172 of 178 people found the following review helpful
I had reviewed a couple years back Rosetta Stone's V3 software. Little has changed at the core of the learning system, which is by far and away a good thing. If you're not familiar with how this program works, it is truly the most "natural" way to learn a language.
Let me explain (if you do know how this works skip to the next paragraph for updates on the new features). This program does the best it can to mimic a child-like learning environment, which is what everyone needs to learn. I really mean it. Think of it this way: how do children learn a language? They imitate what they hear and see, right? They do not have a concept early on of memorization. Children do not memorize language, grammar, vocabulary, sentences, etc...they repeat what they hear, associate what they hear with what they see, and make mistakes as they go, slowly correcting themselves with guidance and observation and trial and error. This program does the same thing, but with you, an adult (or so I presume for most readers of this review). It shows you a picture, associates the word visually, and then through audition. You then practice back by seeing, choosing, saying the words that you have learned. You'll make mistakes, but will self-correct with this program just like a child would. Practice will not make perfect, only permanent. Hence, when you do practice, make sure to do it slowly and really understand what it is that you're saying, seeing, and hearing; this program makes it much easier than reading a book alone, or just listening to audio cassettes; it's truly an all-encompassing programs. Memorization and just repetition is NOT the way to learn a language, and friend of mine who did this for 4 years (think Highschool) cannot speak a single sentence even though they were A students. I, having been blessed with a teacher who forced us to live the language by all the ways that a mind can comprehend it, never memorized the language, and can speak it very well now (no medical terms, but good `ol conversation and banter).
So, what's new here compared to V3? I was pleasantly surprised that at least one of my previous suggestions in a previous review was taken seriously. I had mentioned the need for you to practice with native speakers in order to really get the hang of a language. And now, you get this chance with a short free trial. I had also mentioned in the old review to make learning the language fun, as anything that's fun is instantly remembered for the long term better as we all know. Rosetta Stone included games to play and enjoy. I'm very happy that this company really listens to its customers and updates its products, instead of sticking to its guns thinking they figured everything out. Two thumbs up for that.
I HAVE NOT (reason forthcoming), yet tried the online sessions with the native speakers. There's a reason for this, and I really hope you take note of this before purchasing this product. First, I don't recommend purchasing level 1 of this language (and logically of any). I want you to ask yourself why you want to learn this language? To learn how to say "pants" and barely speak or comprehend a sentence, or to actually learn to have some minimal conversational skill? I'm going to take a wild guess and say you fit into the latter category. It makes no sense to me to "try" out learning a language and barely learn anything for such an EXPENSIVE program! Unless you have money to burn skip buying the incomplete set, please. I recommend that if you are REALLY truly serious about getting the hang of a language to a minimally conversational degree with just the software then get the entire set and save yourself money in the long-run (quite a bit I might add). Then use the online native speakers to help you master your conversational abilities. BUT, I emphasize, DO NOT waste your money activating your free trial of the native speaker engagement sessions (and games) until you have complete the entire program. Why in the world would you take precious time and money to do such a thing when you'll just be able to spit back the names of colors and buildings back to one another? Wait until you get semi-coherent and put your hard earned dollars to work only then, after mastering the program. This is precisely why I haven't activated the free trial yet, I want to really get the hang of at least the portion of the program I got to review until I speak to a native speaker.
106 of 118 people found the following review helpful
on August 17, 2011
Rosetta Stone makes a nicely polished language learning program, with one fairly substantial drawback: you won't really learn a language.
Rosetta's claim is that by learning a language as a child learns (i.e., without translating into another language), you'll internalize the language and eventually be able to think in it, instead of translating on the fly. This may be true, but it takes children years and years to learn their first language (they're still studying grammar all the way through 8th grade!). By adopting a child's approach to language learning, Rosetta will leave you lacking in a lot of key areas that other language learning approaches can quickly teach you.
If you took any language courses in school, you may remember how much time you spent conjugating irregular verbs and declining nouns. These tasks may seem like a useless chore, since you can spend months studying and still feel no closer to fluency. Nevertheless, a good grasp of grammar lays an excellent foundation for language proficiency later. Children don't learn this way, since there is no simple clip art that can be presented to them to explain the concept of the future plu-perfect conjugation, or the subjunctive mood. As an adult with (hopefully) a strong grasp on your language of birth, these advanced concepts can be explained to you early on in your study of a second language, so you don't have to spend years and years down the road trying to build a foundation of grammar and syntax underneath a ramshackle house of vocabulary.
