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67 of 70 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nothing short of life-changing
I'm hopeless with languages - always have been. I found them a nightmare at school and even after persevering with French and Spanish GCSEs, I still found myself on holiday in Spain and totally lacking the confidence to even ask for eggs in a supermarket. (I did once gird my loins and give it a shot, but I received such a blank look that I quickly reverted to useless hand...
Published on 15 Mar 2012 by captive8122@hotmail.com

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars terrible
Luckily I didn't buy this. A friend let me listen to his copy. I have purchased a copy of Paul Noble on audible and it is significantly better. The good point, an easy way to learn a langauge... that is done elsewhere better. The bad, if you are trying to learn a language a guy with a German accent getting annoyed with two people who don't speak Spanish is not the way to...
Published 1 month ago by Mr Michael Bates A.C


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67 of 70 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nothing short of life-changing, 15 Mar 2012
This review is from: Total Spanish (Learn Spanish with the Michel Thomas Method) (Audio CD)
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I'm hopeless with languages - always have been. I found them a nightmare at school and even after persevering with French and Spanish GCSEs, I still found myself on holiday in Spain and totally lacking the confidence to even ask for eggs in a supermarket. (I did once gird my loins and give it a shot, but I received such a blank look that I quickly reverted to useless hand gestures and that wonderful trick of English-with-a-Spanish-accent.)

I'd tried a course in Spanish before this one from a guy called Paul Noble. I couldn't get along with it at all, I found the aural learning incredibly taxing because I'd be trying to picture the spelling and shape of words in my head, as Noble never clarified them and insisted on a no note-taking or reading approach while listening. I was wrung out after just an hour and I cowardly avoided going any further. I just assumed that I couldn't learn anything by ear and I didn't have the brain for it.

So I approached Michel Thomas Total Spanish with a sense of resigned dread, fully prepared for an early defeat and a splitting headache to boot. This dread intensified when I found that, strangely, his initial introduction and pep talk were remarkably similar to that of Paul Noble. Given that MT came long before PN, I'm going to assume that the latter was heavily influenced by the former. It's baffling that although superficially similar, Paul Noble (for me) managed to completely miss the essence of what it is that makes the Michel Thomas method so special. MT is always at pains to reinforce your learning using a wide variety of techniques - it's very subtle and very clever. All types of mnemonics and quirky little tools are employed on an almost subconscious level; it's not remotely laboured or heavy-handed. You never feel like you're working or being fed too much information. MT's technique can be as subtle as just the emphasis of his voice in a memorable way or a funny little saying, and he always clarifies the spelling which is such a relief for people like me who need to be able to visualise the words to have any hope of remembering them.

It's been a bit sad to read a lot of quite negative reviews on Total Spanish because as soon as I felt the technique working for me, I rushed to Amazon kind of looking forward to sharing some evangelical happiness with what I imagined would be legions of awestruck fans. The popularity of the late Michel Thomas globally is a testament to his genius, I think, but it's still sad that people criticise his approach for reasons like 'he smacks his lips loudly,' or 'his accent is too heavily German/Polish.' I mean, if things like that truly get in the way of your learning, fair enough, but it just feels very mean-spirited to me to knock the man's wonderful gift to students, his entire technique, based on some superficial little personal preferences. Personally I loved his old voice - it has the texture of aged leather and the strength of his personality is tangible just on the CDs. He's patient, he's dry-humoured and comprehensive, he's amazingly wise. This is turning into a novel, but I have to mention one particular aspect that impressed me. Do you know how language-teaching can often hinge around technical terms to describe its structure such as 'conjunctives' or 'past participles' or words like that? If you're not entirely sure what these mean in English, it's another barrier for you when you're trying to learn an entirely different language. MT realises this and he cuts through any jargon. He actually introduces his own much simpler definitions of nouns, verbs, adjectives etc. He gives you explanations that fit with his entire approach - easily understood snippets that stick in your head because they make sense. Like he says from the outset, 'what you know, you remember.' How simple is that, and yet how true?!

I do accept that one shoe isn't going to fit all. And I know that the male student on the CDs, who's lucky enough to be having personal lessons with Michel himself, can be very, very slow to get things right, but I'm sure if I knew that my clumsy early lessons were being recorded then I'd be even slower than I am, too. Personally I found the guy rather endearing and it helped me feel like maybe I wasn't alone in being a bit of a linguistic blockhead. Misery does love company, after all.

