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85 of 86 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Far from perfect, but still excellent
Michel Thomas is almost as good a language teacher as he is a boaster, and that is saying a lot! Don't be put off by the boasting - this course really has a lot to offer, despite some serious flaws. I'll list the main strengths and drawbacks, as they seemed to me.

Strengths

1 Thomas concentrates on structures, especially the verbs in their various...
Published on 15 July 2004 by Hebridean exile

versus
61 of 64 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars He should have ditched the English guy
Like many other reviewers, I would agree that Michel Thomas gives you a clear feel of how Spanish works,he gives you confidence to try those long sentences for which he is famous,and amazingly what he teaches does seem to stick. It is great for the car or the ironing, with a nice slow pace, and so plenty of thinking time. Joy of joys there is no jingly jangly music to...
Published on 7 Jan. 2005


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85 of 86 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Far from perfect, but still excellent, 15 July 2004
This review is from: Spanish with Michel Thomas--Complete Course 8 CD Set (Audio CD)
Michel Thomas is almost as good a language teacher as he is a boaster, and that is saying a lot! Don't be put off by the boasting - this course really has a lot to offer, despite some serious flaws. I'll list the main strengths and drawbacks, as they seemed to me.

Strengths

1 Thomas concentrates on structures, especially the verbs in their various tenses. We really do learn very quickly how the language works.

2 He teaches these structures quite systematically, despite his apparently rambling style.

3. He explains things simply and clearly.

4. He involves us all the time - there is no passive listening.

5. And we really do (OK, I really do) remember what he has taught us.

Drawbacks

1. His Spanish accent is not good - especially the way he stretches out stressed vowels. Every native Spanish speaker I've heard makes them short and sharp. This course needs to be supplemented for pronunciation by recordings of native speakers. But this is not as big a problem as it might seem. Spanish pronunciation is not difficult - above all, the relationship between pronunciation and spelling is incomparably more simple and consistent than in English.

2. His teaching method consists entirely of getting us to translate sentences, which he provides, from English to Spanish. There is no practice in listening to Spanish, no conversation in Spanish, and indeed no opportunity to produce Spanish speech of one's own. But I find it much easier to go on to practice and engage in conversation and speech production now that I have Thomas's basic structures firmly in my mind.

3. The vocabulary we learn is very limited. Again, this needs to be supplemented from other sources - such as phrasebooks. But the phrasebooks are much more useful in the context of the structures we have learnt from Thomas.

4. Thomas teaches Latin American Spanish. This is not in itself a flaw, and he does mention some of the differences between this variety and that of most of Spain - eg in the pronunciation of the soft 'c'. But he omits to point out that in Spain (unlike Latin America), verbs have a second-person intimate form in the plural(with vosotros), parallel to the second-person intimate form in the singular (with tu). Thomas uses the 'ustedes' form for all situations in the plural, intimate as well as polite, without mentioning, let alone teaching, the 'vosotros' form.

5. He doesn't cover all the tenses and moods in this course - particularly the subjunctive, which is left for the 'Advanced' course that builds on this one, and is even better. (Avoid his 'Language Builder' course, though, which is difficult to use and adds little or nothing to this one.)

6. Finally, many people have been irritated or worse by the male student on the recordings, who is described by several reviewers in rather derogatory terms. In fact, he seems to me to be every bit as quick a learner of structures as the female student, though he unquestionably has problems with his pronunciation. (My guess is that he visualises the written word from Thomas's pronunciation, then tries to 'read' that written word in his mind, rather than directly copying the sounds that he has heard.) But this really need not and should not be allowed get in one's way.

