Why I Don’t Recommend Michel Thomas (Review)

If not for the total lack of listening comprehension and the excessive amount of English, I might have a more favorable opinion of the Michel Thomas Method.
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Michel Thomas

Michel Thomas
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Positives
  • Simplifies various language concepts well
  • Good range of languages
Negatives
  • Way too much English
  • No listening comprehension
  • Teacher is held solely responsible for outcome
  • Explicit grammar instruction
  • A-list celebrity endorsements without educational endorsements

Summary

Michel Thomas’ focus on functional building blocks is great, but the course is in no way worthy of its household name in language education. The excessive use of English to “explain” the target language and a complete lack of listening comprehension deprive learners of any substance.

MT has a cult following and A-list celebrity endorsements but no strong support from linguists or educators.

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UPDATE: For a quality alternative to Michel Thomas, I recommend this audio course.

I was recently sent a few copies of the Michel Thomas Total Arabic and Perfect Arabic courses from the good folks over at Hodder Education in exchange for an honest review.

This is a product that I’ve wanted to look at for a long time as MT is still a very popular course among language learners.

Michel Thomas is a popular household name that most of us are familiar with and it’s certainly a course that I get asked about quite often (particularly the Arabic edition).

I’ve spent the last few weeks meticulously going through the content and researching its method.

Unfortunately, I wanted to include some Q&A with Hodder Education along with this review (I always like to fire off challenging questions to content creators and publishers to get some substantive answers) but Hodder never followed up on my request for additonal information.

Not sure why that is but it’s a shame.

So no Q&A on this one! 😐

However I will provide my in-depth and brutal assessment of the Michel Thomas Method anyway.

Make sure to share your own experience and thoughts in the comment section below.

The Michel Thomas Method has been around for a long time but age is not a reliable indicator of quality

Like so many other products that I’ve taken the time to write about, decent reviews on the Michel Thomas Method are virtually non-existent.

What I have seen first of all is an assumption by many that age = high quality.

As I pointed out in my Assimil, Pimsleur and Rosetta Stone reviews, the fact that something has been around for a long time does not bestow authority.

This is *especially* true in the realm of language education.**

Consensus on effective methods changes dramatically over time, and approaches that were extremely popular decades ago (like that of Michel Thomas) may have been rendered obsolete by contemporary research.

Or it may just be that MT was pioneering and innovative back in the day though it would probably struggle to stand out in today’s market.

I should also add that although Michel Thomas’ famous war story (his Nazi resistance and role in interrogation in WW2) is an incredible tale that’s well documented (there’s even a good biographical account on it), this does not warrant conferring extra weight to his teaching methodology which was developed many years later.

Yes, his story is heroic and inspiring.

No, this did not necessarily make him a good teacher nor did it say it anything about the development of his method.

UPDATE: Shortly after writing this review, I was contacted by an investigative journalist from the LA Times who debunked Michel Thomas’ war story (see his points here).

Ever asked yourself why Michel Thomas is endorsed by so many A-list celebrities?

Before we even get into the substance of the MT Method, there’s one thing that’s always had me curious.

The Michel Thomas Method came out of his Polyglot Institute in Beverley Hills, and seemed to rely heavily on celebrity endorsements rather than letting the method’s results speak for themselves unlike other big name competitors.

It’s a course that’s marketed primarily for and by the rich and famous.

By the way, if there’s anything the recent US election has taught me, it’s that Hollywood endorsements aren’t worth much! (see here and here) 🙂

The Michel Thomas Total course sitting in front of me has a dozen A-list celebrities’ names written on it under the heading, “The method chosen by the stars”.

Michel Thomas Celebrities

The first thing you see on the Michel Thomas website as soon as you land on it is a big bold quote from Stephen Fry:

A unique and perfectly brilliant way of teaching languages.”

Then there’s another quote displayed by Woody Allen:

“You learn a language effortlessly. It is amazing. Michel had me speaking French and I learned it in a way I’ve never forgotten, and it was painless. A tremendous experience.”

I should add – Woody’s testimony doesn’t quite match up with this recent interview in France:

I see these A-list endorsements in Michel Thomas advertising, on other reviews and videos and what it says to me is that somebody somewhere probably got paid good money to say very nice things.

These aren’t linguists or teachers making recommendations.

They’re actors.

And they make a living by doing and saying things that aren’t necessarily true.

You are responsible for your own learning

“Before starting, I’m going to set up a very important rule, a very important ground rule and that rule is:

For you never to worry about remembering, never to worry about remembering anything and therefore not to try, never to try to remember anything from one moment to the next.

This is a method with a responsibility for your remembering and for learning… [inaudible]. So if at any point there’s something you don’t remember, this is not your problem.

It will be up to me to know why you don’t remember individually and what to do about it.

– Michel Thomas, The Language Master 1997

One thing that I find particularly at odds with everything I’ve learned as a language educator is the Michel Thomas emphasis on full teacher responsibility.

The teacher – not the student – is the one responsible for the learning outcome.

In fact, the Michel Thomas website even states:

“There’s no such thing as a poor student, only a poor teacher.”

I can’t disagree with this statement enough and I actually think it’s a very detrimental thing to imply as it leads learners to forever blame teachers for their failures.

While it’s absolutely true that there are some terrible teachers out there who don’t know what they’re doing in the classroom and/or use ineffective teaching methodologies, the responsibility for learning ultimately rests on the learner.

Even as children we can’t be forced to acquire knowledge. We can only be guided.

You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink! 🙂

The Michel Thomas classroom is 100% teacher-controlled.

Unlike a contemporary language classroom that uses a communicative approach and allows students to move around, form groups and have the freedom to interact and make mistakes, the MT setting is like a psychiatrist’s couch where the students’ hands are held through every single step of the session.

There are constant error corrections by the teacher.

One main feature of the MT Method is that the teacher maintains flow until a student makes a mistake in which case they’re instantly corrected on the spot before moving on.

While it’s still a contentious issue for some, most language teachers these days would argue against this.

The general consensus in second language teaching these days is to correct errors if there’s a miscommunication in meaning but that stopping students every single time they make a grammar mistake is detrimental to self-esteem and motivation.

Whatever your view or preference is on this issue, it’s worth bearing in mind that the MT classroom is not student-led.

Strong emphasis on the learner not feeling any pressure or stress

“It is very important for you when you walk out not to practice, not to try to remember, not to review mentally and not to test yourself…”

-Michel Thomas

There has been a lot of study on psychological factors relating to language learning and much of it has centered on stress and anxiety.

Without doubt, high anxiety can negatively affect performance, self-esteem and overall acquisition.

So what Michel Thomas has tried to do is to create an atmosphere in the classroom where students feel completely calm with no burden of expectation.

He does this by setting a ground rule where the students are “not to try to remember”.

Now, this may have a positive effect on some students with reduced pressure to perform but I should also note that pressure isn’t always a bad thing. Sometimes we benefit from being under pressure as it pushes us to try harder.

Language is a cognitive skill after all and skills require hard work to improve at.

I also find it really troubling to hear a teacher say “don’t practice” and “don’t review mentally”.

This is terrible advice.

I can’t see any real practical benefit to telling students to do this other than possible stress reduction.

The teacher talks so much English that it feels more like an English lesson

In the Michel Thomas recordings, you hear four people:

The native English-speaking host, a native speaker of the target language (in my case Arabic) and two students.

They call it a virtual classroom where you’re able to put yourself in the students’ place and learn through their mistakes and subsequent error corrections.

Unfortunately the course is almost entirely taken up by English.

If I were to estimate percentages of how much time each person takes up throughout the entire audio course, I’d say the native English speaker is probably about 85%, the students 10% and the native Arabic speaker the remaining 5%.

Ludicrous!

As I was listening to the Egyptian Arabic course, I found myself constantly thinking in frustration:

“Would you just shut up and let Mahmood (the native Arabic speaker) talk please?”

The British woman who hosts and teaches the course is, as Michel Thomas was himself, very much in charge of the lesson.

Mahmood plays a complimentary role and apart from a few cultural notes that he dictates, his primary purpose appears to be to demonstrate correct pronunciation. The British woman teaches the course and periodically refers to him to demonstrate.

Now, I can understand how this may be desirable for some learners.

Some people do find they get a better grasp on concepts when they hear them explained by a speaker of their own language.

And that really is something that she does well admittedly – breaking grammar down into easily digestible concepts.

For example, when she’s talking about mumkin (ممكن) and laazim (لازم) in Egyptian Arabic and the way they’re both used when combined with verbs, in my opinion she does a pretty good job of turning it into a simple concept to grasp for a totally new learner.

But the main issue for me is that her accent is awful.

She continues to teach Arabic using dreadful pronunciation even though there’s a native speaker sitting right beside her. It’s painful at times to listen to.

And in my opinion, you should be learning from native speakers anyway (unless it’s not an option).

This gets me to my next point.

What about listening comprehension in Michel Thomas?

This is by far the biggest problem with the Michel Thomas Method (in my opinion).

The course does not – in any way whatsoever – train listening comprehension skills.

It is in fact 100% devoid of any authentic listening opportunities.

As I always say, listening comprehension is the most difficult part of learning a new language and it takes the longest time to train. You can learn to speak a language very quickly in fact but being able to understand what people are saying when they reply back to you is a skill that takes a lot of time to hone.

I actually find the course to be disingenuous in this regard.

The reason why I say it’s disingenuous is because for the entire duration of the course, the students are being asked questions primarily in English to give a target language response.

Over the duration of the course, they’re learning how to give certain responses when prompted and various mnemonic techniques for remembering words but they’re never really thrown into an actual conversation where they have to apply listening skills.

