I’m using Rosetta Stone to learn a new language in order to be prepared for a month and a half in the country of its origin. Learning new things seems to get harder the older I get. So I’m thankful for programs like this that break it down for me in manageable bits. But Rosetta Stone certainly has its positives and negatives. Here are some I’ve noticed so far:
- breaks language-learning into bite-sized activities/lessons
- allows you to repeat a lesson you did poorly in so you can learn from your mistakes
- goes back to review lessons from the past so things stay fresh in your mind
- wide variety of cultures and ethnicities represented in photos
- you can often guess the correct answer by process of elimination, rather than by understanding why it is correct
- the lessons don’t always make you feel prepared for the unit review at the end of the unit
- sometimes you get answers wrong because you couldn’t see clearly that the fill-in-the-blank was in a dialogue box instead of just a description of the scene
- the microphone doesn’t always pick up what you’re saying
And a couple things that bother me that might not bother everyone:
- they use the format of the first day of the week beginning on Monday, which really screws me up because I think of Sunday as the first day of the week.
- when learning the names of different countries, sometimes photos show people from those countries wearing traditional garb, rather than depicting them as how they probably dress in regular life. I know it’s probably the easiest way to trigger the language learner’s knowledge of where the person in the photo is supposedly from, but I think it oversimplifies the beauty and complexity of culture/nationality, and that can perpetuate stereotypes of those cultures.
Overall, Rosetta Stone has been a helpful stepping stone to learning a new language. But it is based on the premise that immersion is the best way to learn a new language (which is true), without it actually being the immersion experience it claims to be (immersion would mean being surrounded by the language and picking up things by living in it). But whatever, even if it’s not going to make you fluent, it’s a helpful tool to get you to feel comfortable with some aspects of the language and help in taking the next steps towards fluency.
To work up to fluency, you’re going to have to take more drastic steps: actual classes with a teacher and fellow students, living with a native speaker of the language you’re trying to learn and only speaking that at home, or spending a few months living in the country of its origin and making sure you engage consistently with the native population in their language.
I hope this review was helpful for those of you who are on a journey to learn a new language. Good luck!