Why did Michel Thomas neglect the woman student on his Total French course?

by Gerri Barnes-Hampton
(Gold Coast, Australia)

Before I criticise Michel Thomas, I would like to emphasise how much I learned from his latest "Total French" course for beginners.

Thomas had an amazing system for making complexities simple, eg. how to avoid getting le/la, un/une wrong in spoken French, how to use contractions to help with the phrasing of spoken French, and how to quickly construct and use (his) "auxiliary verbs" as "handles" to avoid conjugating verbs you don't know how to conjugate.

I also gained a lot of confidence to speak out loud in French. And I would recommend them as a great starting point.

That said, I spent most of CDs 5, 6 & 7 distressed and wondering what happened to the woman student he was teaching. He hardly gave her a chance to reply to any of his "How would you say..." questions from CD5 onwards. Yet Thomas told her, in the very first lesson, that she did not have to memorise each new sentence, that it was his job to teach her; all she had to do was "relax, take it slowly, and think it through".

But he abandonned her on CD5.

She tried to ask a question about half way through, but he talked over her and did not give her another chance to speak for several lessons.

It was obvious by the end of CD#7 (the last one) that she hadn't, in fact, learnt anything much since CD#4.

It's just not true that his (Socratic?) method means you don't have to memorise if you want to finish the course successfully.

In regard to the written word and native accents:
The new Michel Thomas "Total French" course for beginners does come with a booklet of every sentence and phrase spoken on all 7 CDs, as well as Thomas' key rules and tips.

There are two additional Vocabulary CDs which use the same method as Thomas and the teacher/facilitator is a (non-native) female who is very easy to understand.

However, she is "teaching" two adult, native French speakers, whom she talks to patronisingly as if they are learning French ("Well done!" she says at one point). And she praises Thomas and his Method constantly, even using some of her praises as phrases to be translated by the "students". These two Vocab CDs were quite sickening for me to listen to ... and they didn't introduce many practical every-day words. It was mostly focused on what Thomas had already told us - about how to work the French word from the English word.

But all in all, I'd recommend it as a good start for beginners who have, at least, a little basic knowledge of French already.

Comments for Why did Michel Thomas neglect the woman student on his Total French course?

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Sep 22, 2016
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Ignoring of the Female Student?
by: Andrew

I am using the Michel Thomas Foundation course and just out of interest searched for why he almost completely ignored the female studet for the last considerable time. Practically every single question he puts to the man! Not the best teaching practice!

Mar 24, 2016
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Utter tripe
by: Lars Arenhole

BUMLOUDSON IS RIGHT. Nobody can learn a language that quickly .I do not care how clever you are.I speak 6 languages and it took YEARS of hard work.

Jan 01, 2016
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I would neglect her
by: Nova

I listened to the entire MTF audios, and I have to admit that the lady (as fun as she was) slowed me down in the learning process.

MT was only thinking about the people that had to listen to her blatant annoying mistakes. If I was the teacher I would neglect her no problem.

I would recommend this to anyone as it is a great way to learn french (and different languages). Thanks to this method and a good book I speak French fluently "apparently".

Happy new year all and happy language learning x

May 23, 2015
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Can't say CANNOT till you have experience of it!
by: Anonymous

Don't listen to Bumbledum's CANNOT! He eithet hasn't experienced Michel Thomas' teaching for more than a few minutes or he is extremely slow learner.

MTM promises to teach you the necessary grammar and pronunciation in 12 hours and that's exactly what it did for me. The vocab can be learnt as you travel in the country and speak to natives.

I am now doing the MTM Greek and Greek Advanced courses which are also fabulous but not quite as effective because Michel is not the teacher. Michel uses additional techniques that are perhaps not obvious to people not trained in hypnosis or auto-suggestion techniques.

I will pick up the vocab as I travel but I already now how to structure sentences in Greek and pronounce any Greek text.

Aug 18, 2014
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Total French
by: Anonymous

I think the male student had a slightly better understanding of French than the female student, though I have to admit, I loved the female students' American-English accent and her bubbly enthusiasm. I think the two students complimented each other really well.

Jun 20, 2014
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No way
by: Bumloudson

It is as simple as this-it takes YEARS to learn a new language.No matter what anybody says .. You CANNOT Learn a new language in days or weeks ,it simply is not true. As for not memorising things,well, that is utter rubbish.
I have found that if I study for an hour a day for several days and then take a break for a few days and do not think anything about the language , I tend to learn far more.
Also I have found that I learn far more if I do not bother about grammar rules and verb tables .I just listen to native speakers ,so Thomas was right about that I reckon.

Dec 02, 2012
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its the method
by: Anonymous

It's part of the method.. you have one quick student and one slow. When the slow student is struggling you shout out the answer and it reinforces it in yourself.

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