by John F.
My Wife and I have lived in France for a good portion of each year (around half) for the last 10 years. Prior to that, I had studied a year of French way back in college and my wife and done an immersion course many years before. I also tried a basic course with the Alliance Française. All felt useful while doing it, but none of it really stuck. In practical terms, we came here speaking no French.
We tried working with a private teacher, which helped to some extent. But she got stuck on a very repetitive teaching schedule of endlessly reading Jules Verne stories aloud. So we quit that too.
But then a friend gave us the Michel Thomas CDs and that changed everything. I don't know how useful it is at the advanced level, but the foundation level was excellent. It gave us the real common works of conversation (instead of just tourist phrases) and a phrase structure that was easy to remember and adapt to new situations.
I think that was, above all, the big difference. Other language courses teach you words and phrases for a specific context. Thomas' courses give you tools you can use universally while trying out the language.
We were soon lucky enough to make friends with a large group of French speakers (via one bilingual contact between us and the group), and the Michel Thomas lessons gave us a base upon which to build the relationship.
We've recommended it highly to many friends since then.
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