Michel Thomas Start Greek Language Course Review

An independent language advantage course review by Sue Gooch – London, UK

michel thomas method start greek language coursesThe Michel Thomas method of learning promises that you can learn the Greek language in just a few hours without the need for note taking, grammar learning, homework or memorising. It is particularly good for language learners who lack confidence in their ability to learn another language as it builds up very gradually and slowly, starting with what you already know by introducing many of the words in the target language that are already common in the English language.

A lot of time is given at the beginning of the Michel Thomas Start Greek CD to explain how the Michel Thomas method works and how to use the course to get the best results. The whole CD lasts one hour and it is suggested that it would take around 12-15 hours to master it, implying the need to listen to each chapter repeatedly until it is fully absorbed, before on to the next level.

As a linguist who easily picks up languages, I was a little bit frustrated with the simplistic and sometimes patronising approach to start with and was inclined to switch off the CD. But gradually, I began to realise how much Greek I was learning and how the pace was gradually increasing so that, by the end of the course, I was able to string together ever more complex sentences.

“The course is ideally paced to be suitable for both inexperienced language learners and for linguists”

For the former, the pace is probably challenging enough, while, for the latter, it means that you can go at quite a leisurely pace without feeling that it is too demanding.

The Michel Thomas Start Greek CD is broken down into bite-sized pieces which makes it easy to listen while cooking the dinner or on your iPod on the daily commute to work, which is ideal for people who do not have a lot of time to devote to language learning, but still want to see results.

During the course of the CD you are taken along with two other learners at the same level as you as they attempt to put together the same sentences as you, which makes you feel you are in a classroom with them and enhances the learning process. Emphasis is given to correct pronunciation and the ‘virtual’ students are made to repeat a sentence or word if they didn’t pronounce it correctly. As they tend to make the same mistakes as any other native English speaker (i.e. me!), I found this particularly helpful.

On the first hearing, I listened to the whole CD from start to finish and then went back and listened to it chapter by chapter, only moving on when I felt I had completely mastered a chapter and could replicate the Greek sentences without any mistakes or hesitation, but it is entirely up to each learner how they use the CD.

It felt strange to learn something without taking notes (you are encouraged not to review, even mentally, what you have learnt) or having any formal grammar to learn. It takes a bit of getting used to at first, but when you start to see results you know it really works. You really do remember what you have learnt in the previous chapter and are able to build on that each time.

The structure of the Michel Thomas Start Greek language course is a carefully thought out series of building blocks which builds on what you know and guides you to working out things for yourself by looking at patterns, like in the conjugation of verbs.

All in all, I was impressed by the seemingly effortless way I was able to reach a level where I could construct fairly lengthy and complex Greek sentences without having to think too hard about it. This is just a beginner’s level and only one hour long. So, by the end of the course, what you know is still limited to a fairly small set of scenarios that you might find yourself in, such as ordering in a café, for example. Whereas, if you had to book a hotel room, go to the post office or buy a ferry ticket, you would still struggle.

I would be interested to see how well the other Michel Thomas Greek courses work – Michel Thomas Total Greek, which takes you to an intermediate level, and Michel Thomas Perfect Greek, which claims to take you to an advanced level –and how far they take you. If the beginners’ course is anything to go by, I think they could be quite impressive. I would certainly be tempted to try them.

I found the price a little bit more expensive than I would normally be prepared to pay for a basic introduction to a language, but it’s certainly cheaper than going to classes and guarantees better results than some of the other Greek language courses that are out there at that level.

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