Anyway, so far I've completed 5 of the 7 discs that form the Total lessons. I haven't even tried the vocabulary CDs as yet, but I just didn't want to hold back writing a review any longer because I feel like my entire thinking and outlook on languages has been transformed already. I only started the course last week and I find that I actively look forward to putting on a new CD and making progress. I'm excited because I feel it working and I know, I just -know- that I am going to make progress. Every minute I spend listening I move forward. That's nothing short of miraculous for me. I'm no longer terrified by the word 'grammar' or 'verbs' because I'm learning them without even consciously being aware of it. I can put together what feels like pretty complex sentences with confidence. The structure of the language is opening up to me and, honestly, it feels like sunlight has broken through what was previously one big impenetrable brick wall. I'm enjoying using the review CD rom and cementing what I've learned aurally with the video clips and the interactive exercises. I know it's early days and I have a long road ahead of me, but I'm planning on buying MT's Perfect Spanish course to follow on with, and I no longer feel any fear or doubt about learning the language. I know that, in time, I can get there, and that's a wonderful feeling.

What else can I say? What a magnificent legacy for any human being to leave behind. Michel Thomas was a remarkable man.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Perfect method, poor publishing, 8 July 2013
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This review is from: Total Spanish (Learn Spanish with the Michel Thomas Method) (Audio CD)
What is it?
7 audio disks at around 1 hour of a recorded lesson between Michel Thomas and two students. You are the third student, and will need to pause the disk to give you answers (consequently each lesson takes about 1hr 30, although can easily be broken down into whatever legnth you want.
2 additional vocabulary disks, with on of Michel's teachers that focuses purely on extra verbs, nouns etc. but no new sentence structures
1 CD-ROM progress checker. This is essentially the audio disks chopped up into short sentences that test your recall, and reinforce learning.

What do I think of it?
I'd recommend this product (and have) to anyone wanting to learn Spanish. The method of easily building up sentences is both effective and relatively pain free. Michel advises you not to try and remember or study beyond the disks, which naturally limits the overall amount you can learn, but really takes the stress off. Furthermore you really don't need to. As he constantly builds on what you have learnt, it reinforces learning as you go - although it always helps to re-do a disk! Still re-doing a disk is easier than re-reading a chapter. The review checker the publishers have added is also actually very useful, and for the most part so are the extra vocab disks, which just add in extra content to give you a bit more to play with.

So why only 4 stars?
So, it really should get five stars, but it's just not been produced well enough to merit it. Why? or rather, por que? For a start 5 of the disks cover exclusively the present tense. A sixth covers the future tense. Only half of the final disk is afforded to the past tense, and a major section of this is consequently omitted, which left me constantly unable to construct simple sentences when trying it out. To clarify the disk covers 'I was speaking' (Michel's 'wing' tense), I had spoken (Michel's the diving board tense), but not I spoke (Michel's simple past tense)! This is picked up on Perfect Spanish. The final disk also just cuts off in mid sentence... although that's fairly unimportant in the grand scheme of things. The other major frustration is that the 2nd vocabulary disk is apparently unaware of the scant coverage of the past tense, and starts building on assumed knowledge of this tense, that you couldn't have if you've only used the disks. These are simple publishing and testing oversights which really let down what could be an almost perfect product. The vocabulary disk itself also substitutes Michel for a stereotypically ultra positive American woman, who is guaranteed to get on the nerves of many European listeners.

What next?
Thankfully Perfect Spanish picks up again with Michel and consequently flows perfectly on from Total Spanish, which is an untold strength of this disk, and despite it's flaws I still think it's a great product, and went on to buy Perfect Spanish also.

Other things people commonly complain about
The other two things that people often highlight as downsides are the over-the-top annunciation and 'the slow guy'. Personally, I think the annunciation is justified - even if you'd never speak it that way, it helps you learn how to pronounce properly. This is particularly apparent when you later discover that words like 'hablo' means both I speak, and he spoke - the difference is in pronunciation. The slow guy can get a bit tiresome, especially in the later disks, but at least you know no matter how bad you are, there'll always be someone slower! It also helps keep the pace moderate, as the other girl in the class was normally a step ahead of me.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great as a starting point, 27 Aug 2013
This review is from: Total Spanish (Learn Spanish with the Michel Thomas Method) (Audio CD)
After studying German and French at school for 5 years and using very little of it I decided I was going to set out with the aim of eventually becoming as close to fluent in Spanish as possible! There are allot of products/resources available (both free and not). I would say I know allot of words in Spanish but not how to string together sentences to that end this course proved very useful.

