The Language Master

Nigel’s documentary with the 85 year old Michel Thomas was the first time that Thomas allowed his techniques to be made public. The subsequent success of the film transformed Thomas into a global celebrity and his method into one of the most highly regarded in the world of education.

Thomas was a remarkable teacher who developed a method of teaching languages to anyone, regardless of ability, in an extremely short period of time; days rather than years. His technique developed out his equally remarkable life story. As a French Resistance fighter he was captured and tortured by Klaus Barbie. As a US counter intelligence agent, he entered Dachau concentration camp the day it was liberated. Thomas' interrogation of crematorium workers led to the capture of Emil Mahl, "The hangman of Dachau", who was convicted of war crimes.

The documentary is available to view here:

Thomas' belief that democracy was impossible without an educated population led to research into new methods of teaching. Beginning at the Sorbonne, and followed by practical experience teaching some of the biggest names in Hollywood such as Marilyn Monroe, Bob Dylan and Princess Grace, he developed a revolutionary method of teaching languages. As this programme was the first time he revealed his techniques many of his students, who adored him, were happy to contribute to the programme. These included the film maker Woody Allen.

Thomas’ secrecy certainly made for an interesting film. Fortunately his experience during the making of the documentary, and its success made him more comfortable about letting go of his ideas. It led to a best selling biography, and extensive TV, radio and newspaper coverage, and his face is now on the cover of some of the world’s best selling language courses.

Thomas died in 2005.