All in all, then, this course is only a beginning to one's study of Spanish. However, I think it is an excellent beginning.
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130 of 134 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Michel Thomas - Spanish, 10 Jun. 2003
By 
This review is from: Spanish with Michel Thomas--Complete Course 8 CD Set (Audio CD)
I picked up the first CD of the set for free at a Spanish homes exhibition in London a few months ago. I also purchased some other Spanish Audio language guides, and amongst all of them this is the one that way outclassed them all.
The mainstream approach of many of these beginner audio guides is to play repeatedly recorded situations of spanish speakers in various situations; catching a train, ordering food, finding your way around emergency situations, etc. However the great downfall of this approach is that, even if you do manage to memorise all of the sentences used during these situations, you are not left with a means to understand those speaking in reply to you, or adapting that language to express what you want in any foreseeable situation.
Michel's approach from the start seeks to try and make you construct your own sentences, instead of impassively listening to pre-recorded conversations. This 'fleshes out' the language in such a way that your understanding of sentence construction - and this is what the course concentrates on - is much more comprehensive, and the more you go over the material, the more you discover for yourself the inner mechanics of the language. This gives you the means to adapt your spanish speaking to the varying situations you will be exposed to if you go on holiday to spain (or any other spanish speaking country).
Highly recommended for its efficient, effective, and comprehensive approach to spanish learning.
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126 of 130 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars muy bien!, 9 Aug. 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Spanish with Michel Thomas--Complete Course 8 CD Set (Audio CD)
By the end of the first CD I had completely thrown of my cynicism! I have tried a number of spanish courses, and books etc. but whilst retaining a few cod phrases and a limited ability to communicate in an emergency situation, I never before managed to get a grip or an understanding of the language and it's formations.... until I discovered this course. It's easy to look at the reviews on the back and think "no course could be that good" but unbelievably the method that Michel Thomas uses works! Thousands of spanish teachers in GCSE classes must be fearing for their jobs... learning a language shouldn't be this easy, and if it can be then why did I go through such torture at school?
Admittedly the 8 CDs can not teach you everything, and you will only become fluent in spanish through years of practice and immersion, but the confidence and understanding, combined with the ability to construct sentences and deconstruct what you hear is a better start than you will get anywhere else. I have since bought some spanish audio books and a couple of novels in spanish and, though the going is quite slow, the progression is SO satisfying!
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219 of 227 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Michel Thomas - Learning Through Understanding., 31 Aug. 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Spanish with Michel Thomas--Complete Course 8 CD Set (Audio CD)
Spanish with Michel Thomas - 8 hour Course
Bad points - The description of this course as a 'complete course' can be misleading. The course itself makes no such claim. Michel Thomas himself refers to the course as 'an introductory course to the language'. Don't expect to cover everything in 8 hours, e.g., the subjunctive, compound tenses (apart from the perfect tense), active and passive voice, and comparatives are not covered. However, this 8 hour course does pack in a great deal and hopefully a further course covering the above will be available in the future.
Good points - Michel Thomas focuses on the importance of structure, phonetics and stress in communicating in the Spanish language.
Learning by this method is relaxing and enjoyable. It's true - no notes, memorising or homework are necessary. His method pursues learning through understanding and Michael Thomas is excellent at conveying understanding. Patient yet persistent, he conveys his knowledge, stimulating memory through a series of word chains that structure the language, and memory hooks, which make retrieval easy for those of us with even the most fog bound of memories.
I have learned a great deal more in 8 hours, than in almost a year's study in various language schools. This course is able to convey learning without pain. If you have ever been intimidated by the large number of seemingly irregular Spanish verbs try this course. Michel explains the reasons for the irregular verbs; be it their roots or simple phonetics, once you understand they no longer seem so irregular.
If you are about to embark on a Spanish course this is a very good foundation to build on. It will prevent you from picking up bad habits!
If you are at an intermediate level this course will provide good revision, deeper understanding and make you aware of the bad habits you have picked up!
This course was enjoyable, I covered the 8 hour course within 4 days. I have studied French for years but have ordered the 8 hour French course too (it's sold out at the the moment - a good sign).
G. Burrough.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent confidence building introduction; great technique., 15 Oct. 2008
By 
Wake up Mr Jones! (North Yorkshire, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Spanish with Michel Thomas--Complete Course 8 CD Set (Audio CD)
This is an excellent, confidence building introduction to Spanish with a great teaching technique. There are many good reviews by other contributors to read but I like two in particular; one is entitled "Michel Thomas - Learning Through Understanding" and the other is "He should have ditched the English guy". I agree entirely with them both and do not wish to repeat what they already say very well but would only wish to emphasise two things:-

1. The male student is an absolute tin eared, hesitant, stammering buffoon who, four hours into the lesson, still can't get even the most basic pronunciation correct. A lot of time is wasted trying to get this berk to say things correctly and if you want to repeat the early lessons as a refresher you might well find it very frustrating waiting for him to get it right. It rather spoiled the course for me. The female student is entirely normal!

