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on 18 October 2007
As with the other Michel Thomas courses (only this time without him) this is an excellent language learning tool. You very quickly find yourself able to express quite complex ideas in Russian.
The course easily gets to grips with the strangeness (to an English ear) of the Russian emphases in pronunciation, of intonation in questions (utterly different to the English), and of the soft sound.
Sometimes you might feel like shouting at the two students Natasha Bershadski is working with - but that all adds to the fun!
My only regret is that we are going to have to wait so long for the Advanced course (scheduled for March 2008 I think).
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on 10 April 2008
The teacher here has found novel ways of interpreting Russian words as vivid images which stick in your mind. The learning process comes naturally as if uncovering a Russian tongue you never knew you had. References to Russian culture as well as etymology of certain words further aid the memory.

Having taken a few Russian classes for beginners some years ago, these CDs were a very useful refresher for me and I wish they'd been made earlier! I found the pace comfortable as you're constantly learning and practicing what you learn at each stage. You're encouraged to revisit words and constructions already learnt by building them into new sentences.

To the extent that your mistakes are similar to the 2 students, you learn from their mistakes as if you yourself are being corrected. Common pitfalls are pointed out and gentle reminders flag points to watch yourself on.

As a native English speaker, I didn't appreciate the importance of tone and pitch in spoken Russian at first. You learn how stress can affect the meaning of a sentence or word depending on where it falls. Through examples and repetition you become accustomed to this as well as the subtleties of "hard" versus "soft" sounds. I found sounds much easier to distinguish by listening to the CDs than I did learning in the classroom.

Although primarily a spoken course, it also touches on how to read the Russian Cyrillic script and the small booklet has a vocab list along with the alphabet. Grammar is explained in lay man's terms to make it easy to use. You learn to use all three tenses with ease which is a pretty remarkable for a short course.

The course is fun and really facilitates learning. It's less demanding than real classes in that you're free from homework and have no time/place commitment. That being said, you can't treat it lightly: it's not something to listen to in your sleep or while cooking a new recipe. It deserves more attention so needs uninterrupted time. You have to focus on what you're listening to and picture yourself sitting at a table with the teacher and two other students. I used the 30 min commute to work to listen to this and it worked well although my vocal practice was somewhat limited!

Overall, it's a superb introduction to Russian and achieves what is stated on the box with great success. For me personally it only served as a boost to my existing knowledge as it covered familiar territory. I'm left wanting more and am eagerly awaiting delivery of the advanced course so I can follow up and learn more Russian using this amazing technique!
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on 1 November 2007
I first heard about the Michel Thomas method when I found myself in the car picking up the Italian my wife was learning by his method. I wanted to learn Russian but at 70 years the last two years have been a dispiriting slog. Then I saw that there was a Russian course by the Michel Thomas method. The years have dropped away and I'm galloping along. Many, many thanks.
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on 4 April 2009
This is the best method of language learning I've ever experienced. In a few days, I have gained a good understanding of how the language works and am now able to converse with my Russian boyfriend and understand a lot of what his family are talking about at the dinner table! It took me many years to gain the same knowledge of German in a classroom. It is also very enjoyable because I was constantly amazed by how much I could say without any effort at all. I did the whole course in 3 days because I enjoyed it so much and didn't want to stop! Since then, I have also done the entire Michel Thomas French course and, in response to what someone else has written, I didn't think it was any better than the Russian course. His method is brilliant and has been expertly adapted for the Russian course. I didn't find that the students' mistakes confused me at all and it was always made clear when they made mistakes. I can't recommend it highly enough.
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on 19 June 2012
The Michel Thomas method leaves me in two minds, I purchased both the Foundation and the Advanced course and the first thing to mention is the fact that advanced really isn't advanced at all- still very much beginner level. I'll start with the negatives as it's better to finish on a positive note....

Negative

# The course is too basic for the price, it provides you with a vocabularly that is barely sufficient to 'get by' and you will only understand a few words when you visit Russia.

# The course does not teach 'Everyday Russian'- Ms Bershadski although a native speaker seems to talk CSR (Codified Standard Russian) and not the Russian you would hear on the street, in bars etc etc. This is a common flaw with many language programs and by no means unique to the Michel Thomas Method. For example '''''''''' for please - In my experience this is only used for "your welcome"... in my many visits to Russia I've never heard the word being used for please.

# The Michel Thomas method did not get me thinking in Russian- which I believe is vital (perhaps too much English used throughout the course?)

Positive

# Offers a unique method of learning language (Despite Paul Noble's seemingly similar new courses) which encourages the listener to construct suprisingly complex sentences from the beginning- thereby encouraging people who struggle with languages.

