This is the first in a series of Spanish product reviews I will be doing to give Spanish learners of all levels my unbiased, uninfluenced and always correct (ahem) view on each product. If it I think a product sucks then, trust me, I will let you know to avoid it.
Today, I’ll be reviewing a product which has been around for a very long time. Michel Thomas Spanish was first released somewhere around 2000 if I remember rightly, and you’ll find out shortly whether the product has stood the test of time! ¿Estás listo? Are you ready? Then let’s do it! ¡Vamos a hacerlo!
What’s Good About Michel Thomas Spanish?
One of the best things about this audio program is most definitely Michel Thomas himself. The man literally oozes charisma and despite his age in the recording (I think he was somewhere in his 70′s) there is a distinct undertone of flirtation between him and the much younger female learner. If you ever get a chance to read his story, you’ll also discover that he lived a fantastic life of adventure, passion and languages despite having to escape captivity during a world war! But what can he teach you about Spanish?
Well for starters, the entire method revolves around a few ‘rules‘. One of which is that the entire responsibility for language learning is with him as the teacher. He instantly makes you feel at ease by letting you know right away that there will be no vocabulary or grammar exercises or even memory lessons. You simply listen to him speaking Spanish and explaining the sentence structure, then you listen to the two learners repeat it, then you pause the recording and repeat it yourself. It’s a very quick, easy and stress free way to get a grasp of the language and has you speaking and understanding in a matter of minutes.
The course spans over 8 CD’s and focuses primarily on the present tense (I speak, I want, I need etc) but he also easily explains future tense and past tense in a way that is so simple a trained chimp could learn Spanish.
Throughout the course both you and the students on the recording are encouraged to guess words and sentences, with Michel ensuring that you are structurally correct. For instance, as a native English speaker I would never have known that to say I need it in Spanish is it I need(Lo necesito) in English. It’s a basic example but once you understand the structure of the language, it’s merely a case of building your vocabulary of words to increase your range of expression.
The one thing that I enjoyed most about this product though was that it flows naturally and uses language you’ve already learned to teach new ideas and concepts. Most courses focus on a topic such as Greetings, Weather, Travel and although some are good for teaching basic words, it doesn’t explain the structure behind it. This course does that extremely well and at times you’ll find Michel asking you to translate a complicated sentence that you would struggle to repeat back in English, let alone Spanish, but because you know most of the words already, you find yourself reeling off full sentences in perfect, fluent Spanish!
Of course, no product is perfect and Michel Thomas Spanish is no different. Keep reading and I’ll tell you what I didn’t like about it.
What Didn’t Work in Michel Thomas Spanish?
As much as I loved this audio course, there are a few gripes that I have with it.
First, Michels accent does take a little bit of getting used to. When I first tried to use the recordings, I had to switch off because his accent wasn’t endearing to me. Funnily enough, after I got used to the way he speaks I actually really liked his accent and it does add character to the experience. For first time listeners, please don’t be put off by his voice in the beginning and I promise you will come to love him.
Second, the male learner is annoying! One of the big parts of this course is the present tense “push” which is basically the way you pronounce the syllable before last on any given word and push down to make it noticeable. The male learner doesn’t get it at all and you will be frustrated when he can’t even say I can (Puedo) without being prompted by Michel. There are times when it seems like you’ve spent 10 minutes listen to Michel and the learner go back and forth just saying, “Pueeeeeeeeedo!”
They were the only real problems I had with Michel Thomas Spanish and despite its flaws, I learned a great deal of my basic language from him and he really is an exceptional teacher and an incredible human being too!
Want to know whether you should buy this product? Keep reading and I’ll tell you.
Conclusion – Should You Buy Michel Thomas Spanish?
For complete beginners or people who’s grasp of Spanish extends only to hola, adios and buenos dias then this is one of the best products on the market for teaching you the structure you need to be able to speak fluent Spanish.
If, on the other hand, you are already able to have basic conversations with Spanish speakers, then you might want to check out the Michel Thomas Advanced Spanish course instead to add to your skills.
If you do buy this audio, you’ll be given hundreds of words in English than can be translated into Spanish instantly by anybody. Vocabulary = vocabulario, necessary = necesario, information = información and so on. You will be taught to ask and answer basic questions as well as explore the future tense (will, would, going) and dive into the past tense.
You can literally forget the whole verb, noun, adjective structure too as Michel makes everything very easy so all you have to focus on is the structure and the words you are learning. ¡Es muy fácil! It’s very easy!
I bought the CD set, imported it onto my iPod and learned Spanish on my way to work each day. You can take it on a place to Madrid, Mexico, Argentina or any other Spanish speaking country you might go to and when you land, you’ll instantly be able to talk to locals. How amazing is that?
You can buy Michel Thomas Spanish on Amazon which also includes 2 bonus CD’s for absolute beginners!
Until our next review, adiós amigos!
Michel Thomas Admirer