Baby boomer travelers, visiting a foreign country is a better experience when you understand the language. Unfortunately, if you’re a baby boomer who was educated in the United States, competency in a foreign language wasn’t emphasized. Sure, many of us took Spanish, French, Latin or maybe German in high school; but if your experience was anything like mine, it didn’t prepare you to speak the language. Now that we have the time and desire to learn a foreign language, who’s going to teach us? Rosetta Stone.
Specializing in language immersion techniques, Rosetta Stone offers over 30 language courses with a varying number of levels depending on the language. The computer software program relies on words, pictures and the voices of native speakers rather than dictionaries and grammar books to teach the language. And students proceed at their own pace.
When I moved to Tucson almost ten years ago, one of my goals was to learn Spanish. Recently, Rosetta Stone offered me a 4-week demo of their online learning course. I knew it was finally time to begin those Spanish lessons.
After logging in and choosing Spanish (Latin America), the lessons began. Images, paired with Spanish words, appeared on the screen as native speakers pronounced them. Each session included a core lesson plus segments on pronunciation, listening, speaking, grammar, review, reading, writing and vocabulary. With no English translation to guide me, the words and phrases became instinctive rather than terms I translated in my head before speaking.
I zipped through the first session but soon slowed down as the learning became more complex. Several times, I didn’t understand how I was supposed to proceed, but eventually, the response became obvious to me. Each segment of the course was graded. If I missed too many answers, I was encouraged to repeat that segment. As the difficulty increased, I found the writing segment to be the hardest for me. When I entered the wrong answer, I couldn’t find any clues as to what would have been the correct response. On one session, I knew that I had spelled it all correctly. Eventually, I realized that I hadn’t capitalized the first word in each sentence. Duh. I guess that’s what they mean by intuitive learning. I would have been less frustrated if I could have accessed a hint or help guide.
Rosetta Stone courses come with CD language software, USB headset with microphone, User’s Guide and an Audio Companion, a multi-CD set to play on your computer or download to a MP3 player. The software system is compatible with Mac OS X 10.4 or 10.5, Windows 2000, XP or Vista. Courses may be purchased individually or as combination sets. With prices beginning at $229 for a level one course, the learning is a bit pricey. But, in my opinion, you get what you pay for. I found the product to provide a quality learning experience.