Rosetta's approach of teaching some elementary vocabulary (boy, girl, runs, walks) and simple relationship words (over, under, next to, etc.) can quickly give you the power to communicate simple concepts in a new language -- which undeniably can be more useful early on than the ability to conjugate the verb "to be" in every person, number, mood and tense. Their choice of vocabulary words for early emphasis won't be particularly helpful to travelers (other language learning systems may teach you more useful traveling vocab, like "where is the museum" and "what time does the train depart"), but they will give you the ability to communicate simply.
Nevertheless, the lack of emphasis on grammar and syntax (again, because there is no translation into English, only pictures of things and actions, with deductive reasoning to pick up the slack), you may find yourself sounding to a native speaker a bit like Tarzan "us will gone statue and picture place" instead of "would you like to go with me to the museum?"
For the skills that Rosetta stone is trying to teach, the approach is appropriate, and the implementation is very nicely polished (although some of the flashcard-pictures have a weird, taken-in-the-1970s vibe to them). The approach itself is not enough to teach you a language, and completely ignores the advantages that an adult with a good grasp on their first language can bring to learning a second language. I think that Rosetta, in combination with a more traditional approach to second-language learning, could be a very powerful combination to help you rapidly internalize vocabulary (with Rosetta), and to lay a good foundation of grammar and syntax.
46 of 50 people found the following review helpful
I wanted a refresher course in Italian so I ordered this Rosetta Stone Italiano - Level 1. This package is certainly unlike any other language learning program I have run across and even with brief usage, has yielded great results. Although I have no major complaints with the program itself, the price factor did influence my rating.
If you have issues with installing the software, I would check to make sure your pc has the latest version of software installed. For example, Windows XP requires Service Pack 3 for this language software to work properly and Vista needs SP2. It is easy enough to download the latest service pack with Windows but I hear mac users have more problems. If you have an older pc, you really need to check the hardware requirements. Also note that you must have broadband service to access all the features.
The box includes a quick start booklet, installation cds, software cds, headset, user agreement booklet, keyboard stickers to convert for Italian usage and online services. The quick start guide is important to read first and provides support online or by telephone (called about getting it onto my iPhone and received US based help without going through a phone maze). The software installed easily on Windows 7 as did the included headset via usb port. The global end user license agreement booklet was printed in microscopic print so I have my fingers crossed it is the usual stuff since I could not find a magnifying glass to read it. The stickers to place over the keyboard to convert it for Italian usage might prove problematic. I had an extra keyboard that I placed the stickers on and could switch to when using this software. I don't know if you would want this on your keyboard all the time and peeling it on and off does not seem ideal. I think you could get away without using the stickers.
This software helps with pronunciation (the headset has a microphone), builds vocabulary and phrases, and teaches simple conversation. The software has 4 lessons in each unit covering: basics (unit 1), greetings and introduction (unit 2), work and school (unit 3) and shopping (unit 4). Rosetta Stone advertises a learning application for your iPhone or iPod Touch but an account with Rosetta Stone's online services is required. Although the box states it includes free online features, they are free for three months only. There is a $25 monthly fee or a $149 fee for 15 months for online services after the trial period. The 3 month trial starts the moment you activate your online account and you must be at least 13 to create an account. I strongly suggest you use the software only and then use the online services to get the most out of this software. The online services are great and allow you to access online tutors, games, and an online community to practice your Italian. I really liked the options provided online but wished I had activated the free trial after I had gone through the lessons to get more out of it. It's hard to converse or play simple games when you are just starting to learn Italian.
Overall, this is a great tool to learn Italian if you can afford the hefty price tag. For the same price you might be able to audit an Italian course at a local school but this software is more convenient and provides more personalized service. Using this language software in tandem with its online services is almost as good as a private tutor at a lower cost. I don't think I will continue with the online services given this is just a hobby for me but if you urgently needed to learn Italian, this would be worth the price. I consider having friendly customer service available by phone a big plus.
82 of 98 people found the following review helpful
on January 3, 2011
Trying to install this on Mac OS X 10.6.5 fails. A 30-minute live chat with tech support (in India, naturally) resulted in them trying to give me instructions for a PC, leading nowhere. The tech had no idea what to suggest, was not familiar with the error messages I was getting. I then submitted a claim ticket to technical support via email detailing the problem (giving them the entire installation log), and after 4 days I have yet to receive a response of any kind. So, this is a review of the lack of support and customer service, and the defective installation aspect of the software, not its language instruction. It is hard to believe that one can pay this much for software that cannot even install itself, but apparently Rosetta has accomplished this. A brief tour around the Web suggests my experience is not unique. I cannot recommend this for Mac users.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Never having studied Italian before, and never having used Rosetta Stone before, I was definitely excited to give it a go and find out what all the hype was about.
