Mondly and Pimsleur are two of the most popular language learning programs in the entire world, with both companies offering courses for over 40 different languages. However, the learning framework that each company employs is very different. In this article, we highlight those differences so you can decide which language program is the best fit for your learning style.
- 50+ Languages
- Money Back Guarantee
- Curriculum is more comprehensive than Mondly’s
- In-depth audio lessons that improve your listening and speaking skills
- User-friendly website and mobile app
- Voice Coach feature provides feedback during verbal practice drills
- The Pimsleur Method really works
- Love the special driving mode for road trips/commutes
- Lessons are longer than Mondly’s
- Slightly more expensive than Mondly
How Each Language Program Works
Let’s begin this post with a brief overview of how each language learning app works. This will help to provide some context for my thoughts below on the pros and cons of each program.
The backbone of the Mondly program is their daily lessons. Everyday when you log in, you’re given a daily lesson to work through, which when finished will be marked as complete on your dashboard. From there, a countdown clock will start to indicate when the next day’s daily lesson is ready.
The daily lesson takes about five minutes to complete and is comprised of a series of hands-on, rapid fire drills. This includes flashcard-type drills, fill-in-the-blanks, speaking drills, translation exercises, matching pairs, back-and-forth conversations, spelling drills, and a few more.
When the daily lesson is over, the program gives you a quick recap of the vocab from the lesson in rapid succession, and then it takes you to a screen full of stats where you get all of your performance data.
Once you’re done with your daily lesson, you can then continue working through supplemental lessons on the dashboard. Essentially, the Mondly dashboard looks like a giant map covered in geolocation pins. In a way, it looks kind of like a learning path, but it’s a little less structured than that.
Essentially, each geolocation pin is a collection of 8 lessons which cover a specific thematic topic (like hobbies or eating out). You can jump from pin to pin however you want as there’s no true order to them.
The lessons under those pins don’t really build on one another in terms of difficulty—it’s more about what you learn about. In this sense, they are more like “bonus” lessons.
In terms of format, they are basically the same as the daily lessons in terms of length, difficulty, style, and content.
Keeping it simple here, that’s sort of it for Mondly. You work your 5-minute daily lesson, get your review and recap, and then you’re free from there to complete other lessons in the geolocation pins on the map based on topic.
Now let me dissect Pimsleur for you. Their program is pretty different than Mondly’s. The Pimsleur program is largely based on the Pimsleur Method, which is built around audio lessons.
Pimsleur is much more concerned with teaching you how to speak and comprehend the audio of the language you’re learning, rather than focusing on short drills. Here’s how it works.
To start each lesson, you complete a 30-minute audio exercise, where a moderator speaking in English guides you through a curated conversation step-by-step.
You listen to a sentence or two in your target language, the moderator will then briefly stop to explain the situation to you, and then he’ll have you participate by answering questions and repeating phrases.
This 30-minute audio exercise is really the heart and soul of the Pimsleur course, and it is what they’re known for. They are sort of the “audio lesson” company.
In any event, after the audio lesson, you review and reinforce what you just learned through a variety of drills and exercises. The best way to imagine this is having class followed by homework.
The reinforcement drills include reading drills, digital flashcards, quizzes, pronunciation training, and speed games. Pimsleur does have some supplemental features as well, such as vocab bonus packs and pronunciation practice with their Voice Coach tool, but that’s Pimsleur in a nutshell.
Just remember that they are all about core audio lessons followed by detailed review exercises, with a few bonus tools wrapped around it all.
That is how the two companies compare. The key takeaway for you is that Mondly and Pimsleur are very different in how they approach teaching you a new language.
Pimsleur lessons take close to an hour to complete from start to finish and place a very strong emphasis on learning to listen and speak in the context of mock conversations, while the Mondly lessons are much shorter and rapid fire, where you move through a series of drills in just a few minutes.
Before covering the pros and cons of each app, let’s quickly discuss pricing and cost.
Mondly has three different packages: a pay-as-you-go monthly package, a 12-month subscription, and a lifetime access package.
The pay-as-you-go subscription costs $10 per month, the 12-month subscription costs $48 in advance for the year (i.e., $4 per month), and the lifetime package is a little all over the place in terms of pricing. For that package, it really depends on current sales. Full retail it allegedly costs a few hundred dollars, but you’ll rarely, if ever, pay that. You’ll almost always be able to find that lifetime package for around $100 or so with a coupon code.
Conversely, Pimsleur only offers monthly, pay-as-you-go subscription options. First, there’s Pimsleur Premium, which gets you access to one language. That plan costs $20 per month.
Then there is Pimsleur All Access, which gets you access to all 51 of Pimsleur’s languages. It costs just a dollar more per month (i.e., $21 per month).
Thus, in terms of cost, clearly Mondly is cheaper by around $10 to $16 per month, a pretty decent savings. In short, these two companies are in different pricing categories.
Why Pimsleur Is Better Than Mondly
Having provided an overview on how each app works, as well as a discussion on cost, let’s get into the meat of this post—what we like and don’t like about these apps. Let’s begin with the advantages of using Pimsleur.
Listening & Verbal Skills
The first advantage of the Pimsleur program has to do with development of your conversational skills. In my opinion, Pimsleur is just better than Mondly at building your listening comprehension and speaking abilities.
