Michel Thomas research does not really exist so far: hence this site. Online discussion generally attempts to betray and re-position a corpus of teaching which on examination is more inspiredly paradoxical than it sets out to be. But Thomas evokes parallels in music, fires teaching creativity...!

This heritage might be critically examined, along with the apparent equivalents which have followed it under the rubric of 'The Michel Thomas Method'. 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.  But six months later, it's taking a mid-level (or 'mekro') view of English, and continuously adapting it for a Chinese audience which is my preoccupation (2018)






   Taking a detached view...

We needed a vantage point akin to that of the Cassini probe's view of Earth from within Saturn's rings, We also needed to contrast the unrelenting opacity of every day. Then we needed the exalted zest and magnificence of 'Bach's wrong chord' - evoked with unerring skill (and almost as an afterthought!) by Glenn Gould on the short-lived 'harpsi-piano' (this is from Cantata No. 54). That is the third strand:

between the everyday and the cosmic: man, mirror-image of both extremes.


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 viscerally 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 maybe one or two of his interpreters. It's a vision to cherish, reflect upon, and follow on from...

airglow Cantata Wuxi wuxi3

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). His talents and their tragic context are also on view

in the BBC excerpt which I include to round out the picture.

But need such gifts come at such a price and be reserved to

a few lone geniuses such as Ogdon, Ventris, Terence Judd?

airglow2 airglow3 Chinese scroll John Ogdon

There is an incessant influx of novelty into the world, and yet we tolerate incredible dullness . . .  Thoreau                                               


Bird Film Image


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."

wo xiangyao


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