Rosetta Stone Review
Languages: Arabic, Chinese, Dutch, English, French, German, Hebrew, Hindi, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Tagalog, Vietnamese
A good course for visual learners and includes a huge amount of vocabulary. I personally find the lessons a touch repetitive and the vocabulary learned at the beginning a little abstract and not very useful. This means you cannot go and use the vocabulary in conversation and can lead to frustration, boredom, and ultimately quitting. A solid course though and once that a lot of people swear by, Probably the most famous language course in the world.
Rosetta Stone is an excellent package for learning vocabulary and grammar and now can even help you improve your pronunciation as the new version has thrown in some rather good voice recognition software. I have only used level 1 up to this point so it is difficult to give a verdict on the entire course, but as it is I would say level 1 is certainly not sufficient on its own to speak a new language and takes things a little slowly for my liking. However I do feel like I have learned a lot of vocabulary and I have read other reviews that say that levels 2 and 3 take this vocabulary and turn it into conversational language, helping you to form word clusters and sentences which level 1 didn’t really allow me to do.
Rosetta Stone is obviously a great choice for visual learners as its main aim is for you to learn without translation, from your environment (or in this case pictures and video of environment) just as you did as a child. Discipline is needed here I think: Although Rosetta Stone is surprisingly fun to use and can keep you interested for some time, it will take some time before you can use the vocabulary you are learning. Unless your everyday conversations involve boys sitting on top of aeroplanes I can’t imagine you using Rosetta Stone to strike up a useful conversation with level 1. This means that you need to be patient and learn as Rosetta Stone wants you to learn—slowly and passively. That said, learn enough vocabulary and then get to level 3 and you might surprise yourself (and me) with how much you can say.
I still think audio courses are much better equipped to teach conversational language quickly, but Rosetta Stone can give you a strength in foundation and vocabulary that should not be discounted. I am not sure how well you can learn to speak a language solely through using Rosetta Stone packages, and the vocabulary used at the beginning is certainly not going to get you out into the piazza asking for directions, but the product is solid and very well made. It is definitely worth a try and I know from experience that many people love it and would never use anything else. One route I may go is to use Rosetta to gain the knowledge and then find another way (audio course?) to practice the conversation early on.
The Rosetta Stone programs use a system of learning called Dynamic Immersion where the student is placed into a visual and audial immersion of the target language. No English at all is used—the concept being that of the natural language learning of a native infant. The fundamentals of the system rest on the four Is: Intuition, interactivity, instruction, and images. All four of these are used to make the learning experience as natural as possible.
In practice the student is given a series of pictures, with or without the meaning of the picture written in the script of the target language, and a word or sentence is spoken aloud. The student must choose the most fitting picture; if it is right you continue, if not you try again.
As you progress, the words become phrases and then sentences, and the simple objects in the pictures become actions, and then ideas and then more abstract concepts. Throughout this time your vocabulary and grammar is reinforced. English is never used through the course, the learning is based on seeing and doing.
The new level 3 courses also incorporate a pronunciation checker which uses voice recognition software to check how your use of the language sounds.
Rosetta Stone claims NASA as a customer
When I first tried Rosetta Stone for a few minutes I had a feeling I wouldn’t like it. The system of showing four photos (some of them a little difficult to tell what they are exactly) and playing a snippet of audio and then expecting me to match the two seemed to me a worthless exercise and I couldn’t for the life of me see how this would teach me a language. I was, however, in for a surprise: The way the vocabulary is introduced, left and then re-introduced is actually pretty effective at helping you remember the words. Also the techniques of using only the target language and introducing vocabulary in sentences, helps build an understanding of the grammatical structure of sentences. It also gets pretty addictive it has to be said.
Admittedly to begin with you pick the correct image solely through the single voacbulary word and sometimes you may find yourself guessing the answer, but after a while you find yourself recognising parts of the language you didn’t think you had been learning.
The method of introduction for vocabulary is also clever. As each step is a quiz, it could be difficult to introduce new vocabulary and still give you a chance of choosing correctly, but the program solves this cleverly. When new vocab is introduced it is mixed with words you have already learned, so the choice can be based on the previous vocabulary while the first impression of the new word is made.
One point I am unsure of is the effectiveness of learning the foreign script through this method. Although having the script present must certainly be more beneficial than having no script at all, when the script is very different from the Roman Alphabet it is difficult to remember spellings of any kind. I have to admit though after some time i found myself recognising the form of certain words and I guess this is the beginning of learning. Maybe after longer use the written language would be learned more effectively (especially when you can use the audio-script setting)
Another, often heard complaint, is the choice of vocabulary used at the beginning of the course. Sure, the words are those that you would need to learn to have a reasonably extensive vocabulary, but one wonders how useful “The boy sits on the horse” would be to a new learner wanting to practice his new language. Rosetta Stone is certainly not for the casual traveller and must be used for an extended period of time before what has been learned could be used in conversation.
Rosetta Stone has 3 levels and enough information and possible hours of usage to keep you going for a very long time. As well as that, I feel that the programs can be used again and again even after the initial learning course has been completed. The Rosetta Stone course covers a massive vocabulary range and it is unlikely that all of these words will be remembered over time. A review of the courses would help you realise your progress as well as help you fill some gaps of missed vocabulary.
The inclusion of native script also promises longevity. Although I am unsure of how easily it would be to learn the script in tandem with learning the language through the course, going through the material again at a later date just to learn the script I think could be extremely useful. Basically even if my Russian reaches a conversational level I will still use Rosetta Stone to make it just that little bit better.
Compared to some other software programs, Rosetta Stone is a breeze to use. The only reason I gave it a 9 and not a 10 is simply because I dont think any software can be as easy to use as an audio program. There is still the menu page and a few different options to choose, and although a geriatric goat could probably traverse its way through the menus here, a complete technophobe may find the odd obstacle. But to be fair to Rosetta Stone their user interface is an extremely easy one to use and visually pleasing at that.
Yes, Rosetta Stone is quite expensive but is about on a par with other language software and the other top of the range language leaning programs. Being a software package I consider the price of Rosetta Stone to be of better value than similarly priced audio packages. This is because it has greater longevity, with audio, image, video and script included and possibly many more hours use. I imagine it cost a lot more to put together as well which should be a major factor in a packages sale price. The prices stated for Rosetta Stone are for a single level, whereas for around the same price Tell Me More provides a package of all three levels.