The course encourages them to think in English the whole time but respond in Arabic.

Naturally, this “no pressure” method does not equip anyone for real-world interaction.

It would be very easy after a week of Michel Thomas classes to think that you’ve learned the target language to a proficient level, then step outside and quickly discover how little you actually know.

The focus on function words, structure and building blocks

If there’s one thing I think that Michel Thomas actually does right, it’s this.

As I said above, the English-speaking teacher does a very good job of breaking grammar down into easily digestible concepts or blocks.

So instead of going into a big spiel about verb conjugation for example, she gives a verb form and then demonstrates how to plug that verb form into a sentence pattern.

This is basically along the same lines as a method I call chunking.

It gets you away from burdensome grammar memorization and focuses more on piecing building blocks together to form coherent and natural sentences.

I explain this in detail here.

For the Arabic edition that I sampled, it does a very good job at this and explains to a degree why MT was able to assure a functional command of the language within days.

NOTE: The levelling of the Michel Thomas Total and Perfect courses are totally incorrect (they suggest Total = Beginner to Intermediate and Perfect = Intermediate to Advanced).

In reality, the short and sparse nature of the content wouldn’t take you beyond an Elementary level at all.

Overall, Michel Thomas is not a course that I’d honestly recommend

Honestly, if it wasn’t for the total lack of listening comprehension and the excessive amount of English, I would be happy to recommend the Michel Thomas Method.

But as it stands, I cannot and will not.

The focus on functional building blocks is excellent and indeed good.

Also, as far as the Arabic edition goes, it’s good to see another product that teaches a spoken dialect (Egyptian) rather than Modern Standard.

But the fact that they have a native speaker present only in a complimentary role, while a non-native English speaker with horrid pronunciation does most of the talking is just baffling to me.

It makes no sense and reduces the overall quality of the course.

I’m also wary of advertising that relies heavily on A-list celebrity endorsement while the founder, Michel Thomas, was evasive about how he developed his method.

If you’re able to pick up a cheap copy then it might help you get started, but in my opinion there are many other courses and products more worthy of the full cost of this program.

Used MT before? Did it help you?

Comment below!

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Donovan Nagel - B. Th, MA AppLing
I'm an Applied Linguistics graduate, teacher and translator with a passion for language learning (especially Arabic).
Currently learning: Icelandic

COMMENTS

Comment Policy: I love comments and feedback (positive and negative) but I have my limits. You're in my home here so act accordingly.
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simon j wood

Hi Donovan, just wondering who you think is the better linguist, you or Michel Thomas?

Dmitriy Mukhtarov

Not sure about Arabic and the rest of it. But when I begun studying French, i did exactly as MT said, and I have seen no progress until a few months later while on a trip to Paris, in the hotel room while unpacking the suitcase, I caught myself on the fact that I simply listen to the local channel TV news and understand it the way I understand my mother tongue in a subconscious way, without translating anything in my head. It's my experience and you can say whatever you want, but this approach of constant listening does work, maybe not on every language, e.g. Chinese, but works. Just don't be lazy and stick with it listening for more than once or twice. Then add to it the reverse courses such as the Harrap's Michel Thomas Anglais débutant designed for french speakers who learn English and it will take you from understanding but not speaking the language like a dog to actually speaking it. So, sorry mate, but it works, if you put effort in it, just like any other language course or thing in life.

Sid KIng

I have just watched your 15 minute video. After 12 minutes you got to the point which had prompted me to type into Google, " Disadvantages of the MT language method". I bought his French Language Builder about ten years ago. Due to the current covin lock-down in the UK, I recovered it and decided to brush up my rusty french. It quickly brought back to me what I had found frustrating about it when I first tried it. I was listening to my English speaking teacher, Michel, respond to me in French! Why not a native french speaker with Michel as course moderator? No disrespects towards Michel but again I found myself wanting to hear (and understand!) French spoken as I would hear it in France.
You make the same valid point in your video regarding the non-native arabic speaker.

Brian Hanney

The Michel Thomas method has much to recommend it and it has serious flaws. The ludicrous advice never to practice would be very damaging if taken seriously, for example, and seem to me to be an attempt to mystify his course and make it appear vaguely magical.
It is misleading as well: listening to these beginners put complex sentences together is very impressive until your realise something. If you were to ask them a question in the target language they would have two big problems. First, they probably wouldn't understand the question. Secondly, they probably would have trouble selecting the words they need from their memory. In other words if you say in English what they should say in Spanish and you choose words that they have learned, they will probably be able to answer. For example, you're discussing hobbies and you ask them to say "I like football because it's fun and I can be with my friends" they can do it. However if you say "Tell me why you like football" many of them are completely stumped. They have enough vocabulary to answer the question but instead they're trying to say something too complex like "Football gives me the opportunity to relax and hang with my pals." It's very difficult for most students to simply select from the words they have in their memory. I have experience of this as a language learner - I speak five languages - and as a teacher.
Despite all this I find this method very useful in giving students a sense of the structure of a language and would recommend it provides they understand that they do have to practice a lot and work on listening comprehension and actual conversation.

Sam

Ok here's my take on it . I'm Scottish lived in France for 35 years speak fluent French , can join in any conversation , have a good laugh and joke with my French friends , often as not have them rolling around with translated Brit humour, but still make the grammatical errors I took on when learning the language on the street.
Having travelled to Egypt many times ,I recently spent a couple of weeks trekking in Sinai, just myself and a guide. Nasser spoke very good English , but I really chided myself that over the years I had made no attempt to learn basic Arabic and imagined what my life would be like in France if I didn't speak French. So I got into MT. First thing I found was that I was learning the language correctly, not the extensive vocabulary and lack of grammar that has hindered me speaking French. I was thinking my way through the conjugation more like a maths lesson than a language course. The English accent is so distinct that it doesn't bother me , I listen to Mahmood for the correct pronunciation , the English lady is the teacher using the students and Mahmood in a way that an editor editing film is watching the screen concentrating on the moment to cut and not pushing the keys, the engineer is doing that. I like the fact that the lesson appears genuine , the students really do make mistakes , at one point she gets frustrated with one of them and her frustration is clear in her voice and not edited out. I like that. I take note of words that I find difficult to remember and purposely don't note those that I do. There are things like the constant reference to the dentist that I find weird, but that's her way and as I absorb the language and am aware that I really am learning , who am I to question her methods , when they obviously are working for me. That said I have not your experience in comparing courses so I can't really make a comparison with others. I do find myself constructing conversation with Nasser and missing only vocabulary, which is great. I'm looking forward to returning to Sinai and speaking directly with some of the bedouin we meet when hiking. We came over a mountain pass one day, Nasser was just in front of me , two kids appeared with a donkey , which had a generator strapped to it . I looked up and said half under my breath , mmm an electric donkey , Nasser , who was very quick, caught it and started laughing , he then had to explain to the kids , they got it , we all sat and had tea, but the conversation soon reverted to the three of them , I would have loved to get involved , but language barrier kicked in and I had to sit back and take in the view, which from the top of a mountain deep in Sinai in spring is not a bad way to pass a couple of hours. I didn't select this course I was given it , I'm not an intellectual I left education at 15 , hated it and have kept well away from any type of school since , though in recent years I admit I would like to go into a classroom again just to experience what I didn't as a child.

Sergey

I have a very average English speaking skills but MT introductory French CD course for English learners (which I learned a week before the descent to France) saved my life during three years surviving there because French people do not like speak English even when they can speak. But they agree to speak French slowly so listening skills came soon to me based on grammar basis of MT course.
I advise to consider MT courses as a great emergency first aid, life vest.
I mean original Michel Thomas recordings only, can say nothing about his successors.
Regards,
Serge.

Riccardo

I think the MT courses are fantastic. You have to condition yourself to ignore the mistakes that the students make and the frustration of listening to the same lessons over and over again, but if you persist, it works. You have to listen to each 'CD' until you can play it back and repeat all of the parts before you move onto the next for it to work. But it works. I have looked at other courses and had no success. I have done the MT Italian, German, Spanish and French courses and found that I was able to communicate at a reasonable level in each of those languages. We visit those countries on holiday and I am able to converse at a decent level. The way he teaches gets you speaking and understanding incredibly quickly and he gently eases you into the grammar, so by the end of it you can express yourself in many tenses. There are some bits in the recordings that could be improved or areas that could do with a little more detail but all in all they are superb and I have found nothing that comes close.

Ben

This comment is less about the review than your posting a supposed "debunk" of Michel's life. The article in question is dealt with in a postscript to Christopher Robbins' The Test Of Courage, explaining how much of a hatchet job this staff writer carried out. The fact he is still contacting you about it long after Michel's death, shows just how vindictive he is.

Michel is a proven Holocaust survivor whose whole family were murdered, and he fought for the French resistance and US army. Forget the movie stars, he went into poor schools and helped impoverished kids learn languages, and, more importantly, feel good about the process of learning.

It's your right to link to the LA Times article, but it is an alleged "debunk". And I would urge you to compare the experience of the journalist (a staff writer for 18 years, editor of a satirical website for 3 years) with the many decorated war veterans whose testimony supported Michel's account of his own life.

With regards Woody Allen, his language lessons were as a young man and in that interview he was in his 70s. He also has documented hearing loss, and it is a professional interview. So, I think it is a disingenuous comment, and I don't see how it is relevant to your own experience with the CDs.

Kind regards.

