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Michel Thomas style teaching

Discussion in 'Private tutors' started by stevencarrwork, Nov 10, 2011.

  1. These language learning CD's seem to be based on 2 main principles

    1) Learner plus 1

    The learner learns one new thing at a time. Knowledge is built one concept or technique at a time.

    Spaced repetition

    Although Thomas says at the start of each course that there is no drilling involved, there is a lot of repetition in the courses. It also seems to be spaced, in that intervals between repetitions are short at first and then get progressively longer.

    I have been trying to incorporate these techniques into teaching.

    One problem is that it is not always clear where students are, so you can't add just one thing, until you know what you are adding it to.

    Some students don't like repetition, although I know it is good for them, as otherwise they will forget. But some students lap it up, and like the idea of reminders, especially if they are getting stuff right on the 4th or 5th (!) go through.

    So it is an interesting experiment I am conducting.
  2. DeborahCarol

    DeborahCarol New commenter

    Yes, establish where the student 'is' first (easy to do one to one via diagnostic testing). Teach concepts in order, making sure one is understood before teaching the next. Give lots of practice (repetition) for cementing of concepts/mastery. Revisit at intervals, giving further practice.
    You head your post 'Michel-Thomas style teaching'. But this is simply basic principles of good teaching (especially in maths).
    It is true that some teachers in the last two decades (especially in primary) have shied away from the 'practice' that children need so very much for fears that is 'boring' for the children. However, that is a big mistake, we see the dire results at secondary, and, thankfully, the pendulum is just starting to swing back, a little.
  3. Only introducing one new thing at a time, and providing sufficient practice to achieve mastery, are NECESSARY to accelerate learning like Michel Thomas was able to, but they are not SUFFICIENT.
    Also, these principles are not unique to Michel Thomas, not even in the field of second language teaching.
    No, the really revolutionary thing he did was intelligently decide what to teach, in what order.
    To create a course in a language, Michel Thomas did a really complicated logical analysis of the internal structure of the language, and how it was the same and different from English. Took him like a year for each language to get it worked out.
    Unfortunately, he never wrote down any instructions on HOW to do this. He apparently taught some student teachers in private (who claim to use his methods to create the courses that continue to be made after his death), but...
    Fortunately, the "Michel Thomas Method" is actually just a reasonably functional approximation of the work of Siegfried Engelmann, creator of Direct Instruction, or more usually called "DI" (pronounced Dee-Eye, accept no immidations), because it's no more 'instruction that is somehow more direct than normal' than linear algebra is 'algebra that is somehow more in a line than normal'.
    Michel Thomas apparently managed to produce this approximation independently; I don't think they ever knew about each other.
    All the knowledge necessary to create even better courses than Michel Thomas is contained in Engelmann and Carnine's "Theory of Instruction: Principles and Applications".
    Unfortunately, it's a HORRIBLE read.
    They never took the time to apply the principles in the book to teaching you to use the principles themselves. It's clear as you struggle through the book that it would be entirely POSSIBLE for them to do that. The text is basically the working notes for a DI course on making DI course.
    As to what was taking their time and attention instead, well, Engelmann himself seems to explain it here.
    And I can't fault his dedication to focusing on helping the most needy populations of students first.
    But from a strategic point of view, I believe his exclusionary focus on creating effective instruction for the most needy has actually ended up hinderingthe success of the mission itself.

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