pimsleur vs Duolingo: Which one is the best?

Ratings and Reviews


The Pimsleur mobile app is new in the market. It is a subscription-based app used by people who have purchased its subscription. As a result, it has 4.7 K ratings with 4.5 stars on the play store. 

It has 4.5 stars on Amazon customer reviews for the majority of its language courses. 

The majority of Pimsleur reviews have a 4.5-star rating, with users appreciating the language learning methodology with repetition.


Duolingo is a free language learning app. It has 4.7 stars with 1.2 Million ratings on the play store and is ranked #1 in education.

Winner: Duolingo

Being free to use, the ratings and reviews of Duolingo beat Pimsleur with ease.



Pimsleur Available Languages

Pimsleur offers a language program in mp3 audio files. Currently, Pimsleur offers 51 languages. On Pimsleur, you learn standard languages like French, Spanish, etc., and unique languages like Pashto, Twi, Ojibwe, etc.

Each Pimsleur audio language course consists of five levels. Each level consists of 30 lessons of 30 minutes each. 

Every lesson has a main narrator explaining the context and breaking the dialogues into words with repetition. 

You have to repeat the words and dialogues. During the lessons, you will hear female and male native speakers speaking the dialogues. 

It gives you an understanding of the language’s accent.

It focuses more on vocabulary than grammar and hones its ability to assist you with speaking skills.

Also Read: Pimsleur Japanese review



Duolingo offers language learning through its website or app. It offers 40 languages

On Duolingo, you learn standard languages like German, French, etc., and made-up languages like Klingon, High Valyrian, etc. 

It consists of lessons in the form of games, focusing on different aspects of the language with no proper speaking practice.

Duolingo does not provide a structured curriculum. It consists of levels from basics to advanced customized with your learning abilities.

Winner: Pimsleur

Comparing Pimsleur vs Duolingo, Pimsleur offers higher quality lessons than Duolingo. 

While both the platforms do not help with reading and writing skills of the language, Pimsleur improves your language speaking skills while Duolingo does not. 

If you are a serious learner and want to start speaking the new language, Pimsleur is better than Duolingo.



Pricing Options

You can buy the entire Pimsleur Audio Language course at once or access it through monthly subscriptions. Pricing options you will find in Pimsleur are:

  1. Monthly subscription at $14.95 for an audio-only version
  2. Premium Monthly subscription at $19.95 that includes the audio version with interactive exercises
  3. The audio mp3s are priced per level. Each level costs you $119.95 (varies with language). Most popular languages have around five levels. Hence the cost of the entire audio language course is approximately $550.

Pimsleur offers a 7-days free trial to check out a course on the platform.


Duolingo is a free-to-use app. It provides all the course content free of cost online on its website and app. It also offers a Duolingo Plus subscription

Duolingo Plus offers additional features like

  • Ad-free experience
  • Download lessons offline
  • Unlimited hearts
  • Practice mistakes
  • Mastery quiz
  • Unlimited test outs

Duolingo plus subscription costs are as following:

  1. $9.99 per month for a month-by-month subscription
  2. $7.99 per month for a six-month subscription
  3. $6.99 per month for a yearly subscription

Winner: Duolingo

Intending to provide language learning free of cost to everyone, Duolingo beats Pimsleur that expensive. 

Learning Experience and Ease Of Use


Pimsleur has a great learning experience with its mobile app and website. You can easily log into your account and start listening to your lessons. 

You will require an internet connection initially to download the course content. Once downloaded, you can listen to the content, anytime anywhere. 

Pimsleur gives immediate access to the entire course content on purchase. You can download and listen from any device of your choice. 

It is compatible with Amazon Echo devices giving a great hands-free experience. 

Its listen-and-repeat method does not require writing notes, making it easy to use while commuting. All you need to do is listen and repeat along to learn the language you want.

Pimsleur also provides flashcards for vocabulary review and speed round games to test your skills, giving a great learning experience.

Also Read: Pimsleur Italian review


Duolingo offers a fun learning experience with gamification. All the lessons in Duolingo are in the form of a game. 

You learn words and sentences by playing along. You win hearts on completion of each level and lose hearts for wrong answers. 

On losing all the hearts you have to wait for hours to reload the hearts and play again. 

Learning with games is fun and engaging but also addictive. You might want to play just one another level

It leads to overdoing. As a result, you might not remember everything you have learned. 

You cannot use Duolingo anytime and anywhere. You cannot play and learn while commuting or working, and it does not give a hands-free experience. 

You have to take out time from your routine to learn the language.

Winner: Pimsleur

Pimsleur provides a great learning experience and ease of use by its listen-and-repeat method. 

