You need your templates to be in the right place in the first place to use the file > new method.
This can be your personal templates folder stored in your profile, or a shared workgroup location.
Your local templates location depends on the version of windows you are running, so if you tell us that I can tell you where to look locally. You can change it but I would recommend leaving it alone. On Windows Vista / 7 it should be at:
To change the workgroup location go to Office button > Word Options > Advanced > (scroll down) > File locations button > provide a path in the workgroup templates setting in the dialogue box. (this is where you would change the local one if you want to, but seriously, don't do that)
Note: this can also be set by group policy for everyone to point to the same place, this makes sharing templates with colleagues really easy
Note2: you can also set a policy to take you straight to this "Office 2003" style file > new dialogue without all the other gallery stuff, if you prefer.
Note3: just in case you did not already know, sub-folders of your local and your workgroup folders are presented as tabs, so you can organise you templates by department, for example. Subfolders of subfolders appear as a tab, exactly as if they were direct 'child' folders of templates folder. If you have a folder of the same name on local and workgroup templates, the contents are shown for both on the same tab. If a matching filename in a matching folder clashes, the local one is shown and the workgroup one is not available.