To learn a new language, you need to get frequent exposure to that language actually being spoken. You must routinely hear the new language you’re learning to get comfortable with it, and Pimsleur offers more of an opportunity to do that than Mondly.
Mondly does have a cool little back-and-forth dialogue exercise, but it’s nothing like what Pimsleur offers with their audio lessons. The Pimsleur audio exercises are in-depth, engaging and a powerful means of developing your ear for the language.
Voice Coach Tool
The next highlight to call out for Pimsleur is their new Voice Coach feature. In the last year or so, Pimsleur has rolled out a new voice recognition software tool that is really strong.
The program listens to you speak phrases, and then gives you feedback on your pronunciation on a star system basis.
The accuracy is on point, and unlike some other programs I’ve tested, when you screw up your pronunciation, it will actually give you a poor grade. For reference, some other programs (like Mondly) sort of greenlight everything you say.
Plus, one feature that I especially like about Pimsleur’s new tech is challenge mode. When you turn this on, you’ll be prompted in English to say a phrase in your target language with no hint as to how to say it.
This makes you think critically about what to say plus you still need to hit your pronunciation. It’s difficult, but very helpful.
Tons of Flexibility With The Lessons
The format of the Pimsleur lessons offer a lot of flexibility. Even though each Pimsleur lesson takes a lot longer to complete than a Mondly lesson (close to an hour all-in vs five minutes for Mondly), the beauty of the 30-minute audio portion of each Pimsleur lesson is that you’re not tied to your phone.
For roughly half of each lesson, you don’t have to be staring at a screen, working fill-in-the-blanks and matching phrases to images. With the Pimsleur audio lessons, you can hit play and go about whatever you’re doing.
You can do a lesson while you’re on the elliptical machine, folding laundry, washing the dishes, whatever. You can do any mindless task, really.
Basically, it’s nice that you can be productive with your time while still doing a lesson, which is a huge advantage. You can even do an audio lesson while driving because they have a special driving mode. The flexibility is great.
- 40+ Languages
- AR & VR Apps
- Short, engaging lesson format (fast, fun and effective)
- Affordable subscription plans (under $10/month)
- Strong emphasis on vocabulary building
- AR & VR apps also available (super fun)
- Lessons could use more verbal practice
- Not as much grammar instruction as other language apps
Why Mondly Is Better Than Pimsleur
Next, let’s discuss the benefits of using Mondly over Pimsleur, as there are a few good reasons why you may want to do so.
Fun Lesson Format
The first thing that I really like about Mondly’s program is the fun, fast-moving exercises. Some language apps use boring and repetitive exercise mixes that hit the same drill types over and over.
Mondly, however, uses a very nice mix of drills that keeps your learning balanced and engaging.
As noted above, there are flashcard drills, fill-in-the-blanks, speaking exercises, translation prompts, matching pairs, back-and-forth dialogues, spelling drills, and a few more. It’s a solid blend of hands-on drill types to engage with.
Good Fit For Busy Individuals
Directly piggybacking on that last point, I like how short Mondly’s lessons are. To be clear, this can be a good or bad thing depending on what you’re looking for in your program, but for a lot of people, these short, bite-sized lessons are perfect.
Honestly, these drill types might be the difference maker between Mondly and Pimsleur for you. While the Pimsleur lessons take close to an hour to finish, your daily Mondly lesson only takes five minutes.
What’s more, if you want to squeeze in a couple more topical lessons throughout the day, those only take five minutes each as well.
From this perspective, the Mondly program is very manageable. It’s much more about consistency day-to-day than it is about depth or time studying.
Finally, the last highlight of the Mondly program is how they give you a quick recap at the end of every lesson.
When you complete a lesson, Mondly quickly runs you through a review session where they recap each word or phrase you learned. There are usually around 10 to 15 key phrases in a lesson, and Mondly will run through them in just 20 or 30 seconds.
It’s a great way to drive home what you just learned. Plus, they use this cool little brain feature where you can go back and review related vocabulary whenever you want.
There are these little clusters of related phrases that are grouped together on the brain to make reviewing easier, which I really like.
Verdict: Should You Learn With Pimsleur or Mondly?
Let’s get to my closing thoughts. If you’re trying to pick just one app between these two, it can actually be kind of hard because they are so radically different. In my opinion, however, if you’re serious about learning a new language and only want one app, I think you should go with Pimsleur.
I like Mondly for its fun, quick lessons, and I think it’s a great tool for building out your vocab, but as far as comprehensiveness goes, these two apps aren’t even in the same ballpark. The Pimsleur lessons are just so much more in-depth, and the program as a whole is more well-rounded with its reinforcement drills and voice recognition software.
That being said, because of this difference in program approach and setup, I do actually think these two apps would complement each other pretty nicely. If you wanted to use Pimsleur as your primary learning platform and do a few of their lessons per week, and then do some quick Mondly lessons here and there during the week to fill in gaps, that could be a really good combo.
All in all though, if I had to pick just one, Pimsleur is the choice.
The Pimsleur lessons are longer and more comprehensive, with a special emphasis on speaking and listening comprehension, while the Mondly lessons are shorter and more engaging, with a focus on vocabulary development.
After testing each program, our team believes Pimsleur offers the more effective language learning courses. The audio lessons from Pimsleur are particularly helpful.
Yes, Mondly offers the more affordable subscription by around $10 to $16 per month. Pimsleur plans run close to $20/month.