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The problem is that it is out of the budget of many casual language learners, and budget travellers, so in almost a decade of travelling, I had never used it. Running a blog as big as this meant I got asked the following questions very frequently: Should I buy Rosetta Stone?
Does is really work? Is Rosetta Stone really the best and most fun way to learn a language? I polled my readers for their favourite and least favourite language courses and Rosetta Stone actually came out as the dramatic loser. But perhaps many of those polled were just against the idea of something costing as much as it does, or they may have used a limited pirated version and simply not valued it much because of that. I wasn't interested in hearsay.
I wanted to use the non-pirated latest version myself intensively and properly, and write a detailed review of the disadvantages and the advantages as I see them. My frank review of the latest version of Rosetta Stone So I contacted Rosetta Stone to ask for a review copy and they were kind enough to send me one.
I'm a blogger and I wrote a guide about how I learn languages in general using the communicative approach, to help support this blog. I guarantee that you can learn a language great without ever sending me money , as I suspect the vast majority of readers of this free blog do.
Just to be clear, I'll say that I recommend you don't buy anything I have to offer as a direct alternative to Rosetta Stone as it doesn't solve the problems found in a specific language course that I discuss here.
As you read this, especially the latter part, you'll understand why this is certainly not a promotional post. However, this review also covers every other language version for a rather disappointing reason I'll explain below.
I was sent Levels 1, 2 and 3, but several distinct technical issues meant that I only made it to the mid point of Level 2. Since I run Windows as a Virtual Box within Linux, Rosetta Stone say they can't fully support it on my system, so I won't be discussing these technical issues.
I wanted to share three major things with my readers: Details of how it works 2. Why does it cost so much? Would I recommend it?
My particular independent learning style, and fundamental disagreement with aspects of how the software is organised, means that ultimately I have to say that I will likely not be using Rosetta Stone again to learn any language, even if I am given another free copy. While I point out some important advantages, I have to say that I cannot recommend this as an efficient investment, both in money and in the time you put into it.
This review will hopefully explain why, while also informing people about what goes on behind the scenes and within this software as I saw it. Despite being disappointed at times, I also greatly enjoyed some aspects of it and can see why you could write an entirely positive review about it. In fact, because of the first point raised below I actually understand why at least half of its price could be very fairly justified. However, at this stage I have quite a lot of experience in language learning so I can appreciate the advantages and disadvantages much more than many monolinguals who may review it and consider its potential or enjoyment-factor rather than practical end applications.
I'm in Amsterdam and need to speak Dutch; so there is no guessing or estimation at how effective it has been. First, I'll start with the parts I liked, then I'll be getting a bit more frank about why I can't recommend the overall system. Most useful feature by far: Since any reviews I had read about Rosetta Stone were based on older versions, they didn't mention a feature that I really enjoyed — I was surprised to see that I got live time with a native teacher through the program!
I am skeptical of systems that hide you from human contact as I feel that's the best way by far to learn , but seeing that Rosetta Stone do give you that contact brought my opinion of them up dramatically. The teachers are friendly, patient very professional and clearly excellent and experienced teachers of the language. One issue I had was that the available slots were incredibly inconvenient for someone in a European timezone; the earliest possible sessions during the week were at 10 or 11pm usually booked out, with 2am or so being available.
I'm told this is because Rosetta Stone's version 4 has only been properly released in the states, and they say this month they will release it in the UK. Even so, this leaves a lot of time zones not covered and I had to work my learning around these strange availabilities which slowed me down.
If you live in the states this likely won't be an issue; although other timeslots may not be available as a consequence, such as if you prefer to do it late in the evening due to work restrictions. Rosetta Stone reply to this to say that as they grow internationally, their services will expand correspondingly and suggest that they could take requests for time slots and attempt to accommodate you.
