Friday, February 20, 2009

Michel Thomas - A Truly Inspirational Linguist and Teacher

There are few people in life you come across who absolutely blow you away with their knowledge, passion and seemingly unconditional dedication to their chosen subject.

Undoubtedly some of you are trying to learn Italian, readying yourself for when you can spend time in Calabria and go into Reggio, order food and converse a little with the locals. Many of you will be attending night classes, buying books trying your hardest to understand and learn Italian.

I went through the same thing too, years ago when I decided to leave blighty for good, I started going on crash language courses, Open Univerisity on the TV etc.

Then I came across, by complete accident Michel Thomas´language courses, boasting no written work necessary, in fact urging you NOT to do any homework. I also saw his list of distinguished clients and thought I would give it a go.

After listening to the first ten minutes I quickly realised it was nothing short of a revelation and you could certainly see why this great man had achieved the many accolades he had. Two things stood out, the first is how different his teaching methods were, the second, how quickly you actually learnt things, almost subconsciously.

Michel Thomas famously quoted "There is no such thing as a poor student, only a poor teacher".

He had devoted his life to teaching after he had been able to transcend his mind, whilst being tortured when captured by the Gestapo, for being a resistance fighter in WWII.
This fascinated him and he came to the realisation that the mind can do pretty much anything if you apply it.

When I finished his course, then completed another, I pretty much believed that no matter what it is you try to learn, if done in the right way it is possible. For me, my language skills improved hugely. When listening to him instructing his students, who were at all levels, you could not fail to see the love he had for both language and teaching.

Unfortunately Michel Thomas died in 2005 , here is a link to the Guardian Obituary that will give you some insight into this truly great man.

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