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  1. #21
    V.I.P. karena's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shiradotnet View Post
    Karena, can you describe how the Michel Thomas course is structured, based on your experience of using it to study French? Is it entirely audio, or does it require paper and pen? What types of things did it teach you to say in French? Did it focus on grammar rules (ie, here is an indirect object, and now here is how to use it in a sentence, and here is the rule for conjugating a regular verb in the x famliy) or did it just focus on telling you how to say stuff and let you figure out the grammatical rule on your own?

    After I finish the 30 lessons of the Pimsleur set, I'll probably want to continue my Arabic studies, so I'm interested in learning about other resources out there and what people think of them. I especially like using audio CD's, and I want to continue focusing on the Egyptian dialect of Arabic.
    Right I'm listening now. It's hard to explain.

    Easy questions first. It is all audio, you are not allowed paper and pen. You are also told not to try to remember. You should naturally remember rather than sitting there repeating things. The idea is you learn like when you learnt your native language.

    I struggle with what it taught me as I had a tutor at the same time, so it's difficult to know which is which. It is aimed at beginners, so it assumes no knowledge, so you don't end up knowing loads. But one thing I like is that it teaches you to realise what you do know and have a go at working out what you need to say. It is all about building up words, and putting those words together in different ways, rather than learning phrases by rote.

    Basically you're in a class with 2 other students and Michel Thomas. He will say a word, or possibly a little phrase (like toute le monde for everyone, not a whole sentence). Often there will be a little way of remembering - like qui being who, he might say 'who has the key' (qui being pronounced like key in English just in case you don't know any French), I remember there being something to do with a word sounding like a snake. You then build up with more and more words, which then you can put into sentences without realising it. So he might then ask you to say something which seems long and complicated, but you realise you know all the components and all you need to do is bung them together.

    I randomly picked out the 4th CD of 8 to listen to, and they are doing "I will be going" and "I am going", then with it, he, nobody, nothing, everyone, who etc. I wouldn't say he explains the grammar rules in terms of this is how you conjugate the verb, but he does explain it a little in terms of how they are different things to say.

    This website looks to have free samples. It might only work in UK though, but I just googled. Audible.co.uk - Downloadable audio books. I've just downloaded the Arabic one

    Does that answer your questions/help? If not, I can try and explain better...

    Addition: Am listening now and it's the Egyptian dialect that is taught (my Jordanian friend will not be happy - I won't tell him!) and there is an advanced course too.
    Last edited by karena; 01-05-2009 at 08:33 PM. Reason: extra info

  2. #22
    V.I.P. Sita's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shiradotnet View Post
    Karena, can you describe how the Michel Thomas course is structured, based on your experience of using it to study French? Is it entirely audio, or does it require paper and pen? What types of things did it teach you to say in French? Did it focus on grammar rules (ie, here is an indirect object, and now here is how to use it in a sentence, and here is the rule for conjugating a regular verb in the x famliy) or did it just focus on telling you how to say stuff and let you figure out the grammatical rule on your own?

    After I finish the 30 lessons of the Pimsleur set, I'll probably want to continue my Arabic studies, so I'm interested in learning about other resources out there and what people think of them. I especially like using audio CD's, and I want to continue focusing on the Egyptian dialect of Arabic.
    Okay I use the Egyptian Arab course by Michael Thomas so I thought I'd express my take on it.....(sorry if some of this echoes Karena's reply it follows the same structure as she explains I just thought I'd expand on it a little bit so you get more of an idea on how it teaches Egyptian Arabic)

    No pencils or structure at all in fact the idea is not even for you to memorize words or sentences so much as to absorb it as you go along (I know it sounds weird and airy fairy but it works).

    You have on the E.Arabic set a female teacher (Jane - a little annoying in a kind disneyland way at least to me), an Egyptian man Mahmoud (he talks a lot on the background of the language and the sounds etc. he's also used to impart the proper pronunciation - you kind of wish it was just him teaching it actually) and two students and you go through the lessons with them.
    To start of with it introduces you to the language a lil' bit of background and for example introduces you to english words that are used in Egypt e.g Bank, then it goes on to talk about english words used in Egyptian but altered or pronounced differently such as Bizza for Pizza then it goes onto to introduce some words that we use in english that are egyptian/arab e.g kebab

    So you already have a little word bank without actually learning any new words. The course develops this to teaching you how to ask for something in Egyptian: Mumkin kebab min fadlak (sp is so difficult.), bit by bit. It also explains the direct translation of the words you use like are equivalent to may I have is 'munkim' which directly translates as 'possible?' or 'thank you' is 'min fadlik' which means 'from your grace'. (which means you also now know from is min - but it picks that up later)

