All About Rosetta Stone Language Software

Learn how the foreign language software Rosetta Stone can make language learning fun and effective for you and your family.

All language software is not created equal. It can be very difficult to learn a foreign language if you are not living in the country where that language is spoken. The Rosetta Stone is a very comprehensive language learning program that offers opportunities for listening, speaking, reading and writing, thus making it a good choice for those who want to learn how to speak the language, as opposed to learning via the textbook method, which often result in individuals being able to read the language better than being able to speak it.

Rosetta Stone offers language-learning programs in 28 different languages, including some that are difficult to find coursework in locally, such Swahili and Welsh. The software also differentiates between American and British English, as well as the Spanish spoken in Latin America and that spoken in Spain. No wonder Rosetta Stone software has been used by the Department of State, the Peace Corps and NASA.

The method used is modeled after immersion. Although somewhat pricey, at around $200, each set of software offers up to 400 hours of instruction. How many hours of instruction you receive from the software will depend on how many competencies you wish to learn. For example, if you are not interested in learning writing, you will spend far fewer hours working with the software. Each unit builds on the vocabulary and structures of the unit before it, which is sound language learning instruction. Within each unit, you have the option to set the program where you both read and hear the words being spoken, only hear the words, have the option of typing the words or speaking the words into a microphone. This latter feature is intended for use as a tool for the software to check your accent, with an indicator bar giving you the green light if your accent is up to par. However, the voice recognition software focuses on tonal sounds. I, with my near-perfect Spanish accent, was unable to get out of the red, while my teenage son, a new learner, was able to get the green light every time. I lowered my voice to the timbre of his, and the software gave me the green light. Unfortunately, soon after, my son discovered that if he made up nonsense words but said them with the same inflection and deep tone of voice, that the program would give him the green light.

While the voice recognition feature has proven to be disappointing, at least with the version of the program we are using, the other features are excellent. When you are ready to take dictation and type the phrases that the program gives you, you have the option of setting it on an easy or difficult level. If you choose the difficult level, the program will alert you to any errors that you have made in regard to accents, etc. This is an excellent feature, as it does not permit a serious learner to overlook some of the minutia of learning a language.

The program also has the advantage of not telling you the answers. Rather, it encourages you to find them out for yourself. This takes longer, but the repetition ensures that you will remember the lesson. At the beginning of a typical lesson, a word will flash on the screen, and the pleasant voice of a native speaker will say it. There are four pictorial possibilities that you can choose from. Click on the correct picture, and you will go to the next screen. If you do not get it right the first time, the program will give you more chances. On the side, it will keep track of the number of your correct and incorrect answers, thus giving you valuable feedback as to whether or not you should repeat a lesson. Once you reach the point where you are getting the answers correct, you can repeat the lesson in a different way, choosing to only listen to the words without seeing them on the screen, or choosing to transcribe them. There are also opportunities to take groups of words and put the sentences in order.

The entire effect can be very fun. Using the Rosetta Stone software does not feel akin to being in a typical language classroom, rather, it feels as though you are playing a game on the computer, which in essence, I suppose you are.

An added advantage that the Rosetta Stone offers is that it does not give instruction in English. Aside from the immersion advantage, this is also useful for language learners whose primary language is not English. For example a speaker of Russian could easily use the Spanish software. There are endless language learning permutations that are possible.

Rosetta Stone is appropriate for adults or children. As long as a child is able to click an object on a screen, he or she should be able to use the listening and identifying feature of the Rosetta Stone software. To our surprise, we discovered that our six year old enjoys it a great deal. Individuals who would like to use the program for homeschooling purposes can purchase a special homeschool version, which allows the parent to set up lessons for multiple users. This version comes with a workbook, quizzes and unit tests and can be used with the administrator software, which does not allow student flexibility with the lessons, or without it, which comes in handy when the parents would like to use the software to practice a specific skill. Children will not get full use out of the homeschooling version until their reading level has reached a middle school level, as the workbook activities and quizzes will most likely be too difficult. The fun tone of the software carries over into the workbook, which uses graphics, word searches and crossword puzzles in addition to standard grammar exercises. The homeschool version is available in all of the languages offered, which is a bonus if you have a child who is interested in a language that is not offered locally. It also comes with a detailed guide on how to use the software in this manner as well as an additional guide full of helpful tips to help your child learn the new language.

Overall, Rosetta Stone software is an excellent investment. If you know that you are going to pursue learning the language until you are proficient, with some languages, you can purchase two sets at a substantial discount, as opposed to buying the beginning set early on, and the advanced set later. A third set is also offered in some languages for learners who want to achieve absolute proficiency. Another option is to purchase a subscription to their software via the internet. You can then practice online as opposed to using the boxed set of CD's. This will be most economical if only one person wants to learn the language and is committed to spending a substantial amount of time each day practicing. The Rosetta Stone website also allows users to try an online demo of their software.

Even with its language recognition difficulties, at least with the Latin American version, Rosetta Stone software is far above the competition. If you are seeking to learn a language in a fun, natural way, and can't leave the country for a few months for a natural immersion experience, Rosetta Stone is the way to go. Even if you can leave the country, take Rosetta Stone with you as a tutor. With its online portability, you will find that it can enhance your language learning experience anywhere.

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