Also be sure to check out the Essential Language Learning Tools page for recommendations on the best resources for getting started learning another language. Does it work or is it just a well-marketed waste of time? Because of this it can be a challenge for fence-sitters to find reliable feedback. Although there are some affiliate links here there are no Rosetta Stone commission links in this article and no links to my own product. I should also add that this review has been updated to cover the latest Version 5 from my original review of Version 3, not including the games, mobile apps and inflexible, teacher-directed lessons. I will state from the outset however that I agree with most that the program is indeed outrageously expensive. For the average home user this is unjustifiably expensive. The RS pricing on its website has changed massively since this review was first written. With the rise and popularity of subscription payment options for many products and services online, RS has made a move in the same direction.
There are currently 2 purchase options all of which offer the same content but different features for Rosetta Stone: Online Subscription across all devices: Roughly 10 in-person, private lessons with a language instructor in your own area approx. Or at a slightly higher price though much lower than Rosetta Stone the audio component of the Rocket Languages series mentioned above is outstanding. You can select a language here to sample it and compare the pricing with Rosetta Stone: For those of you who do have RS or are planning to get it anyway despite the cost, keep reading! If you buy the CD or downloadable version, you own it for life. Now… on to the content review. Rosetta Stone prides itself on being an immersion tool that never uses L1 translations or explanations, forcing the user to rely solely on their own intuition while gradually acquiring the language content necessary for the next level.
Why do I need to figure stuff out when I can just Google it? People treat information the same way they treat food these days. There are plenty of Rosetta Stone reviews out there but I wanted to embed one video review here that was put up recently about the Arabic version as the no explanation issue was one of the main criticisms that the reviewer had and also to share her other points for the sake of balance. She explains how she drove across town to get a translation for something that she almost certainly would have inferred on her own with a little patience. Just to give you an example, I can recall one lesson where vocabulary for death, birth and marriage were introduced along with sentence structures to describe how long ago a person was born, got married, died, etc. The pictures gave a good enough indication of what was going on but there was quite a lot of unfamiliar content too.
There was never the option of driving across town for a translation. Speech styles and honorifics. There are so many excellent programs that can teach you a language, no matter what your needs or your budget. Sure, Google Translate is getting better all the time, but you just can't rely on it for everything! Here you'll find information about the ten best options for learning a language yourself, including the best free programs, the best for beginners, and the best for those who want to brush up their skills in a particular language. Duolingo is available as both a web app and mobile app, and it works well whether you're a total beginner or have some experience with a language. If you've studied the language before, you can take a placement test in Duolingo so that you don't have to start at square one. Duolingo has a wonderful interface that's easy to use. It also presents bite-size learning, making it a great tool for studying in short sessions.
You can set a goal for your daily learning schedule, and some gamification aspects encourage you to hit that goal consistently. If you're motivated by leaderboards, points, and in-app rewards, Duolingo will keep you enticed. We highly recommend Duolingo either on its own or as a companion to another language-study program. At present, Duolingo has programs in 26 languages: There are some language-learning courses in beta, and four more that are "hatching," which means they are in development and not quite open for use: Arabic, Hawaiian, Hindi, and Indonesian. In other words, these languages will be available in the future. Rosetta Stone has an excellent and stable system, and the experience of using it is smooth as glass. While some people may complain that the content is repetitive and a little dry, the deductive learning method it uses stands out as being much more memorable than most other programs that use, say, flashcards as their primary learning mechanic. We also like that the lessons are consistent in length, so you always know how much time you need to invest to complete a section.
Rosetta Stone keeps track of your progress, scores you as you complete exercises, and repeats important ideas at the right intervals to help you keep them fresh in your mind. It incorporates reading, writing, speaking, and listening equally, and it has optional e-tutoring sessions in which you can take a class with a real instructor via a web conferencing setup. Rosetta Stone is available for 28 languages, which are all listed in our review. If you run a business with employees who regularly travel abroad and need some instruction in the languages of their destinations, you should definitely look into Rosetta Stone Catalyst for your company. Catalyst's interface will be familiar to anyone who's used the consumer edition of Rosetta Stone, but it also adds in-depth reporting on employee, departmental, or regional language learning progress for administrators. It isn't quite as polished as the consumer edition, but it's still an excellent tool for teaching the basics of a new language.
