Michel Thomas Method: Learning a language | Japanese Foundation Course

I've been using the Michel Thomas Method to learn Japanese lately, using this set of CDs (8 hours). It works wonderfully well. The method only claims to teach you basic conversation skills, no writing or reading, and does so without requiring you to learn long lists of vocabulary or really, do anything outside of listening to the lessons. Each CD is cut into short lessons lasting between 3 and 8 minutes, and all you need to do is listen carefully and make use of the pause button to think of your answer before hearing the correct way to say something. There're 2 other students on the recordings, sometimes making mistakes and asking questions. You play the role of the 3rd student.

Through non-boring repetition, you learn how to structure different types of sentences and slowly add new words to your vocabulary. It's very enjoyable and you get a great sense of accomplishment when you remember things and figure out how to express something new. I usually listen on the bus -- I found listening while walking didn't work as well because a pedestrian needs to pay a lot of attention to their surroundings in the city if they'd like to not die, so I wasn't focused enough and ended up forgetting more.

The leaflet that comes with the box is adamant that your learning is the teacher's responsibility. You shouldn't try to learn stuff off by heart, or force yourself to remember or pick up new things in your own time. That makes me wonder how this applies to teaching programming. How much responsibility am I putting on the students to understand concepts, and how could I judiciously apply repetition and questioning to make people learn whether they want to or not?

This is really how these language lessons work. If you're listening, you have no choice but to learn. There's a free sample of the Japanese version and other languages on Audible, if you're curious to hear how it works.

(Update: I also posted on what I did after the Foundation Course, and ideas on what to do after finishing the Advanced Course)


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