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Michel Thomas Method Speak Mandarin Chinese for Beginners Audio CD – Audiobook, 26 Mar 2008

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Product details

  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill; Bilingual edition (26 Mar 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0071547363
  • ISBN-13: 978-0071547369
  • Product Dimensions: 24 x 18 x 4.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,018,911 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Born: New York City.

I have been blessed with some incredible teachers.

Michel Thomas - I met him in 1995 and was trained by him shortly up until his death in 2005, to teach, learn how to learn and to design courses. Truly a master teacher in so many ways. He was incredibly generous in taking me under his wing and sharing all that he did.

Robert Fulford, DO. A master physician and healer. Described in detail in the second chapter of 'Spontaneous Healing' by Andrew Weil. He was my teacher and friend for close to ten years.

John Sarno, MD. Dr. Sarno has been one of my heroes for many years. I have spent time with him and his patients in NYC. He has been extremely generous in sharing his knowledge with me. Using his approach I have been able to help a lot more people than before I met him.

There are many more. I hope to share what I have learned from these and other incredible teachers in future writings, teachings, seminars, classes and CD/DVDs.

I have graduate degrees from the University of Chicago ( Psychology and Comparative Religion, Library Science) and the Kirksville ( Missouri) College of Osteopathic Medicine. My undergraduate degree was in Hebraic Studies.

Overseas studies include Taiwan ( Chinese), Israel ( Hebrew) and the UK (Oxford Institute of Yiddish Studies) among others.

I have taught physicians and medical students in various venues over the last 20 years.

I have worked full-time as an osteopathic physician in general private practice since 1991. I originally came to the Washington,DC area to complete post-graduate residency training at the National Rehabilitation Hospital. Previous to this I had done a general internship (medicine, surgery, etc.) at a hospital in South Bend, Indiana.

I live with my partner, John, and our dog, Daisy, in rural Maryland.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

By M. Cobb on 5 April 2014
Format: Audio CD
I'm using this to learn Chinese and I do think I am picking it up, but I'd have to write another review later. This method is enjoyable, easy to do a bit at a time, fits in any schedule, and the gradual build of vocabulary and gentle introduction to grammar peculiarities is very well done. My only reserve about it are the terrible mnemonics Mr Goodman uses. Examples are "My friend said he wanted to 'peng-you' in the face. "peng you" is Mandarin for "friend". A bit negative. Also singing "you take the 'ying way' and I'll take the out way..."etc to help you remember that "ying way" is mandarin for 'because'. 'Because' does not even feature in the mnemonic! Many of the mnemonics don't seem to help connect the sound to the meaning, but I shan't list them all.
I think with better mnemonics this would be five stars no question! but even so it is still very good and worth a listen if you intend to learn this language
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 23 reviews
80 of 81 people found the following review helpful
The BEST place to start! Mandarin needs more explanation than "listen and repeat". 14 April 2008
By Derek Sivers - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
If you've never learned any Mandarin and looking to start, this Michel Thomas method is BY FAR the best option. Even 5 minutes into it, you're going to be excited. I'm absolutely amazed.

I've tried the Rosetta Stone method, but it's discouraging because after many hours of clicking on things, you only know disjointed words like blue, yellow, jump, eyes, woman, shirt. Proud you know them, but after 8 hours, when a friend asks, "Hello, how are you?" - you're stumped.

I usually love the Pimsleur's method, where for Spanish and Japanese it was great. Starts with the most useful conversational phrases, "repeat after me", and breaks them down syllable-by-syllable.

But when I tried Pimsleur's Mandarin, I wanted to quit just 5 minutes into it. The "repeat after me" style doesn't work when the very basics of the language need more up-front explanation. In fact the very FIRST MINUTE of Pimsleur's Mandarin had me stumped. I kept rewinding it and trying to imitate it, but couldn't. My mouth didn't know how to make that sound! I gave up.

So when Tim Ferris (Four Hour Work Week), a language-learning addict, highly recommended the Michel Thomas method as the best way to start a language, I was excited for this Mandarin program.

It's even better than I expected.

It's really like taking private lessons with a friend who patiently teaches you the basic building blocks of the Chinese (Mandarin) syllables, first. They really explain why it's that way, and how to understand it, so that you don't feel you have to memorize - because you really get it! Every time a new sound or new grammar structure is introduced, they stop to explain it in a way that will stick with you forever.

AFTER finishing this course (8 audio CDs, about 10 hours total), I'm excited to go back to the Pimsleur method, to memorize conversational phrases, now that I really undertstand the basics of the language.

Point being : START HERE. Then if after this program you are still excited, go with Pimsleur's Mandarin next, but definitely do not start with Pimsleur's.
56 of 59 people found the following review helpful
Good foundation, presentation a matter of taste 24 April 2008
By N.S. Palmer - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I've now purchased three of the "Michel Thomas" CD sets based largely on the merits of a single set: "Michel Thomas Teaches French." Though I had six years of French in high school and college (where I was president of the French Club), I was rusty and needed a quick refresher. The Michel Thomas French set was exactly what I needed. In fact, the CDs taught me a few things about the French language that I had never known before.