I went through the whole lesson over the course of a couple of months, spending only about a day or two a week on it.
In the end, I think it was a smart system, one that has specific advantages, but also marked disadvantages.
+++ IMMERSION TECHNIQUE -there is no English. you will only see pictures and hear Italian. This means you'll learn more effectively, as your brain is forced to make certain connections on its own. Additionally, when you see pictures, for example, of a "male", the picture will be different each time: one time might be a young boy, and then it might be an old man, then a young man, and so on... and the first time you see the picture you might think it is a boy, but when the second picture pops up you realize that the word must mean something else, and you relate the two, and pick the commonality. Anyway, this is a hard example, and it is simpler than this, but the idea is that you see different pictures representing each word, each time.
++ WELL DESIGNED/VARIED -there are multiple modules which are scattered throughout -listening & comprehension, reading, pronunciation, typing, and so on. It is impressive.
++ GOOD REVIEWS -when I finished a section I was happy to find out that many of the concepts came back --not right away, but later when they weren't the freshest in my mind-- this meant I had to remember it, and basically memorized it through this recall. I thought Rosetta Stone did a great job bringing up concepts and reminding me of the concepts later on. I did not feel the need to review previous lessons...
++ PAINLESS. This system is about as fun (can I say that?) and as painless as a computer aided language learning system can get.
--- PRICE, PRICE, PRICE -for most people the $200 cost for a single lesson (less as you buy more modules) is really too high. Yes I know these things cost money, and I know they are better than other systems, but the pricing suggests that they are worried you won't like it, and you'll feel pressured to continue because you spent so much, OR, they are trying to convince you to pay only a few hundred more to get the whole set. I'd argue they'd be better off dropping the price in half for the first module, and then I'd recommend it more. (And give me some sort of discount if I buy lesson 2 separately. I am not going to buy multiple modules without buying the first one, and testing it out. $500 for the set is too much of a committment without giving it a shot first.)
- READING EXERCISES ARE BUGGY SOMETIMES -I have spent 5 minutes (unsuccessfully) on several sections where I am supposed to say just one syllable, and the voice recognition system fails. I mean, I KNOW what I am hearing, I have studied 4 languages, have good pronunciation, and I can't for the life of me get the computer to believe I said "PO" (for example) instead of something unrecognizable. It was very frustrating, as I tried to enunciate it every way imaginable, with no luck. Yet, when It was a multi-syllabic word (with the same syllable) the computer had no problem.
- NO DICTIONARY -yes, I know this isn't part of their system, but it would have been nice to have a dictionary so that I could learn some additional words on my own. (Sometimes you just don't want to wait to lesson 5 to learn numbers, for example...)
But probably the biggest criticism is that this program is no substitute for classroom participation. (Yes, I know that there are some online modules that you can pay more for, but I wasn't interested in paying any more...)
My wife was taking classroom Italian at the same time I was doing this system, and we would compare experiences. One thing I noticed is that the "putting-sentences-together-on-my-own-and-saying-them" part of Rosetta Stone, was one of the weaker sections. She, on the other hand, got many opportunities to practice. Mine was more about listening and comprehension.
Overall, if classroom Italian really isn't an option for you, because you don't have the time or you just don't like classrooms, AND you have a lot of money to spend, then I'd say this is a good deal. (If I were forced to move overseas I would definitely invest in the system.)
But, if you are a starving student, then you're better off looking for other books and CDs from the library before trying this system.
Recommended, but with reservations.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
At the age of 57, I decided to learn Italian. The last time I tried to learn a new language was in high school. I was dubious that any program could motivate this old brain to memorize a language without going into a vegetative state. As it turns out, Rosetta Stone's program requires little rote memorization. Instead, I found lots of fun and enjoyment in the name of learning.
Prior to beginning this program, I never understood how total immersion could be conducive to learning a language. To me total immersion meant total confusion. While this program is guided immersion, it is not confusing. Vivid pictures and multiple choice games are entertaining. It is amusing that the pictures are not just of those who appear European but from a variety of cultures. When learning an Italian word, the picture may be of someone of Asian descent.
