PROS / The Michel Thomas Method encourages students to avoid studying or stressing about absorbing lessons. This makes learning Spanish relaxing and enjoyable.
CONS / Lessons lack any cultural, reading or writing exercises, which are crucial for complete fluency.
VERDICT / The Michel Thomas Method is excellent for strong auditory learners but may leave others bored.
If you learn best with jingles, pneumonic devices or reading aloud, the Michel Thomas Method may be the best way for you to learn Spanish. Renowned linguist Michel Thomas earned fame as the language teacher to the stars. With an impressive class list of celebrities, including Bill Murray and Emma Thompson, this method is surprisingly simple for the fluency it claims to give its students. However, there isn't much in this software to help visual and kinesthetic learners.
There are several levels available to match your experience with learning Spanish. We tested the Total package that serves as a Spanish foundation. The Total installment contains 12 hours of content and is best for beginners and early intermediate students. For absolute beginners and those who just want to sample the program, the Start installment serves as an introduction. More advanced courses are available in the Perfect and Masterclass programs.
The Michel Thomas Method is vastly different from many learn Spanish programs we reviewed. This three-part system is composed of desktop software, audio CDs and a mobile app. There are few interactive components, quizzes or study tools. At the beginning of each audio lesson, Thomas emphasizes the importance of passive, relaxed learning. You're discouraged from taking notes or studying outside of lessons. This trains your brain to recall Spanish words only when learning more, similar to using Spanish in the field. You’re constantly learning in a conversation with a native Spanish speaker.
Lesson content builds gradually on itself, beginning with cognates and negatives. In the first lesson, you learn Spanish words similar to English words such as "posible, no posible." Based on the cognates, you learn to string sentences together along with their negatives to help you learn basic Spanish grammar. The software and CD lessons each last five minutes.
This approach builds on your current knowledge of language, following an analogous pattern. For example, once you learn "para mi" means "for me," you can build upon it with other vocabulary introduced by Thomas. In the audio lessons, you hear Thomas' instructions coupled with two beginning Spanish students. You hear them make mistakes and improve just as you do. Their mistakes may reflect your own, emphasizing the proper pronunciation.
There are some word games available through the software, but you can breeze through them quickly without much review. The games consist of fill-in-the-blank and matching activities. We found the Michel Thomas Method effective for auditory learners, but strong kinesthetic and visual learners may grow weary of the system quickly.
If you're a strong auditory learner, the Michel Thomas Method is great for learning Spanish. However, if you lean toward visual or kinesthetic learning, you may grow bored of this Spanish course. The Michel Thomas Method encourages passive learning in a relaxed environment, so it lacks the visual and interactive elements of many similar programs.