When I was living in Japan, time and time again I met (usually male) people who had lived in Japan for years and years and yet could not function in even basic Japanese. I really didn’t understand how they could be in a country for so long and not make the effort to learn the language.
Then I met German. It’s a challenge but I seem to be doing well with my lessons and also with the Michel Thomas tapes. I started with him in German and then I got the Chinese too.
His method is really good because he doesn’t teach grammar, but building blocks. So within 30 minutes of listening to his cd I was able to make a good number of sentences by myself. He starts with “Can you..” and “Would you like to..” and then builds up from there. It’s not just him talking to you, he is teaching two students at the time, and you can answer with them and feel like you are in a classroom setting. It’s funny because often I’ll make the same mistakes students, so it’s like Michel is correcting me.
With the German cd there is both a male and a female student. I’m not sure but I think he chose people who are purposefully a little dippy to make the listener feel better about themselves. The guy forgets words all the time (like he’ll forget the “now” in “can you bring me that now”) but I’m fine with that because I often forget the same things. I’m at the start of the second cd right now and he sounds really tired and pissed off, almost like a grumpy teenager. Michel is getting increasingly frustrated at how he messes up “mir” and “mich” all the time and there is a beautiful rant he has I think in the first track of the second cd where he says “DID I SAY TO ME?! NO! Then DON’T use MIR!!!”
The woman I think is a little deaf. She is really terrible at repeating things that are said to her. Her “nicht” grates on my nerves in particular, “ni h ku tuh” every single time. Again, Michel rants at her too, with her pronunciation of “haben”, where he says “haaaaaaaben” to which she replies “haiben”.
But enough bitching about the students, haha.
It’s an excellent course for German and I have found it really helpful in conjunction with my lessons. It really gave me confidence when I first got here that I was able to make so many sentences so early.
Unfortunately, I can’t really say the same about the Chinese cds. It’s not Michel Thomas doing them, but some American guy. It might be the same woman student again because her 想 sounds like a cat “shiiiiaaaaaaannnng”.
The American dude has a long winded and complex story for every single new word introduced. I am all for using stories to remember words (for example, lecture in Japanese is 講義 – kougi, which sounds like corgi. So, to remind myself I think of The Queen sitting in a lecture with all her dogs sat around her). But these stories are just embarrassingly long winded and cheesy. It’s also a shame they have the native speaker to back him up – it would be nice if they had a Chinese person who is able to teach well in the method. It’s a little complicated having the four voices going round.
I use the Chinese ones on the way to my classes on Fridays when I’m on the tram to get me in the Chinese mood. But I wouldn’t use them in the same way as I do the German ones since they simply are just not as effective.
Michel Thomas sadly doesn’t do Korean but I have the Pinsular cds for that. Maybe when I have some time I’ll sit down and listen to those too so I can compare and contrast.