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Rosetta Stone, or other language software?
Old 03-16-2009, 11:49 AM   #1
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Rosetta Stone, or other language software?

Our kid's become enamored of learning other languages, and like most teens she gravitates toward expensive tech as the ultimate solution (e.g, minimal personal effort). She's already taken the requisite two years of high-school Spanish, she watches TV & DVDs with Spanish subtitles, and she and my spouse practice their conversational Spanglish. She's even working on pidgin Russian with a Turkmenistan exchange student and reading library books on learning the Russian language. So she seems to have the motivation and the basic ability to learn the fundamentals. She's just casting about for a better way to learn.

Her "problem" is that she thinks Rosetta Stone is what everyone needs to make language as easy as learning to type. We have no idea how to assess its effectiveness and of course I'm skeptical, but it's not my problem. She's e-mailed my nephew the Army Ranger to ask if he's used the product for his Iraq deployment, but it may be a few weeks before he gets back to her. In the meantime she's run through Rosetta's demo DVD and, surprise surprise, it seems to perform miracles. We parents would be happy to help out at a gift occasion, but those are months away and the gimmes are burning a hole in her pocket. She has a part-time job and a student ID from a local community college so she's eventually going to come up with the money, which will probably result in a whole 'nother type of life lesson. But I might just be cynical.

Anyone here a Rosetta Stone user? More generally, anyone know a better way to "try before you buy" a language tool? If she decides it's worth her hours of paid labor, what's the best way to find a student or military discount?
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Old 03-16-2009, 12:36 PM   #2
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USAF uses it for language training. In Air War College we have a language elective that uses it. A buddy down the hall just finished it and said it was really helpful. Very comprehensive, video, audio, and words.

Also state dept and other 3 ltr orgs use it.

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Old 03-16-2009, 12:52 PM   #3
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This one seems attractively priced.

BBC - Languages - Homepage
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Old 03-16-2009, 01:02 PM   #4
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Nords, I have been starting to look into this. I've spoken with 3 friends I have that have used Rosetta Stone (One Italian and two Spanish). They all raved on its innovative effectiveness. I'm starting to think seriously about it. (Know this isn't exactly the feedback you're looking for, sorry.)

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Old 03-16-2009, 01:07 PM   #5
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As a holder of a nearly useless Bachelor of Arts degree in a certain foreign language, I recall we had many e-resources in our computer lab at the local State U. I think Rosetta stone was one of them. And that was 10 years ago. Maybe try a local library, ask a librarian how to access it there. Then follow up at the community college library if she has access and privileges there. Sometimes you can get access to the local State U library for a small fee or for free if you are a member of an affiliate library (comm. college or local library system). Depending on your interpretation of our intellectual property laws, you could probably find a free copy floating around on teh intarnets somewhere to try before you buy (but I have no idea about that really ).

Maybe used from somewhere? Craigslist?
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Old 03-16-2009, 01:16 PM   #6
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My husband used Rosetta Stone for Russian - he didn't like the technique of looking at pictures and then trying to identify what the word was - he wanted to listen to tapes of the conversation in the car - also you are limited to being in front of the computer to do your studying.

He just purchased another CD set for German for $3 - it's not necessarily Rosetta Stone, but it will work with diligence. Frankly for you daughter, if she's had the two years, she could check out Spanish books or newspapers or go to Spanish sites to practice the reading and if there is Spanish television that might help. When I was in Ecuador, they wanted me to watch Spanish TV for more of that 'immersion' technique.

I am currently taking a German class - the book comes with a CD and of course we had class to practice as well. This cost me 90 euro for a 6 week course.

Does the community college have something she could use? Also, my local library had access to Rosetta Stone at the library only - might check that out.
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Old 03-16-2009, 01:30 PM   #7
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Rosetta Stone is really great, it was used in our NASA office for folks going overseas. I bought a used copy and liked it. I have a new operating system so would have to purchase a new version and I am considering doing that.
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Old 03-16-2009, 02:11 PM   #8
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Nords,
I have been looking at Rosetta Stone also. Have not made a decision yet, but the Exchange Store online has the best price i have seen so far.
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Old 03-16-2009, 02:15 PM   #9
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OK - got a better update from husband - he did not like Rosetta Stone - the Russian was just teaching words and phrases, not conversational Russian. He also said it relied on negative reinforcement in the beginning - he got through 6 modules of the Russian and does have some working knowledge of the language due to the Russian movies he had to watch as a child in Poland :-) (To this day he *hates* the Russian national anthem).

