Sunday, November 04, 2007

"Pimsleur Approach" a snub to Ukrainians?

I was absolutely awestruck by the irony I encountered in an excellent e-letter I subscribe to, called Early to Rise.

The very first article, The Secret of Incremental Degradation, asks: "Is your zeal for a good deal sacrificing quality?" Essentially, it illustrates how businesses that indulge in short-sighted short shrifting are being "penny-wise but pound-foolish."

... The theory goes that you can eventually ruin your business by making many very small downgrades in the quality of the product or service you offer. ... For a business to grow, it must be profitable. And if you want your business to be profitable, you have to spend less than you make. But that doesn’t mean you should cheapen your product or customer service. ... As a businessperson interested in growing a profitable, entrepreneurial business in the Internet age, you should make it your job to increase - not decrease - the value you give to your customers. ...

Very illuminating article, I thought. Great business advice.

Then the next item was this advertisement: Rapidly “Absorb” Any Language in 10 Days… Using the Revolutionary Method Employed by the FBI and CIA!"

Well, being a perpetual (and perpetually struggling) student of the Ukrainian language - and someone who is very fond of shortcuts, guess what I did next...

Lo and behold, up came the Pimsleur Approach website. Oh good, I thought. Some time ago I had looked into this program and noticed that they had cassettes but not CDs for Ukrainian language instruction. I called their customer service to double-check and was told that they didn't have Ukrainian in CDs "yet" but perhaps in the future...

So, this ad reminded me to check back and see if they finally had CDs.

Well, it appears that is now all they have. But in the process of getting rid of their cassette offerings, they also got rid of Ukrainian as a language in their product offerings.

The irony would be comical if it weren't so disappointing. Not to mention insulting.

But it's also puzzling. The cost of producing CDs is miniscule, and turning analog sound files into digital is relatively easy and inexpensive. So why on earth offer fewer languages than before - and risk creating this kind of bad business karma?

All I can say is that if the decision-makers at Pimsleur subscribe to this newsletter, the advice dispensed therein obviously is lost on them. So much for their business acumen...

8 comments:

Ultimate Language said...

Simon and Schuster's failure to update the format for Ukranian from Cassettes to CDs has been disappointing. We regularly receive correspondence from individuals with friends in the Ukranian who want to learn but find the cassette format prohibiting. Furthermore there should be multiple levels available for Ukranian. The scripts for Pimsleur levels are generally the same so why Ukranian two and three are not released is also a good question.

Pawlina said...

Thanks for your comment. Very interesting! It gives me even more reason to think there is a serious snub going on here.

Now if I were paranoid I'd suspect something even more sinister, like maybe that old KGB hacks are at work at Pimsleur and/or Simon and Shuster. But surely such things aren't possible in the land of the free...

Speaking of which, I was in your fair city just a little over a week ago, tagging along with my hubby who was conferencing... I absolutely fell in love with Dallas! Had I known about your store I'd have popped in. Who knows, being so enamoured of the city it might have been easy to even sell me a set of those Ukrainian cassettes ;-)

Taras said...

Looks like you hit upon a diehard museum of a company! Did you make inquiries about LPs, bobbins, or perhaps, cuneiform:)?

Apparently some Western companies do miss the Information Age, as can be observed from their outdated value offerings and corporate cultures. And, trust me, Corporate Ukraine has a proven track record of experience in that area;)!

I still can’t believe there are no Ukrainian language CD courses available in North America:( I find it shocking. Naturally, regular practice with native speakers offers the best way of solidifying the course material and improving conversational Ukrainian. You once said there is a radio guy from Ukraine whom you work with, didn’t you?

Pawlina said...

Looks like you hit upon a diehard museum of a company!

No kidding! Like from the Soviet era...

I still can’t believe there are no Ukrainian language CD courses available in North America:( I find it shocking.

Actually, there are, Taras. Just that they're either university textbooks or kids' programs for kids who already speak Ukrainian. Pretty slim pickings for those of us who want to learn Ukrainian as a second language. The lucky ones find a native speaker to practise with...

You once said there is a radio guy from Ukraine whom you work with, didn’t you?

Yes, and he is an absolute gem. He used to work in TV and radio in Ukraine ... Pavlo Manugevych. Perhaps you saw or heard him a few years back, before he came to Vancouver?

Taras said...

I think I've just discovered his online profile:)

Pawlina said...

He's actually a pretty shy guy, and also very busy working at his day job, so I'm surprised he even has an online profile!

I have to say Pavlo is a delight to work with and just generally be around. Passionate, kind-hearted, and loyal, not to mention cultured, well-educated, and knowledgeable, he is every diaspora Ukrainian's dream! ;-)

Joe B. said...

Check the official site from the publisher: http://www.pimsleur.com

There is a full level I comprehensive course for Pimsleur Ukrainian.

http://www.pimsleur.com/Learn-Ukrainian/Ukrainian-Comprehensive/9780743566377

Pawlina said...

Thanks, Joe. I actually bought their Ukrainian program last year as a download, but it was very outdated and unfortunately it put me off.

I checked out their site briefly just now ... looks like they've updated the course and now offer an audiobook chip, which is a great idea. I'll have to give the site a closer look when I get the chance.

Thanks for the link and for dropping by!