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on 6 January 2012
I am a massive fan of the Michel Thomas method. I did French up to GCSE level at school, but other than that I have no language learning experience. I didn't enjoy learning French at school at all, but this method makes language learning enjoyable and exciting. This won't provide you with vast amounts of vocabulary, but it will give you the basic foundations of the language, which can easily be built upon. The time and hours just fly by when you do this course, it's just so enjoyable. I accept that other people may prefer other language learning tool, but for me, this is brilliant and can be used in conjunction with any other course. Even though Michel Thomas doesn't actually teach this course, it is still the same method, and the teachers are very good. In summary; for the money, this is a terrific course, and I would highly recommend everyone to try it!

I was already fluent in Dutch, prior to taking this course, as I'm half Dutch. But, my younger brother and girlfriend have completed this course. When they were doing so I did it with them, and found it to be very good and I was surprised at how fast they were speaking to me competently in Dutch! A friend had the old version of this course and it was pretty much the same! They may have added a little, but there is not much of the extra material which has been added to the main courses. Overall a great product though, slightly disappointed they didn't add more extra material!
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on 22 September 2011
Does what it says on the tin. Teaches you to speak Dutch, without any books, through a series of drills. The tutor is very clear, adding words and concepts as she goes until the point that you think you can't remember any more, then she backs off and goes back to a simple exercise, then builds you up again... Also uses the similarities between English and Dutch to get to going, rather than ignoring them. Excellent.
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on 25 April 2013
I bought this having previously purchased the Start Dutch CD as a taster which was my first experience of the Michel Thomas method. I was delighted to have at last found a method that made language learning enjoyable, and which turned what had previously been difficult to remember into sentences which seemed to come naturally. The teacher is superb, gently nudging your fellow classmates (and you, because you'll make similar mistakes) towards the right responses, and the excellent structure and writing of the course means that each item builds on what has gone before in a natural way.

The Total course takes you from being a complete novice up to a level of increasing confidence. It is important to note that this course won't make you fluent, and you will still be a fair way from being able to fully understand written and especially spoken Dutch - you won't have fully covered the language, you'll have too small a vocabulary, and you won't be at the level where your brain works quickly enough in the new language. However after completing this course I was able to pick up a 500-word magazine article at random and work out what most of it was about, and when watching Dutch TV I could recognise occasional sentences, phrases or expressions: in particular you can start to hear the building blocks. For a complete beginner who has previously failed to get to any sort of level in Spanish, French and German to now get to that point in a little over 5 weeks shows how massively impressive this method is.

The other strength is its price: in terms of £ per amount of progress, this course represents excellent value.

I have now bought the "Pefect Dutch" course so will review that when I have completed it.

The only two bugbears are the marketing of the course:
(i) The first CD is the same as the "Start" course, which the literature conveniently(!) forgets to mention.
(ii) "Total" is a misnomer for a course that does not cover any of the past tenses, these are covered in the "Perfect" course. If you want to cover the full range, you'll need both courses.

In sum, putting irritations with Hodder's marketing department aside, this has been a very enjoyable course and is of immense credit to the two authors.
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on 20 July 2011
This is a re-packaged edition of the original Foundation Course, I expect, and as good as the reviews for that product (now too expensive to bother with). What is misleading, however, is that Amazon quote the generic description:
"What's in the Course?

- 12 hours of audio on CD
- NEW: visual learning review for PC or Mac
- NEW: over 2 hours of extra vocab help
- NEW: interactive exercises to check your progress"

which only applies to the "most popular" languages - and Dutch isn't one of them, so it does not include the 2-CD vocabulary section or the review CD-ROM. It only has the original 8-hours of audio lessons, in a new, blue, box. This may be reflected in the low price on Amazon, of course, although the French, German, Spanish, etc., courses are currently only £48 and they DO include the vocab and review CD sets.

