Get Failing Students To Learn – Michel Thomas Shows How

Michel Thomas devised a way to learn languages. In Hollywood people paid him £18000+ for a few days face to face lessons. Near the end of his life Michel wanted to leave a permanent record of his work.  In 1997 Michel was filmed working for 5 days with students in a north London college, after which they felt they’d learned as much as in 5 years of normal teaching.

Here are some key points of Michel’s method

The learner must relax and be free of stress.
The teacher is responsible for learning and remembering.
The learner must think through the answer,
using rules and methods supplied by the teacher
Guessing is not allowed
Learning comes from answering questions, not from trying to remember
Learning is achieved in many small steps
Michel believed, as do I, his method was applicable to all learning, eg maths.
Success in learning is it’s own reward
not least as it raises the learners confidence and aspirations
Michel expects all his students will succeed


BF Skinner, leading US behavioural psychologist,  said of teaching

If you want to be a good teacher you have to have the student teach you what to do.
The student is always right.
If the student isn’t learning it isn’t the student’s fault.  It is the teacher’s fault.
If the student isn’t learning the teacher has not created an environment in which students learn.  You must let the student specify the conditions under which the student will actually learn.


This book, which sadly seems out of print, describes Michel’s approach to teaching and learning in detail.

Following Language Master Hodder and Stoughton commissioned Michel to produce commercial versions of his courses. The Start versions allow you to sample Michel’s method for just a few £s.


Here is a review from amazon of Start German

I have never studied German nor any similiar languages, or so I thought. After explaining the ground rules for learning (don’t try to memorise and don’t get stressed out about it), I was told that English and German have a lot in common. Some of our words have Anglo-Saxon roots and this was demonstrated, bringen, comen, finden etc are pretty much what they look like. Within a short time very basic phrases and rules were embedded and understood. Overall this is an introduction, but it does a very good job of instilling a few “a-ha” moments.

When I studied languages at school there was an awful amount of learning of grammatical rules, cramming in meaningless vocabulary and general complexity. The Michel Thomas method is not arcane nor a gimmick, it makes a language accessible and the learning much more straightforward. If my schoolday languages were taught this way, I am sure we would be a multilingual nation.

And here is a review of Start French

After hearing a lot of very good reviews on this product, I decided to purchase the Start French product. I was a bit hesitant at first because of the “No Books, No Writing” part and that it was 100% Audio (being able to read and write things I learn is a big thing for me because I’m more of a Visual Learner), however, to my surprise I managed to understand how the French Language works the more and more I listen to the individual tracks on the CD.. along the way, the Teacher provides brief but on point and EXTREMELY important information regarding pronunciation, it is especially helpful because a lot of French words have the same spelling in English but have different pronunciations!

After listening to just the first 5 Tracks, I have realised that I have managed to absorb EVERYTHING learnt so far without even realising it for myself (if that makes sense), I just somehow KNEW what to say out loud; but the bigger picture is I didn’t even need to “memorise” everything the Teacher on the CD teaches me, he just gives me the right tools (some really useful Vocabulary) and I feel that I was given the opportunity to use my head and seriously think about how to say this and that using the Vocabulary that was provided. Gradually, as the Tracks are played one by one, the Vocabulary builds and thus allows me to make longer and more detailed sentences in French!

I can admit that I have not yet listened to the whole CD yet and people may think it a bit too early to write a review, but I wanted to write this particular review in order to stress the fact that only by listening to the first 5 Tracks on the CD, already I felt confident to play around with the Vocabulary and say sentences in French that wasn’t actually taught to me on the CD.

Gift Of Tongues – TES article

wikipedia – Michel’s life

wikipedia – Michel’s method

When I first encountered Michel Thomas I was struck by how similar his methods were to those I had already independently developed for StartingArithmetic which I wrote to show how I had helped by children learn arithmetic in just a few minutes a day.

StartingArithmetic talks about arithmetic, naturally, but the main focus is how parents (or grandparents) can help children learn.

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