155 of 162 people found the following review helpful
on March 21, 2012
Rosetta Stone has some of the best marketing around when it comes to foreign language learning. Seriously, their ad with the farmer or whatever who learns the language of the hot foreign model? Great stuff. Even the boxes look sleek and awesome in the stores. But the actual product, in my humble opinion, leaves a lot to be desired.
Now, that 2 star rating up there is considering RS as a stand-alone tool; in other words, using it with no additional methods/tapes/books. RS will not get you to fluency, or even a basic level of proficiency, on its own. The reason is fairly simple -- it requires very little in the way of active thinking. The lessons are thinly veiled flashcards; when the same sentence is used with the same picture in 6 different segments (which are then repeated in the next segment as review), you end up learning only that phrase as it relates to that picture. In other words, you recognize what that sentence means, or what the missing word is. It does not, however, force you to do the hard thinking required in order to obtain proficiency; no translation, no conversation. You end up answering questions based merely on recognition of a word or two of vocabulary (i.e., the audio said 'uma mulher' and there is only one picture with 'uma mulher' despite that not being the issue being tested), or, even worse, your recollection from previous iterations of the 'card.'
My biggest beef with the program line, though, is that it makes you feel like you can achieve fluency with little actual work. This is not true. It's impossible. That doesn't mean it has to be boring, or difficult, but learning a language takes serious work. 30-60 mins a day, every day; using vocabulary flashcards; conversing; etc. Sitting down at a computer a couple times per week and doing 15-30 minutes of RS's exercises are not going to get you there. The green checkmarks you get make you feel like you are making progress; that doesn't mean you actually are.
Now, if your only goal is to recognize a few phrases and common objects and say things like "I'm from Australia," then RS works -- but there are obviously far cheaper ways to get there. RS is also fairly effective at building simple vocabulary, but again, there are cheaper ways to do that. Hell, if you people have Brazilian significant others, they would probably do the above for free. RS is like the newest, fanciest piece of exercise equipment that promises great results with only 10 minutes a day, when barbells and a track will get you the same results (often better) for far cheaper.
Anyways, here are some far better alternatives for learning this wonderful language.
- Pimsleurs: fantastic, but expensive; a tape series that requires you to actually speak back in the context of ever-changing conversations. Don't discount it because it's an audio program and not a flashy piece of software.
- Modern Brazilian Portuguese Grammar: A Practical Guide (Whitlam): a wonderful grammar book. The first half is your standard textbook stuff (which, yes, is unfortunately necessary, or at least becomes such at some point); the second is entirely situational based communication, including how to say things in different registers and many idioms.
- wwit.com: Go here. There is a large list of TV stations broadcast from Brazil that you can watch online. For free. You can also find Brazilian radio stations broadcast online on other sites.
- Portuguese language films. Deus é Brasileiro, Cidade Baixa, etc. Watch them at first with Portuguese-language subtitles, then with English-language subtitles.
- A friendly native speaker for conversation. There's no substitute. If you don't know any, there are plenty of ways to find them online.
- And finally, a good pocket dictionary, some good books, a bookmarked Brazilian newspaper's Web site, tons of handmade paper flashcards, etc.
If Rosetta Stone cost 1/4th of what it does, it would be worth its price. As it is, I'd advise skipping.
86 of 98 people found the following review helpful
on August 16, 2011
While the product itself is excellent, please make note of the following IMPORTANT restrictions - especially important considering how much this software costs:
1. The software comes with two activations. You MUST de-activate before uninstalling, or there is NO WAY to remove the activation. You have to call RS as part of the de-activation process. If your computer crashes, and you have used both acitvations, you have to call RS to have them add a new activation. While they will do this for free (generally), expect to be taken through multiple people who will be pitching other products, services and upgrades the whole way through - not exactly how one expects to be treated when paying this amount of money.
2. Don't expect to be able to re-sell this easily once you are done with it. I posted this item on Ebay when I no longer needed it, and it was removed for "copyright infringement" - even though it is a genuine boxed-set copy of the product. Essentially, they are saying you cannot ever transfer the license to somebody else. Again, not what you would expect from a product in this price range - and something that should be clearly stated when you are purchasing the product.
I'm not saying to avoid the product, but it would be useful and honest if such restrictions were made a bit more evident for a $400 product. Frankly, such draconian DRM should be avoided in general, especially since thieves have easy access to hacked versions of this software, which only makes life difficult for genuine, honest folks like us, while doing NOTHING to thwart piracy.