It's still a brilliant way to start learning Dutch, but it's slightly disappointing when you open the box to find less than the description promised.
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on 5 November 2012
I bought this course as I had already tried classes and books and was after something a bit different. I also spend a lot of time driving so this seemed like the ideal choice. I am now on cd 7 and am loving the structure of the learning programme. She builds up sentences in small steps and gives you a chance to really get a grip with both the grammar and vocabulary by consolidating each step and building sentences until you are repeating whole monalogues all on your own. You feel like you are part of the class which really helps and you can perfect your pronunication as you go. There is one American lady and one English man who learn along with you, as well as the Dutch lady wh does the teaching - so you are likely to find someone whose acent you can relate to. I really think this is worth the money and would recommend it to anyone whether you've tried Dutch before or not.
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on 10 September 2011
In just two weeks my Dutch was catapulted from almost zero to a level that would certainly take a much longer period to achieve. Everyone was really impressed, and to be honest I was impressed that they were impressed. And that is because you don't realise how much and how fast you are learning. So much so, that previously, job agencies insisted in me learning at least some basic Dutch. Two weeks later they were so surprised that they did whatever they could to find me a job... and they did... the next day!
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on 15 May 2013
I purchased the MICHEL THOMAS Total Dutch course shortly after having completed the PIMSLEUR Comprehensive Dutch course. Here is what I found:

Prospective buyers of the Michel Thomas Method language courses should be aware that the parent company, Hodder Education, has issued "repackaged" and "retitled" versions of all the courses. On the Michel Thomas website, under the section FAQ, readers are left with the impression that ALL of the new courses have benefited from a recent update. Unfortunately, this is NOT SO. Some courses have been updated, whereas others haven't. The "new" Michel Thomas TOTAL DUTCH package is an exact copy of their previous product, Michel Thomas SPEAK DUTCH, save for the packaging. This in no way affects the QUALITY of the current edition. However, buyers expecting to receive an improved version of the course (at a higher price) could be disappointed.

Both instructional methods are presented as AUDIO ONLY programmes. The Michel Thomas Method course package includes a small pamphlet containing partial extracts from the audio programme. However, it is far from being a transcript. The Pimsleur course includes, what they identify as, a "Reading Guide", which is really more a "reading for pronunciation" guide than a transcript. Only some of the vocabulary is drawn from the course and it does not correlate directly to the lessons. Transcripts are not provided and, if they were, given the structure of the course, they would be more of a distraction than an aid. In both instances, the student would be well advised to make his/her own notes (vocabulary and example phrases) with the help of a dictionary and a grammar.

In the Michel Thomas Method, a native female Dutch speaker guides two students through some basic verbs and phrases in a question-answer format. Each example phrase is covered once. The students' responses are recorded. Sometimes, she simply repeats the students' incorrect replies, particularly in cases of the error is one of Word Order. The instructor both corrects their answers and provides the corrected model response. This means the course user is exposed to the students' errors and their imperfect pronunciation. While I would imagine that some users appreciate the opportunity to learn from someone else's bad example, frankly, I would dispense with it. In the Pimsleur Method, a native English speaker guides the student very slowly through words and phrases, building up to short, directed, dialogues. Gaps are provided for the course user's response and the correct response is provided by two native Dutch speakers, one male, one female.

In the Pimsleur method, the final few minutes of each lesson serve as a recapitulation of the newly-presented material in a short dialogue, often incorporating material from previous lessons. Also, the first few minutes of the subsequent lesson recapitulate the material of the previous lesson. Finally, previously covered material is reviewed at regular intervals throughout the series of lessons. It is this very carefully sequenced review that helps the student memorize the material. There is no final course recapitulation. In the Michel Thomas method, while the short phrases and sentences are not repeated, they do seem to build upon one another in a cumulative fashion. The effect on long-term memory is not the same as for the Pimsleur course. There is no recapitulation at any time in the Michel Thomas course. However, by simple repetition of the lessons, an astute self-learner can assimiliate the material.

