Michel Thomas rocks - maybe more than Pimsleur

I picked up Michel Thomas’s 8 hour German course from the library today. And it’s cool. It might even be better than Pimsleur. The learning idea is basically the same as Pimsleur with no writing and no memorizing but the format of the audio itself is different.

Firstly in Pimsleur I’m guessing they use voice actors reading out a script for both the English and foreign speech. In this Michel himself talks. Also this is not scripted word for word at all. I’m assuming he has notes of some sort to keep him on track and there may be judicious editing that we don’t hear, but basically everything is presented as is.

This is an important factor considering exactly how the lessons are presented - as a private lesson with Michel and two students new to the language. The benefits of this are you hear the sorts of mistakes people make (ranging from slight pronunciation problems to missing out a word to saying something completely different or nonsensical). It also makes it quite funny since (in the German at least) one student is clearly doing better than the other).

It loses out in ease of use though. Pimsleur comes with built in pauses, with Michel you have to pause it yourself. It does mean though that 8 hours of Michel is denser than 8 hours of Pimsleur.

One final not is he has a slightly unorthodox order of teaching but one that makes sense in some ways. For example the (almost) first thing he teaches is “Do you want…” (“Wollen Sie”) which is normally left until quite far along because of the complication of modal verbs and their effect on word order. There are at least two advantages to this: first it gets the students used to the whole verb-at-the-end-of-a-sentence idea and secondly he focuses on words that are similar in English and German, and most modal verbs are (muss - must; kann - can).

Overall it’s cheaper than Pimsleur, £70 in bookshops. Another glaring advantage is that I have actually seen it in bookshops, even W. H. Smiths. My usually suggestion applies hear though, get it from a library. Most libraries will order books from other libraries for a nominal fee (my local library charges £2.50 but they had it in themselves anyway).

The final drawback is it is only available in four languages: German, Spanish, Italian and French. Although I wouldn’t be surprised if versions starting from something other than English are available (French -> Spanish for instance).