Readers will know that I see Michel Thomas' central technique of sentence-building as the key to enabling people to communicate in a new language. I'm less convinced that it is the whole story, though the reasons for this vary with different languages. Isobel Scott has just sent me this note on her positive experience of using MT's approach in German:
Re. German, I actually like the fact that MT "omits" the case system. Of course, he doesn't really omit it, he just assumes that it can be delayed until the learner has confidence with verb structures and word order - by which time learners and teachers are in a better position to tackle it. And, actually, why did I ever insist that pupils learn the difference between "der" and "den" in term one? But that still leaves the question of how to proceed without using articles or possessives etc in the early stages. The obvious answer is to use lots of proper nouns which fit well with "to", "with" and "for", which are well practised in the course. "Something", "nothing" and "it" become essential, if a bit frustratingly devoid of content, and MT does actually introduce nominative, accusative and dative pronouns, without calling them that.
When merging MT with GCSE topics, I start with "Health", because German doesn't use "the" with foods, sports or diseases, and you can go a long way by exploiting MT's introduction of reflexives, modal imperfects and prefixed verbs (causes / try / contain / lose weight / put on weight / avoid are easy to introduce near the end of the Foundation course). Then I take a deep breath and start introducing the "markers" with the topic of Family (around term 5 or 6), starting with Feminine (MT introduces some feminine nouns early in the course), then plural, then neuter. Introducing the concept of Subject/Object shouldn't be necessary, should it, because they've all learnt it, right? Ha Ha! Then we can do Masculine. Only one gender at a time, but with several functions - articles, some possessives (don't try to do them all). They can cope OK with relative pronouns at the same time, because they have already done subordinate clauses earlier on, so they get the word order. I'm going to introduce Dative ones soon (might call them "mit" situation, as MT uses the term "weil" situation). I'll probably handle Genitive fairly quickly near the end of the course, or when it comes up. The case system isn't the only thing MT omits - I've made a list which I ought to refer to again soon, but it's the one that worries people the most, when other things are probably more important.
As for incorrect structures being introduced by MT in the German, French, Spanish and Italian courses, yes, it can be annoying, but often the confidence and sense of order gained by ignoring the odd irregularity of idiom can outweigh the snag of sounding foreign in some situations. I realise many will disagree with me on that, but I'm aware that pre-MT I taught accurate structures till I was blue in the face only to have pupils create their own inaccuracies! Of course, as a teacher, where I do see inaccuracies in the material, I either skip over them quietly or if I don't think it will confuse, explain them quickly and move on.
Good news that in spite of my very imperfect first time teaching of MT+GCSE=RISK, the results out yesterday were noticeably (not dramatically, but then I'm still learning too!) better than in last few years. I have also had a few German MT Foundation CDroms returned, so in response to your request some time ago (sorry for slow response) I can send you one if you let me know where to send it.
Thank you for recent comments about "starting slowly". Pacing the course is still something I puzzle over. It seems self-evident now you have mentioned it, but could you comment further (either here or on your site)? Also happy for you to use any of the above on your site if at all useful.
With kind regards,