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A Different Approach
French With Michel Thomas Complete Course CD (Audio CD)
Member Name: Wease
French With Michel Thomas Complete Course CD (Audio CD)
Date: 26/11/03, updated on 26/06/05 (1597 review reads)
Advantages: You learn without realising, Good value overall, Gives you a sound base knowledge of the language, Can learn when and where you want
Michel Thomas is undoubtedly a remarkable and talented man with many achievments under his belt. Not only has he been a language teacher for 50 years (surely enough to push anyone over the edge?) but he also escaped from a French concentration camp and the Gestapo. It was his wartime experiences which opened his eyes to the importance of education in a free society. Having studied in France, Germany and Austria - enabling him to learn a variety of dialects - he was ideally placed to start a language school. He adopted a unique approach to learning, and since 1947 has taught thousands personally, and thousands more impersonally through the use of his language courses.
***The Michel Thomas Approach***
Michel's method focuses not on memorisation, homework or copying down. Instead he breaks a language down to it's basic components adding extra parts on little by little. I will tell you more about this below.
***The CD Course***
The Course consists of 8 CD's. Each CD is an hour long and features Michel "teaching" two students - a male and a female.
The first 2 CD's are classed as the beginners introduction (the course can be bought in different sets of 2 CD's but this works out quite expensive). It starts off by Michel offering a little background into his teaching methods. He explains how he will teach you and what he wants you to do - "Do NOT try and memorise" - is one of his stricter commands! He then introduces a few words and tells you their meaning and asks the students to repeat the words. Michel tries to pick out similarities between the words and English words. For instance he picks on the word possible - spelt the same in French just pronounced slightly differently - and encourages you to think about how many other words are the same in French and English. He then adds in other words to the string. He may teach you the word "where". He will then teach you the word "goi
ng". He will string these together to make the phrase "Where are you going?". He may then add on other words e.g. "Where are you going tonight?" It is with this repetetive method that you soon pick up basic words. Michel moves on and then loops back to words taught earlier in the course. Each time there is a suitable gap in the tape for you to think about what he is asking you to say and piece together the phrase. At the start of the first CD there is even a beep to prompt you when you're input is needed. The students will also say the phrase and they often make mistakes. I found I was sometimes making similar mistakes so this was useful as Michel could then point out where I went wrong. It was also a bit of an ego boost to know I was not completely stupid and the mistakes I was making were common.
As you move onto the more advanced CD's you pick up more difficult phrases - "What's your impression of the political and economical situation in France at the present time" being one of them. Although this may not seem like something you are likely to use too often it pieces together many useful components. For instance you learn the several different mini-phrases in this: "What's your impression" - could easily be slipped into converstaion when finding out about different attractions whilst on holiday, "political" - could come up in a sentence you're trying to decipher, the same with "economical", and "at the present time" could easily come into play. This is what Michel Thomas is all about - giving you the knowledge you need to create your own sentences as you range of vocabulary increases.
***Who Is It For?***
The course is aimed at complete beginner's or those with a basic knowledge e.g. learned it in school. I think it is easier to learn from Michel if you are a complete beginner as you can immediately stamp out any bad habits you develop!
I was first introduced to Michel's technique back in December 2002. My dad was keen on learning French (again), having looked at properties in Guadeloupe, and had no time for evening classes. I decided to have a swift look at Amazon's selection of language learning tools. I came across Michel's course almost instantly and it had rave reviews. Without much thought I snapped a copy up. My dad took to playing the CD's in the car on the way to work. I decided I would like to improve my French as well. I jumped in at CD 4 - having a fair grasp of the language already - and found Michel's approach very fresh. It was easy to pick up and he helped me erase the bad sentence formation I had picked up from somewhere! The other students were handy but also a little annoying - the woman is just so thick! Luckily she seems to have disappeared for the later recordings!
The CD's do require a little patience and concentration. One thing I noticed with the French set is that you cannot skip forward - a bonus in that you can't miss parts but slightly annoying that you have to start from the beginning each time! I now have the German version as well and this has divided each CD into 10 tracks which I prefer because I do not always have the time - or energy to listen to the CD the whole way through. I can listen to a few sections, then go back if I don't think I've fully absorbed them. That is one of the courses blessings - you can learn at your own pace. If you think you're struggling or some of the words and phrases haven't fully sunk in you can stop and listen to them again and again and again until you're ready to move on! I prefer to listen to the CD's in 20 minute sessions. If I listen to too much at once I switch off slightly!
Since using Michel I have developed a confident approach to languages which has stood me in good stead on foreign visits thus far. It has also given me a stable
base from which to further improve my vocabulary.
Don't expect Michel to give you a complete grasp of perfect French straightaway - he won't. But what you will be provided with is a sound vocabulary and the ability to correctly piece together your own sentences. As with any language the best way learn is to use the language!
The course comes in quite a large plastic box with 4 CD's strapped to either side. It is quite big and bulky and although it looks nice on a bookshelp I personally would prefer something a little smaller and more like a traditional CD case. I find the CD's do not stay in their positions very well so have just left the box on the shelf and have the discs in a seperate holder.
Amazon is surely the best place to buy the course - selling the package for £49.99 - compared with over £60 at WHSmith!
This may seem quite steep but once you have experience the quality of the teaching you will fully appreciate it. If you correlate the course with evening classes for instance you could pay the same amount for a term of lessons and learn basically the same amount. Here you can take your time and learn when it suits you - without any homework! You can also go over previous "lessons" time and time again!
***Other Products From The Michel Thomas Range***
The language courses are available not only in French but in German, Spanish and Italian too. The same languages also feature in Michel's "Language Builders" - these offer a wider range of vocabulary.
Christopher Robbins has also written a biography of Michel's extraordinary life called "The Test of Courage"
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