For each level, there are ways to check yourself and review any content you feel needs review. Using a headset (included), you must pronounce words correctly or you will be given an opportunity to repeat it. The program even breaks down the word into syllables and a visual (chart) to assist in forming the words correctly.
The program is easy to install and allows two people to use it. It remembers where each person left off.
A friend or mine loves languages, speaks several and teaches English as a foreign language. She found the program to be excellent in its methods. In fact, she buys Rosetta Stone to review languages she learned in college to keep it fresh.
If I can learn while having fun, anyone can. Love it! Go for it!
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
As a homeschooling mother who discusses with other home educating parents how to teach certain subjects, foreign language is one of the trickier topics to deal with; Rosetta Stone (RS) has been at the top of the list of foreign language instruction software since for so long it and it has been known as being the best software option on the market.
Homeschooling parents typically have three options for teaching foreign language: 1) if they are a fluent speaker they can teach it directly, often using a textbook curriculum for the structure; 2) use computer software like RS for child-led learning; or 3) take an online class supported by a teacher.
A major downside is RS lacks a strong grammar component; its strength is getting a person to have oral fluency. I am hearing stories from other homeschoolers who have used RS for multiple years and who were happy with RS, that they are too lacking in grammar to perform well on the SAT II test (the SAT subject test is now required by some colleges for admission), so they are suddenly unhappy with RS but it's too late to do anything about it. I want to learn from those people's mistakes! If you desire a stronger grammar component, before buying RS you should look into a newer product Fluenz Italian 1 with supplemental Audio CD and Podcastswhich seems just like RS but with more grammar (and is similarly priced).
Also if you are a homeschooling parent you should know there is a "RS Fluenz Italian 1+2 with supplemental Audio CDs and Podcastshomeschool package" (see the RS website for info), which may be better than this `standard' product for your homeschool.
RS was easy to install, we had no problem getting it started on our Windows PC. There was some confusion over activating the online account, which is free for 90 days only, which we wound up not using anyway, as the base lessons were enough. We misunderstood the directions and thought we HAD to register online to start using it, but that doesn't seem to be correct.
To test RS I used it, as did both of my homeschooled kids (aged 10 and 13). The only system glitch we have sometimes was the headset would not activate sometimes, when switching between users who attempt to use RS right after someone else used it. The fix that works is rebooting the PC.
The program prompts the user to speak into the headset and it checks the accuracy. One of my kids (a newbie to learning foreign language) seems to have a problem and he blames the headset or the program for hearing him wrong but in RS's defense when I listen to the sample and then what my son is saying I detect a minor intonation error on my son's part or the emphasis part of the word is not being emphasized strongly enough, so the problem is my SON not the system. My other son has this problem once in a while only. I have not experienced this myself as after years of taking French in public school and college I have trained my ear to listen very carefully and also keep telling myself to not use Standard English speaking patterns (my son keeps overriding the Italian and inserting a more English language sound). I keep emphasizing to my sons to watch the voice recognition graph so they can see where there is a problem (it's a pretty cool feature). I mention this as perhaps other users may have this issue and might think the voice recognition software is faulty when really it is the user!
This product is marketed to adults not just children. As an adult learner who formerly learned in a very different way this RS method of learning felt odd to me. I wanted to see things written out that I could look at (I'm a strong visual-text learner). Don't laugh but it took me a while to figure out what I was saying, not realizing for example that in Italian there is a pronoun for multiple females as "they". It was a bit odd to jump right in learning multiple pronouns that we don't use in English and also to use the verb conjugations without seeing anything in writing to explain it. I was having memory flashbacks of my school's French textbook that had the nice list of conjugations so I could read it written out while I was reciting it orally to help cement it in my mind. This way of learning the pronoun and verb when looking at just a color photo of the scene being referenced is so different for me, however it appeals to people who have a stronger sense of visual-image learning or for auditory learners. I still feel I need some kind of rule list to see in front of me, I found it hard to both learn the content and think to try to figure out the rules myself right in the middle of the lessons. For example, there is no direct teaching of which noun is feminine versus masculine and how that affects both the ending of the noun and the choice of verb to use with it. I had to figure out that `a' at the end is typically feminine and that `o' is typically masculine. I only knew about the existence of gender differences for non-living things from my former French classes; to my English speaking kids this is all new and is being taught without a basic, direct explanation. The RS method goes all the way back to how babies and toddlers learn to speak a native language and teaches it that way. (I think I will look for a supplemental book to supply this information.)
