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Format: Audio CD
Michel Thomas is a personal hero of mine. If you've never heard of him, I recommend reading up on his extraordinary life. In brief, he was fluent in around 11 languages, survived Nazi persecution in Germany, served in the French and American armies, and much more. He was an expert communicator and was often known to be able to extract sensitive information from individuals without resorting to violence. He was really quite a remarkable man and there are many interesting stories and accounts on his life that make for terrific reading.
Later on in his life, Michel became fascinated with the human learning process (with which I am also fascinated). He devoted his life to developing and perfecting his unique language learning method. If you've never tried it, the method is unlike anything you've ever experienced. From the first few moments, Michel gets you relaxed and tells you not to worry about remembering anything. He then starts introducing words and phrases to you bit by bit, and before you know it you are constructing lengthy sentences in your target language.
I found that I was completely absorbed in learning with Michel. I couldn't put the course down. I was captivated. It's like having a brilliant tutor who knows the language inside and out giving you private lessons. And each time he introduces a concept to you, he immediately lets you put it to use by having you use it in a sentence. Each concept introduced builds upon what you have learned previously. You feel a constant sense of progression and excitement. It's an immense form of pleasure that awakens your natural learning process. Before you know it, you are confident in your speaking ability and you are able to express yourself in another language. It's truly a fascinating and mesmerizing experience. I'll try to liken it to an analogy: Have you ever been at the cinema and become completely engrossed in a movie? Maybe your heart races and your curiosity grows with each next scene, and you can't wait to see what will happen next! This is how it is in learning with Michel. It was the most extraordinary, profound, and influential learning experience of my entire life.
Not only is the method brilliant, but Michel teaches you the most valuable skills in learning another language. You will know how to use the verbs of the language, which is the backbone of any language. Additionally, you learn how to use pronouns and you get access to a core vocabulary that you just have to know in order to communicate. Most importantly, the course is designed to turn you into a mini-translator. You are constantly in "translator" mode - meaning that Michel is constantly having you translate words and phrases into the new language. He always has you think things out and encourages you to "never rush".
Michel is also very charismatic and has lots of interesting anecdotes about the language you are learning. He will often explain "why" and "how" certain words or phrases came to be in the language, and he often has clever ways to relate it to English.
Overall, I cannot recommend Michel's courses enough. In particular, I'm recommending the courses actually taught by Michel himself (French, Spanish, Italian, and German). There are newer courses that use native speakers, but I'm not as familiar with them. The original courses are brilliant, and will give you the most solid foundation you could ever hope for in your new language. The courses are so good that I was actually sad when they ended. There are a handful of individuals that I would have given just about anything to meet and get to know throughout history, and Michel is one of those individuals.
If you want to reach fluency in a new language, my recommendation will always be to start with these courses. Afterward, I recommend reading in the target language, at least for a little bit each day if possible. Try to guess the meanings of words from the surrounding context. Avoid using the dictionary unless you absolutely have to. Additionally, listen to the radio a bit each day. When you listen, try not to make out individual words, but instead try to listen and detect every individual sound. Focusing on the sounds at first will allow you to start to pick out words automatically. You'll find that, if you know the word, your brain will automatically recognize it by just listening to all the individual sounds. Above all, try to find someone with which you can practice speaking the language.
Whatever you do, do not be under the assumption that you need to sit around learning huge amounts of vocabulary words before you can communicate in the language. The spoken vocabulary is extremely limited, and it's almost always a waste of time to sit around trying to memorize lots of vocabulary words. Instead, learn to say things in novel ways, and learn how to describe the items instead of learning the words themselves (e.g., instead of knowing how to say "lint roller", use what you know to say "the thing that collects the little things on your clothes" or whatever it may be). You need to learn the highest frequency words (e.g., the top 3000 words at the most) and that's about it. The rest you can learn from context and your daily reading. If you want to learn the highest frequency words, I recommend looking up those highest frequency words from movie subtitles. Movie subtitles will contain the highest words in the spoken language, which is what you want to learn. You can find this kind of information online for free and use whatever method you prefer to learn those words (I recommend simple flashcards or other mnemonics such as the "method of loci" to learn them). Whatever you do, space out your learning over time and test yourself often (i.e., quiz yourself once and then return several weeks or months later to re-test yourself).
Good luck on your language learning adventures and thank you Michel for releasing such terrific courses. Your influence is still widespread and you have ignited a passion in me to never stop learning. For that, I'm extremely grateful, and wish everyone the best of luck! If you have any questions, please leave them below and I'll do my best to answer them honestly and accurately.