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Review of Michel Thomas Russian Foundation Course

Updated on February 20, 2011

Michel Thomas Russian Foundation Course - A Review

Michel Thomas was a decorated World War Two hero who served with the French Resistance and the U.S Army Counter Intelligence Corps. Shortly after the war he opened a language centre in Beverley Hills and in the following years he released several language courses on CD format.

In 1997 he worked with the BBC to produce a documentary showing him teach the French language to a group of teenage students in five days, despite them having no previous knowledge of the language.

Michel Thomas passed away in 2005 but his languages courses continue and new material by new teachers is still being added to the collection.

This is my review of the Michel Thomas Russian Foundation Course with Natasha Bershadski as the teacher.

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Photo of Michel Thomas Course

Photo of my Michel Thomas Russian Language CD courses. I intend to review all of them here on Hubpages
Photo of my Michel Thomas Russian Language CD courses. I intend to review all of them here on Hubpages

The style

The first track starts with the teacher giving an introduction to the Russian language and explaining it's relationship to the English language, along with some examples of similar words.

The course takes the format of one experienced teacher and two students who have no previous knowledge of the language. This proves to be a real confidence booster as you often hear the students make the exact same mistakes as you; pronouncing the word incorrectly, choosing the wrong word or misunderstanding the meaning of a word. Hearing these students make the same errors ensures you feel less frustrated about your own shortcomings. You effectively become the third student in this group.

The course continues with the teacher working her way through a narrow set of words and gradually building on them by introducing more complex word structures and short sentences.

The pace of this Russian learning program is very slow and is certainly targeted to the beginner who has no previous experience of learning foreign languages. The teacher explains the language in depth but one step at a time, she rarely out paces the students in this foundation course. There is also much less repetition than in other comparable products I have used.


Content

I don't want to confuse any readers here but wanted to explain a little about the foundation course.

The Russian language has six noun cases, a noun will change it's ending depending on the case being used. The teacher explains the first two cases in the course and includes examples in both masculine, feminine and neuter variations.

As the course material lasts eight recorded hours, I feel this is a more than adequate amount of time to explain the two cases. Listeners of all abilities should have few problems getting to grips with this material.

Natasha Bershadski also teaches you how to create "memory hooks" which are ways to memorize different words so you don't forget them.

There is also a booklet included in the course that offers translations of the words so you can see the Russian alphabet and get a feel for how each letter is pronounced.

Review: Pros and Cons of the Foundation Course

When I purchased this course I never expected it to be perfect and to be honest there are some issues I have found. Overall this is great product and in my review well worth the modest price tag (Amazon seems to be the cheapest price).

Pros:

  • Much cheaper than other language courses. A quality course at a very reasonable price.
  • Teacher is a native who also taught at the Moscow State University.
  • You are not left overwhelmed by the course, everything is explained thoroughly by the teacher. She doesn't teach just word by word but sometimes syllable by syllable.
  • You learn more than just token phrases but soon start creating sentences on your own.

Cons:

  • You constantly hear the voices of two students who often pronounce the words incorrectly, thus you may pick up their bad habits!
  • The teacher explains everything step by step, micro learning, but we never hear a conversation spoken at normal speed. Instead we only hear one sentence at a time, spoken slowly. You may get a shock when you travel to Russia and suddenly realize you cannot understand what is being said as the locals speak so much faster.


Michel Thomas Russian Foundation Course

Here is a photo of the complete course. Eight hours in total.
Here is a photo of the complete course. Eight hours in total.

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