The Michel Thomas Method provides a rather oblique explanation of the grammatical issues that underly the example phrases, and it uses decidedly unconventional terminology to describe them, such as: (a) "the omdat effect", to describe the word order in subordinate clauses, (b) the "trigger verbs", which I can only assume refers to auxiliary verbs, and (c) the "t-group", to indicate the 2nd and 3rd person singular verbs. The Pimsleur Method, on the other hand, makes little or no attempt to explain grammar. Rather, they provide examples that they believe will permit the student to "deduce" the underlying structure of the language. Both courses focus on the Present Tense of regular verbs and introduce (without saying so) some of the modal auxilliary verbs. In the final stages, Pimsleur introduces the Present Perfect whereas Michel Thomas introduces the Simple Past. I would recommend that users purchase and consult a Basic Dutch Grammar for both methods.

The Michel Thomas Method includes 8 cds that, according to the publisher, provide 12 hours of instruction. Hmm, given that the CD format generally provides no more than 75 minutes of recording time, this is a keen feat! I timed the programme and it works out to just a little over 9 hours! The Pimsleur method includes 16 cds, of which 15 are the lesson units and the 16th covers the Reading Guide, for a total of approximately 15 hours. While there are some differences, both methods cover more-or-less the same ground.

The major difference between the two methods lies in their approaches. In my view, both methods work and both contain an irritant. In the case of the Michel Thomas Method, I find the students' error-prone responses to be an unnecessary distraction. In the case of Pimsleur, the lack of a glossary means that the student will have to purchase a dictionary a work backwards from the audio to build his/her own glossary. While I would give 5* to Pimsleur and 4* to Michel Thomas, this merely reflects my personal preference. You cannot lose with either of the methods; BOTH of them are GOOD courses. However, you will have to pursue your self-study of Dutch with some other method to become even mildly autonomous, even as a casual visitor to the Netherlands. While I decided to try both of these courses, I recommend that you CHOOSE ONLY ONE of them and then move on to a course that offers an opportunity to expand your Dutch vocabulary and a that provides a more in-depth introduction to Dutch grammar.

Despite their strenghts, be advised that both the Michel Thomas and Pimsleur methods provide only a very BASIC introduction to the Dutch language. Although the approaches differ somewhat, both rely on very limited vocabulary to help the student get an "initial feel for" the target language. In my view, given the limited vocabulary, NEITHER course sufficiently prepares a user for travel to the Netherlands.

Many people become convinced that these methods offer a "secret solution" to language learning. After all, they do, indeed, teach you some basic language skills in a very short time. However, the impression of thoroughness is really only an ILLUSION. On completion of even the most advanced versions of either method, you will NOT be even remotely autonomous. You will have to pursue your studies. As you progress through any other reasonably complete Basic Course, you will find that you will have to acquire a fair amount of vocabulary, be reasonably sure of the new language's grammar, and be able to demonstrate appropriate pronunciation, if you expect to be understood even on a basic level. Retaining and APPLYING your new knowledge, even in a common situation faced by a traveller, requires hundreds, if not a few thousand, hours of intensive practice. Once "over there", you will find that the "locals" speak extremely quickly, have regional accents, drop syllables, make many grammatical errors, and use colloquialisms that are rarely encountered in basic language courses, thereby rendering them difficult to understand. Neither the Michel Thomas nor the Pimsleur method prepare you for this. They are both good, but they are a beginning only.

As a FOLLOW-UP, I would recommend that you CHOOSE ONE of these Basic Dutch courses below. They will take you to the Intermediate Level and all are really quite GOOD. However, be prepared to invest a LOT of TIME studying them, perhaps several hundred hours! HINT: try memorizing the dialogues; it may be boring, but it helps absorb the language.