    Basically it tries to echo the way a child learns it's natural language through conversation and linking pieces together. It graduates so that ideas of gender are introduced through the 'Samir/Samira door'. For example you learn words like want and then learn to adjust it to suit the gender and place it in a sentence connecting others words you've learnt before. Grammar is taught casually bit by bit as you come across it rather than outlined rules that seem really authoritative and complicated. So you pick it up again naturally. It does not go through the normal tourist guide lines of My name is..., do you know where... etc. More it takes a natural pathway that allows it through the phrases or words it introduces you too teach you bits of grammar or new sounds and letters... It's very easy going, no pressure at all...

    The teacher also tries to impart ways of naturally imprinting the words in your head say 'mumkin is a bit like munchkin'. So it tries to make the words familiar to you and create routes in which they can be easily absorbed into your brain (like brainwashing sorry my weird sense of humour there). I've found that this is not really needed, you can put it on and naturally pick it up quite easily because it is broken down and follows a natural logic of building on your progress. This logicall progression is not like that of normal language lessons where it logically goes from "my name is" to "i live.." but more like a naturual logical based on the vocab you using so from "can i have" you move you "I want" it connects the ideas and expands them...

    It does also introduce elements of the culture such as discussion on the three calenders that are used in the country, Islamic, Western, and ancient one (mostly used by the farmers for crops etc.) and naming traditions etc. as they come up in the lessons.

    I hope that helps give an idea...I've learnt a lot through it in a casual way... it's very basic but I think imparts a good grounding in the language the main problem is like all audio lessons there's no one there to correct your pronunciation
    Sita
    Last edited by Sita; 01-06-2009 at 05:25 PM.

  3. #23
    V.I.P. karena's Avatar
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    Couldn't have said it better Sita It is a hard one to explain.

    I downloaded the demo last night, and it had the first lessons with mumkin and min fadlak, and all the words which are either english in arabic or arabic in english and I still remember today . The min fadlak she mentioned min like mini, then fadlak like cadilac (as memory tools not sounds), and everytime I forget I keep managing to remember through those images.

    The demo talked about sides of a room and flower stems, which must be some grammatical memory techniques from what they said.

    What have you heard about Pimsleur being better??

  4. #24
    V.I.P. Sita's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by karena View Post
    Couldn't have said it better Sita It is a hard one to explain.

    I downloaded the demo last night, and it had the first lessons with mumkin and min fadlak, and all the words which are either english in arabic or arabic in english and I still remember today . The min fadlak she mentioned min like mini, then fadlak like cadilac (as memory tools not sounds), and everytime I forget I keep managing to remember through those images.

    The demo talked about sides of a room and flower stems, which must be some grammatical memory techniques from what they said.

    What have you heard about Pimsleur being better??
    Wait till you get to the Samir/Samira door - I found it so hard to keep a straight face it does however work...
    I can't remember if there's anything about the flower stems or anything but I have yet to finish the whole course so may be that joy awaits...

    About Pimsleur It's odd I've mainly just come across general comments here and there that it's the best... a quicker pace and maybe not having the classroom situation and other students getting it wrong or being corrected but no one has ever really broken down what pimsleur is/the structure etc... the website didn't help much perhaps Shiradotnet or someone else can break it down for us...?

    however I've also come into criticism because it's Egyptian not standard Arabic the snobbery! I mean if it's good enough for the entire population of Egypt who am I to complain...

    Sita

  5. #25
    V.I.P. shiradotnet's Avatar
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    Sita, wow, thanks for the detailed breakdown of the Michel Thomas course! You've given me enough information that I now feel i can tell you how Pimsleur compares.

    Pimsleur has 3 instructors.

    There is the moderator, a man, who sounds like a generic American. In other words, he does not have a Middle Eastern accent of any kind. And then there are two native speakers, a man and a woman. The moderator gives you instructions, and the native speakers are the ones who say the words. For example, he might say, "Here's how to say 'please' to a man in Arabic. Listen and repeat." Then the woman native speaker might say "min fudluk", and you try to repeat. Then she'll say just the final syllable, "luk", and you repeat that. Then she says "fudluk" and you repeat that. Then she says "min fudluk" and you repeat that. Next the moderator tells you how to add that to something you've already learned. For example, if they taught you earlier how to say, "I would like coffee," in Arabic, they would then have you add "min fudluk" to that and say, "I would like coffee, please." Then they might teach you the word for "some," and next have you add that into the sentence: "I would like some coffee, please."

