What do I do after the Michel Thomas course?
Posted On July 13, 2011
I received a query asking what does one do after using the Michel Thomas course if one wishes to continue on.
First a little background information.
Hodder is the publisher of the Michel Thomas courses. I am the author of the Mandarin Chinese course; I do not publish them.
Hodder is under new management having been bought out by a French conglomerate a few years ago. The new people at Hodder have little to no direct understanding of the Michel Thomas materials, in my opinion. The former MD knew Michel Thomas. Much of the editorial staff had years of experience working closely with authors like myself in developing these courses. The new people rarely communicate with me.
They have now decided to cease publishing all the original courses by MT as well as all of the secondary courses by other authors. In place of these they have created new courses which are cobbled together bits of the old courses with visual materials as well as review materials. Of course, anyone familiar with the MT method will immediately realize that he was totally opposed to the use of such materials. They seriously detract from the efficacy of the method.
They have also announced that they have no new languages planned.
I have already apologized to those who buy the Mandarin version of the new courses. I was never consulted on the makeup of the courses which will bear my name as author. I do not recommend that anyone buy such a course. Stick with the old versions which are available from various sources.
The old courses were sold split into two and three parts. Foundation (Beginning – North America), Advanced and Vocabulary (for certain languages only). These labels are misleading. I mentioned this to MT when they first came out and he agreed.
All of the levels comprise one complete course. It is a course that will provide the student with a decent familiarity and use of the essential patterns necessary to speak the language. It will not give you the bulk of the vocabulary and advanced patterns and phrases. For that, you will need to go elsewhere.
As you mention, the method works well in providing what it claims to provide. However, as with any such approach it can only provide so much.
My suggestion is that you decide what you want to do with the language. How do you want to actually use it?
If you want to go on a vacation ( holiday) then you may wish to get a basic phrasebook such as Lonely Planet and work with what it provides.
If you want to read then start with low-level readers meant for natives ( school children). There is much adapted material out there for such audiences. I also use religious materials printed by missionaries which are aimed at those who are just learning to read. One source which is free and readily available is the magazine published by the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Awake!. It is published monthly, available for free download on the net, has mp3 recordings which will help you with the pronunciation, and has some interesting, general interest articles on history and nature if, like me, you find the religious content repulsive. In addition, the English editions should be downloaded as well since they provide an excellent translation of the foreign language editions. These magazines are not meant for children. They are aimed at adults who can read the language or who, via mp3s, wish to listen to it. I collect these in various languages since they are a fantastic resource. Be advised that the older magazines are not available online after a few months time.
If you want to really do well I suggest that you find someone who is a native-speaker to spend some time on a regular basis to simply chat. You can do this locally, in person, or via the net ( skype, etc.). There are many sites on the net for language exchange where you can find people.
I go to local churches where foreign language services are held, as well.
If you really want to learn there are many resources around no matter how geographically isolated you may believe you are.
One further comment.
The method of Boris Shekhtman, which I have written about on this blog, is a very good way to accomplish what you seek.