RBR

Ben, it's not about being "vindictive." It's about setting the record straight. Michel Thomas did some interesting things during the war, but he fabricated some stories and stole credit that rightfully belonged to others, such as his claim to have rescued Nazi party membership files from destruction. Military records and newspaper articles from 1945 disprove much of Thomas' story (he even backtracked on several claims in a sworn court affidavit) and make clear that Hans Huber, an anti-Nazi German, saved the documents from destruction and brought them to the attention of Allied troops.

Charles Rhaka

I disagree with the premise of your argument. Teachers are accountable for student learning. Incompetent ones blame the learner. This is grounded in current educational research. I used MT for Spanish. I've tried many others but his method suited my learning style. Others with a different learning styles may opt for something different. The article lack critical analysis and assumes learning is absolute. I tried to read it with an open mind but the subjectivity and negativity was overbearing. The only thing I got from it was how much you hate MT.

John

In reviewing the comments of your recommendation NOT to use MT, I have found a rock solid endorsement of the MTM from your reviewers, especially where MT taught the major European languages himself. Your diatribe against MT and the "lack of positive reviews" has produced a plethora of reviews which are an advertisement for MTM better than any MT could have wished for. I tried many Spanish courses before eventually trying MT who in a matter of weeks gave me the ability to speak Spanish and taught me the grammar I needed to know to speak with confidence. I learned this effortlessly. However, no one will become proficient in a foreign language without complementary material and commitment: and MT does himself a disservice with his statement on teacher responsibility. I recommend the MT Method where MT is the teacher in Spanish, Italian, and French. His accent never bothered me and I was not interested in anything about him other than his ability to make me understand and speak. I don't know the other language courses (Arabic, Chinese, etc.) and can't comment on them, but a blanket negative review on all MTM courses? ... in line with the house rules I will say only that you say more about the man than his courses, and that I admire your courage in asking for comments.

James

"Language is a cognitive skill after all and skills require hard work to improve at."

Learning a language is not JUST a cognitive exercise. It IS possible to learn a language with just your head, but it is incredibly hard work.

If you learn something because you love it, love the process and have enthusiasm, then you learn it much faster and easier, because you are learning with other parts of your self (your heart for example). This is why children learn much faster, that is why you found it easier to learn a language when a girl was involved. That is what Michel Thomas is picking up on - reducing dependency on the mind.

You know this instinctively already - (a girl does not NEED to be involved!!) - but to make it conscious requires your mind to respect your mind less. It is not so easy!

To learn a language with just your head is like trying to quench your horse's thirst with a teaspoon. It is the wrong tool for the job. :)

Pete

This review of the Michel Thomas course in Arabic completely misses the point of his method. I speak as someone who sent right through both the MT beginners and advanced courses in German, not knowing a word of German before I started. I found it highly helpful and very interesting to do, whether at home or whilst travelling in a car, train or plane. As he promised in his intro, I was able to speak very simple sentences extraordinarily quickly.
Thomas died a number of years ago. At that point he offered only 4 European languages, I believe German, French, Italian & Spanish. If there are now other languages then that sounds like the publishers Hodder & Stoughton trying to take advantage of a system that was unique to its original teacher. From your description and observations of the Arabic course, it's not even clear whether you did the course, or completed it. Perhaps you just dipped in. The important point is that I do not think that anyone but Michel Thomas could deliver a Michel Thomas course. His style is simply too unique, and his sense of when to move on with his students. On the German course, he even got grumpy stone point and this, to me, added tremendous realism.
Personally I completely believe the comments of those 'movie stars' whom you are slightly dismissive of. After doing my course, I recommended Thomas's courses to several people who all found them as stimulating as I did. I really think your criticism should be with the publishers for trying to perpetuate a system which depended on the unique personality and insight of one man and which actually should have been allowed to die with him. Now, I would still emphatically recommend the four original recordings to anyone wishing to gain a grasp of the languages involved.

Frank Case

Of course you’re right. I have never understood the popularity of the MT courses. I have tried various languages. None of them were any good. The two students are just an embarrassment. Who wants to hear poorly pronounced language. I personally managed to complete the Japanese course. But only by spending many hours with my MD recorder erasing the students contributions and leaving only the English sentences and the Japanese equivalents. This amounted to a mini Glossika course. Alas, the MD player/recorders are no longer manufactured.

BIGmike

OK. What's better? What do you recommend?

Donovan Nagel

Depends.
Which language are you learning and what are your goals?

Lisa

I have listened to the Spanish version taught by MT himself and found it quite good. Do you have any recommendations for Malay? I can't seem to find any good options, most of the time, it is just flashcards or they just ask you to keep repeating words.

nicholas deery

A rather poor review littered with unsubstantiated assertions, and many of them superlatives. The only useful way of reviewing a course is to study it in it’s entirety and why would this largely negative review be any better than a positive one made by a celebrity. An essential component of learning anything is the level of aptitude and attitude of the learner at the start and throughout the learning process. In my opinion it would be better to review the language course yourself and reach your own conclusion.

Lee putman

Interesting read. Im not sure I disagree with any of your points but perhaps your perspective.
I've only listened to the Arabic course so my view on the MTM is limited.
I think the statements by MT set some unrealistic expectations for how much of the language you can learn by only using their method but I think it's naive for anyone to think they can truly learn a language by using strictly one method.
I think the MTM is very effective if you think of it as a tool to use in your language learning journey. Of course it's annoying that you don't get to hear the native speaker talk more or get to build your listening skills but the understanding of how to build sentences and questions to enquire about the language is brilliant.

Personally I listen to a whole tape once, then listen a second time and write everything down (I'm learning to read and write Arabic as well), then i copy everything I've written into a second book without listening to the tape. Whilst doing this I talk with my partner (who is Arabic and the rrson I'm learning), and she corrects me on things I still haven't grasped and confirms things I have. We then have mini conversations where I use the skills I've learned from the MTM to ask her questions and respond when she talks with me. This builds my listening skills (which I also think has been the hardest part of learning).
I also play games like duolingo, read children's Arabic books and watch some shows in Arabic. I tweak things here and there to adjust my learning to be most effective.

My point in explaining all of that is to illustrate the idea that when it comes to learning, I think it's best to be maliable and think of teachers/courses/methods etc. As tools that you can use to find the most effective way that works for you.

Like I said I don't think I disagree with any of your critiques on the MTM, it just comes across as if you got fixated on the claims MT made rather than thinking how good it can be as part of the language learning experience.

Lee

Hilary Smith

I have learned more from listening to Michel Thomas over three days (8 hours), than I have done in my entire life from learning at school, passing GCE French ('A' grade for written, 'E' grade for speaking, equivalent to a 'C' overall), going to evening classes for two years, reading various text books with answers and listening to DuoLingo. With none of this could I confidently speak in sentences. I now can. You may be right in some of the comments you have made but for me, if he were here today, I would write and thank him.

Natalie

So after reading reviews on the Michel Thomas method (I'm trying to learn French) I like his method enormously, because it allows me to quickly talk in sentences. I am interested in an alternative because I understand some of the comments regarding no response guage. What is recommended, moving forward with a similar learning style? I've been trying to learn French and the only way for me is a non c;lassroom situation (Ie Michel Thomas method).

Peter Mansfield

I have never heard so much rubbish. Twenty two years ago I asked a language teacher friend of mine if he could recommend a teach yourself course in Spanish. We had just bought a house in Spain. He immediately recommended Michel Thomas. I asked him if i did the course diligently would my Spanish be fairly good. He said yes and i would probably be at the old GCE O-level standard. I did the course and my Spanish was extremely helpful to me in communicating with my Spanish neighbours and the general Spanish public. It was an excellent grounding to allow me to improve my Spanish over the years I spent living in Spain. My wife and i attended a Spanish night class at our local school in England for a year, and i found it a complete waste of my time, it basically consisted of learning standard phrases.Learning a new language is essentially about commitment, the MT course gives you a good quick introduction to a new language and if you commit to it you will learn the language to an acceptable level. I found his technique unique and and very helpful. I often play the cd's just to revise if i feel the urge. When I was at school I would say our language teacher spoke English the vast majority of the time. I did Italian at school not French. I am 79 years old and i am considering doing French by the MT method. I will let you know how I go on. To try and improve my Spanush I spent a year in a Spanish class in Spain and although I found it helpful I found if quite difficult to follow sometimes. I think you are being too critical with your comments, you must remember a language is to allow people to communicate and understand each other and the MT method assists in this. I never expected to be a professional lilinguist after I completed the course, just to be able to communicate and understand people in a new language. Thanks and regards.
Peter Mansfield

Natalie

Thanks Peter, great feedback. Kind regards, Natalie

Paula

I disagree with almost everything you've said, I'm afraid. I've found the Michel Thomas method to be absolutely wonderful - quite the best way of learning a language. I have a degree in Spanish and have found that using Thomas's method to learn Italian, and to brush up on my French, has been a tremendous experience. In my view it has no parallel in terms of competitive language-learning products on the market. Thank you!

laurence breen

tried various language learning course in spanish while on the basic spanish
course i was fine but as soon as i went on to the intermediate level i got totally lost and gave up a friend gave me the michel thomas spanish cds and all i can say is amazing i cannot put the cds down and i will be going on to the advance level soon for some reason it works for me at school i was in a class for slow learners and was told i would not be learning a foreign language because i would have enough with english i can only speak as i have found personaly.

Lizzie

Having no prior French skills my partner and I did the Michel Thomas method for two months together before moving to France and we were absolutely rocking it by the time we got there. I started a french language course and was boosted up several levels because of how much I'd learned with MT, and it's one of the only things I enthusiastically recommend on a regular basis.

