Michel Thomas research – as it obviiously could be – does not really exist so far: hence this site. Online discussion generally attempts to deform and re-position a corpus of teaching which on examination is far more paradoxical than it sets out to be.
To us it is obvious that the heritage should be critically examined, along with the apparent equivalents which have followed it under the rubric of 'The Michel Thomas Method', with a mind open to what all this can then suggest. We begin with some small experiments in the context of Wuxi where in a relatively tranquil Chinese university setting, not far from the peaceful Lake Tai, we try to counteract the corrosive effects of institutional English by new, exciting initiatives.
Trying some Michelian Modern Greek, for example, gives us a whole new world view. As well as recreating his sense of discovery, we suggest new ways of classifying and imagining the material we borrow, transform and extend.
We need a vantage point akin to that of the Cassini probe's view of Earth from within Saturn's rings, We also need a symbol of the unrelenting opacity of every day. Finally, we need the exalted zest and magnificence of 'Bach's wrong chord' - played with unerring skill (and almost as an afterthought!) by Glenn Gould on the short-lived 'harpsi-piano'. This is from Cantata No. 54. Click central images.
What is great is that the different components of what Gould is trying to present: the musical matter presented conceptually, the philosophical and historical context explained, and the textural and temporal reality of the music when released into quivering life from an almost shimmering silence - this triad of communication, when fused into a single thought, as it is here - all this speaks of a single, unitary conception of art, life and the world which exactly parallels the simplicity and profundity of language elements as explained by Michel Thomas and his finest interpreters. We try to remain faithful to that wholistic vision and to follow further.
Just as airglow (Left and Below) can on rare occasions cause
night to be as bright as day, so a great insight - such as that of
Gould (Above) can penetrate to the core of a subject, and show it in a remarkable new light. Language is all around us and now newly available telephone apps give us an intimacy with other tongues which was absent before. Can a patient study of parallels between languages take us to new intellectual places and make connections which the existing mechanistic systems of learning are incapable of discovering?
There is also a more distant hope that embarking on such journeys will lead to a new sense of 'attunedness' which will have ramifictions for what might be called the 'automatic learning' of which the mind is capable. We sometimes see this at work in the extraordinary memory feats of musicians (John Ogdon, for example could learn a complete new concerto overnight). Please see link below. There is too little experiment, sharing and discussion of these phenomena.
There is an incessant influx of novelty into the world, and yet we tolerate incredible dullness . . . [Thoreau]
By disrupting specific phases of sleep, the group showed deep or slow-wave (REM) sleep was necessary for memory formation, During this stage, the brain was "replaying" the activity from earlier in the day. Wen-Biao Gan from New York University School of Medicine said: "Finding out that sleep promotes new connections between neurons is new, nobody knew this before. We thought sleep helped [memory] but it could have been other causes, and we show it really helps to make connections - and that in sleep the brain is not quiet [but] is replaying what happened during the day...It seems quite important for making the connections."