Based on my experience with the French set, I purchased "Michel Thomas Teaches Spanish," and found that it wasn't nearly as good. It was okay, and it was still light-years better than Berlitz, but it lacked the insight and fluency of the French set. It wasn't hard to guess why: Michel Thomas was an outstanding teacher of French because he *was* French. He was a merely adequate teacher of Spanish because (a) he was a good teacher in general and (b) he was reasonably competent in Spanish.

My third Michel Thomas set is Mandarin Chinese, a CD set from which the now-deceased Michel Thomas is absent. In his place, we get Harold Goodman, whose only qualification of which we're informed is that he studied language teaching with Michel Thomas. Goodman serves less as a teacher than as a moderator of the sessions, which also include two students and one native Mandarin speaker who demonstrates the pronunciation.

Having had a semester of Mandarin at university, and having more recently worked through the first Pimsleur Mandarin course and the Oxford CDs by Kan Xian, I was eager to find out if the "Michel Thomas" course would be great like the French or so-so like the Spanish. On balance, I would say it's more like the Spanish.

The set does have some excellent features. Most important, the Mandarin speaker enunciates the Chinese words very clearly, carefully, and slowly. Pimsleur, which I regard as the gold standard for commercially-published courses in spoken language, has speakers who say the Chinese words much too rapidly, at least for my ears. The speaker on the Thomas CDs, on the other hand, takes great care to make sure that you "get" each syllable and associated tone. Another good idea, apparently part of "the Michel Thomas method," is to teach kinesthetic memory aids such as finger patterns to represent different tones. The fingering can seem a little hokey at times, but it's a sensible teaching technique.

The Thomas CDs do make some simplifications in order to teach more effectively. For example, Chinese words have associated tones, meaning that variations in pitch determine the meaning of each word. The word "ni" (you) is normally pronounced with a falling-rising tone, as is the word "hao" (good). However, if two falling-rising words occur in sequence (as in "ni hao" for "hello"), the first word changes from a falling-rising tone into a rising tone, while the second word stays a falling-rising tone. At least in the early lessons, the Thomas CDs don't mention that the tones of words can change based on the context. I'm sure that the authors made a deliberate decision to simplify the issue, because despite Mr. Goodman's offhand dismissal of the idea that Chinese is hard, Chinese is indeed very hard for Westerners. Its grammar of nouns and verbs is completely different from European languages - there are no verb tenses, for example - and the written language is not phonetic. The tones are probably the hardest part. Michel Thomas said in his own CD programs that his goal was not to make students fluent but to help them "get the ball over the net." With that goal in mind, such simplifications are a good idea.

On the other hand, much of the charm of the original Thomas courses came from Thomas himself: crusty, irascible, occasionally frustrated, and most of all, Gallic as hell. Whether one likes Mr. Goodman's version really depends on how much one warms to Goodman himself and his thick New Jersey accent. I found his anecdotes and humor a little annoying, which diminished my enjoyment of the course: of course, such judgments are subjective. I also wondered if Mr. Goodman had any background in Chinese, even though the native speaker handled most of the Mandarin.

Overall, it's a decent course for what it attempts. It provides much more hand-holding when it teaches fundamentals than does Pimsleur, but teaches (necessarily, at 8 CDs) a much smaller subset of Mandarin. If one doesn't mind Mr. Goodman, it's an excellent course to work through before graduating to Pimsleur or some other more advanced course.
26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
Good for starting Mandarin... but not for finishing 22 Oct 2008
By G. BARTO - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I'm a fan of the Michel Thomas courses in general, and there are some very fine things about this course, taught by Harold Goodman. The best thing about the course is its work with tones. Many courses simply give you a short explanation of tones, then turn you loose with Mandarin and hope for the best. Even Pimsleur, while asking if you matched the tone of the speaker, doesn't give you a good way of knowing if you did. The Michel Thomas Mandarin course is taught to two students - you're the third student, sitting in and hitting the pause button to take your turn to speak. Between the guidance given for tones and the corrections given to the two students on the soundtrack, this is one course where you'll have a good idea if you're getting your tones right.

The other nice thing about Michel Thomas Mandarin is it follows the old pattern of using a few words to introduce a new structure, then adding words and building on structures to increase the range of things you can say. However, because Mandarin is so different from English, it can be pretty slow-going. For me, one of the fools who started learning while believing tones weren't that important, this course has been fantastic for pronunciation. I work in a language school and while I say very little in Mandarin, when I do offer a word or two, the teachers always compliment me on my tones. However, for content, this course teaches less even than most Michel Thomas courses (which are better for structure than vocabulary). So while this course is a great place to start, when you're done you'll have a foundation for learning to speak Mandarin well, not a solid command of the language.