Kim

It really comes down to how you learn. For me, Michel Thomas worked. I had taken lots of Spanish classes, dated a Peruvian and was immersed in Spanish on several occasions, and am an avid salsa dancer, but I couldn't learn Spanish. I learned more Spanish using the Michel Thomas method than I did in years of Spanish classes. For me, it worked wonders and I love it. I know others who have had success with it, and none with classes or other methods. So, it will vary from person to person. It just depends on how you learn. Michel Thomas teaches in a way that works for me.

David Cragg-James

I am a retired language teacher who has used the Total and Perfect Greek courses to gain a working knowledge of the language upon which. I can build. I find the method adopted - teacher and two students - congenial and effective. The claims - Total and Perfect - are of course misleading but it is difficult to find accurate level indicators when only one skill - speaking - is addressed. To clarify, I feel that I have acquired a good working knowledge of how the language works and that I can cope with reasonably advanced structures. Attention to the sparse booklets which contain all the language practised has imparted an ability to read and reproduce in writing what I have learned, although admittedly this flies in the face of the advice, implicit and explicit, not to spend time on study outside the confines of the course. As you say, not good advice. As a linguist I was perhaps hoping for more than a mere 'language indispensable for a visit to Greece' course, and this I got, although it would have been good to get this as well. Although skills other than speaking are not well covered, and although this skill needs a lot of reinforcement with vocabulary post-course - preferably using similar methods to impart - I feel that I got more than I hoped for from the course, my expectations fairly low having tried other courses which do provide the missing practice in functional language but neglect the structures which allow one to build confidently, courses therefore which are fiddly and unsatisfying. I would happily buy an 'Even More Perfect Greek' course, but hope for a better title! Perhaps I want too much from a course. On the basis of my experience of the Greek course, and my wife's on the Perfect Italian course, I will certainly buy a Michel Thomas Total Spanish course (if I can find one at a fraction of the new cost).
I find your review a little harsh while sharing some of your caveats - total teacher responsibility, for example - but, as an ex teacher, I would, wouldn't I?
By the way, in the UK at least, it's not 'complimentary', (as in a cost-free glass of raki after your Cretan restaurant meal), but 'complementary' in your use of the word to describe the function of the not-too-active native speaker whose role is to top up and flesh out that of the real teacher. Sorry......the pedant in me!

Mike Middleton

I used the Spanish Method and went through every course ever made in Spanish. I loved it and recommend it. It really helped me a ton with grammar and vocabulary. I also went through all the Pimsleur's, Learning Spanish Like Crazy and several of the Practice Makes Perfect books. Today I can speak Spanish pretty well, but I still have a problem understanding people talk unless they slow down for me. I read and write Spanish really well also, but I've had a lot of Spanish speaking friends and we texted in Spanish for years.

Sarah Cole

Firstly, I need to thank you for your review as the responses to it have been some of the best endorsements I've read about Michel Thomas Method courses, and it was heartwarming! But also, because some of your comments truly resonated and addressed issues I have been concerned about for a while - like the over-reliance on celebrity endorsements, many of which have become outdated. And also, some of the unclear claims about the method.

This year we relaunched the product - putting it in eco-friendly packaging, as well as putting it online, but also, being more specific about what the product does and does not do. We have removed the celebrity endorsements. Your review was helpful in giving me the ammunition to make this update. So thank you.

I think it’s clear that the Michel Thomas Method is NOT for you. Indeed, it’s not for everyone.

And it’s certainly not intended to be the silver bullet of language learning. It’s but one resource among countless that a learner would need to become proficient in a foreign language. But for many people, it’s the ideal start. Why? For the reason that you make at the end of your review for why it is not effective!

You wrote: ‘Nobody learns to play an instrument by having its mechanics explained to them. They play it.’

We often use similar analogies to describe our courses. Akshay Bakaya, author of the Hindi Michel Thomas course explained the method with:

‘It’s always been clear to me, as it was to Michel Thomas himself, that learning to speak a new language is like learning to swim or dance – you don’t start with books and notes on swimming or dance. You get into the water, or on the dance floor, with a good coach, and get on with it.’

I will not argue that it didn’t work for you. And, cards on the table, I was dubious of it when I first took on the role of Publishing Director for Hodder. Its claims were counter to what I learned as a student of Applied Linguistics. It was not how I taught languages as a French and ESL teacher. ‘No such thing as a bad student?!’ I’ve seen plenty in my days! And Its approach was far different to that which I used to develop English courses as Cambridge University Press. But once I got past the hype and marketing and started using the course, understanding the method, looking at the research and trials that went into their development, attending recordings, speaking with real-life users, I realised that it works better than anything I had ever seen for a self-study learner to get past the initial hurdle of learning a language.

Why?

Because you start speaking immediately and thus USING a new language. You are figuring out a language and producing it by thinking through answers. By hearing your own progress, you are motivated to continue. And motivation is often the key ingredient in successful language learning that should not be overlooked.

They do not teach you ‘about’ language. They don’t even use metalanguage, or if they do, it’s very minimal and only when necessary. Instead, they teach you the underlying structure of a language. And by structure, I mean grammar! They teach very little vocabulary, but go through most of the verb tenses in a language.

Michel Thomas compared this to an architect: ‘I build the house, but it’s up to you to decorate it.’

These courses were only ever intended to be a very solid foundation for further learning. The first step that makes the rest of the journey a little bit easier.

Yes, there is a lot of English. This is for the benefit of the self-study learner, but also because the whole method is about revealing what you already know about a new language and relying on English as a base for cognates, mnemonics and also to reduce stress. Not everyone wants to walk into an immersion classroom on day 1!

It seems to me you are criticising the method for things it does not even claim to do. It does not teach comprehension. It does not deal with reading or writing. It doesn’t teach by topics. But that’s OK. We don’t blame the dentist when she can’t fix our back ache.

Listening comprehension is important, usage is important. Authentic practice – very necessary! But these are step two. First you need input – language to use and a base upon which you can start to comprehend. Michel Thomas Method courses are simply step 1.

As the publisher for Michel Thomas Method courses for the past eight years, I have had countless emails and phone calls from people telling me how it has worked for them, even changed their lives. And they all say how it helped them COMMUNICATE and SPEAK. To put words together and USE the language. We have run pilots in schools that quantitatively show a significant improvement in speaking and confidence in language learning when using Michel Thomas Method courses.

Anecdotally, after sitting in on a 4-hour Michel Thomas Greek course in Thessaloniki, I was able to go to a Greek restaurant and tell the waiter ‘I was waiting for a friend, I wanted an Ouzo, and I would order dinner later.’ None of these were explicitly taught in the course. But I was able to put it all the words together to say what I wanted. The waiter never responded to me in English.

I would not dismiss the comments of 80% of your reviewers who disagree with you as a ‘religious’ devotion. Like them, I have experienced how it works. I wholeheartedly recommend Michel Thomas courses to anyone I speak to as the absolute best way to start learning and using a new language.

If you are interested still in the Q&A and understanding a bit more of the background of the method, I'd be very happy to speak to you, although I don't intend to try to change your opinion. Alas, they're simply not for everyone.

Sarah Cole
Publishing Director, John Murray Learning
Michel Thomas and Teach Yourself


PS - Thankfully before Michel Thomas Passed away in 2005, he was awarded the Silver Star in 2004.

In May 2004, after investigation and recommendations from veterans with whom he fought, former members of the CIC, and Senator John McCain and New York Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, the US Army granted Thomas the Silver Star, the third highest medal for combat valour. He was awarded this at a ceremony at the new second world war memorial in Washington. Thomas was also recognised at the US Holocaust Memorial in a ceremony honouring the liberators of the camps.

Matt

I agree with the folks who say your review was poorly titled, since you only reviewed the Arabic language version. Not fair to what is actually a huge expanse of products.

But my personal opinion is that a lot of language learning (and really any type of learning) is what works for you, is good. I have lived in multiple countries, and always tried to learn some of the language. And over decades I have tried many different programs, free and paid, online and CDs and books and even classrooms. Some I've learned more from than others, and some more has stuck with me than others. But to me, personally, the MT German program I took was the most effective of the entire bunch.

I actually think it's because I'm an analytic person, and MT not only teaches you the language but EXPLAINS it. There's nothing I find more irritating than being taught a phrase, then being taught what seems like a similar phrase but with slightly different words or conjugations or meaning, with NO explanation as to why they were so similar or different. The one thing I really liked about MT is he explained as he went, never just expected you to memorize things as if they were immutable nuggets of wisdom. That allowed me to start feeling the structure of the language, which led to starting to think in the language.

My wife took 4 years of high school German, while I did the MT beginner course. At the end people say I speak better German than she does, and are amazed at how little time it took me. And as to the assertion that people think it is good because they know it's been around a long time, I had literally never heard of it when I tried it. So I had no preconceptions.

Mark

I am not sure about the Michel Thomas Arab course - you might have a point there. However I used his method (together with Pimsleur) for learning Spanish and French and found it really useful. I did not learn the languages in a week but after a couple of weeks with focus it helped me a lot.

I really like how he explains the Grammar and has a clear system. Right now I am learning Czech and there is unfortunately no System like that so its much more complicated.

Mark

"UPDATE: Shortly after writing this review, I was contacted by an investigative journalist from the LA Times who debunked Michel Thomas’ war story (see his points here)."

This was the 2001 article, no?

And then Michel Thomas was awarded the Silver Star after that report was refuted. See http://www.michelthomas.org/default2.asp?section=law_suit

RBR

The Silver Star was bestowed for accomplishments that weren't discussed in the L.A. Times article. It did not in any way refute or undermine the Times story, which is backed by military records and 1945 press accounts.