But once I was in the class, I can say that my first ever experience speaking Dutch was indeed within the Rosetta Stone environment! My teacher was incredibly patient, and refused to switch to English consistent with the program philosophy discussed below , no matter how much I was struggling; something I agree with is difficult to maintain but an obvious wise decision for the learner's benefits.
In my first two sessions I had a teacher all to myself and found each session to be incredibly useful. After that all my sessions were in groups, and I actually felt much more like I was back in a classroom to be honest.
Unlike private lessons I may occasionally take when learning a language, they have a very fixed program they follow and questions or games they need to get through in a 50 minute session. This is all part of the master plan of the program, which is fair enough, but I would personally have preferred to just chat with the teacher. The justification for this is that the program teaches you particular vocabulary before the session and from their overall plan it would not make sense to ask you random questions, since you wouldn't be prepared to answer them.
However, as explained below this was not possible at all for my language combination. They also attempt to get learners to ask one another questions so at least some amount of independence is encouraged. Luckily they were patient with me if I went off on tangents, so you can be somewhat flexible if you have a teacher to yourself, but of course less so in a group session.
There were no indications before entering the class if you would be alone or with others, or how many have signed up already. I would find this information helpful, even if people can sign up 15 minutes into a class or cancel at the last minute. You can sign up for fixed lessons an unlimited number of times, but since the same content is covered I can only see this as being practical for reviewing twice or three times maximum. There are four units per level, so this could ultimately mean 12 very distinct or more if you feel like repeating a lesson private or very small group lessons included in the price.
To me, this was the greatest justification of a higher price than the reasons I give below. You can hire teachers to get Skype lessons much cheaper elsewhere, but it would be hard to find people so integrated into such a complex system like this.
This was clearly my favourite part of the whole application and what I got the most value out of. Without this to work towards as it was in previous versions I would have given up on using the program due to frustrations in the learning interface, but having something meaningful to work towards kept me going. Interesting philosophy: Rosetta stone works with no use of your native language It was explained to me that Rosetta Stone was founded by people who appreciated learning by immersion and had learned languages abroad in immersive environments.
They wanted to emulate this as closely as possible for people who can't travel, while making it still affordable. Of course I have other recommendations if you can't travel, but the base concept even if there are aspects of it I disagree with makes sense.
I don't particularly feel immersion is something you can package a generic version of, but they've done a good job of trying. One interesting aspect is how they have no English at all in the program apart from the containing interface. They never present a translation of anything. It's all represented in photos and untranslated audio and text. While I think there are major issues with this discussed below , the idea of not using your native language is an interesting one that definitely holds a lot of potential.
I have to admit that I as many learners do typically learn a lot through English i. I'm sure there is a danger of slowing me down and thinking viaEnglish at times, which is an issue this program successfully avoids. But I find many similarities myself. Such learning approaches have big advantages, but as those who read the blog know, I disagree with the concept and feel that we can take advantage the fact that we are adults and can have things explained to us in more complex ways than being presented with some images and audio.
The devotion to learning in such a simple way even though the research behind it is very complex made me learn very slowly in Rosetta Stone. After days of using the program intensely, I felt I would have learned the same words and phrases dramatically quicker using other approaches.
I believe them that they have carried out this research, but I still disagree based on my experience. I only made it half way through my set, but I can't imagine how completing all 3 levels would get you out of what I would definitely call basic level. It's a clever idea, but I don't see it as a major improvement over alternatives. Outside of the program, this native-only content is expanded to the audio. I copied the audio to my MP3 player and listened to it as I jogged in the morning, repeating all the phrases when requested.
I tried something similar when I reviewed Pimsleur in great detail. Even though Pimsleur is entirely audio, and so you would think their audio would be superior, I actually prefer Rosetta Stone's audio.
Apart from instructions like repeat, listen etc. It is based on what you would have gone through for that unit, so you should actually recognise everything and this is a great chance to try to work on your pronunciation and test yourself to see if you understand what's going on.