# My cousins' wife (a native speaker) was quite impressed with what I was able to say in the space of two weeks.

# I was able to negotiate past the Militsia (police) with a few sentences in Russian and was also able to help a tourist who was being hassled by the OMON (look them up!). As with any language a little knowledge went a long way. The course enabled me to enjoy my trips much more, with the added bonus of the locals becoming far more friendly due to the effort you have made.

In conclusion I think this box set is ideal for someone who is going on a short trip but for serious study I would suggestSuperpack Russian which is highly recommended on language forums and has helped increase my knowledge of Russian no end.
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on 13 August 2010
First of all a slight rant at some of the other comments!

Another reviewer said it does not teach phrases like "Hi, pleasure to meet you", but how he learnt how to say "I have a problem with my computer, an engineer will fix it" and then COMPLAINED about how useless this was.

The whole POINT of MT is that it teaches you how to think and construct sentences in the target language. It does NOT aim to teach you to memorise certain useful sentences. Because then, if someone in the real world dares say something that is different to the prepared dialogue in your head, you are stuck.

MT is ridiculously useful for learning a language, if you actually want to properly learn it. It's an essential tool, I feel, as it helps contribute to an instinctive feeling for the language. However, especially with a language as grammatically complex as Russian, grammar study alongside is essential.

This MT course is certainly very good, and I would highly recommend it. But for non-linguists, don't be stupid and think you can get away with doing no grammar, livemocha, reading and many other strategies to complete linguistic competence, and rely on MT alone.

It will just lead to annoying actual linguists who happen to read your reviews.
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on 7 January 2011
Well what I mean in the title is that after 8 hours, I can actually speak some pretty okay Russian, I can string sentences together and would feel confident trying out some phrases to a Russian speaker. I learned German in school for 5 years and I couldn't carry on a conversation with a German person.

The thing is, learning a new language you need to be motivated which I was. You need to give the CDs your full attention, it's best to probably do a CD in one go. You don't need anything else, no pen, paper... nothing.

I had to laugh at somebody's description of the 2 students in another review. I think it's a great method in the beginning, but after a while, the male student does get on my nerves. He tried too hard, he speaks too quickly and sometimes you wannt shake him and say 'you learned that word in CD1'!!!!! The female student does start slower but seems to have a better grasp by the end and she is quite pleasant.
Natasha is a good teacher, firm but encouraging.

Now, off to do the Advanced course...........
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on 27 September 2012
I have been married to a Russian for 7 years now and have always struggled to learn more than spasebo (thank you). A week after buying this I am suddenly able to converse! What the heck I am astonished with the speed at which I have picked up basic russian from nothing.

If you want to learn Russian for conversational purposes this is the one you should buy. You will not regret it!
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on 5 September 2008
First up, this is not the Michel Thomas Method -- it is an approximation of it, and not a particularly good one.

1) When the students on the CD get the stress wrong in a word or sentence. Natasha says "yes", or "very good", or "that's right", before saying it correctly. She presumably believes that they'll get better just by hearing it said right. Thomas never did. When she eventually gives in and starts correcting them, they're confused by it. Why is what was right earlier wrong now? Their confidence goes causing them to start asking questions they should already know the answers to.

2) Natasha tells us that an unstressed "au" is "ah" in Russian. She pronounces every unstressed "au" clearly as "ah". Then in CD 5 she mentions in passing that they are slightly different. She immediately goes back to pronouncing them the same. In doing this, she fails to teach a distinction that is vitally important (this can mean the difference between calling something feminine and calling it neuter) and now I know I'm going to have to do a lot of work to undo this bad teaching.

3) Michel Thomas only asked his students to guess things when he had a reasonable expectation that they'd get it right first time -- Natasha doesn't. There are many cognates and loan words in the course, but there is no reliable pattern regarding changes in word stress. This means that our first exposure to a new word is wrong in about 50% of all cases. Not good.

4) Natasha falls into the old teacher habit of "answer in sentences". Thomas rarely asked you to answer anything, because answering in sentences is unnatural in any language. The Michel Thomas method means you don't have to answer, so why introduce this unnatural language?

5) The course wastes a lot of time on "A man says?... And a woman says?" If she had used "he" and "she" more than "I", we could have learnt the gender system without nearly as much repetition.

6) The course wastes a lot of time teaching fairly random words of very limited us (luggage, newspaper, etc). MT taught the most common words and words that formed a pattern.

Don't get me wrong -- this is better than most courses out there, but it's only half as good as a genuine "Michel Thomas" course, so why is it the same price?
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on 14 July 2014
Have been reasonably successful using this though it's not as good as the French version. The teacher isn't always clear with pronunciation and her explanations aren't great though it would be difficult to live up to Michel Thomas's example. At least in the Russian version you don't have to endure the hopeless female student that made the French version a bit irritating at times.
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