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This Author: Michel Thomas
This Narrator: Rose Lee Hayden
This Publisher: McGraw-Hill Audio

Michel Thomas Speak French Vocabulary Builder by Michel Thomas

Michel Thomas Speak French Vocabulary Builder

by Michel Thomas

Title Details

Audio Original
Running Time
5 Hrs. 50 Min.
User Rating
  2.5  Stars Based on 1 rating
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You already know and trust the Michel Thomas method™ for learning a new language--no books, no writing, no drills. And nothing to memorize--ever! Now the next generation of Michel Thomas-method teachers is ready to help you become confident in your new language.

In Michel Thomas Speak French Vocabulary Builder, Rose Lee Hayden uses the foundation Michel Thomas created to enhance your French vocabulary. You build on what you learned in previous courses by hearing correct pronunciations from two native speakers and get plenty of opportunities for practice. With Hayden’s direction--and Michel’s successful methodology--you can learn 1,000 French words and phrases and feel even more comfortable communicating in your new language.

Includes five 70-minute audios CDs in a faux leather zippered case.

Rose Lee Hayden is Michel Thomas's most trusted and experienced teacher.

Over a period of twenty-five years Michel Thomas developed a unique and revolutionary learning system that made him the world's leading language teacher.

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Reviews & Ratings
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Helen is not MT
Reviewer dogface
 September 02, 2008
Builds vocabulary, yes but that's it! Contrary to the claims “you’ll love it,” you probably won’t.

In content the course picks up from Michel Thomas (MT) “Vocabulary Builder” course, with substantial repetition of the earlier material. While some of the material (particularly the first 2 cd’s) is not new, this doesn’t hurt as it serves as a nice review. If you’ve gone through all the MT courses, the transition into this course will be smooth.

However, just because the course uses “the Michel Thomas method” does not mean that you’ll find it the same methodology as with MT himself. Even with his heavy accent and sometimes annoying voice, MT had a talent to put the essentials across to advance the skills of the student. Obviously, the MT method has its limits and at some point it would become less effective. This course, however, prematurely advances those limitations. I don’t think MT would have approved.

The original MT method used an instructor with two students fumbling their way along (you're the third bumbling student). In this course, they are replaced by two advanced level speakers who parrot the phrases at the speed of sound itself. Their performance is entirely scripted and they do not make a single mistake in the entire course. (The male ‘student’ is particularly annoying in that he speaks both fast and poorly with marbles in the mouth.) Both ‘students’ speak substantially faster than the instructor herself but their articulation is dramatically worse and eventually you just want to (and do) ignore them. Why they didn’t use better quality native speakers as ‘faux-students’ is a mystery since their low quality detracts from the effectiveness of the course. Offsetting this defect, Helen’s pronunciation is excellent.

No one (or probably very few) who took the original 3 MT courses will be able to talk at the speed of the course. Often, it is even difficult to hear what is being said as it rips by.

Indeed, in the real world French is spoken fast so this is not entirely without precedent but the course just starts out blazing rather than developing the speed. While it’s intended as a challenge, in fact it’s a frustrating and inconsiderate deterrent which constantly grates on the student. I’m not sure that dropping the student brutally into the ‘real world’ without regard for their ability (as taught in the prior courses) is appropriate or considerate. Contrary to the intent, the speed introduces nothing but substantial stress and continuous discouragement that you have to constantly fight off.

Making matters worse, the written course material is almost worthless. While the “MT method” does not rely on the written word, it is nonetheless important, particularly when you get stuck on something or want to verify some grammatical construction. Here the transcript is not optional because the words are spoken at a very fast rate which makes it difficult (for the inexperienced ear) to pick out some of the articulation. What you get is a few selected phrases and an English-to-French dictionary of the words. Useless! Considering the huge amount of paper they waste building up the disputed legacy war-hero image of MT (Scarlet Pimpernel 007) they should have instead included a full transcript. It’s not like they didn’t have it! They make you pay for the course but are then too inconsiderate to include the transcripts.

Since the two "faux-students" just parrot the words mindlessly to script the course is much denser. You will not move through this course at the same speed as the original MT courses but you get more “vocabulary.” I presume that this was the reason for using the faux-students but you quickly disconnect from them as they provide no useful learning assistance to the student. It probably would have been better if Helen just repeated the phrases without them (first fast and then progressively more slowly). Far as I can tell, the two students provide no useful function to learning -- certainly not in the way they did with the original MT courses.

Due to the speaking speed in this course it quickly losses some of its luster. Nothing helps you get the pronunciation correct other than unassisted repetition. You have to tediously listen over and over and over to hear the nuances and this creates the very stress (frustration) that Michel Thomas actively sought to avoid. Contrary the advertised claims, it’s not fun (like the original MT courses).

Sometimes, particularly with the verb sections, you are actively thwarted in your efforts to learn and occasionally you just have to shut it off (in frustration), walk away and then to come back when you're in a better mindset. This is not what MT would have wanted! Michel Thomas said that your learning was his responsibility (due to his technique) and sought a progressive method to minimize stress. Not so this course. It's a continuation in course theory (from the prior MT courses) but it's not the MT method! There's a strong tendency - frustration driven - from the third CD onward to just turn it off and go to Pimsleur or some other method. By the last CD (5), you’re wondering ‘what’s the point’ as a bunch of unconnected expressions are hastily unleashed upon you without apparent purpose. These shortcomings prove that the disciples (i.e. Helen) often do not learn from the master (MT).

I give the course a slightly higher than neutral rating because it continues on the structure of the original courses. It's not bad but if you're expecting the same MT results as the 3 prior courses then the magic is gone. It does work but it’s a lot more effort. The major defect is that the course does not offer any progression to moving from slow speaker to faster speaker.

There's nothing wrong with the course and it provided a seamless continuation of the prior courses but now it's little different from much of the competition.

More Details

  • Published: September 2007
  • LearnOutLoud.com Product ID: M027284
Available On
Audio CD
5 Discs