Negative points for me were, adjusting to MT's accent and the fact especially in the early CD's it sounds like he's sucking on a sweet or lozenge of some kind?! The guy with the British accent really got on my nerves at times, call me cynical but I reckon he was probably a competent Spanish speaker and allot of this was staged? MT also stressing the pronunciation, telling the student their pronunciation was wrong and getting them to repeat it over and over again only for them to not really change the pronunciation got tiresome. This seemed to come in blocks where at times it seemed 50% of the content was taken up by the village idiot or the constant repetition of one word.

I also have Paul Nobles CD's which in comparison use a similar technique but with a Latin American speaker and a Spanish speaker so you get a feel for the difference with non-of the monotony that comes with these CD's. For anyone thinking of getting the Paul Noble guide that is also not without its draw backs, he speaks very slooooooooooooooowly at times and is a little less effective than MT in my opinion. Having both is great but they do contradict each other also. If these were to be revised (although PN's CD's are basically this without accrediting MT's technique) I'd do away with the two students and use native speakers far too much time is taken by them fudging thing sup and being corrected.

In summary the late MT was a very interesting and talented linguist. Allot of his material has stuck with me but the annoyances mentioned above means that re-listening as a recap is pretty painful. It's a good starting point and ahs motivated me to join a class as there is no substitute to speaking with native speakers IMO.
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31 of 35 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A really great way of learning Spanish, though with detractors, 29 May 2012
This review is from: Total Spanish (Learn Spanish with the Michel Thomas Method) (Audio CD)
Having done this course, I'd say it's been the most successful approach I've had to learning how to build sentences in Spanish. You don't have to think too much as this course gives you the basic structure you need to handle yourself with native speakers. However, I think people expecting to learn this course, then be able to easily communicate clearly in a Spanish speaking country may be slightly optimistic, but what it will give you is the ability to at least muddle through and have yourself understood.

I think the main detractors are:

1) The annoying chap who's supposed to be learning the course with you, he keeps making silly mistakes and it breaks up the learning too much. He should have been binned.
2) The stresses on pronunciation are a little far fetched, having worked in Spain I know full well that they speak so quickly they don't have time to worry about stressing syllables.

That said, I've tried Coffee Break Spanish and Rosetta Stone in the past. This course has actually made the sentence structure stick as it all makes sense. Give it a go, use it as a starting block, then build up your vocabulary elsewhere.
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29 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Struggle free Spanish at 57 yrs old, 29 Jan 2012
This review is from: Total Spanish (Learn Spanish with the Michel Thomas Method) (Audio CD)
I was hopeless at languages at school and dreaded going to class. I was lucky to get the odd pass mark. Eventually I scraped a pass mark in my Gaelic Irish and a fail in my French at GCSE. I hoped that would be the last of my languages though I envied those who could speak a foreign language. However now in my 50's my daughter has a Spanish boyfriend of five years and lives and works in Spain. Needless to say she is fluent in Spanish. I have met her boyfriends family on various occasions and at family gatherings and as they do not speak English I have felt powerless and constantly required my daughter or her boyfriend to be at my side to translate for me.

Faced with the awkwardness and stress of these family occasions and now facing an invite to their daughters wedding in July I decided that it is never to late to prove that you can learn a language, especially with the possibility that my daughter may decide to have a family (my future grandchildren) and I would have the opportunity to spend more time in Spain when I retire.

