About Michel Thomas Mandarin Method.
Michel Thomas audio lessons are available for learning 12 foreign languages. This includes German, French, Japanese, Spanish, Chinese Mandarin and others. Since most of studying content in Michel Thomas comes in a form of audios, many Chinese audible learners prefer this course. These lessons can also work great for individuals who have limited time for studying Chinese. Since it is possible to transfer and access studying content via different devices, learners can learn Chinese via Michel Thomas whenever they are.
Michel Thomas method for teaching new languages is based on idea that it is not necessary to learn lists of vocabulary, do homework or use books. Instead an instructor of these lessons teaches Chinese by breaking it down into smaller parts. This allows to follow studying content easier and remember everything without trying too hard. Once the lessons progress, learners are able to form more and more complicated sentences and even express their ideas in Chinese.
The other thing to know about this method is that it is based on classroom situation and there are two students present in the recordings. It is quite useful to have these students present because they ask questions that you might have and also by learning from their mistakes you can improve your Mandarin skills too. So it can be said that these audio lessons offer quite unique learning approach that is not similar to any of available Mandarin courses.
What Courses Are Available?
When it comes to Chinese Mandarin language, there are a total of free different courses of Michel Thomas that you can choose from. The first one is Start and it is aimed at introducing new learners to this method. There is only one lesson in this course, which lasts for about 1 hour. Due to this it is only worthwhile to buy Start level if you want to test this course and make sure it is the right choice studying program for you. The same lesson can be also found since the same lesson is also included in more advanced level.
The second course is called Foundation Mandarin Chinese (or Total previously). It includes about 12 hours of audio material and 2 hours of vocabulary help. It is aimed at total beginners of Mandarin who want to start speaking this language more confidently. For most learners it takes up to 30 hours to complete this part of Michel Thomas course.
The third course is named Intermediate Mandarin Chinese (or Perfect previously). It is aimed at students who already completed Foundation course of Michel Thomas. This part includes additional 9 hours of recorded audio material and also more than 3 hours of vocabulary help. In most cases listeners need to dedicate up to 20 hours of their time to finish these audios.
For learners who want to expand their vocabulary, Michel Thomas offers one more course – Mandarin Chinese Vocabulary. As the name suggest the main purpose of this edition is to teach more and essential Chinese words and phrases. It is important to point out that vocabulary in this course is selected not randomly. The course focuses on introducing important words that would enable learners to use them in various expressions. Also these lessons introduce new vocabulary by using Michel Thomas method. Hence listeners can be certain that they will be able to recall new Chinese words.
Total and Perfect versions of Michel Thomas course recently added a computer program. This program includes exercises that can help to practice Chinese reading and writing. While it is a nice new addition to these audio lessons, the exercises are very basic. Hence in terms of engagement, they doesn’t compare to neither Rosetta Stone nor Rocket programs.
Review of The Main Pros and Cons.
- Michel Thomas offers 2 main levels for Chinese learners (Perfect and Total). Hence these audios are suitable not only for complete beginners at Mandarin. This also means that more advanced Mandarin learners can skip Total part and begin with Perfect series;
- Due to the fact that there are two Mandarin beginner learners present in these audios, studying is never too monotonic and it makes learning quite similar to a classroom experience. In addition to that you can learn a lot from mistakes that these students make too;
- Michel Thomas course for Mandarin does a great job at explaining tones of this language in the first few lessons, which is a very important aspect of spoken Chinese;
- Since the whole course is audio based, you will be able to learn all material while on the go and will not need to spend additional time near your computer. Since this course comes together with a free app you will be able to study Mandarin conveniently via Michel Thomas audios by using different devices – iPad or iPhone;
- Michel Thomas lessons are interactive, which means that listeners are constantly prompted to say different phrases and sentences in Mandarin. This is a very useful feature since learners are encouraged to speak in Chinese from the beginning and also this makes you think in the target language more often;
- This course is a great learning tool for people who want to understand the whole Chinese language structure by building it in small steps. Instructor of these lessons does a great job at explaining how Mandarin language is structured and how to build your own sentences from separate words;
- Michel Thomas course does sufficient repetition so that Mandarin learners would be able to recall most of new studying material. In addition to audio lessons this course comes together with a computer program that includes some exercises. Not only does this make studying material more dynamic, but you will also be able to practice more;
- The phase of these Mandarin lessons is quite normal so it is not too difficult to follow them. Also instructor spends time explaining more difficult parts so learners can progress in Chinese with confidence;
- Since it is only an audio based course and doesn’t provide its users with much additional material (only a computer program with a few exercises), you will not be able to improve your reading and writing skills of Mandarin much. So you will need some extra material if you are interested in learning all aspects of this language;
- For faster learners this course might be too slow at times due to beginner students present in the recordings;
- Since it is only an audio based course it can be said that it is quite expensive (~$100 for one level). Courses like Rocket and Fluenz offers more features for very similar price;
- These audio lessons don’t allow its users to immerse into Chinese language fully, since there are a lot of explanations in English;
- While there is a native Mandarin speaker in the recordings who pronounce words & sentences in this foreign language, you will also hear beginner students doing the same. Due to this you will hear correct Chinese pronunciation not at all times;
- Even though there are 2 levels of Michel Thomas available for Mandarin learners (Total and Perfect), you will not be able to advance too much with these courses. As with any audio based course, each lesson introduces only a couple of new Chinese phrases so at the end of the course your vocabulary will be still quite limited;
What Do Other People Reviews Say?
The reviews of Michel Thomas course that you can find online are mostly positive. Since there are lessons available for beginner and more advanced learners, testimonials also vary a little based on separate levels of this course. Most users compliment these lessons because they are structured in the way that enable learners to recall material without repeating audios many times and they are quite engaging to follow in general.
However some users of these audios complain that the phase of lessons is too slow or that they don’t like the presence of beginner students in the recordings. Read a few actual user reviews of Michel Thomas Mandarin bellow.
For more reviews of Michel Thomas Mandarin course visit Amazon page here.
Summary of a Review.
To summarize this review, it can be said that this audio course has a lot of benefits and a few drawbacks. It is definitely a great course for everyone who enjoys learning via audio lessons and wants to build their Mandarin language basics from scratch. Since there are lessons available for more advanced learners it is a suitable course for repeating and improving Mandarin too. Michel Thomas lessons are frequently complimented for their clear explanations on language structure and grammar and as a result listeners of these audios are able to build basic language and speaking skills shortly.
However before considering Michel Thomas lessons it is important to understand limitations of this Chinese course too. Since it only teaches how to speak and understand this language you will definitely need supplementary material if you are interested in learning all parts of Mandarin. Also as with any audio based course, each lesson concentrates only on a few new phrases so even after finishing the whole Michel Thomas series your vocabulary in Mandarin would be still quite limited.
Interested in knowing more about available online programs for learning Chinese? Then you should read our review article of TOP Mandarin courses online.
Where to buy Michel Thomas Mandarin Courses?
In case you have already decided to try this course for learning Mandarin you can buy it on popular sites like Amazon or iTunes. Both of these websites list Michel Thomas Mandarin lessons for similar price. Hence there is no large difference from which particular retailer to buy.
The price of these Chinese audio lessons depends more on the level you will choose to order. In case you are still not sure whether it is the right learning tool for you, you can choose Start edition of Michel Thomas. It contains only one Mandarin lesson and is priced at ~$13.56. The other more advanced levels (Perfect and Total) are more expensive and you can buy them for ~$100 each.