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PostPosted: Mon 30 May 2022 7:06 pm 
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Joined: Thu 26 May 2022 4:04 pm
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I couldn’t really find any useful review of the Irish version of the Michel Thomas Method (MTM) so having just finished it I will share my thoughts.
Here is a promo
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JJemXUnMkIY

Tl;dr. If you like the MTM, you will probably like this. It’s not as good as either the French or Spanish courses but completion still gives the feeling of having gained an intuitive understanding of the basics of the language with what feels like very little effort. Go elsewhere for vocabulary and pronunciation.

There are 2 distinct MTM courses. Those done by MT himself (French, Spanish, Italian and German) and the rest, done by others attempting to emulate his method. I picked up a few of the original MT courses on eBay after coming across this review in the depths of the internet.
https://lukesmith.xyz/articles/learning ... el-thomas/

I completed the Spanish one out of necessity as I was in central America for a month earlier this year, and it really was superb. I knew no Spanish at all but by the end of the month I had some basic but genuinely useful Spanish. Present, past and several versions of future some vocab. The return on time investment is enormous.
I have been going through the French one intermittently in the car and I’m about three quarters through it. I did know some French having been quite good at it in school. In this case, I didn’t really learn any vocabulary, but it is superb at forcing you to think about how to structure the things you want to say in whatever the language happens to be. I think it is a great bridge for the sort of people who say things like “I studied X for 5 years but I can’t speak a word”.


So, I had high hopes for the Irish one. My ability with Irish is somewhere between Spanish and French before taking any of these courses (i.e. somewhere between 0 and pretty basic). I knew some vocabulary, a few phrases, some things about the word order and already had pretty decent pronunciation.

How does it work?
There is a teacher (in this case 2 teachers, but only one is there at any one time) and two students. The teacher explains some construct and then asks the student to translate a phrase, given in English. At this point, you are supposed to pause the recording and do the translation yourself. Then you press play and listen to one of the students muddle through it before the teacher gives the correct answer. Complexity increases as the course progresses. The later recordings require you to recall stuff from earlier exercises along with whatever you just learned so there is also a natural ‘spaced repetition’ thing going on. There is no listening, reading or writing. Only speaking.

How does this compare to the original MT courses?
In the MT (F&S) recordings this all feels very organic, like you’re having a conversation with the teacher but in the Irish course it feels a bit more formal and artificial like they’re following a flow chart called ‘How to Michel Thomas’. It’s noticeable and it has the effect of being much less engaging. I was bored with this one in a way that I wasn’t with the others. I also think that the teachers laboured every construction, requiring that you say: "He, she I, did the thing there"; "He, she I, did the thing here"; "He, she I, did the thing in the hotel" etc. This takes up too much time and seems a bit like filler. I barely needed to pause the first 4 CDs (there are 8 in total), and it never really felt like they were all that difficult to go through. By contrast my head hurt after each CD (~1hr) of the French and Spanish courses. Doing those, I really felt like I had to think about everything. The last Spanish CD in particular, took me 3 separate sessions to complete because it is so dense. The students also talk way too much. The course needs better editing. I was fast forwarding through a lot of their interjections; they are filler. In short, these courses feel a lot less dense, more formulaic and need better editing.

The Content.
This is not a vocabulary course. This is deliberate, the intention being that you don't spend too much time trying to remember words and focus on sentence structure, so if you know any Irish at all you probably won’t learn many new words. This is fine but it did annoy me that they used so many English cognates. Carr, banc, trioblóid, dainséar. Why not teach new words? It’s not like they’re tying it into a rule of thumb that links Irish cognates to English words, there is no such rule. (Note, with the F&S versions MT does this, forcing students to guess at words given that there is a huge shared vocab between English and French/Spanish)
It starts off with commands, then simple past tense use. On to the present tense using mostly singular prepositions. It teaches present habitual, simple copula usage, using multiple verbs in sentences, noun gender (no specific mention of declensions), adjective mutations, an mutations and more. I think there is a lot in there. I certainly know a lot more than I did before I started it and it is laid out such that you really do internalize a lot of the structures, i.e. you will automatically find yourself eclipsing after i or inserting a t- prefix before a vowel. As I’ve already said. The return for such a small amount of effort is very high. I learnt a lot more in 8 hours of this than going through all the videos of Now You’re Talking on YouTube. There are no phrases that are just given like: Conas atá tú? or whatever, everything you will say is constructed with the information contained in the course. I like this, you can learn stock phrases anywhere.

The Irish.
I guess this is standard Irish. The teachers speak Irish as you can hear in the link above and one of them is here https://www.youtube.com/results?search_ ... +Ni+Dhuill
I don’t think this is a deep enough course that the dialect matters all that much. I think you can do this to get the basics and you can easily apply and adapt it to whatever dialect you want to learn as you go further in your studies. For example, I want to learn Donegal Irish so I made a point of doing things like substituting Druid for Dún, or saying maith like ‘myh’ not ‘mah’ etc
There is a bit of an issue with how the pronunciation is taught. It’s a bit frustrating listening to the teachers say one thing but teaching the students to say it differently. In a word like teach for example, both teachers soften the 't' and say 'ch' like a 'ch'. But they explicitly say to the students to say something like 'tak' or 'tach'. The students, to their credit, actually pick up on this at this and their pronunciation does improve. At another point one of the teachers says obair with a very clear narrow r, and the student asks about it and the teacher just says 'it’s an ‘r’', a really good learning point ignored, particularly given that an American and an Englishman naturally have to totally different 'rs'. The two teachers have different ways of softening consonants and this also confuses the students, but no explanation is given when it’s queried. There are other examples too which I won't list
I’m not sure whether this is a feature of the format because, even in the original MT lessons he is not overly concerned with, say, getting the French ‘r’ perfect. I get this, but he doesn’t explicitly teach something wrong. For these reasons I can’t really recommend this as a good guide for pronunciation.

Recommended?
I got it for £20 on eBay. Money well spent as far as I’m concerned. It’s £80 new and £40-£50 for a used copy on amazon/alibris. If you are a fan of the MTM you will probably like it. If you are in the category of “I studied Irish for 5 years but I can’t speak a word”, you will probably get something out of it. As a complete beginner, it's a decent starting point.

Conclusion
Good, could be better. Despite flaws I’d expect you will still internalize loads of information about how to construct sentences. I wish I had come across this years ago as this style suits me. Ultimately its good practice, and something you can do in the car or wherever else it would be inadvisable to pull out a copy of the Christian Brothers Irish Grammar. A lot learnt for very little time investment.


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