On my return home from spending Christmas 2011 with my daughters boyfriends family I decided my New years resolution for 2012 was to learn Spanish. Luckily a gentleman (a retired lecturer) who attends a Tai Chi class with me enquired why I was unable to attend our Tai Chi Christmas gathering (as I was going in Spain)- told me about the Michel Thomas Series. On my return home after Christmas it was the first thing I purchased. I have to say it has changed my whole attitude to learning a language compared to the negative experiences I had as a young school girl who struggled with languages.
Michel encourages the listener to be relaxed while learning and for years I was already half frozen before I would go into class for fear the teacher would pick on me to speak in front of the class or to correct my many mistakes.
I have never used any of my spare time to purposely learn Michel's Spanish as I only learn it while driving the car which would normally be wasted time anyhow. His voice is friendly and empathetic as he converses with his two students who stumble and struggle and he takes time to point out little nuances that help you to remember or prevent confusion.
If I am tired after a long day at work I simply either listen to a revision track which makes for easy listening or simply just travel in silence knowing there will be another day. Even on a good day when I am alert- if I feel after 1/2 an hour I have had enough I switch it off. In this way I never get tired of the series and sometimes even just 10 mins. is a real positive learning experience. I am surprised how much I have learned and find what is taught to me is very practical Spanish - the sort of phrases I will require for my Spanish wedding in July. I feel comfortable and confident learning the language as unlike my school day experiences,
I do not have to stay until the end of class until my brain is frazzled and confused with too much info.I learn at my own pace.
I do not have to sit in a class frozen with fear that the teacher will pounce on me in front of others. I simply chat away to Michel.
I can simply replay the track if I need extra work especially if my concentration goes to have it repeated by Michel's soft friendly encouraging voice.
Like a good song I often find Michel's voice and Spanish phrases going around in my head as I go about my everyday duties and find myself repeating them unknowingly to myself either out loud or in my head.
I will be moving on to my second CD at the beginning of Feb so at this rate I will be through the complete set of 6 cds in time for July's wedding. July also sees my birthday when I will be 57 but this year I hope to celebrate it with conversational Spanish Ole Ole Ole !!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars terrible, 13 Mar 2014
This review is from: Total Spanish (Learn Spanish with the Michel Thomas Method) (Audio CD)
Luckily I didn't buy this. A friend let me listen to his copy. I have purchased a copy of Paul Noble on audible and it is significantly better. The good point, an easy way to learn a langauge... that is done elsewhere better. The bad, if you are trying to learn a language a guy with a German accent getting annoyed with two people who don't speak Spanish is not the way to do it. You start copying the students, only for them to be corrected five times. Paul Noble has two Spanish speakers, one from Spain and one from South America. They repeat the sentence in perfect Spanish 4 times. Which do you think is better? Avoid at all costs. My parents had the French version and said something similar.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun & turbo-charged language learning, 30 Nov 2013
By 
Rufus Firefly (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Total Spanish (Learn Spanish with the Michel Thomas Method) (Audio CD)
It is true: you will learn more in eight hours of a Michel Thomas course than you did in five years of language learning at school. I remember nothing of my school French, except a vague recollection of going through a particular verb table. I do, however, remember the bulk of the Spanish I learned under Michel Thomas almost nine years after first listening to the course.

It won't take long for you to understand what makes this course so good. In the first few minutes you are made to relax by Michel's insistence that you don't try to memorise or take down notes. And before long you are constructing sentences ('es' is 'it is', 'posible' is 'possible', 'para mi' is 'for me', therefore 'es posible para mi' is 'it's possible for me'. Throughout the course you get the fundamental grammar drilled into you on a subconscious level, and are given a much greater vocabulary than it appears at first thought. For example, as soon as you are out there using the language, you'll find yourself remembering Michel's rule that -tion words can become -cion words in Spanish. He doesn't need to drill you on a few hundred words in order to make you remember them.

And as a few other reviewers have pointed out, this course can help you with your native language of English too. He has a very accessible method of introducing concepts such as the imperative, verbs, adjectives and nouns. You will be kicking yourself from time to time as you make mistakes, but only because you know that Michel laid out the rules beforehand. That is a testament to his teaching, that you will always remember on some level, rather than your own failure to grasp it immediately.

There is some sniffiness in some quarters about the accent, the male speaker, and the promise of fluency. Let me tackle them one by one. The accent just doesn't matter. No, you may not finish the course speaking in a beautiful Argentinian accent, but you can always refine that later down the road with experience; the core thing that matters here is just being able to speak another language and understand its grammar and nuances.

The male speaker is annoying, I grant you. I reckon he got maybe 5% of his answers correct the first time. Sometimes it feels like he's making pure guesswork, and his pleading tone of voice grates. But having said all that, I can tell you that I am currently going through the Advanced course and it makes me miss that male speaker! The male speaker on the Advanced is much more of a know-it-all. I have no problem with good students, but this means that Michel doesn't keep repeating and breaking down how things work -- an invaluable part of the learning. And the advanced student gets in his answers as quickly as possible, meaning you have to be trigger-happy on the pause button. So value the dodgy male speaker for all he's worth; you'll understand what I mean if you try the Advanced!

