There can be very few people around today who have not yet heard of the Rosetta Stone language courses so I could not really avoid writing a Rosetta Stone review for BadatLanguage and so without further ado, here is my finished Rosetta review..
A History Lesson
The company was founded in 1992 originally as Fairfield Language Technologies by Allen Stoltzfus and Dr. John Fairfield, a PhD Computer Scientist. The software was named Rosetta Stone and the company name itself was changed to Rosetta Stone in 2006. Stoltzfus was looking for a way to reproduce the real life immersion experience which helped him to learn a language and so Rosetta Stone was born.
The name Rosetta Stone actually comes from an ancient artifact discovered in Egypt in 1799 that helped with deciphering hieroglyphics which had been something of a mystery up to then. The artifict is to this day on display in the British Museum in London although it wont really help you learn any language now.
- Interactive software utilizing advanced speech recognition technology.
- Live online lessons so you can practice conversation with real live native speakers.
- Audio companion to load on to your mp3 player to further asist learning.
- Games and community to play and interact with to further enhance learning.
- Headset with microphone included to use with the speech-recognition software.
- Mobile companion app for your iphone or ipod touch and for some androids.
The Magic Sauce
The Rosetta Stone system is built around images along with text, sound and conversation in an interactive environmemt and is designed to give you a feeling of total immersion in a foreign language, or as near as it is possible to get on a computer, which in theory replicates the method by which we all learn our first language.
Instead of forcing you to memorize long lists of words and complex grammatical rules, the system immerses you in the learning environment where language is acquired in a natural way by a kind of osmosis, it’s a combination of passive and active learning.
Interactive sessions encourage you to actually use the language and you soon find yourself easily progressing on to more complex topics. This learning is then given a major boost by the addition of live online conversation practice sessions with native speakers which has to be one of the best aspects of the current generation of Rosetta Stone and one which helps set it apart from the competition.
Also a key part of the latest Rosetta Stone software is some fancy-pants speech-recognition technology. Using this you can basically speak to the app (using the included headset) and it will tell you if you are saying and pronouncing words correctly. You even get to simulate a real conversation at the end of each lesson.
Overall this system is what they call Dynamic Immersion and is fundamental to the Rosetta Stone method which they claim actually activates your natural language-learning abilities which all certainly looks and sounds very impressive.
At the end of the day this all boils down to two key elements – immersion and interaction. These two make for a killer combination that pretty much guarantees progress with language learning as long as you stick with it and work through all the lessons and practice sessions.
Ever fond of buzzwords, Rosetta Stone also employs what they call Adaptive Recall. This works like a kind of intelligent progress review process operating at varying performance dependent intervals. If the system considers you to be making better than expected progress it extends the intervals and if you under-perform it shortens the intervals between reviews to help you learn and get up to speed. Basically this is a form of spaced repetition which is commonly used in language learning programs an is known to be an effective tactic for learning.
There are in most languages 3 levels at the moment but with some there are actually 5 levels and each level is estimated to take approximately 40 to 50 hours to complete so there is quite a substantial quantity of learning material to go through here. You can also dip in and out of lessons as you like and continue where you left off however as with other language courses it is generally better to stick to regular, systematic studies, preferably doing some every day.
The company claims that millions of learners around the world have used the Rosetta Stone system including the likes of NASA, the US Government and Military, as well as over 10,000 schools so it’s most assuredly a serious education system.
- The basics, such as age and family relations
- Questions, greetings, introductions
- Telling time, calendar terms, the weather
- Directions, locations, dining out
- Emotions, opinions, ideas
- Political, media, business terms
- Arranging home repairs
- Planning to move abroad
- Discussing the arts and tourism
- Careers and conducting interviews
- Problem-solving and commercial transactions
System Requirements for Version 4 TOTALe
Rosetta Stone, particularly the current TOTALe version, is a relatively demanding software application with some quite specifc requirements so make sure your PC (or Mac) matches the specs listed below to avoid problems..
- Windows: XP SP3, Vista SP2, or Windows 7
- Mac: Tiger, Leopard, or Snow Leopard (OS X 10.4.11 or higher)
- Minimum 1 GHz processor with 1GB RAM
- Broadband Internet connection
- 1024 x 768 display resolution
- 1 available USB port (for included headset with microphone)
Sadly it appears that there is no Linux support for Rosetta Stone these days. Whether it could be made to work well with WINE is another matter but I certainly wouldn’t bet the farm on it.
Here is a selection of comments snagged from reviews made by customers on Amazon, given by people who bought and used Rosetta Stone language courses..
- “About as impressive as computer based courses can get”
- “Rosetta is for a person intent on learning a language in a serious way”
- “The ultimate in language immersion – requires a lot of commitment”
- “Absolutely works and IS worth the money”
- “Addictive, fun, and effective”
- “Quintessential Language Learning”
Rosetta Stone frequently gets 5 star reviews and has also won loads of awards over the years so you can be sure it really is a great system. For the most part any negative reviews are on technical issues which are in many cases beyond the control of Rosetta such as hardware failures, infected PC’s and such like and in some cases due to people inadvertently purchasing pirated copies which later broke leaving them with no support from Rosetta.
To ensure you don’t mistakenly buy a unsupported copy, make sure it always says “Ships from and sold by Amazon.com.” on the product page so as not to be stuck having bought a pirate copy from a disreputable vendor that somehow managed to get listed on Amazon.
Also it is important to make sure your system meets the minimum hardware and operating system requirements as specified by Rosetta Stone and which I have listed above – but check the current requirements on the product page just in case there have been any recent updates.
Where To Buy
The best place to buy Rosetta Stone courses is Amazon which as always provides excellent customer service and typically also offers free shipping. You can buy individual levels or complete 5 level bundles which are much better value if you are serious about learning a language (potentially saving hundreds of dollars over buying each level separately). Click here to view on Amazon
There is also a downloadble version so if thats is what you want look out for “Sold by Amazon Digital Services, Inc.” which shows on product pages selling the download version. However it is over 2000MB which is quite a large file to download so make sure your internet connection is up to the task, otherwise just get the regular CD version instead.
Although it may seem expensive, Rosetta Stone has so much going on to keep you engaged and learning, from interactive lessons, pictures, text and sound, an audio companion and a mobile app to take with you, live conversation sessions, language games and an active community so you’re really immersed in every way possible and will be hard-pressed NOT to learn a language using it. I would certainly say it is well worth it and you should buy Rosetta Stone now if you truly wish to learn a foreign language.