Michel Thomas Courses

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Michel Thomas has proven to be amongst the most effective listening language courses of all time, helping millions of people learn French, German, Italian and Spanish. Since his death, disciples of his method have continued to create more courses using his method, and have broadened the languages to include Arabic, Chinese, Dutch, Greek, Japanese, Polish, Portuguese and Russian.

The Michel Thomas courses create an environment in which you are one of three students learning directly from Michel himself. You are part of a class with two other students who are genuinely learning the language as they go along! This creates a fun environment in which to learn, and allows you to learn whenever you have free time: in the car, walking, jogging, on the plane or just sitting at home.

Since Michel gets right to the nitty gritty of learning what you really need to know to express yourself in real situations, many students have found they progress far faster with this method than with others.

For more on Michel Thomas and his method, read below!

Michel Thomas Language Programs

These are programs which feature Michel Thomas himself as the teacher:

Michel Thomas Spanish
Michel Thomas French
Michel Thomas German
Michel Thomas Italian

These are programs which feature disciples of the Michel Thomas Method as the teachers:

Michel Thomas Arabic
Michel Thomas Chinese
Michel Thomas Dutch
Michel Thomas Greek
Michel Thomas Japanese
Michel Thomas Polish
Michel Thomas Portuguese
Michel Thomas Russian

Michel Thomas and his World Famous Language-Learning Method

The following information has been adapted from Wikipedia.

Michel Thomas (born Moniek (Moshe) Kroskof, February 3, 1914 – January 8, 2005) was a polyglot linguist, language teacher and decorated war veteran. He survived Nazi persecution, served in the French Resistance and worked with the U.S. Army Counter Intelligence Corps during World War II. After the war, Thomas emigrated to the United States, where he developed a language-teaching system known as the Michel Thomas Method. In 2004 he was awarded the Silver Star by the U.S. Army.

The Michel Thomas Method is an original method developed by Michel Thomas for teaching languages. Thomas stated that his students would be conversationally proficient after a few days' study.

Thomas was hired by Raquel Welch, Barbra Streisand, Emma Thompson, Woody Allen and by Grace Kelly when she had to learn French rapidly after becoming engaged to Prince Rainier of Monaco. The method first came to prominence in Britain, following a BBC television science documentary The Language Master, in which he taught French to sixth form students for five days at a further education college in London in 1997. As a result of the interest generated by this documentary, UK publisher Hodder and Stoughton commissioned Thomas to produce commercial versions of his courses.

With Thomas's method, the teacher cautions students to avoid making notes and to refrain from making conscious attempts to memorise, promising that the teacher will "be taking full responsibility" for their learning. Thomas stated that keeping the students relaxed, focused and stretched with a feeling of mounting successful achievement, is at the heart of the method. The removal of the stress and anxiety 'of being put on the spot' of conventional language learning, especially school language learning, is a key goal of the method.

Interviewed for the documentary The Language Master, Margaret Thompson, the headmistress of the school in which the documentary was filmed, commented that in general teachers "try and ... capture their (students) interest by finding them interesting materials that are supposedly related to their interests" but that what Thomas had demonstrated to her was that "it's the learning process itself that motivates these kids", not the material used.

The teacher then introduces short words and phrases in the target language. The students are asked 'How would you say?' an English phrase into the target language, starting with trivially simple sentences and gradually building up to more advanced constructions. The phrases are chosen as common building blocks of the expression of thoughts. When a student gives a correct answer, the teacher repeats the whole sentence with correct pronunciation. When the student's answer is wrong, the teacher assists the student to understand their mistake and to correct it. The most important words and phrases are reviewed repeatedly during the course. The method does not insist on perfect pronunciation from the beginning, instead providing progressive feedback and continual improvement by the process of shaping student response over the course of these repetitions.

In the courses recorded by Thomas himself (Spanish, French, Italian and German), the teaching focuses on verb conjugations and modal verb constructions such as "I want to go": the vocabulary used in the course is fairly small, focussing mainly on function words in preference to lexical words. Grammar rules are introduced gradually, and grammatical terminology is generally avoided. In this way, the course builds complexity quickly, focusing on the skills required to translate sentences like "I want to know why you don't have it for me now, because it is very important for me and I need it", while avoiding much of the vocabulary and fixed-phrases presented in most mainstream courses. For example, Thomas does not teach counting, days of the week or months of the year.

Michel Thomas often links cognates in the target language with their equivalents in the student's home language, and in his courses in the Romance languages, many of the Latinate borrowings in English are highlighted to allow the student to incorporate their existing vocabulary into the target language.

More Michel Thomas

More courses have been recorded in recent years by disciples of Michel Thomas. These courses widen the range offered by Michel Thomas himself and include Arabic, Chinese, Dutch, Polish, Japanese, Portuguese, Greek and Russian!

Michel Thomas Links

More on the Michel Thomas Method.
More on Michel Thomas.
Michel Thomas Official Website
Michel Thomas Method Official Website (The image on this page is credited to them.)

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