Finally, the issue over fluency. No, you won't be fluent after this course or the Advanced course. But I would make the argument that these two courses are all you really need to set you on the way to fluency. There is no way to become fluent without interacting in the native environment. It's one thing to be able to speak Spanish pretty well, but understanding it from and rapidly responding to native speakers is quite another. I'm willing to bet that six months, a year in South America (or conversing with a partner) on top of this course will take you to near fluency. It's like the 'big bang' that can lead to a bigger vocabulary, writing, and fluency; just be sure to make full use of it!

If you've been sheepish about learning languages in the past, or are planning a trip abroad, or want to converse with your Spanish-speaking partner, this is the best place to start bar none. 8 hours ain't gonna kill you!
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26 of 32 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as I first thought, 5 July 2012
This review is from: Total Spanish (Learn Spanish with the Michel Thomas Method) (Audio CD)
When I first started listening to these I thought they were amazing and I did start to quickly learn how to form basic Spanish sentences and learn the basic grammar. I knew Michel Thomas sounded like an interesting guy (google his name) and I even read his biography. I then decided to do some research as I knew he was not a Spanish native speaker.

After having done some research and now that I have used several other Spanish learning products the products are not as good as I first realised. The Spanish is not "Spain Spanish" but "Latin American Spanish" and there are some slight pronunciation differences. He explains at the start that what he is teaching you is standard Spanish (standard in South America maybe) and explains the differences but I had not really fully understood this from how he explains it at the start of the course. Further more I now don't think his pronunciation is that good anyway. He also seems to spend most of the course correcting the students to stress the correct syllable by elongating it. For example, hablo (I speak)should be pronounced haaaaaaaaaaaaablo and if it is not done so then you will not be understood. None of the other courses I have used have barely mentioned this only saying where the stress should be placed on a word. Indeed if you listen to a native Spanish speaker they never speak as he instructs the students to.

On the positive side I still think this is a very good method of teaching Spanish, I just wish they would redo these tapes but use a native speaker as the teacher. I did find the grammar explanations he gives very interesting and useful also. I feel like I did learn a lot from this course and the grammar was explained very well in a way that you need not actually be very good at grammar even in English.
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant way to learn Spanish, 11 Aug 2011
This review is from: Total Spanish (Learn Spanish with the Michel Thomas Method) (Audio CD)
I was really excited to try the Michel Thomas method of learning a language because I'd heard such good things about it and they were all absolutely right. It was really exciting to be able to say simple sentences so quickly and my confidence just grew and grew. Its simple and painless and it was great to here the students trying to learn the language as well, it made it very easy to see where I was going wrong and how I could correct myself. I would definitely recommend this product and I really want to try the German pack next.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not for me. Why?, 27 Feb 2013
By 
D. L. Potts - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: Total Spanish (Learn Spanish with the Michel Thomas Method) (Audio CD)
So I learned basic Japanese using the Pimsleur method and loved it. The Spanish course was too expensive so, I looked for something else. Amazon had both the Michele Thomas Total Spanish and Perfect Spanish at half price, BARGAIN! I spent some time reading all the reviews and decided to get them.

I did CD 1 & 2 and thought that this course will be ok. Now I'm on CD 3 and am really struggling. I find this method of learning boring, uninspiring and a chore! I'm sure they suit some folks but not me. However, I have bought them and so I'm going to continue.

Also, I fail to understand how hearing the students on the recording repeat the same mistakes time after time aids learning in any way what so ever... even though they get corrected (most of the time) I seem to keep recalling the incorrect pronunciation of the students. I dread my sessions with the course and find myself continually yawning throughout and losing concentration. Another strange thing is to learn Spanish with Michel's German accent Hmm, odd to say the least.

Anyway, two weeks ago I ordered from Amazon the BBC España Viva course. BRILLIANT!! I love it and am only half way through the first CD and have already learned more than on 3 CD's of the Michele Thomas method. I do the España Viva in my car and once a week, with the course book, at home. I do the Michel Thomas when doing things about the house such as washing up. One positive is that M. T. has helped my insomnia!!!
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Total Spanish (Learn Spanish with the Michel Thomas Method)
Total Spanish (Learn Spanish with the Michel Thomas Method) by Michel Thomas (Audio CD - 24 Jun 2011)
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