The Best Service for Brushing Up on a Language If you already have some experience speaking a language and need to brush up, We recommend two services: Transparent Language Online and Yabla. In our experience with the program, Transparent Language Online is hard. Or rather it's hard if you are a brand-new student to a language. And it's intense. For those reasons, it's really good for getting back into a language you've studied before. Transparent is similar to Rosetta Stone in that it covers all the major areas of learning: Yabla is also very good for brushing up, but for a very different reason. Yabla has you watch videos in the language you're trying to learn, with subtitles available in both the foreign and English.
After you watch a video, you replay it in segments and answer questions about the content and words used. Beginners trying a new language may find it overwhelming. But when used with a language they have already studied, it became challenging in a positive way for students. Yabla's strong suit is that it lets you acclimate your ear to different voices you can filter videos by accent or country of origin speaking at a conversational pace. There are some videos that are slower and for beginners, but the real value of Yabla is in the intermediate and advanced videos. The Best Programs for Learning On the Go I've already mentioned that Duolingo offers bite-size learning, and given that its mobile apps have some offline functionality, it's an excellent program to use nearly anytime or anywhere. Interactive mobile apps are great when you can spare the attention of your eyeballs and fingers, but what if your idea of learning on the go is to do it while driving or walking the dog?
For that, there's Pimsleur. Pimsleur is somewhat old-school in the sense that the programs are almost entirely audio based, with only a few optional PDFs to help you with spelling and reading. When you buy Pimsleur, you get a batch of MP3 files that you can play on any device that supports them.
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ZDNet's technology experts deliver the best tech news and analysis on the latest issues and events in IT for business technology professionals, IT managers and tech-savvy business people. Can’t argue with that, although the word “errand” is intriguing. Like, Run down to the store and pick me up a loaf of bread. Oh, and while you’re at it, learn Japanese, ya fool. When it comes to language learning these days, there’s Rosetta Stone and there’s everything else. Or at least, that’s what Rosetta Stone would like us to think.
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The pictures gave a good enough indication of what was going on but there was quite a lot of unfamiliar content too. There was never the option of driving across town for a translation. Speech styles and honorifics. A child speaking to or about their grandparents would use a respectful style of speech that they would never use to their friends in the playground for example. The problem with Rosetta Stone Korean and I suspect the same is true of Japanese is that it does a poor job at demonstrating this. The Arabic edition also teaches conversational MSA the dialect used for formal and written occasions rather than a spoken dialect which would be far more practical and realistic. If you have experience with another language version, please share whether or not you found similar issues with formality and inappropriate styles of speech when you used it.
Culturally irrelevant images and content Two other frequent concerns with Rosetta Stone are that the images are culturally irrelevant and that essential language content is introduced too late or not at all. What would be nice however is if each language contained units with food, etiquette, cash and cultural expressions that are unique to each specific language. What I think is absolutely brilliant about the speaking component is the way in which it forces the user to attempt to accurately recall the language while under pressure. The Rosetta Stone speaking component does a decent job at breaking people out of that habit. The speech recognition software is far from perfect but the role it plays in forcing you to recall dialogue is really beneficial. No explicit grammar! This is one area where I believe Rosetta Stone is spot on the mark. As I said above, sentence structures are introduced gradually by the program in a linear progression, beginning with very clear structures e.
Occasionally the program will highlight the grammar point to make clear what the user should be focused on: This is where intuition and a bit of common sense make the world of difference. Pimsleur is somewhat old-school in the sense that the programs are almost entirely audio based, with only a few optional PDFs to help you with spelling and reading. When you buy Pimsleur, you get a batch of MP3 files that you can play on any device that supports them. Speaking of old-school, there's also an option to buy discs. Each lesson is about 30 minutes long, and the content is exceptional. There's a lot of listen-and-repeat content, but it's designed in a way that really makes you think and work hard to build your language skills. The learning experience is highly independent. But when it comes to learning a new language, sometimes you need a human being to explain something to you.
