Reviews of Michel Thomas

Reviews of Michel Thomas audio instruction contain overall impressions of this method of teaching foreign languages, and users’ informal evaluations of its effectiveness.


The following review of Michel Thomas is adapted from ‘Easy, Tiger’, a humorous article by David Sedaris from the New Yorker magazine of July 11, 2011:

Michel Thomas works with a couple of students, a male and a female.

At the start, he explains that English and German are closely related and thus have a lot in common.

In one language, the verb is “to come”, and in the other it’s “kommen”.

English “to give” is German “geben”.

Boston’s “That is good” is Berlin’s “Das ist gut”.

It’s an excellent way to start, and leaves the listener thinking,

‘Hey, Ich kann do dis.’

Herr Thomas explains things—the fact, for example, that if there are two verbs in a German sentence one of them comes at the end.

He doesn’t give you phrases to memorize.

In fact, he actively discourages study.

“How would you say, ‘Give it to me?’” he asks the female student.

She and I correctly answer, and then he turns to the male.

“Now try ‘I would like for you to give it to me.’”

Ten minutes later, we’ve graduated to

“I can’t give it to you today, because I cannot find it.”

To people who speak nothing but English, this might seem easy enough, but anyone else will appreciate how difficult it is: negatives, multiple uses of “it”, and the hell that breaks loose following the German “because”.

The thrill is that you’re actually figuring it out on your own.

You’re engaging with another language, not just parroting it.


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