Michel Thomas Italian CDs

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Michel Thomas Italian CDs

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Review of "Michel Thomas Italian CDs"

published 12/09/2005 | daisydaisym
Member since : 10/09/2005
Reviews : 31
Members who trust : 14
About me :
Pro Easy to learn, easygoing manner, great voice - knows his stuff
Cons No book, you will learn to speak italian, but not spell (as I may demonstrate!)
very helpful
Type of Book
Quality of Text
Logical Layout?

"Learn Italian with the master linguist"

Michel Thomas' language courses are world famous, and for good reason. Thomas himself speak many languages (having joined the French Foreign Legion at one point it was a neccessity rather than a luxury, and helpful for survival!!!), Italian included, and presents these CDs himself.

There are various Italian courses to choose from, and they are also available on cassette if you prefer.


To start with there is a beginners course available RRP £14.99. This comprises 2 cds, and the first 2 hours of the complete course, and is basic language skills, and introduction.

The complete course consists of 8 hour long cds (the first 2 being idential to the beginners course). RRP is £70, but everyone I know who has used them has not regretted the expense.

There is also an advanced language builder course. This is for those competant in their chosen language but looking to extend there vocabulary. RRP £20.

Very occassionally the company have offers where if you keep the receipt for the beginner course and then decide to buy the complete course they will reimburse you the cost of the former, I have known this happen a couple of times in the last few years - don't bank on it being the case, but if you do decide to go ahead a cheeky e-mail or phone call to the publisher asking about the possibilty of a refund won't do anyone any harm!!! (Publisher - Hodder Education)


Thomas is highly acclaimed linguist and teacher worldwide, and lists many celebrities amongst his pupils. One example is Eddie Izzard, who a few years ago performed live in France and performed his set in French - apparently it was Thomas who helped him achieve this. As mentioned it was his time in the Foreign Legion that really developed his linguistic skills, and he has a biography detailing his experiences. (Which I keep meaning to read!) By all accounts he is an incredibly interesting man!


As mentioned in the disadvantages, the only real disadvantage of this course is that there is no book, and whilst I liked this aspect as it was less distracting it does mean that I am not going to impress you with my own skills (such as they are), because what I can speak I cannot actually spell. But I can at least give you a synopsis of the course.

I have the complete 8 hour course (actually bought when it was a mere £60! - and also I get a discount at my work, which I have to admit did help!)

CD One begins with a short introduction by Thomas, giving you examples of words that are similar between English and Italian, and generally putting you at ease - it is almost like being in classroom with him. He then goes on to introduce two people - one male, one female, with whom he will conduct the rest of the course.

The course as a rule consists of Michel Thomas introducing vocabulary and phrases and asking questions of the couple with him, and it is actually amazing how much you pick up just the first time you listen. The great advantage of having the cds over cassettes is that each part of the course is broken down into small tracks of a few minutes each that the cd player will recognize and pick up meaning that you will be able to repeat them or skip them just as you would a song on a music cd.

The course does not follow the regular prescribed set up of most courses - you do not start off by learning your numbers, dates and seasons - and thank god! These may be useful, but are easy to pick up anyway and frightfully boring to learn! Instead you find yourself learning genuinely useful phrases that you use everyday at home but rarely get round to learning in another language - actual real conversation and vocab to help you in real situations. Maybe this is the shopping mad girl in me but I was thrilled when I found that I had learnt to say, in fluent Italian - I'm sorry, I would like to buy it but it is much too expensive! (For the non-shoppers out there don't worry there are far more useful phrases as well!)

The best thing about this course though is the way that it flows - it feels effortless and you genuinely come away from a session remembering more than you thought you would - because of the way it is set out you find yourself speaking in a way that feels natural, the way that you would speak at home, and you almost forget that you are learning a new language.

The course continues with more advanced vocab, and you will learn numbers, with the aim that by the end you will have a good, well rounded knowledge of the Italian language - but also, perhaps more importantly, the confidence to use it, and the ear to actually understand what is being said to you, which I feel is a big let down of many other courses. This course genuinely aims to get you speaking Italian, not just for a holiday and trip for work, but to actually learn it and feel confident using it whenever you need to.

BUT, don't think you can learn it all in one go - just spending your day off listening to the whole course through won't get you very far. I found myself studying CD1 at length, going back over certain tracks and skipping others that I come to know well, but I guess this is the same for any course - repetition and dedication are the only real way to get something to stick.

I have to admit that I have never actually got through the entire 8 hour course, however I think that is down to personal reasons and preference. Although I really like the idea of a purely aural learning course, my real love is reading, and I know that I concentrate better when reading than when listening, and perhaps missed the visual stimuation more than I realised. (Also I am fairly impatient!) This is definately something you should consider when looking into buying this course; however I definately believe that this is the best audio course you can buy - I have used others and found them patronising at best, and inaccurate at worst. If you are unsure whether or not you will like it then give the beginner course a try and buy a basic dictionary or phrasebook as well and see how you go. (And writing this review has actually inspired me to give it another go - maybe I'll rewrite this review in a few months time with some newly aquired language skills - maybe even in Italian!!!).

I bought this course because I was planning to go to Rome, and even though I did not complete the course I must say that I felt much more comfortable and confident speaking what I did know when I went there, knowing that I had some competence in the language.

(PS I am sure someone very fluent is going to write me a comment in Italian!!! I am not pretending to be fluent, and don't pretend that I will even understand, let alone be able to reply!!!! - although I'll give it a good try! But this is my genuine opinion and experience of what I believe to be a very good and rewarding language course and I hope that's how it will be read!)


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Comments on this review

  • bugmenot2 published 02/08/2006
    I evaluated this review as exceptional for the following reasons: 1) It answered all the questions on the product I had 2) It seemed balanced, focusing not just on the negatives or positives, but a healthy mix of both 3) Information on different variations of the course were given, including pointing out where duplication occurs across the courses. 4) Stylistically, this evaluation deserves marks - clear, fun, easy to read I have no idea what Ciao Premium Fund Award is, but I am sure this review deserves it
  • Leni_84 published 03/10/2005
    Great review, I've just finished the 8hr Spanish course and found it very helpful: I'm looking at buying the advanced course on e-bay (can't afford the proper price - I got the 8hr course AND language builder for a bargainous £10!)
  • rowei published 21/09/2005
    I have the Michel Thomas Italian CDs and find them really good.
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Product Information : Michel Thomas Italian CDs

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Listed on Ciao since: 29/11/2003