Free, altruistic and innovative.
Communicating a vision
While the Language Transfer format is similar to the one used by the late Michel Thomas, there are several significant differences in the approach.
One difference is that while Michel Thomas recorded his best selling series late in life and sometimes sounds a little grumpy, the LT instructor is full of energy and seemingly endless patience.
The LT approach is to think things through however slowly.
I would describe Mihalis Eleftheriou as an idealist and a language activist. He is Cypriot but speaks English with a slight London accent, interestingly he has what sounds to me like a Buenos Aires/Rio Plato Spanish accent when teaching English to Spanish speakers.
This time there is only one student that you learn along with.
The student is given the meaning of a new word which is used to illustrate the topic eg ending tense etc. The teacher gives a sentence in English and you/the student use the structures that have already been explained to make the equivalent Spanish sentence. You need to pause the recording and think it through. Initially the process is slow but (as promised by Mihalis) speeds up as you continue to use the new language.
As with MT you are encouraged to make educated guesses with vocabulary using cognates from English (and occasionally other languages but never to guess when it comes to the structure (grammar).
The course starts at the very beginning and in 90 lessons goes through pretty much all of the tenses including imperfect subjunctive!
Mihalis keeps saying that you should not try to remember things but of course you do have to remember lots of things eg you have to remember to take the third person plural of the pretirito indefinido as the stem for the imperfect subjunctive and you do have to remember the endings to add. The idea is however to try to think things through rather than work by rote.
As with MT again Mihalis doesn’t like using grammatical terms which can actually result in a little lost clarity. By avoiding talking of the infinitive (the ‘whole’ form found in a dictionary), instead referring exclusively to the ‘to form’ of the verb, it can be slightly unhelpful to those that already know some Spanish and are aware of the ‘Tu’ form. Funnily enough Mihalis is however happy to use the word ‘prepositions’ which imho is no more obvious in meaning.
It’s not a big deal and otherwise the whole course is a brilliant example of structured thinking and has clearly been made with love and attention to detail.
Spread the word this fella is trying to make the world a better place, one well conjugated verb at a time . With a bit of publicity and support we could be looking at a future peace prize laureate!
In the beginning Language Transfer seemed to be basically just be Mihalis doing everything ‘Chief cook and bottle washer’ now it looks like he wants to take more of a backseat and let others take the project further.
There are already courses in Greek, Arabic and even Swahili. At time of writing (August 2017)
After doing the whole of the Spanish course I feel guilty that I can’t remember Mihalis’ name but get the impression it wouldn’t bother him unduly.