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Customer Review

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Listen to your uncle Michel, now!, 30 Nov. 2009
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This review is from: French With Michel Thomas Complete Course CD (Audio CD)
Having Michel Thomas on your laptop is like having your very own pushy-but-loving Polish Jewish uncle staying for the holidays - he wants to know what you're doing at school, how well exactly, insists you could try harder but loves you anyway and doesn't mind showing it.

Yes, it does sound cheesy - but allied to really solid content, it's a winning combination. And (esp. for those of us who led uncle-free childhoods) it honestly does bring you back for more, day after day.

As for that solid content I mentioned... I'd agree with the majority of reviews here (and especially those who say buy the complete course and not just the foundation). I just want to add one thing that only revealed itself to me on a third or fourth play of the CD's.

It seems to me that what makes this different from most other language methods is that you think BEFORE you speak (and during, to some extent). As far as I can tell, this has three effects:

- The first effect of thinking it out in advance is that you remember better. Not just because you're more active, but because Michel Thomas approaches each question as a problem, and gives you the means to solve it. So you know HOW to think it through and you've plenty of time to do it (as long as you use that pause button). This is very different from repetition. And although it sounds like more work it's actually easier; because problem-solving is never boring.

- The second effect of thinking it out in advance is that it makes you speak slower, which give time for you (or rather, Michel egging you on) to pronounce words approximately the way the French would.

I'm referring here mostly to the elisions and curtailments and squishings-up that make spoken French so hard to understand for phrasebook users: those written 'je's that sound like j and those written 'ne's that barely get said at all, as well as those tricky short words like 'y' and 'en' that seem to pop up everywhere just to baffle you. Michel's got bat's hearing and whenever one of these is mispronounced or left out by the students he jumps straight on it to sort it out.

- Which leads to the third effect: learning to speak like this, from the ground up, leads to much better aural understanding. Which puts an end to that horrible feeling that you've no idea what KIND of sentence the person opposite has just spoken - a question? a command? an invitation? - , or who or what the subject is, or whatever. As others have pointed out, this course won't give you much vocabulary but it does give you a fighting chance of following the general flow of meaning.

One final thought from a Michel Thomas convert: although I've now moved on to the advanced course and have just shelled out for the language builder, two months after buying it I find I'm still delving into the complete course to review and keep myself topped up. So this is an investment it's hard to beat, really.

It's just a shame Michel Thomas isn't still alive: I'd be paying his rest home fees all on my own...
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