More on Modern Foreign Language Learning

‘Anybody can learn’

Let’s adopt the teaching methods of legendary language guru Michel Thomas, a new book pleads. Anthea Lipsett finds out why

There’s a belief that languages either come naturally to a person, or they don’t. But to the late Michel Thomas, the “world’s greatest language master”, there was no such thing as a bad student, only a bad teacher.

It’s a view that grates with prevailing educational opinion. These days, children’s inability to learn is often blamed on a variety of learning disabilities. If teachers are brought into the equation, it is usually by ministers either claiming the workforce is the best trained it has ever been, or declaring that inadequate teachers must be fired.

Thomas believed his method, applied faithfully, would work with anyone. Students saw him as a magician. Now, in his new book The Language Revolution, the educational psychologist Jonathan Solity reveals how Thomas set about teaching foreign languages and the psychological principles behind his methods. He thinks they could revolutionise teaching, and help schools meet targets.

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