My kids are flying through the lessons and really love it. To them it doesn't feel like work, they find it fun. As the program goes on there is more of a written component using the keyboard to type in material.
The system is easy to use and I like the way it keeps a score and how you can't progress past certain points without getting a certain high score. It is easy to navigate through the menu in order to re-do selected lessons.
We have been using Rosetta Stone Italian I for about two months and enjoy it. As a homeschooling family, if we were to purchase Rosetta Stone new I'd purchase the homeschool package not the standard package. I also would seriously consider using Fluenz Italian 1 with supplemental Audio CD and Podcastsinstead of Rosetta Stone for a stronger grammar element, but I've not been able to see Fluenz in real life yet (there are online video samples to view on Amazon.com though). I'm sorry that I can't do a comparison between the two.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
I have to admit, I was more impressed by Rosetta Stone than I thought I'd be. I learned French the old fashioned way (four years in high school and more in college), so the idea of taking on a new language in a way I had never tried before seemed like an interesting alternative.
It was a lot more enjoyable than I thought it would be. I have a smattering of Italian from my family, and this added to it when I began to recognize words I had never seen before, but only heard.
It installed on my Mac with no problems. I had a few issues with the microphone, but if you google it (there is help online), I found a fix that worked with little effort.
I can't say Level 1 of Rosetta Stone is going to make you speak like a native, but after sampling this, it really does make you want to go onto the next phase, if it's as painless as this was.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on March 4, 2011
This is my first experience using a Rosetta Stone product. For those who, like me, have never tried it before, here is a brief summary. The software immediately places you into an immersion (sights and sound) environment of still photography and phrases pertaining to the photos. You'll be asked to repeat phrases into the headset, and pronunciation counts (however, it's a great relief to those of us who can't roll our Rs that they allow for that!). You'll also need to type, and click on photos that match what is being said. This specific level attempts to teach basic Italian: colors, greetings and farewells, words that would come up in work and school environments, shopping basics, words for articles of clothing, animals, and the like.
My background in learning foreign language is the old-style method of memorization. I would create flashcards of individual words. Repetitive writing by hand was one of the most helpful methods I used to learn--something that's not replicated with Rosetta Stone (though some typing is required). Rosetta Stone, in contrast to the old way of teaching, attempts to teach through immersion. Rather than memorization of one word, a word appears in context in a sentence (or shorter grouping of words), and English translations aren't shown. Rosetta Stone doesn't outright teach in English why a verb is conjugated the way it is, how to (or why you must) match an adjective to a noun, or have you learn specifically how to pronounce vowels and consonants. Instead, the software plunges you into learning by exposure to an all-Italian environment.
However, this is exactly why Rosetta Stone may not work for a learner like me. Even though it's fun, it's nevertheless frustrating. I want to know how the words relate to my native language. While using the product, I can't help trying to translate everything into English and trying to understand why the grammar is the way it is. And because it's software, I can't go at my own pace. In high school and college, I would read forward to the next unit if I got ahead of my peers, and remove flashcards of words that needed concentrating on.
Not knowing the rules of grammar can be frustrating to someone who learns the way I do. The software seems to be geared more toward those who learn visually. For anyone who has not already tried to learn a foreign language, or has found the old-style memorization method doesn't work for them, I would recommend trying Rosetta Stone. For those like me who have done very well with the old method, you may find it difficult to adapt to an immersion environment.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
I got Rosetta Stone Italian Level 1 a few months prior to a vacation in Rome, mainly because the last time my wife and I visited Italy, we went without knowing any Italian and all... and that made for some frustration.
I speak Japanese and some Spanish, so I am familiar with the challenges involved in learning a new language. However, Rosetta Stone made it easy and fun to learn very basic Italian. This allowed me to keep the travel book with frequently used phrases in my pocket when asking questions at shops and for directions, mainly.
The main problem was once I asked in Italian the person usually would speak to me in Italian and I had to confess, in Italian, that I only knew a very little Italian. So at least they could understand what I was able to say! Thanks to Rosetta Stone I was comfortable not only listening but also speaking Italian because I had so much practice doing both.
I'd give yourself at least 2-3 months before trying this in-country, but the pace in which you learn is really up to you. There are so many options that I didn't use... like the online lessons, the games, the community. I just didn't have the time for those and found the basic tutorials quite sufficient (and excellent) but it's great to have those options.