If you're just starting Mandarin, this is the place to start. If you already speak Mandarin but the tones have always eluded you, the two-CD Getting Started kit would be worth your time. But once you're done with this course, you'll want to invest in Pimsleur for spoken Mandarin (expensive but excellent, except that it doesn't cover Mandarin pronunciation well) or Living Language's Ultimate Chinese (for written and spoken but less hand-holding) according to your plans for the language.
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Highly recommended for beginners, or as a refresher 13 Feb 2009
By DrLove - Published on
Format: Audio CD
The Michel Thomas method is a pleasant and effective way to learn languages. The different Thomas language series are popular in Europe, but less well known so far in the U.S. Dr. Goodman produced a series for Mandarin Chinese which makes this method accessible for modern Chinese. The approach is geared toward the speaker producing functional language in a organic way. To aid the student in learning tones, Dr. Goodman uses gesture and tone in an original way.

Other helpful aspects of the Thomas approach, including the gradual, encouraging, organized steps are included. As a learner, I feel refreshed instead of worn down. This is a very helpful and creative guide to an often daunting language for English speakers. I learned and remembered much more Chinese material than with other audio programs, with joy instead of boredom!

Highly recommended for beginners, or as a beginning/low intermediate refresher, or for language learning explorers.
14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Very good; Just bought the advanced set, too! 5 Jun 2009
By David T. Donahue - Published on
Format: Audio CD
I bought this set based almost entirely on the Derek Silvers review (above), after looking at Pimsleur as well. I am very happy with the purchase. It will be beneficial for any prospective purchaser to read the other reviews on this page (both positive and negative). Not only are they amusing, they are also enlightening.

There are four voices present on the recordings: Dr. Goodman directs the lessons; two students (one American male and one English female) speak in Mandarin the sentences requested by Dr. Goodman in English; and finally a (female) native Mandarin speaker correctly says the sentence, after correcting the tone and pronunciation of the students. Then the process repeats with a new word, or sentence, to speak in Mandarin. No reading or writing is involved.

First, the positives:

After the first 10 minutes of the first lesson, you will not be intimidated by Mandarin: there are not as many sounds as in English; there are four tones in Mandarin; the meaning of a sound depends on the particular tone used. Even without the all of the vocabulary and practice with tones provided by the 8 CDs, the removal of Mandarin's intimidation factor certainly justifies the purchase of this set.

You will learn to communicate simple sentences if you complete the eight discs: "Hello", "I am an American", "Where is the toilet?", "This one, not that one", "I will meet him tomorrow", and so forth. I think this is an incredible achievement!

Dr. Goodman is a good teacher. He is patient and provides reminders that are easy to recall in later lessons. I was sufficiently impressed that I just purchased the Advanced Mandarin series, which is also by Dr. Goodman.

The native speaker is wonderful. Frequently I wished that I could just hear her say the sentences requested by Dr. Goodman. The audio recording of the native Mandarin speaker's voice is superb.

The two students are also good teachers, though this is achieved indirectly. You will quickly learn how not to say a word, or how to properly utilize the tones, by recognizing the the mistakes of the students on the CDs. I certainly learned that I will never mispronounce the Mandarin word for "I" (thanks to the British speaker's repeated errors), and I will clearly use the tones (unlike the American's voice). The students also prompt you to focus on improving. After all, if they can do it, can't you?

The price is right. For $40 or $50 you will obtain an introduction to speaking Mandarin which is both effective and portable. It comes in a nice zippered case which is good for the car or in a suitcase or backpack.

You may proceed at your own pace. I repeated each disc two or three times before moving to the next one, without becoming bored with the repetition. I listened to the discs while in the car on the way to and from work (30 minutes each way), five days a week, and completed the entire 8 CDs in five or six weeks.

The negatives:

The range of the audio is extreme, both in pitch and volume. Dr. Goodman has an occasionally booming bass (low pitch) which may blast you from your chair, while the native Mandarin speaker has a much more subdued soprano (high pitch). Look out if you increase the volume to hear her and forget to decrease it before Dr. Goodman's next sentence! I sympathize with the producers of these CDs, but I think the loudness could have been equalized a bit better. I did note that the CDs sounded best when my equalizer was flat (turn bass and treble to '0'). With the bass and mid-range boosted, as mine were for listening to music in the car, Dr. Goodman is WAY too loud.

The American student is frequently morose and atonal. The British student's voice is much more pleasant to hear, though her persistent questions are a nuisance. Still, had I been recorded, how would I sound as I worked my way through the CDs? Perhaps better, perhaps not!

Neither or these negatives prevent me from giving the product 5 stars. The loudness can be adjusted by the listener, as indicated above. The students will help you learn to converse in Mandarin, even if they occasionally annoy you.

In conclusion, this is a very good product which is also very effective. Highly recommended.
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