Donovan Nagel

The article you linked to says the courts threw MT's defamation case out. I'm not defending the journalist by any means (I can't personally verify any of it) but I haven't seen any strong refutation either to suggest it was all lies.

Vytenis

I could not continue with MT beyond the first few CD's. I find Pimsleur way better. It gave me a great headstart with my Spanish and Italian which I could successfully continue acquiring after listening to Pimsleur courses. As for Michel Thomas, bless him, he was a nice sounding old man, who had a rather pleasant voice, but his accent was terrible. Apart from no or little input by native speakers, I also took issue with his insistence that I should always know grammar rules ("even if you guess correctly, it is still a wrong answer as far as I'm concerned, because you do not know the RULE"). For goodness sake, how many rules do we know when we speak our native language (or a second one which we have a really good command of)? That seems to me a classical example of an old-school mid 20th century grammar-translation method, which only remains popular because of a clever marketing campaign involving all those celebrities.

Hugh

Can't say I agree with much of your review mate.

I'm using the MTM to learn Russian after having tried other courses. I've found it brilliant and it helped me enormously during my three and a half months in Russia this past twelve months.

Yes, you have to invest time to learn. I would have thought that obvious. And you do get reward for effort. I like very much the conceptual building blocks that it assembles as a way of assisting one to learn. And I'm told that I'm picking up the language more quickly than others that have been learning for a comparative period of time.

The issue with the teacher correcting the students and hurting their self-esteem is garbage. If you are worried about that I would suggest that everyone go and swallow some toughen up pills. Too much emphasis in these days on everyone being offended instead of getting on with things.

I found that when I was in Russia I was able to think in Russian. And I like the focus on getting things grammatically correct. If you know how to speak things in a correct grammatical sense then people will understand you once you tweak with the accent, etc.

Jan Singer

I have tried all the main and some of the online German courses and none of them gets the mind to work as it should do to be able to create an understandable sentence by compounding words quite like MT's method. I did find Paul Daniel's Magic Language course (in tapes) for French allowed me to now to remember words and gender that I learned 20 years ago. I found this is an extremely good vocabulary learning method but not good for creating sentences. Most of the most up to date methods of learning language incorporate pictures but these pictures aren't as compelling as the pictures you create in your mind via Daniel's audio tapes. Visual hooks as they are termed, need to be created in conjunction with the words to be fully effective. As MT states, we are no longer children and therefore we cannot learn as they can.
I do sense a little professional jealousy among others with regard to MT's teaching methods. As a psychologist, I would agree that there is no such thing as a bad student but a poor teacher is the centre of all our educational drawbacks. Not because they are incapable of teaching, but that the structure of teaching is simply wrong. Montesori teaching methods work, but are not recognised by teaching autorities and governments. The authorities are right and everything else that is different is wrong.

MT states very clearly that learning is to be a stress-free as possible so that the direction he gives can be absorbed. In fact, I would go so far as to say that he allows the student to self teach but to correct when needed.
Many students, even those at school, will find an excuse for not learning. It's in our nature to do so as we have been allowed those excuses. I have heard those holding business seminars and writing on chalkboards and the like, state that they are dyslexic when they are not. They just can't spell and can't be bothered to learn to spell. The USA have met their students half way and simplified the spelling of words so that they are logical such as theater instead of theatre and use liter instead of litre. Most of the 'ou' vowel combinations have been replaced with 'o' as in labor and neighbor. I guess that the students are saying...why make it difficult when it sounds the same?

When I was told about the MT method of learning, I was sceptical. The reason for my sceptisism is that it isn't the latest method of learning. However, that is a typical modern day wy of thinking. I think we all tend to want the latest most up-to-date language teaching method, that has been scrutinised by psychologists and teaching professionals and hopefully a little magic comes out of it. That is a pipe dream, and an expensive one at that. The top language learning tapes do not match the hype and the misleading adverts that sell them. Would that you could follow a trail through a park and as people and things are met with your eye, that a label comes up with the word association. However, the reality is that yes, you have pictures but they are a series of repeat still pictures. You will eventually learn the words but you still have to find a way to memorise them. It isn't natural any more than it is permanent. It requires the student to apply themselves to the task of memorising. That isn't absorbsion its the same old same old school test of how much you can remember of a subject prior to an exam. This is the measure of what you can store and recall and has nothing to do with learning. Why do I know this? Beacuse I am a psychologist and that is not how the mind works. The most brilliant 20 century mathmatician Srinivasa Ramanujan whos work is still used today was not formally educated. He was not taught to work in any particular way. He saw the patterns of mathematics in his head and translated this to pen and paper. His biggest problem was to prove his answers. He had no workings out in the margins of his text book. he was labled a sharlitan at Cambridge University by other mathmatic scholars. Because he didn't do things the way they understood them. The truth is he took days to create a theory that took them years. He didn't keep going down blind alleys, but visualised a form of clarity within the maize that led him directly to the centre. To those taught by regular methods, his was an incomplete peice of work. They needed to see how he worked it out. He couldn't tell them because he didn't work by a series of lists in chronological order as they had been taught. His was a natural, cerebral, connection of mathematic patterns that fitted like a puzzle. Music, language and mathematics are all things that should be allowed to naturally form in the confines of our minds to eventually be realised by communication of those thoughts. If Srinivasa Ramanujan's work is still being used today to solve complex mathematical equations such as black holes, then we should never arrigantly state that because something is old it is no longer relevant.
Too much emphasis is placed on a person's learning ability and application than the method of teaching. Too much emphasis is placed on the method of testing the ability to recall and remember facts. If a history exam can be passed by remembering dates and a physics exam by remembering Archimedes principal or Boyle's law then we have learned nothing useful. If we fill a bath to the brim, get in and weigh the water that overflows, then we experience the phenominon.

Michel Thomas invites the student who has a desire or need to learn a new language. His method is logical and therefore useful to those who can benefit most by this method. It may not be for everyone. Most of us carry some sort of scepticism and as such will create a barrier to learning. If you retain that barrier it can be guaranteed you will get nowhere with it. Most will find an excuse for giving up. The only thing that MT does not mention is to make time each day to listen and learn. That requires a discipline we are not used to. In fact I would say that it is a discipline we thought we had left behind when we left school. Much has been said about actors and actresses being used as marketing tools for MT's language course. Just because Woody Allen failed to be able to speak fluent French, does not mean he did not enjoy the course or had an opportunity within the US to practice it. I grew up speaking German but after I was 5 I spoke nothing but English. I forgot all my German. This wasn't because I did not learn it properly, it was because English became my first form of communication. A necessity for everyday life. If you learn a new language, you need to be I a position where its use is compulsory or communication will falter very quickly.

Of course Michel Thomas is no longer around to argue his case, so it is easy to snipe at his methods when he can no longer defend them. Of course, the earning method is still being sold by the publishers or whomever holds copywright. Today, if you are not taking full advantage of marketing aids then you will not compete with the wild calims of others. I am surprised that MT's biggest critics ave not said "where is his qualification in linguistics" but will remark that his qualification as a war hero doesn't apply. Its called life experience and life experience relates to a professorship in any language. I certainly would not trust a BSc in mechanical engineering, with no practical experience to show me how to service my car rather than an experienced grease-monkey who does it every day.

If you need to learn a new language (not necessarily just want to learn a new languge) then I recommend this type of language course above all others.

Incidentally, actors spend a considerable amount of time learning lines and therefore are very self disciplined. Those who study the Stanislavski acting will attach an emotion and motivation behind the lines that make them more real and therefore much easier to recall as written (or near enough).

Whether they are ideal candidates for learning languages is debatable. But if the studio is paying for them to do so, why not? If they are using German within a film, they would want to be able to express Stanivlaski's method acting by wanting to know what they are saying and with the right conviction. My guess is, if he has any success with actors then ordinary people will be a breeze. as we don't carry the ego and the need to convince the audience at that moment we are German. That in itself will invariably interfere with learning. This kind of student is not a good example of a typical language learner but why not mention them if it helps sell copies. You would not necessarily respond if you were told Lena Bakover of Leicester say's "The most extraordinary learning experience of my life"
So what?

Steve Brooks

Thanks for the almost personal slating review of Michel Thomas Donovan. I am not really interested in the debunking of Michel Thomas only the experience of using his work.

For me the question always is does it work. I play in a band and we go to Europe to play in Germany and France. One summer it was France so I got the first 8 hours of French. Eventually Found myself with a few of my band colleagues in a French Bar/Cafe surrounded by Frenchmen/women. I turned to a lady near to me who was eying up my trumpet. And asked in French would she like to play it for me because I am too tired after playing all afternoon.

Nowhere on that eight hour stack of lessons from Michel Thomas did it contain that phrase - I made it up in French based on what I had heard on those CDs.. And Immediately the response in French No no monsieur I can not play it. Her boyfriend - Ah! l'écossais parle francais!!!! Excuse my spelling but I am severely dyslexic.

That little conversation - no matter how good nor how bad broke the ice and the whole band was on free beer and free wine for four days plus I heard and learned a hell of lot more French than any language course ' including your Rocket stuff, could teach me.

So imagine years later - I hear a band APU from Peru in Edinburgh playing in Spanish. ) I think they actually settled in Newcastle= Cant understand a word of APU song but I like them - my interest in Spanish in set aflame so how do I learn it? No it was not a Michel Thomas course ' I tried Teach Yourself and bored myself stupid for a week - so I did not complete it.. You see you need to be able to read to do the course and I am - yes severely dyslexic.

So I left it and the teach yourself book is sitting here right in formt of me in my book rack - apart from the first few pages it is brand spanking new.


