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A Review of the Michel Thomas Language Learning Method

Updated on July 31, 2010

Michel Thomas Review - My search for an audio course to learn French quickly and easily

Hey there, thanks for visiting my Michel Thomas Review page. I set this up after trawling the internet trying to find a quick and easy way to learn French. I spent hours reading forums, reviews and sales pages trying to figure out what was the best.

While doing this I realised that there were thousands of people all doing the same thing, all trying to find a way to learn French.

I'd studied French at school and wasn't bad at it but never became a fluent speaker. I always felt at school that not enough time was spent on spoken word and though you may learn the grammar (which of course is important), this did not fill me with the confidence to converse in French. I always found the lessons boring and therefore they didn't act as motivation for me to learn the language...not to mention the fact I was pretty lazy and more interested in football, computer games and girls rather than doing homework!

Anyway, as I've got older (I'm now 30) I look back with regret that I never learnt to speak French fluently which is made more embarrassing by the fact that I have French relatives! They don't speak English, so over the years I have communicated to them in basic French. I bet you can imagine what it's like "Bonjour! Ca va? Oui! Oui! Je ne comprend pas!"

So for years, I kept saying that I'll take up French lessons when I find the time. Guess what? I never found the time.

So after much procrastinating I decided I would learn with an audio course. I tried Pimsleur and "Teach Yourself French" but found with both even though I'd start off with plenty of enthusiasm I'd find this would gradually fade as learning became a chore and very little seemed to be sticking.

But then...I was browsing a newspaper and found this article 'My Message: 'Anybody Can Learn'' (Anthea Lipsett, The Guardian, 2 Sept 2008) - see below - and read about Michel Thomas and his revolutionary learning method. I was intrigued and immediately pondered why this method wasn't used in schools. I made a note to check out his audio course at some point in the future.

Michel Thomas Foundation Course: French (Michel Thomas Series)

Praise for Michel Thomas in the UK press

Michel Thomas Review Piece
Michel Thomas Review Piece

Watch this short video and discover what the Michel Thomas Method is all about...

Michel Thomas was a world-renowned language teacher and psychologist. His method has become legendary. Watch this video to hear some of his satisfied students.

Michel Thomas Review Girl Listening to Ipod
Michel Thomas Review Girl Listening to Ipod

Review of Michel Thomas French Foundation Course

How does it work?

The Michel Thomas French Foundation Course is an 8 hour audio course available on cd or downloadable audiobook format. (Click here to see if your device is compatible).With over 1 million units sold to date - the Michel Thomas Method is the number one-selling all audio course in the UK.

The aim of the course is to help you learn French the way that you learnt your own language. You do this through using a unique method which was perfected over fifty years by world-renowned language expert and psychologist, Michel Thomas. The method works with your brain, helping you to build up the language in manageable, enjoyable steps by thinking out the answers for yourself. You learn through listening and speaking - without the pressure of writing or memorising (one of the things that attracted me to this course was the promise of no homework!).

The idea is to pick up the language almost (I say "almost" - don't worry, you won't be forced to say the equivalents of "Ma-ma", "Da-dah" or "A is for apple", etc) as if you're a child again, learning how to speak for the first time.

Michel Thomas Review - Bonjour!
Michel Thomas Review - Bonjour!

Michel Thomas Review: My own experience

Can it help YOU learn French quickly and easily?

I’ve tried out a few audio language courses before such as ‘Pimsleur’ and ‘Teach Yourself Instant French’ and found neither of them particularly captivating or helpful in giving me confidence to speak French. With that in mind I was slightly sceptical as to whether learning French with Michel Thomas would be any different so I opted to download the Introductory Course (this is the first 2 hours of the Foundation Course).

The course is set-up so that you have Michel Thomas teaching 2 students (one male and one female; one is relatively bright, one is a bit slow!) who are complete beginners and you become the third student in the classroom. Michel gradually helps you to build phrases and speak sentences. He doesn’t do this by repetition, so you don’t take on the role of a parrot, but by increasing your understanding! He gives you the building blocks, then asks you to translate a sentence from English in to French. It’s at this point you need to pause your Ipod/cd player, think through the answer, then speak it aloud. You can then push the play button to hear the students’ attempt at the phrase followed by Michel giving the correct answer.

Honestly, I was amazed at how much fun I was having sat in my room with a pair of headphones on barking out French phrases. I actually found it addictive! So much so, that once I’d completed the 2 hour introductory course, I immediately downloaded the full Foundation Course.

The course follows the same structure throughout and you gradually speak more complex phrases but the real strength of it is that it never feels complicated. Michel Thomas has demystified the French language! One of my favourite quotes from the audio course is when he refers to a quote from Alexandre Dumas who upon reading the English language remarked “It’s just like French but badly pronounced!”

Michel Thomas Review - face
Michel Thomas Review - face

Michel Thomas Review - The Pros and Cons of his French Foundation Course

Pros:

- In my opinion Michel Thomas is a great teacher and through this course, he really gives you confidence to speak French and that is something my high school teachers could never do! As he says himself "There are no bad students, only bad teachers!"

- It's genuinely enjoyable! I used to find French lessons at school a real drag but doing this course has given me a real love for learning a language. Once I've mastered French, I will be moving on to Spanish! I found this course inspiring! You'll stick with it because you'll love it!

- There's no homework, no text books and no memorisation. I've never been the most disciplined student so this suits me down to the ground.

- As the course is completely audio-based, it gives you many options to find time to study e.g. listen to it while you're cooking, whilst walking to work, whilst lying in bed, etc. There's no need to be sat at a computer like with Rosetta Stone.

Cons

- Some people I've spoken to are not keen on Michel's accent (he's originally from Poland) and state their preference to learn from a native speaker. Personally, it doesn't bother me.

- I find the two students slightly annoying. I found I was picking things up quicker than them and would get slightly irritated waiting for them to get the answer right.

- It's not really suitable for listening in the car due to the fact you will need to pause the recording every so often.

Michel Thomas Review - French Foundation Course
Michel Thomas Review - French Foundation Course

Michel Thomas Review - The Verdict

Is it value for money?

If you want to download Michel Thomas Method French Foundation Course it is £34.99. I would recommend listening to the free sample here and if you like what you hear go straight for the advanced course rather than wasting time and money on the Introductory version. You'll only want the full course afterwards! Trust me!

The cd version is the same price.

Both versions have recently been updated to include a review section so you can easily go over everything you've learned.

If you compare the cost to what you'd pay for French lessons I think it's a bargain and I truly believe that the method of teaching is incomparable! If only they would use this method in our schools!

Check out this website for a FREE sample of the Michel Thomas Method and to download the audiobook version

Click the link below for special offers on the audio cd package at Amazon:

Michel Thomas Foundation Course: French (Michel Thomas Series)

Amazon Spotlight - Michel Thomas French Foundation Course

Amazon have some good deals on the 10 cd audio course.

Note: The Michel Thomas French Foundation Course is also known as 'Michel Thomas Method Speak French (For Beginners)'

Have you learnt French with Michel Thomas? - Tell us about your experience

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