2. There is very little vocabulary so you will still need a phrase book and a dictionary.
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic!, 7 Oct. 2003
This review is from: Spanish with Michel Thomas--Complete Course 8 CD Set (Audio CD)
Before buying these fairly expensive CDs, I read the reviews and the overwhelmingly positive ones made up my mind, though the negative ones stuck in my mind as I waited for it to arrive! Well, I found this to be the most useful approach to learning a language I have ever found, having done O'level French, and a few Italian self-teach courses before. I can see why people comment about the lip smacking and slow student, but these seem really trivial problems compared to the fact that you rapidly assimilate a terrific framework of understanding of the language. I bought this (and Instant Spanish by Elizabeth Smith) four weeks before going to Spain for the first time, and didn't use any English at all in the usual tourist encounters. By the end of the holiday (I didn't listen to the last four CDs until I was there), I was confident enough to try to use as many tenses as possible, and to aim to avoid asking the same question in the same way, even though I have always been too embarassed to try to speak a foreign language before. The thing I found most important is that he really hammers home where the stress on a word must go to be understood, which noone ever told me before, and is the difference between speaking (probably terrible) Spanish and just getting blank incomprehension, which is the thing that I always find most likely to send me scurrying into English. "Instant Spanish" is also very good, and bulked up my vocab, without which I would have needed a phrasebook as well as Michel, but I think without his CDs, I would have tried to use what I learnt from Instant Spanish and not been understood because I didn't grasp where to stress the word. I am now half way through the French CDs, and even though I remember most of the words from school, I am finding it just as useful to help pronunciation.
In short, the best money I ever spent on a book or CD.
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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Remember it is only 10 hours, 9 Jan. 2004
This review is from: Spanish with Michel Thomas--Complete Course 8 CD Set (Audio CD)
All the Michel Thomas courses are quite extraordinary in the level of sentence construction you can articulate after just 5 to 10 hours. People should remember that although this course is 8CDs, they are audio and not computer CDs so it is easy to make false comparisons with other courses. THESE COURSES ARE JUST 10 HOURS and what you can achieve in that time I have not found anywhere or with any other teaching or method.
Yes, Michel is more effective in his native German and in French, but still this is exceptional for the time and money invested. Obviously you will not be an effective Spanish speaker but importantly after just 10 HOURS you will have a good understanding of the language fundamentals to take into a more comprehensive training programme.
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46 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars First language course where "the structure" stuck, 2 Oct. 2002
By 
Mr. P. A. Gower (Altrincham, Cheshire United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Spanish with Michel Thomas--Complete Course 8 CD Set (Audio CD)
Being appalling at languages at school (including my own English!) and being shamed by being a typical English-only speaking Brit I have attempted to learn languages (Spanish and Russian) on and off for the past 16 years. Being currently unemployed and still determined to learn a foreign language (before I die!) and seeing the other favourable reviews I thought I give Michel Thomas a try.
I don't understand why it has worked but this is the first course where the structure (the grammar I suppose?) of the language has stuck. It is not just the use of cognates (similar sounding/spelt words common to both languages) but something else, some technique that I have not come across before.
Despite giving a five-star I do have some critisms. The main one would be to leave a gap when you are meant to speak, rather than relying on pressing the pause button and getting repetitive strain syndrome on you index finger. In the end I copied the CD's so to introduce those gaps. This meant I did not go through the entire course in one go but repeated tapes, in retrospect I wish I had just gone through the course in one go over a weekend.
I found the "idiot" student which many other reviewers annoying good for morale in the sense that when I thought I was being slow the other guy was snail-like. However his continued poor pronunciation of "puede" throughout the course was unbelievable but maybe Michel Thomas was trying to emphasise a common mis-pronounced word? Also it would be useful to have some written backup, but I suspect that this may be part of the teaching technique to force you to learn a language in your head rather than on a page. Again his "dry mouth" delivery I actually found very nostalgic in that it reminded me of my grandfather who also taught me a lot of good stuff, but for most I can understand it may grate.
In eight hours you will not learn a language, but this gives you a good base. I have now ordered the language builder and having completed this course started to use the Madrigals book recommended by other reviewers to build vocabulary and to learn to read and write. If any of you reviewers know the basis of the teaching technique I would appreciate you letting me know.
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61 of 64 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars He should have ditched the English guy, 7 Jan. 2005
By A Customer
This review is from: Spanish with Michel Thomas--Complete Course 8 CD Set (Audio CD)
Like many other reviewers, I would agree that Michel Thomas gives you a clear feel of how Spanish works,he gives you confidence to try those long sentences for which he is famous,and amazingly what he teaches does seem to stick. It is great for the car or the ironing, with a nice slow pace, and so plenty of thinking time. Joy of joys there is no jingly jangly music to divide the sections.
There are some downsides. As with many other reviewers, I want to throttle the English guy ( and I think Michel does as well), whereas the girl is a good role model for the course. What it means is that you are paying for a fair amount of silence,or listening for the 10th time for this man to say "puedo" correctly. I found some of Michel's meanderings into the history of English a bit boring( because I'd already heard them on the French c.d.) Another thing to be aware of is that somewhere along the line some serious vocacabulary learning will need to be done, and that is not provided in this course.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If only I had Michel Thomas as my GCSE teacher!, 17 Jan. 2002
By A Customer
Absolutely brilliant for verbal communication. Within 10 minutes I had learnt and REMEMBERED tons of useful phrases. It makes my long car journies go fast and without boredom.
My only gripe is with the publisher. Having bought the short course and wanting to continue, I'm told I have to buy the full course. The whole course (8 hours) includes the 2 hours you've already bought. You'd think that the publisher would offer an upgrade between the two. After all not exactly cheap, when you've already spent on the starter CD.
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Spanish with Michel Thomas--Complete Course 8 CD Set
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