A good two years later I played the CD of APU again and remebered my French experience form years earlier and thought i will give MT a go. I bought the 8 hour CD and was hooked. did the whole lot from Foundation to advanced and then the Rose Lee Hayden ones - )those last ones I did not like.

So how did it work out? Well after doing all the courses over a 5 month period - I started to read El Pais and El Confidencial.
Plus I started a East Lothian Council Beginners Spanish course and within two weeks teacher moved me to Post beginners and within two weeks that teacher told me I was too advance for her class and moved me to intermediate - commenting that my accent was really good. So I stayed there for a year and moved on to advanced.

For the last two years i have been Skyping a friend in Zaragoza in Spain and we speak in Spanish and English for an hour a week. And yes we still split our sides over the mistakes we make.

So can I speak Spanish perfectly - hell no but my learning journey started with a stress free introduction to the language by Michel Thomas -(there was no such thing as dyslexia when I was at school in the 50s- it was just another day same shit - I could never get enough of the final school bell) Oh and I always rembered my French form school what was it now - le chien - the dog. After fours years of French that is what I learned.)

I enrolled for En Rumbo Open University in 2015 a first year university Course which takes you from A2 to B2 Spanish CERF passed 78% (very good).

I dont know where it says in any literature or promotion that Michel Thomas says that you dont have to work to start learning a lanuage with his method.

no idea about Arabic - never had an incling to learn it - I am more interested in Latin America and Spain.

Does Michel Thomas claim to teach you to be fluent in the language - No. he does claim to teach you the backbone of the language - the spine.

Of course with my short term memory problems I expected to be havin to keep playing the CDs over and over again to learn the stuff - actually no. I would learn say 8 lessons - then on my nest session I would repeat the last two and add six that way I got through the whole course.

Do I have trouble with some aspects of grammar. Of Course but not with verbs!!! For example I can not always remember what the verb alcanzar means but hell, I can tell you every one of its conjugations in every aspect of past, present, future of indicative and subjunctive. Every Spanish verb whether i know its meaning or not I can conjugate and use correctly in every grammatical situation (barring one) - because Michel Thomas taught me how to.

So where does it fall down -
a) (this is the barring one) he teaches Latin American Spanish which totally misses out second person plural informal - I had to learn that conjugation on my own - how did I find that out. I had employed two nurses who had trained in Spain and Spanish was their "lengua materna" they told me that when I spoke to them in Spanish I sounded very formal. I asked does that mean you can not understand me. (¿Significa que no me comprenden?). no it didnt, they said that they understand me perfectly. So i got that information form speaking spanish with spaniards in the way that michel taught me - interesting?

b) Vocabulario - its minimal vocabulary. So Michel says that you have to start to read in Spanish from the end of the course - which i did and that is how I was able to learn to communicate more effectively.

So that's my story - probably wont even be posted.
For me Michel Thomas isnt about learning a language its about learning to communicate in a language that is not your own. The first part again for me was his course. The second was the hard work that I have put in to improve and to learn about other people and culture. the Third is the most important - you have to keep using it or that brain plasticity that everyone posses will start to shrink and you will lose it.

My learning has been slow by comparision with the likes of the polyglots that I have seen on you tube and it continues.

The final point is that Michel can be found on the internet you can watch him in action on the BBC spending a few weeks teaching kids who hate French.

Steve Brooks

Sorry just to add - the OU course was very easy after teh work I had done on the michel thomas course and had I put more effort into it I could probably imporved my score.

Nobody

I've just read your review, and I think I will probably agree with you. I can't be completely objective because from now I have just tried the CD1 and CD2 of the "German Foundation" but :

Sure, you learn quite "a lot" in only two hours, but what annoyed me from the begining is that the teacher isn't a native speaker. And it's a BIG problem. I am not German, but for example one of the student was pronouncing "nicht" (which means "not"...) the wrong by saying "nikt" during the WHOLE foundation CD1, and the teacher was always saying "yes! perfect!", it's just after a while (on CD2..) that the student realised by herself that she was wrong. When the teacher finally decided with his weird accent to explain how to pronounce "ch" in German.
I mean, I have started German for only one week and even I noticed it immediately! Not the teacher.

And here's the second problem : I think it's bad to hear several time in a row other students making mistakes, because it's not good to hear something wrong to learn (I mean for me).

German is actually the 4th language I am learning, and I can also say from my personnal experience that this "way of thinking" (MT way, block by block) isn't very efficient. It is better to directly think in the language you are learning.
"Speak. Like google. Translate. Isn't a good way. Of speaking. Because you will. Be stuck. Like this. For a long time." Basically, this method teach you how to speak like Stevie in Malcolm in the Middle.

I think I will finish "the Foundation" anyway, to give it a shot. But I will use it as a tool only.

Purplevelvet

Interesting point of wiew. I would like to nuance it a bit, on the basis of my experience.

First of all, I have a diplom as teacher in french language for foreigners, and comparing the methods was part of what I learned, so I can see wich are the good and week points of a method.

I've tried 3 different languages through the MT method. Here are the results:

- I learned german and russian during my scolarity, and never practiced again since like 25 years ago. But french teaching of foreign languages is wordly famous for being awful, leading people to think that french people themselves are awful at languages ;)
- I needed to learn a bit of nederlands to spend a year in Belgium, but never learned a word of it before.
- The support language for the german lessons is french, while the support language for russian and nederlands is (british) english, but quite easy to understand with a B1 level in english, actually.

-learning anew german and russian was incredibly easy for me, and I caught up quickly with my forgotten abilities, and do better than before, because I already had good basis in those languages, and what I lacked was the oral practice and confidence to speak. The french way of teaching langague is mainly focused on written languages, and that's why we are terrible at speaking (+we're taugh not to even try until we are able to speak perfectly, which naturally never will occur if we don't try it).
I've try my newly acquired russian actually speaking with russian and ukrainian people and it went really great. And now I'm back at university, to learn languages and translations, with specialization in russian and german and I can say this method was a major help in preparation for this.

- for nederlands: the problem is that the method doen'ts exist via french language, and it's only available with english as a support language. And thats the point: I was unable to remind a new language, while the support language is really close to the new language. So I kept answering in english. And finally stopped to go back to less oral methods, using french as support, which worked better for me. This wasn't a problem with russian, due to the fact that I already knew the language and due to the distance between english and russian.

I will actually give a try later to MT method for another language that I don't know, just to see what will be the result but this time using my own language as support, maybe italian or chinese.

So for the moment, I'd say that it's an excellent method for rewieving a language that you have already learn previously, or if you lack and the results were really +++ for me.
But the effectiveness is yet to prove for a totally new language. and I'm quite sure that it won't be that great, considering for example chinese, you may be able to speak it quite basic chinese quickly, but it can only be ok if completed by some written chinese. Or you won't be able to just read a menu in a restaurant not knowing a single hanzi. A good side method but that should not be the single one you use.

And I really want to point this :pay attention to the closeness between the support language and the learned language, it can be a difficulty (and I'm pretty sure that learning german from zero through english would have been quite difficult too)

And also, I didn't respected the deal, working on my own, listening severaltimes, reading newspapers, using other sources.
A good, and, actually, very good method for rewieving acquired knowledge, maybe not that great for starting something new.


sorry, that was a long post!

Dimitri Ivanov

Thanks for your review!
I actually like the MT courses I used (Italian, Spanish and French and even a bit of German, even though that's my mother tongue), but I never considered them real language courses, for the same reasons you give. I used them alongside real courses at my university, because I liked how they only required you to listen and pay attention (I used to take long walks with them) without using other material and I was very pleased by how they managed to get through most of the important aspects of a languages grammar, even giving some historical context and connecting concepts of those languages to English.
I see them as a useful tool to very quickly understand the workings of the languages grammar, allowing you to use it correctly without much effort, but without learning the language in some other, more profound way, the MT courses are pointless.

hasan

hello, Donovan how are you, I hope you doing fine.
My name is Hasan and I live in Iraq and I notice that you're learning Arabic, so if you want any help I will be more than happy to help you.
my skype is hasan hasan feel free to call any time.

Stenner

I am sorry, but I disagree! (To a point)

I did his Total German course and loved it. I felt so much more confident in speaking. I was working as a tour guide at the time and met Germans daily and this course really helped. I will say though that this course was not my grounding in German, I did duolingo German up to the genitive case stage and stopped for some reason I can't remember. Michel Thomas is definitely not wonderful for learning a massive vocabulary but he teaches you how to learn. I would say his course alone is not enough, he does not even get into der, die, das, den, dem, des, etc, but if you buy a dictionary and a grammar book to the side and get a penpal, then he is great. I started his begin French course and had similar results until I had my radio taken away...

John S

There are really only four Michel Thomas courses. French, Italian, Spanish, and German. The rest were made up after he died.

I have to say I found the French course extraordinary. I made more progress in a couple of days than I did studying Spanish in school for five years. MT just makes the grammar so effortless.

Sergio

Dude, you should change your article to read -- Why I don't recommend MT Arabic language. MT works great in many languages, and what you are writing is complete misleading political bullshit! Yes! And for the sake of argument, what do you recommend? Have you tried a lot of courses out there? How great did Rosetta Stone help you?
Everybody is different in learning and by posting this bullshit article with your personal shortcomings you are spreading the wrong news about the fantastic method that helped millions. I can't believe someone would attack MT method--this is insane.... As an educator, you should know that.

Gene

I have used, and enjoyed, MT courses for German, Spanish (both taught by MT himself), and Russian. I concur that there is virtually no comprehension, but I find the explanations a great assist in understanding any of the 'natural' learning styles (e.g. Pimsleur, which is always my starting point). If there's a serious shortcoming with that combination, it's one that is shared by most resources I find - they top out at a very basic conversational level.