(a) ROUTLEDGE's COLLOQUIAL DUTCH, by Bruce Donaldson (this should NOT to be confused with Routledge's INTENSIVE Dutch, which is most decidedly NOT suitable for self-study). The package contains a book and 2 cds. The dialogues are delivered quite quickly, much more quickly than either Michel Thomas or Pimsleur. Although this might seem difficult at first, repeated playing of the dialogues will help you understand the language as you might actually hear it on the street, in restaurants, etc. The author takes pain to underscore both the "correct" way of saying something as well as the "colloquial" equivalent that you are more likely to encounter. Be sure that you buy the "package" since the book are CDs are often offered for sale separately (this fact is not at all clear on Amazon). I purchased my copy, at a slightly lower price, directly from Routledge (Taylor & Francis) via their website.

(b) SPOKEN WORLD DUTCH, by Peter Verhoeven, published by LIVING LANGUAGE. The package contains a book and 6 cds. The dialogues are delivered more quickly than either Michel Thomas or Pimsleur, but not as quickly as with the Routledge package. The dialogues are well-conceived and there is a very heavy emphasis on Dutch grammar.

(c) LINGUAPHONE DUTCH COMPLETE (CURSUS NEDERLANDS) is, indeed, much more complete that the two courses mentioned above. The package contains three course manuals and 8 cds. The dialogues are delivered more quickly than either Michel Thomas or Pimsleur, but not as quickly as with the Routledge or Living Language packages. The dialogues are very wellconceived and there is a strong emphasis on Dutch grammar. I am under the impression that the Linguaphone courses are not as well known as the competing methods, possibly because they are not available on Amazon or in bookstores (or not in the bookstores that I frequent). You can order them directly from the publisher. While the list prices are higher than those of the competing methods, the publisher often has inventory-reduction sales and you can purchase these methods at half-price. They also offer clean "refurbished" packages at reduced prices.

Good luck with your studies!
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on 2 February 2013
It's a series to give you confidence in several languages. From a beginner in September, I spoke Dutch to an audience in Maastricht Castle last week. Now that's progress. And all done by listening for 20 minutes a day, taking in essential phrases and making the Dutch language make sense. After all we all know how to translate some Dutch. You don't belive me? Well here's the test. Let me know if you can not understand this Dutch sentence:

De Kat zat op de maat. Well done. Give yourself a hug!
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on 24 April 2013
I have used Michel Thomas Method before for French, and am now needing to learn Dutch before a move over there. I am on the fourth CD in about a month, and am already able to speak Dutch. I have joined a meet up group too in my town, and am able to speak and understand already! Fantastic course, highly recommend. Much more fun than the usual language courses and no homework, which is a bonus!
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on 20 February 2012
I've been attempting to learn Dutch for years. In the past I had simply used books. I had two beginner books and a grammer book. I like to understand how things work; that's the reason for the grammer book. Anyway, the learning pattern would always be the same. I'd be motivated for two weeks and then lose interset. I'd never get beyond the first couple of chapters. I would guess it was down to feeling fustrated with the task of learning lots of new words, including the gender, aswell as new constructions. Another pain was getting the word order correct. The books I used provided answers but did not comment on the word order.

I'm not sure what lead me to try an audio program, but I'm glad I did. I'm on CD 6 at the moment and my understanding and ability to speak have developed rapidly. I admit that it does take me time to construct the sentence but the word order is often correct and with practice the time taken is reducing. I also like to listen to each CD twice before I move on to the next one and this has worked out well for me.

So to summarise, if you really want to learn Dutch and have tried with books then do give this a go. One reviewer said would you rather have a vocabulary of 3000+ words and only be able to construct very simple sentences or a smaller vocabulary and build complex sentances? I always thought that I needed to understand all the minor details; this program proved otherwise. I found that I have started to develop an ability to hear things that do not sound correct. Much like mistakes in your native language, you might not be able to explain them, but it sounds wrong.

I'm so pleased with this product that I've even pre-ordered the Perfect edition.
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