    Based on what you said, Pimsleur differs from Michel Thomas in these ways:

    1. Pimsleur does not have any other students. It's just you, the two native speakers, and the moderator who holds it all together.

    2. Pimsleur doesn't tell you about English words that have been incorporated into Arabic or Arabic words that we use in English. Because I've come to know a few isolated Arabic words over the years such as "leyla" for night, "shukran" for "please", etc., this hasn't been a problem for me. It has been fun to see these words come up in the Pimsleur lessons and feel as though I have a bit of a head start!

    3. Pimsleur does not spoon-feed mnemonics like your example of "mumkin is like munchkin".

    You said this about Michel Thomas:

    For example you learn words like want and then learn to adjust it to suit the gender and place it in a sentence connecting others words you've learnt before. Grammar is taught casually bit by bit as you come across it rather than outlined rules that seem really authoritative and complicated. So you pick it up again naturally. It does not go through the normal tourist guide lines of My name is..., do you know where... etc. More it takes a natural pathway that allows it through the phrases or words it introduces you too teach you bits of grammar or new sounds and letters.
    This sounds exactly true of Pimsleur too.

    My conclusion, based on your wonderful detailed description, is that Pimsleur and Michel Thomas use the same methodology for teaching you vocabulary and how to put sentences together. Ie, they start by teaching you a very simple sentence, and then they build on it by teaching you how to add things to it.

    Pimsleur might teach you these words in this order, with drills after each new word is introduced to help you imprint it into your memory:

    • I drink. You drink (male).
    • I drink something. You drink something. (male version).
    • I drink coffee. You drink coffee. (male version)
    • Some drilling - stuff like, I drink something. You drink coffee. I drink coffee. You drink something.
    • I drink coffee. You drink tea. (female version)
    • You (female) drink coffee. You (male) drink coffee.
    • I would like to drink tea. You would like to drink coffee. (male for "would like)
    • Would you like to drink coffee? I would like to drink water.
    • I would like to drink some water. Would you (still male) like to drink some tea?
    • Would you like to drink some water? (female version of "would like").
    • Would you like to drink something with me?


    After it introduces a vocabulary word, it drills you on it for a while before moving on. For example, after it has introduced all the words in the above example, the moderator might instruct you, "Ask her if she would like to drink some tea." There's then a pause to give you time to ask your question. Then the male native speaker will ask the question. Depending on the situation again, the moderator might have you say it again, or he might move on to instruct you to, "Answer, for her, 'No, I would like to drink some water.'" So then he pauses and you say it, then the female native speaker says it.

    I'm just guessing here, but from your explanation it kind of sounds like Michel Thomas is going to a lot of effort to make the concept of learning a language much less intimidating - stuff like having students as characters, trying to show you that you already know some useful words, spoon-feeding you mnemonic tools for memorizing words, etc., whereas in contrast Pimsleur doesn't patronize you, it just goes directly into lessons without all the "fluff". It sounds like, if you get rid of the "fluff" and the spoon-feeding that Michel Thomas has, the two formats use similar approaches.

  6. #26
    Member Phoebedances's Avatar
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    Wow, so much information on the courses from you guys! I'll look into both the Michel Thomas and the Pimsluer to start with. The Pimsluer seems a touch pricey, but maybe I can find it used.

  7. #27
    V.I.P. Caroline_afifi's Avatar
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    Default here's one


  8. #28
    Member Phoebedances's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Caroline_afifi View Post

    That was great, Caroline, I wonder if I can hire him to teach me?


    Hmmm...

    anyway, I was wondering about the Michel Thomas set. They have a Foundation Arabic set with only 2 CD's and then the Beginning Arabic with like 8 CD's. If I got the Beginning set would it have the foundation ones in it? It seems a good deal.

  9. #29
    Member summerdance's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marya View Post
    For those of you who have used Pimsleur, are there any materials to help with learning the written alphabet? I have a sampler of Rosetta stone with a few lessons of Arabic on it and although I also don't like using the computer for so long a period of time it does include the written word as well as spoken.

    Marya
    Dear Marya,

    For my students, I use Al Kitab. It's a great teaching tool. It's a wonderful book. It comes with a disk and you can also purchase the work book. My students can really benefit from it on their own as well. I assign most of their work from this book. There is a Level One and a Level Two.It can be used for both Dialect Specific Work and MSA.

    -summer

  10. #30
    V.I.P. Sita's Avatar
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    Bless you Caroline for the link it's very much appreciated.

    Sita

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