Thomas Curwen

I'd agree. I tried MT method French, and it was just a guy with a French accent shouting the English and then the French, without any real flow or structure. It was like he'd been told to say all the phrases he knew in both languages, as he thought of them. I don't rate this method at all, plus I can't easily go and find relevant phrases or vocab, as I can in virtually every other course. This was just random.

arthur brogard

I think the review was fairly meaningless in the end - from the point of view of someone wanting to choose a language course (like me, for instance).

Because it missed the main and only real point: does it work?

Instead of debating his opinions about how language should be taught and what claims should be made and what today's fashions are he needs to point to studies and comparative results.

Something tangible, kinda scientific, believable, repeatable.

So better than the review is simply reading these comments.

It is obvious that the MT method works for some and not for others.

i.e. there's clearly a dynamic of some sort whereby methods of teaching need to match the student. And very probably, looking at the comments again, this matching process would need to be repeated for each different language.

i.e. a method that works for this person with this language might well not work for another language.

We need to know what works best for us, for ourselves, that's what we're looking for.

And I'd say after considering all this that no one can tell us until after we've discovered something for ourselves.

i.e. if we can say I learned French the MT way very well and easily then maybe someone could advise us on the strength of that. Maybe. But remember what seems apparent about things needing to be reassessed with each new language.

Too many variables: student, teacher, method, language.

And another: requirement. Just what do you want? Complete fluency undetectable from a native? Or just enough to get by on a quick visit?

So that's just simply too many variables.

If there were a scientifically presented and analysed database of language methods, teachers, students and results then maybe we could say something but prior to that we simply, as students, first time students, need to jump in anywhere whim dictates and see what happens.

It's all up to us. I was in China for instance and I discovered what I needed from a language was first of all the simple ability to get things, buy things, find things.

So I needed to be able to say 'how much?' and I needed to know the words for the things I wanted: foodstuffs in the main and I needed to understand when they told me the price.

Never forgot that. Main things: names of foods, 'how much?' and ability to count (especially money).

I've said so much here I might as well go the whole hog and say one more. Doing MT Russian I repeatedly notice they go on about how this or that English phrase is said this or that way in Russian: and it frequently takes fewer words. Like big deal, a plus, Russian is great because it takes fewer words.

Fine. I don't mind. But it seems to me they get it wrong. They say Russian for something like maybe 'where can i buy cigarettes' is whatever it is. And point out there's no little particles of speech. So it comes out like like: where possible buy cigarette?

i.e. short. Unfussy.

So that's how Russians speak. They just say 'want food' or something like that, you know? They don't say : I am interested to know where can I buy food' they just say 'interyesna buy food'.

I'm not explaining myself very well. I'm trying to say they never tell us that Russians DON'T say these English phrases. They give us the translation as though the Russian HAS said it. But Russian just doesn't talk like that.

Same as the English don't say 'he table like she ship' but the French do, with their 'le' and 'la'. See what I mean?

Like if you look at Pidgin, New Guinea Pidgin, there's no pretense there that they're saying the same thing. It is not 'This thing is exactly the same as that thing' it is something like 'Dispella allsame datpella' and that's the end of it.

I think this feature should be much considered in teaching languages: that they just don't say the same things.

Natalia

I tried the Spanish course about 8 years ago.

What I feel is important when one picks up MTM is to have clear expectations (and I do agree that the marketing blows those expectations out of proportion, as you said yourself - I picked it up on a friend's recommendation, so I had a much clearer idea of what to expect). The course will definitely not help with listening comprehension. It does not really give you a whole lot of vocabulary to work with (I later supplemented MTM with the entire Duolingo course just to learn more vocab in a convenient way). It will not make you a fluent or even decent speaker. It will give you basic understanding of sentence structure and how to build sentences in a variety of tences, as well as how to make use of some common structures and expressions.

While MTM does not do much for you on its own, as *one* of the tools that you use as you start learning it can be quite effective, I think.

I found that even after all these years, I remember the grammar I learned with MTM much better than a lot of things from other languages learned through other methods.

A month ago, I had a chance to put my memory to test during my five-day stay in Spain where I spoke almost exclusively Spanish (I have to emphasize that I did not learn Spanish in any other way than MTM and Duolingo, for lack of time and need). Surprisingly, I was able to succeed with day-to-day interactions without much difficulty, and I attribute at least part of that ease to MTM.

Mark Robert

Having used all the app options as well as Rosetta Stone to learn languages Michel Thomas turned out to be one of the limited options to learn European Portuguese (as opposed to Brazilian). When I read how the course worked I approached it with a lot of scepticism about how effective they would be. But I have to say that I have never experienced a language learning experience before that so effectively locked in so much of the content. I would definitely recommend the process to anyone trying to learn a language.
I have to add that Michel Thomas' personal history and endorsements from celebrities completely are irrelevant to how effective the learning process is.

Muhammeda Hamida

I found the beginner course at a used bookstore and I have to say I have learned a lot. I am constructing my own sentences from the get started kit. I love watching Arabic television and hearing words I just learned. We all learn in different ways. I heard this ted talk by a young boy whom speaks fluently 5 languages. He said have fun. Don't get bogged down in the alphabet. What words out phonetically how you hear them and get to communication. There is where the fun will motivate you. He also said, " If you are not making mistakes, you are not learning."

Jan Meinema

Hi,

I also have to defend the Michel Thomas method. It taught me Arabic to a level beyond my expectation. I am also learning Spanish now and there is no match in other courses in the attention to detail in explaining grammar in a really painless manner. Also the focus on correct pronunciation is crucial I believe. It made me start to understand other language courses better. I think MT courses are best combined with a more vocabulary focussed course. Everyone has different learning styles, but for me this is by far the most accessible way to learn a language, at least for me it is.

Fred P.

Well, if there is a focus on "correct" pronunciation, then we should only be hearing native pronunciation in a self-teaching course. Hearing other students respond is an unavoidable part of a group classroom, but even this is gets in the way of developing native-like pronunciation.

I was a language teaching professional for almost 40 years, and now I study languages as a hobby. When I encountered the Michel Thomas Italian recordings, I was shocked by the lack of cultural and situational cohesiveness. The utterances seem to be occurring in some kind of semantic, cultural and social void. I certainly did not want to be exposed to so much non-native pronunciation, and I took the discs back to the library ASAP.

The recordings reminded me of a very bad language class that I once took as an undergraduate. We had to take turns translating English sentences into German in order to show our knowledge of vocabulary and grammatical structures. I learned a lot in this class, but only because I was a highly motivated lover of language study. If you had a positive learning experience with the MT courses, you are probably a good self-teacher. Bad teachers can`t stop "language freaks" (apologies - there`s no other name for us!) from learning, no matter how untalented they, nor how wrongheaded their methods!

An American

As a native English speaker with 8 years of study in Latin and half a lifetime studying French (and keeping up with it via podcast) who's done "7-week crash-studies for travel" in Spanish and Italian, and as someone who NEVER looks at a new language when first studying it (I'm great with the written part -- it's my fluid-pronunciation handicap I need to immerse myself in), I decided to try Michel Thomas for Portuguese because all my old favorite audio-only standbys (Instant Immersion 2000-era casettes with the "Ann Johnson" narrative, the Rush Hour singalong series, etc.) weren't available in Portuguese. I'm about an hour into the 1st CD of an 8-CD set and I love it. But that's for my very specific situation already knowing all the grammar, and merely wanting an easily-memorizeable way to transfer that knowledge to new words and pronunciation. After an hour of listening as I fell asleep, with a quick 1-minute listen to my last bit where I left off in the morning, I was able to spend my trip into work writing "illiterate pronunciation keys" of words & phrases I remembered learning into a notebook and come up with a sentence to show off to my Brazilian friend at the office ("It is not important to you, but I want it now, because it is very urgent to me.") [I apologized that I only knew confrontational sentences because, with the method's initial focus on rearranging the same 20 words into 40 permutations, I'd mostly learned conversation-turning words like "no," "but," "why," "because," etc! But I knew she'd get a kick out of the sentence since she works in customer service, and indeed she understood me.] So anyway, so far so good when it comes to picking up a spare Romance language when you already know many others. The whole "start w/ cognates and pronounce them right in small sentences" thing is really working for me in this context.

I don't think I could use MT for a completely foreign language -- I think I'd have to "put in the work" like I did as a child w/ French and Latin doing years upon years of homework and drills to make those sentence structures feel fluent.

HOWEVER, I don't think I could use ANY audio-only method for that. I tried and failed to learn German that way before a trip. Even my tried-and-true "Ann Johnson" tapes and "In-Flight" CD quickly overwhelmed me. The sentence construction was just too hard to remember at the pace it was presented when I hadn't "put in the work" to make it subconscious.

Anyway, for me, so far, it's been good in its niche (using audio-only products to crash-course pronunciation, vocabulary, and subtle variations in a language I've already "done the homework" to learn the "hard parts" of).

Ryan Sam

When giving a thorough critical review of a product it might be worth mentioning to state current alternative products you prefer to use when learning Arabic.

All you have done is put a microscope on MT and haven’t offered anything of value. This is pretty much the political situation in the Middle East and their viewpoint of western societies. Israel is the most advanced economy in the Middle East with incredible technology startups meanwhile the deranged countries next door are too busy being critical of Israel (as you are with MT) to offer any real value to the world.