Living Language is a program that includes e-tutoring in its package. In the e-tutoring sessions, you video-conference with an instructor. The audio is two-way, but the video is one-way—you can see the instructor, but he or she can't see you. What we like about Living Language's e-tutoring is that the instructors don't stick to a strict script. They have set material to cover, but they are free to answer questions, speak to you in English, and so forth. That's not the case with Rosetta Stone's e-tutoring, which is good, but a little too rigid for our taste. Another great program with a more human touch is Fluenz. In Fluenz, you don't have a live conversation with a teacher, but you do have videos of a guide who takes you through the program. The guide explains concepts, breaks down pronunciation, and becomes a familiar face on your learning journey. What do you do, then, if you need to learn Urdu, Igbo, or Ojibwe? The three programs most likely to have a hard-to-find language are Transparent Language Online, Pimsleur, and Mango Languages which didn't quite make the cut for this "best of" list.
Transparent Language Online has programs for more than 100 languages. Some of those programs are short at the moment, but the company is busy adding to them. Pimsleur has 50 languages in its catalog, and a few of them are not offered by Transparent. Finally, Mango Languages is an option if you're stuck. It's not our favorite program, but it may be the only option if the language you need is impossible to find elsewhere. Use Quizlet for Memorization If you're just looking to quiz yourself on vocabulary, you can do that for free with Quizlet , an excellent service that focuses squarely on rote learning. That might sound deadly dull, but Quizlet actually offers a bunch of tools to mix up the memorization, ranging from flashcards to fill-in-the-blanks questions, and even a few game modes. The tools are nicely animated, and the app offers speech-to-text features for pronunciation help, too. The result is a surprisingly engaging tool that is a good adjunct for any language-learning course.
You can create your own study set, adding to it as new words pop up, or you can choose from the millions of user-generated sets out there. Emphasis on language creation rather than memorization. This means you actually have to focus and use your brain during each unit. Better pronunciation. Because Pimsleur is so focused on listening and speaking, I think students will come out with clearer pronunciation. You get instant feedback from a native speaker after each of your responses, after which you can try a second time to perfect the response or the pronunciation. And being more secure with your pronunciation gives you greater confidence during conversation. Pimsleur is the obvious choice for aural learners. You can do a Pimsleur lesson while driving, cooking, or even taking a bath. Pimsleur does have its weaknesses: The Pimsleur series is starting to show its age. The narrator and speakers sound a bit … old fashioned. Limited vocabulary.
Pimsleur teaches you a very small, though well-chosen, collection of about 500 words. This is one area where Rosetta Stone outdoes Pimsleur in spades. Not enough focus on reading. Pimsleur does include some reading practice, but these are nothing more than short lists of words in a little booklet that you are asked to repeat as a speaker reads them. This means you get little actual practice connecting the sounds you are learning to the written words. In fact, words are rarely pronounced in the way an English or Spanish speaker wants to pronounce them. A final thing I should mention is that Pimsleur teaches you an overly formal way of speaking, especially in the early lessons, that would honestly sound pretty weird to most Brazilians if you spoke like that in everyday conversation. Imagine the Queen of England trying to have a conversation with a random New Yorker on the street and you get the idea.
Portuguese is a language that is very sensitive to social register, and the formal structures you are often taught to use in business-oriented courses like Pimsleur can sound very out of place in casual speech. Despite all these shortcomings, Pimsleur still works beautifully. Some people get hung up over the lack of reading practice in Pimsleur. Let me just say that language is at heart about stringing together sounds to produce meaning. Reading and writing are just ways of manipulating symbols that stand in for the sounds. What is your mind doing when you read? When do you really know a word? When you recognize it by its sound, not by its visual transcription. What this means for language learning is that speaking and listening have to come first. Once the sounds are internalized, reading becomes a piece of cake.
Of course, no one program is going to do it all.
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