If you have ever browsed the shelves of a book shop dreaming of that date or trip where you speak fluent French, you have probably come across old Michel T. His language learning tapes were a huge success from the 70s and are still popular today. I'm currently using the Michel Thomas tapes myself for my study of Russian. The method is reportedly the same as on the original tapes with the man himself, although here it is a Russian instructor teaching the class.
What I like and adopt about the Michel Thomas method
My own basis for teaching is similar to his - here's a communication-focused approach, in a relaxed environment. Throughout the class, he'll feature learners who are real. They hesitate and make mistakes like everyone else, but the message is: You can do this! Language learning is not some elitist skill for the most intelligent people only - it's for everyone. As such, we language tutors owe a lot to pioneers like Michel. He knew what it meant to take the mystery out of language learning and open them up for everyone through encouragement rather than strict punishments.
I'm a big fan of this message. In fact, it's the first reason I started this blog. I wanted new and experienced learners to find language easy, accessible and fun. This world will hand you the key to many closed doors once you embark on the journey of language learning. My mission is to encourage learners and make things interesting and inverting, much like Michel did.
A review of the Michel Thomas product
The method is based on recordings that the learner is supposed to listen to. There is no book, and no one makes you take notes during the class. Obviously, this simplicity is one of the big attractions about the method: You can download the MP3s on Amazon or Audible, put them on your ipod and listen to them anywhere. I find that this Russian course teaches vocabulary and speaking/listening, but personally I do not believe that this method is "complete". I miss the written aspects, grammar and seeing the language in real-life use.
This is of course a commercial product, so they couldn't resist a bit of marketing at the start of the lesson. Here's what I made of it:
You should get yourself a Michel Thomas as a supplement to other language learning or for a quick boost before your next trip abroad. I don't believe that it compares to language tuition with a real person, which should be like meeting the friendly and encouraging tutor, but getting three times as much out of it, but the method is friendly, open, encouraging and won't tire your brain out.
If you are expecting fluency and linguistic expertise out of Michel Thomas products alone, you will be disappointed but at the price point they are a decent start. Just supplement them with some notes and some reading. Please?
Availability 5/5 (you can get Michel Thomas on Amazon, Audible and in most book shops)
Free Michel Thomas for Audible folks
Value for Money 4/5 (I got mine on Audible for just 1 credit worth less than £15/$20)
Audible also lets you download the first book for free if you're a new customer, just click this link for free Michel Thomas method goodness:
Results 3/5 (This is always related to what you expect of course - expect to say a few sentences, not to become a confident conversationalist or able to read much of anything at all. You should use the method together with something else, ideally a tutor.)
PS: This post is not sponsored by Audible, I just think that what they offer is great. The links I provided tell the vendors that you came from Fluent, so you're supporting the blog and getting a good deal. Thanks!