Jules

Hi, I just have to say I love MT method (and I don't work for any companies involved in it in any way!). I'm always recommending it to people who are looking to learn a language. The one thing I would say though is that I've only learned European languages (French, Spanish, Italian, Dutch and Portuguese) and I think a lot of the less flattering comments seem to be about the non-european languages, perhaps it doesn't work so well for these? I did try the MT Polish and didn't get very far with it (it was really hard!). But I would reiterate, I love learning languages and for the French and Spanish in particular it's the best I've found for me personally. But I guess we are all different and different styles suit different people?

Paul

I loved the Michel Thomas Spanish CDs. A friend had raved about them about four years ago when I didn't speak a word of the langauge. I listened to them several times over and they were a great launchpad for learning Spanish. I then started attending a class for beginners at the Latin America Institute here in Vienna and the tapes were an incredible advantage for me - allowing to grasp grammar concepts a lot more easily than the others in the class. I now read novels and newspapers in Spanish, listen to Spanish radio and chat with Spanish-speaking friends. Sure Michel Thomas isn't going to make you fluent but it's definitely a great way to learn some holiday Spanish and (more importantly) to lay the groundwork for the real learning if you really want to speak the language well. I imagine that's true of all these language methods. I recommend the tapes to all my friends who talk about learning a language from scratch. P.S. I don't work for the Thomas organisation. :-)

Alisa

I have experience with both the Japanese and Italian programs for MT:

The Japanese program was fantastic. I'd started and stopped many different language programs, even dropping out of a class I'd signed up for, because none of them were really working for me. But the MT program really worked in getting the language to make sense to me. I still remember the day that Japanese sentence structure clicked in my head - I suddenly understood how to mesh different sentences together, and it all made sense to me. I think this was due in big part to how in-depth the woman on the program explained everything. It was amazing.

The Italian version was done by Michele himself, and it didn't work as well for me. It may have been the heavy accent, I'm not sure but I couldn't get into it like I had the Japanese program.

I think it's pretty heavy-handed to say that the program shouldn't be suggested for anyone - people learn in different ways, and this program rocked for the way I learned the Japanese language.

Cate

I tried the MT app on iTunes for Greek. I’m a bit of an app maven... I try everything, duolingo, LingQ, Mondly, MosaLingua, 50 Languages, Babbel, Udemy Courses, ad nauseam. My absolute favorite at this point is hands down Language Transfer. Go straight to YouTube, forget the website (except to donate through Patreon). Same technique as MT, BUT the depth is amazing, one little step at a time,for 120 lessons. It’s not extensive for vocabulary, but 50 Languages is also free, and drills on vocabulary. LingQ is great for reading and listening. Italki of course for conversation. MT was okay, but I learn more for the time spent with LT. Χαρά, the MT teacher, was a Greek speaker, so that helped.
I’ve tried German before, and am hopeful that when I try LT German, it will finally click. LT even has Swahili!

Siâni

I married into an Italian family, though my husband has grown up in the UK but his extended family live in Italy. I'm on lesson 70 of the beginners package and soon to move on to the intermediate.

While I don't agree with the "good teacher, poor student" claim for this method, or the celebrity endorsements, I do think this method is good. No method is perfect.

This is purely a method to learn speaking and how to become understood. No, it does not equip you well for listening to natives. I always ask people in Italy to speak slower, but that is because learning a language doesn't end with completing a course and everyone speaks quite rapid in their native language. You have to immerse yourself! Use what you have learnt to practice with people.

I really enjoy this course. It is good that they have a male and female sudent so I can spot the differences for masculine and feminine words. I have learnt far more Italian via this course than I did in my 5 years of French and Welsh in secondary school and by any other app, program or youtube video. I often look up the conjugations and spelling.

I do think if you had tried a new language you may see the benefits of this method. Sure it doesn't offer a "complete" introduction to the language. In the introduction it says it's aim is to get you speaking with confidence. I think if you are serious about a language then you wouldn't rely solely on one method for learning.

Honestly, my grammar in Italian is actually better than my husbands now. His understanding of natives is better having grown up listening to it, but he never took Italian academically and rather picked up what he knew from staying in Italy in the summers and from his father who spoke it when he was very young, but he never took it seriously to become fluent like his sister did.

I think your personal criticisms of him are harsh and have no bearing on this method. I know MT is Polish, so he has an accident and so do the students, but he does correct the pronunciations of the students and to be honest, it doesn't affect me. I find his teaching of the pronunciations adequate.

Ed

I used the Polish course and found it fine, it gave me the backbone I needed for a running start. The massive criticism is that once you've gone through it once, you'll never want to repeat the 8 hours of the two students struggling and the teacher (a polish lady, fluent in English) explaining things. It seems like poor value for them not to include a condensed version, with only the English sentences followed by the native polish translation - with everything else cut out, it would probably only be an hour long! They do provide a document/pdf that covers the words in each section, which helps, but it just felt lazy that they couldn't edit down a revision version.

Still, I would recommend the Polish foundation and advanced, in conjunction with something that focuses on everyday, classic tourist scenarios like pimsleur

Tom

I honestly couldn't disagree more with almost everything you've written here. I've followed multiple of these courses and find them *by far* the best way to get up to speed with the basics of a language I've ever found, getting to stage where I feel I can mostly learn pure vocab from then on and improve organically.

As one example, I recently went on holiday to Portugal and after having only listened to the 8 basic level Portuguese CDs in a very compressed period of time (~2 weeks) was able to reasonably comfortably interact with people who spoke little to no English.

I've yet to find any other courses which teach the structure/grammar of a language so well, getting you to give numerous different forms and constructions which you have to think about and which I find really beds things in. To each their own I guess...

Dejio

While I can't comment on the Arabic courses, I can however comment on how the Japanese lessons were. They are definitely effective than most lessons I've tried, including Pimsleur.
MTM teaches you proper grammar and sentence construction, when others just asks you to memorise phrases without explaining in detail how those phrases or sentences were constructed.

Ivan

I'm a spanish language learner, and before trying to learn any other language than english, I was unaware of MT method, when I decided to learn french, i found Michel Thomas and Pimsleur methods. In my own opinion bro, the only certain thing in this universe is that everything is relative, it doesn't matter my reasons to express that I found Michel Thomas method EXCELENT and very accurate at the time of my french learning journey, it simply worked for me, the learning was simply effortless, but it's just me, if this course is useless for other people, great, then go find the course that fits your personality and your way of learning, but there's no such thing as right or wrong, just diversity of methods, that's why there's pimsleur, Rosetta, Fluenz, earworms, and the traditional way, that is going with some teacher and having the pressure of doing a bunch of homework and exercises from some book, and all of them are OK and WRONG at the same time, but it depends on the learning approach of each person. "Know yourself", know what works best for you, and stick to it, what doesn't, just let it go, and keep searching. My final thought: I found MYSELF MT excelent, I learned so fucking fast with this method, why?, that's the way my brain was able to grasp the grammar and the language. I would recommend it? Hell no!, I'm just saying there's the posibility that you fit in the kind of audience for this product, and if you are, believe me, you'll find it awesome, if not, that's ok, then keep searching, If Rosetta Stone makes you learn, excelent!, If the earworms approach makes you learn..terrific!, great!, if not...then-keep-searching.....Just know yourself, and be conscious that everyfuckingthing is RELATIVE....
Peace language learners....

Rachel Kennedy

I find the Michel Thomas Method courses an excellent place to start when embarking on the process of learning a new language. I find the method efficient in getting me off the starting block. I think this is important because a sense of making progress breeds faster further progress. I also think the method is quite effective in starting to push structures over into long-term memory due to the repetition and recall elements. In my opinion, there is no such thing as a complete course because attacking from all angles, and over and over again, is par for the course with what will ultimately be the lifetime endeavour of learning and maintaining a language. So, I'm not too concerned that, yes, I will have to buy other materials like a grammar and seek out TV programmes in the target language etc. I do wish they were cheaper, but then, I wish everything were cheaper!
I have noticed that, as a teacher, I have the tendency to take the comment about the responsibility for learning being the teacher's and not the student's rather too personally!

Molly Beckham

I found the MTM helpful, mainly in learning to speak French, not so much in comprehension. However, there was a limit to how much it could teach me. I think it is a great resource to use along side other things. For example, I’m following the MTM, learning on Duolingo, and taking French lessons three times a week. I would definitely recommend taking other steps to learn a language as well, but the MTM was, for me at least, a great stepping stone.

Vicky Watson

I've just been speaking Arabic with a Parisian greengrocer and a Parisian taxi driver. This is after using MTM for three months. Not a brilliant conversation but enough to get a big smile and a look of surprise. I really like MTM. I do not like the ones with MT himself as the teacher. I find him extremely irritating and lose my train when he interrupts the students but the Arabic method with Jane and Mahmoud is great. Unlike you, Donovan, I love the way that Jane speaks Arabic because she's English like me and she pronounces Arabic well enough to be understood and she's good at explaining HOW to get your speech organs around a word. And if she can do it then I possibly can too. I also like the fact that you learn about your own language (internal and external plurals for example) and the fact that if you do the equivalent in Arabic of pluralising incorrectly and you say 'mouses' instead of mice, you will be understood. I also like the building blocks approach and the way in which you soon get a vocabulary that you can use and fit in to the basic syntactic patterns you've acquired. And the way the 3 consonant root thing works and learning about the English words that have come via Arabic. It's very do-able. So I get what you are saying but would have to disagree.

N. Aurelia

You should probably update this article.

Thomas's claims were verified by the government. He was awarded a Silver Star. Those aren't easy to get, and definitely require verification and proof. I'd trust this over a journalist.

Also, I'm using this language for French, and I'm amazed at how well it's working. A beloved French-speaking..."it's compl