So, it's a YMMV situation.
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Old 03-16-2009, 05:12 PM   #10
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If you're going to spend tons of money go with Pimsleur, that'll get you conversing faster with tradeoff being smaller vocabulary range.

If you're willing to sit in front of a computer use one of the many cheap or free language learning podcasts, especially if you have a couple years under your belt so basic grammar is mastered but practice practice practice is needed:

Learn Spanish - SpanishPod
Radio Lingua Network | Learn Spanish online with free podcasts
LingQ - The future of language learning
Learn Spanish with Notes in Spanish Podcasts! : Notes in Spanish - Learn Spanish with Podcast Audio Conversation from Spain.

I've not used Rosetta but they make some claims that are impossible to quantify to anyone can throw them out there.
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Old 03-16-2009, 05:50 PM   #11
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I spent so many hours in the language lab as a Russian major that my roommate said I was speaking Russian in my sleep. That was all repeating phrases from a tape. Language learning has come a long way from those days.

I used Rosetta Stone for Spanish and I really liked it. My SIL used Pimsleur because she wanted to do it while riding in the car or walking around.
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Old 03-16-2009, 07:59 PM   #12
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Try your library (or interlibrary loan if HI does this) to give Pimsleur a test drive. They seem to be a fairly popular library language staple.

I have been using their Spanish series (from my local library) for a while in preparation for my relocation south of the border. They definitely won't get you fluent; but, they are great for MP3 players, car stereos, etc. since they are an almost entirely audio series.

I'm frankly not sure they would be worth the money if I had to buy them; but, they are definitely helpful when the price is free.
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Old 03-16-2009, 09:50 PM   #13
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I am just starting with Rosetta Stone for Spanish (que pasa!), but I'm pretty pleased. I have never taken a language (except English) in my life, having made it through a high school and BS degree without it.

DW is more language literate (some French, Spanish, a little talian). She has taught herself a fair bit of Dutch using a Rosetta Stone program she bought a few years ago.

I believe RS has replaced Berlitz as the method of choice for most govt. and military training.

Having said all that, it's your dime. I suspect you can buy the classes used (Craigslist, etc). IMHO encouraging language training is a very positive thing. I wish now I hadn't avoided it so diligently.
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Old 03-16-2009, 11:50 PM   #14
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... and that's a great point, on the positive thing.

Of all the stupid **** kids can get into and want to blow money on, you're certainly fortunate that something like language learning has popped up.

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Old 03-17-2009, 03:47 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deserat View Post

I am currently taking a German class - the book comes with a CD and of course we had class to practice as well. This cost me 90 euro for a 6 week course.
I'm sure someone from your German class has already told you about it, but if not, I can recommend Deutsche Welle's online language program for German. It goes up to B1 level. You can also download the series and listen to them on your personal MP3 player or in the car.

Deutsch - warum nicht? | Deutsche Welle

Check out the other language resources on there as well. Where in Germany are you? We're staying in Bad Mergentheim for a while, a little SW of Würzburg.
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Old 03-17-2009, 10:10 AM   #16
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Thanks for the info & links, everyone. I'm going to pass them all on to her so that she can decide what she wants to do. I'm glad I asked-- most of these ideas never occurred to me, including the Navy Exchange.

It's interesting watching the teen decision-making process. (This requires the huge and probably invalid assumption that teens actually have a decision-making process, let alone a thought process.) After the 10th or 15th exposure to ad without a seemingly viable competing product, a teen's only remaining questions become "how" and "when" to acquire it-- no longer "if". (Maybe we should call this "the Apple product syndrome".) But when an alternative can be identified, then teen & parent can proceed to the next step of mocking the original ad that tried to control her decision-making process. So now she has choices.

She's already making decisions, including the decision that she knows all there is to know about the decision-making process. Best we parents can hope for is to keep giving her more tools to help her with the process. She certainly lacks that ol' familiar feeling of "buyer's remorse", so it's time for us to just step back and let her improve her own learning process. I am ready to be relieved.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tiuxiu View Post
... and that's a great point, on the positive thing.
Of all the stupid **** kids can get into and want to blow money on, you're certainly fortunate that something like language learning has popped up.
Yeah, if this is the biggest problem we have...