With Pimsleur, you can learn a new language anytime and anywhere.

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Pros And Cons:

Let us look into the pros and cons of both the online language learning platforms- Pimsleur vs Duolingo.

Pros of Pimsleur

  1. Beginner-friendly approach

With Pimsleur, you can start with no knowledge about the language. It has a beginner-friendly approach. Each level takes you through a journey from beginner to advance.

  1. Quality content

All the audio course content in Pimsleur is of high quality. From basics to advanced, Pimsleur does not compromise on quality. You will have a great time listening and learning with Pimsleur.

  1. Oral language skills

Pimsleur uses listen and repeat or spaced repetition method to focus on equipping you with communication skills. You will be able to speak the language from the first lesson. On completing the entire course, you will be able to speak the language fluently.

  1. A tested and proven approach

The spaced repetition method used by Pimsleur is a tested and proven method since the 1960s. It does not bombard you with too much information at once. With each lesson, you will learn a handful of words perfectly.

  1. Listen to native speaking

The audio course in Pimsleur consists of the main narrator with male and female native speakers speaking in your lessons. It gives you a better understanding of native pronunciation.

  1. Ease of use

You can listen to Pimsleur audio courses anytime and anywhere. You can use Pimsleur on any device you are comfortable with, be it desktop, tablet, or smartphone.

Cons of Pimsleur

  1. Expensive

Though Pimsleur offers both monthly subscription and complete course purchase options, it is expensive. $550 for one language learning course is not something everyone can afford.

  1. Can get boring

Pimsleur offers audio lessons only. They are not much interactive and can get boring with time.

  1. Time-consuming

Each language in Pimsleur consists of five levels with 30 lessons each. With each lesson of 30 minutes, the entire course duration is close to 75 hours. If you learn one lesson each day, it takes five months to complete the course, which is too long.

  1. No focus on grammar

Pimsleur focuses on speaking skills with no focus on grammar. You will have to refer to other resources for grammar.

  1. Does not teach reading and writing

Pimsleur uses a listen and repeat method of teaching that equips you with speaking skills in the language. But you will not learn how to read and write in that language.

Pros of Duolingo:

  1. Fun learning experience

All the lessons in Duolingo are in the form of games that make learning fun and an engaging experience. It does not require you to jot down notes while learning.

  1. Less academic approach

Duolingo does not follow a structured approach like academics. It enables you to learn the language with fun and not in the manner as taught in schools.

  1. Free of cost

Duolingo aims at equipping language skills at no cost to everyone around the world. You get to learn all the languages for free on Duolingo.

  1. Short lessons

Duolingo lessons are gamified according to the attention span of people these days. It consists of bite-sized short lessons to complete on the go.

Cons of Duolingo

  1. Addictive

The gamification of lessons can become addictive. You might want to do just one more lesson each time. It leads to overdoing and not learning the language effectively.

  1. Lacks structure

Duolingo lessons are not structured. They feel like everything is thrown on you. You need to figure out how to use the sentences in context. It covers broad aspects with no context.

  1. No speaking or writing practice

Duolingo has no scope for speaking or writing the language. As a result, even after learning the entire language, you will be unable to speak or write in the language fluently.

  1. No focus on grammar

Duolingo does not focus on the grammatical aspects of the language. You might need to refer to other resources for grammar.

  1. No listening to a native speaker

In Duolingo, you listen to AI voices. It gives no experience in the natural pronunciation of the language.

Winner: Pimsleur

Pimsleur is beginner-friendly and equips you with speaking skills in the language. 

It makes you a confident speaker of the language. 

Listening to a native speaker helps you understand the natural pronunciation of the language at ease. 

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Final Conclusion:

Both Pimsleur and Duolingo are great online language learning platforms. But, they have their merits and demerits

If you are looking for a free option, then Duolingo might be good for you. But, if you are looking to learn the language precisely, Pimsleur is a better option. 

Though Pimsleur is expensive, it is worth the cost as it enables you to speak fluently in the language. 

Continuous repetition gives you the necessary confidence to speak a new language.

Comparing Pimsleur vs Duolingo, Pimsleur offers higher quality lessons than Duolingo. 

While both the platforms do not help with reading and writing skills of the language, Pimsleur improves your language speaking skills while Duolingo does not. 

If you are a serious learner and want to start speaking the new language, Pimsleur is better than Duolingo.

Keep in mind that there are many more language learning applications available that may suit you better than Duolingo or Pimsleur. Before making a final decision, be sure you are aware of your possibilities.

Abhishek Verma

Author at OnlineCourseing

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