Even though it's an improvement on Pimsleur whose audio is almost entirely English or repetitions , I still found it a bit tedious after a few sessions and think that actual native content such as a podcast would have been more helpful to recreate an immersive environment.
But of course, it's all part of the greater whole and philosophy of the program to only present you with words you should know already. In this sense, the interconnectedness of the entire set; actual lessons, audio, games, live classes etc.
You won't be put under much stress in this program to see or hear things you haven't come across before. This makes it an enjoyable learning environment, although hardly a realistic one in my view. Krashen's input hypothesis Rosetta Stone reply to this saying that the pace and structure is based on the Comprehensible Input Hypothesis of Stephen Krashen, whose research has made huge and important contributions to linguistics in the 20th century.
While I have issues with how far otherwise interesting research is being taken as being the basis of your entire learning technique, I have to admit that Rosetta Stone applies that approach the most effectively that I've seen so far. Over the long-term, purely recognisable input as a learning strategy is more enjoyable than the stressful situations you would encounter in immersive environments, but you learn quicker with that pressure and it's simply more realistic to how the world will present you with situations and words that you aren't prepared for yet.
Of course, many people would like to get eased into a language through a system like Rosetta Stone, and then feel prepared to dive into conversations at the end. It sounds fantastic, only that I feel that after all 3 levels you would still not feel ready for the vast majority of conversations you are likely to have. You will have the struggle to speak no matter what. If you compare it to easing yourself into cold water, I consider the amount you would learn in the whole system of 3 levels equivalent to dipping a toe in, rather than slowly easing your whole body or at least your legs in.
If you are a fan of Krashen's research then you will love Rosetta Stone. I agree with a lot of what Krashen says, but think that most people take it too far. Reasons for why Rosetta Stone is so expensive, and is it worth the money? One great aspect of doing this review was that Rosetta Stone put me in touch with people high up in the company.
We had a fascinating discussion where I was given a live tour of the software and explained intricate details of what goes on in the background. One of my first questions to them was about the price tag; why does it cost several hundred dollars when you ultimately receive what physically costs much less to produce a USB microphone, one software CD per level for your computer and 4 audio CDs per level, packaging and an activation code.
And as I say above, I do feel the 12 minute sessions with a native must count for something in this.
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English U. Through images, intuition, interactivity, instruction, and immersion, you can learn a new language. There is absolutely no memorizing involved. Hard to believe? I wanted to see this for myself, so I tried out the program. The installation process took about 10 minutes, including actual installation and set-up. Before getting started, the software builds your course based on what you want to learn. For example, I had already learned the Hebrew alphabet, so I chose not to focus on learning this.
Each language program is divided into levels, sold separately or in bundles. And levels expand on what was previously learned. Rosetta Stone has just recently updated some of their language programs, including Hebrew, adding a third level to the series.
New vocabulary is introduced at the beginning of each lesson, and then worked with during each activity. The activities in the lessons are extremely simple and user-friendly, with no complicated instructions. Every screen incorporates sound and pictures, helping you associate them with the words and phrases. The activities teach different aspects of the language, including reading, writing, listening, grammar, pronunciation, speaking, and review. Every so often you are given a scheduled review activity, making sure you remember what you previously learned.
Unlike the other activities, these cannot be skipped. The box includes a high quality headset with a microphone, which is used for the pronunciation and speaking exercises. The microphone is very helpful, especially for practicing everyday, back-and-forth conversation.
It also allows you to constantly hear words and phrases being said, training you to remember the correct pronunciation with accent, not just the words. For example, it was a challenge to tell the difference between apartment and house.
However, I just continued the lesson and eventually figured out what the words meant. To summarize the program, I felt like I was learning by magic. The system is easy, fun, quick, and sometimes even reminiscent of a video game. Rosetta Stone is an enjoyable and efficient way to learn a language. It will also run on an Apple Macintosh, operating system For more information, or to order, visit Amazon.
Software Companies Mentioned.