I want to exchange my "sex/drugs/rock&roll" parenting manual for the one titled "Help, my teen just figured out that she's smarter than me!" The only tools I have left are my superior stamina and my long-term perspective. Even my humorous witticisms are getting dull from excessive use.
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Old 03-17-2009, 10:21 AM   #17
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Fluenz!!

Love it!!Rossetta stone is great for learning lotsa words but for learning a language, Pimsleur or Fluenz is much better.The best way is to go to go to an immersion school for a few weeks. In Guatemala you can go for a several weeks for under a thousand dollars, everything included.
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Old 03-17-2009, 10:48 AM   #18
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As you can get Rosetta Stone for about 500, and Pimsleur for about 600, for about $1000 you could use both. Question is, if you use Rosetta to learn words, would Pimsleur be easier? This may sound weird, but I am not interested in writing Spanish at all, heck can't spell most english words above three letters, speaking at a rudamentary level would be fine, but I want to be able to listen and understand what is being said, like watching Spanish TV. Or understanding the side conversations that take place so often here in Texas.
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Old 03-17-2009, 11:28 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rustic23 View Post
As you can get Rosetta Stone for about 500, and Pimsleur for about 600, for about $1000 you could use both. Question is, if you use Rosetta to learn words, would Pimsleur be easier? This may sound weird, but I am not interested in writing Spanish at all, heck can't spell most english words above three letters, speaking at a rudamentary level would be fine, but I want to be able to listen and understand what is being said, like watching Spanish TV. Or understanding the side conversations that take place so often here in Texas.
Some years ago I was fluent in Spanish from living in Latin America. I had done a Berlitz crash course before I left, and I had a tutor down there. He taught by walking around the city with me, making small comments about what we saw, inviting me to respond or to comment also. Then he would correct me. I never could conduct an intelligent conversation about poetry or philosophy, but day to day business and social life was reasonably smooth.

IMO, by far the best is to have a teacher, in Latin America or Spain ideally, but it can help here too. Get a private teacher, and stay away from English speakers. Once you know a little, you can learn an amazing amount in bars.

Over time I lost most of it but the ear. For review, I did all three levels of Pimsleur, and in fact I still have them. They are handy in the car, they teach quite a bit, but I do not think you will be able to understand Spanish TV from them. For one thing, the speakers go slow and easy, whereas many Spanish speakers are very rapid. Also, the street Spanish you mainly hear in the US is slurred and hard to catch even when you are able to understand educated speakers pretty well.

The other thing is vocabulary is necessary to understand almost anything beyond very limited, stilted lessons. And at least to my memory Pimsleur is not very good at getting enough words into your head.

I used a set of cartoon books and tapes about 20 years ago to refresh for a trip back. I can't remember the name of this course. It was excellent. It showed a panel, a short written description or comment in spanish, and the same was given on the tape. No English was ever spoken or written. You never have to try to remember what to say- it just comes more or less naturally after a while.

To me this is ideal. If Rosetta Stone is a lot like this it should work pretty well. It would still be a partial solution, but after finishing it you could see how you wanted to proceed.

Ha
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Old 03-17-2009, 12:00 PM   #20
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I used to be fluent in German but since I moved to the US I've had little opportunity to use it and I have quickly lost my fluency. A few years ago I tried Plimseur in an attempt to get back in the groove but I thought it was really boring. I felt like a parrot, constantly repeating useless sentences. I hated spending hours in the language lab in school, mindlessly talking into a microphone with no real feedback, and Plimseur pretty much threw me right back in there. If your are really serious about learning a foreign language then I think that immersion is the only way to become fluent once you have acquired the basics. When I arrived in the US for the first time, I had 10 years of English under my belt (classes, language lab, reading english newspaper and magazines, "conversation" practices,...). As soon as I stepped off the airplane in Philadelphia, I started feeling like I had never spoken a word of English in my life! People spoke fast, with all kind of different accents, and the conversation was not scripted... In other words I wasn't prepared at all to speak English in the real world!

Now, we all learn differently. What works for somebody might not work for somebody else. But I think that putting yourself in a situation where you get instant feedback is the best way to make noticeable progress.
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