23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on November 7, 2012
God help you if you ever need to call Rosetta Stone Customer Service or Technical Support. They start with the assumption that you have hacked into their system.
That said, I took a trip to Salvador, Brazil, and can't point to one time that I used anything I learned from Rosetta Stone but found myself in conversations with people based on what I learned from Pimsleur tapes.
Rosetta Stone is a marketing powerhouse but they make a crappy product and their customer support, from the executive down, might be the worst in the country.
68 of 83 people found the following review helpful
on October 3, 2010
I ordered this product in the hopes of being able to understand and converse with my Brazilian girlfriend's family (and her too, of course). Although expensive, you really do get what you pay for. Each level of Rosetta Stone (This one is 1-3 - Introduction through full blown conversation with opinions and expressions) has four units. Each Unit has four lessons. So if you bought this program overall, you would be purchasing essentially 48 lessons on Portuguese (3 x 4 x 4). If you spent a similar amount of money (in my area at least) you would get perhaps a semester's worth of Portuguese classes, and at the end maybe be able to do some basic translation and communication. Not so with Rosetta Stone! It's easy to use, very simple to pick up, and the interface is simple and has few options to confuse you. The program tracks your progress, so if you were weak on something the first time, it takes you back to it after a while to see if you have remembered it. You can do the program for as little as 5 minutes per session. No requirements to do it every day, and no tedious translations (Yay!)
In addition, you also get a headset for your Rosetta Studio sessions. At the end of each unit, you have a milestone activity (everything in that unit combined) and then a studio appointment online with a real language speaker. Now I have the opportunity to speak with a real Portuguese speaker every day, but if I was doing another language I might not. I love the accessibility and ease of use of this program.
Oh and did I mention the online games and stories that you can use? You can play by yourself, with a partner, or through something called Simbio, which is where you are teamed up with a native speaker learning your language (so someone in Brazil learning English would be teamed up with me, learning Portuguese).
I've only been using this program for less than a week (about an hour each day) and my girlfriend has already seen progress in me. Instead of not understanding a thing while at her house, now I get maybe 1 out of every 7-8 words... which considering the amount of time, is impressive for me (I was not a good language learner in HS or College). I would totally recommend this! If you aren't sure whether it is worth it, I'd order just the level 1, then see about ordering 2-3 if you like the first level. That would probably get you along just fine if you were going to Brazil just for a trip, and not planning on being there for more than a few weeks...
17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on May 10, 2013
I completed rosette stone portuguese (theres only 3 levels instead of 5), I was shocked at how little portuguese I knew. I dropped a couple hundred bucks on this product.
There are far better alternatives.
1. babbel.com << 10 bucks a month, PLUS a review manager that gives you the words you dont know more often and the words you do know less often. Rossetta stone is linear, it doesnt learn what you dont know.
2. pimsleur << this is GREAT for getting up to speed on speaking only. (no reading or writing).
I wouldnt say rosetta stone is useless, it does teach you some, but its pretty close. Its all marketing, far better products out there dont waste your time please.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on August 27, 2012
I got as far as Level 2 two years ago and am going to restart to go straight to Level 3. As someone who has travelled and worked in Brazil, I needed a sufficient grasp of the language to help me do my job. In fairness, Brazilian Portuguese was not on my top 10 list of languages to learn, so my enthusiasm to pick it up was not all there.
And? I have become a big fan of Rosetta Stone. It's a bit unorthodox, and I was frustrated at first. Then I hunkered down and went with the flow, so to speak, and through this really began to appreciate how Rosetta Stone works. The proof was in the pudding as I reached a point where I could understand about 75+% of what people were saying, and I was no longer a stranger in a meeting room. It took some guts to actually speak, and I admit I was reluctant, but to my amazement, the effort was well received.
Rosetta Stone requires you dedicate time to focus on the lessons. You need a quiet room and don't bother if you're going to be interrupted all the time.
But by applying effort the programme really works. It may appear simple and perhaps childish at first, but please just set aside the objections and work with it. You will be quite amazed at how effective it is.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on June 4, 2013
You only buy a short term license. This was not clear from the beginning. About halfway through the Android version of Totale, error messages popped up and I was locked out of the software. When I called the customer no-service line, some guy in some foreign accent told me I would need to pay $25 per month to continue using the software. It is only a very limited term license and you never own it. I paid a couple hundred dollars for it in the first place. I got ripped off once but I am not ever buying another Rosetta Stone product as long as I live and nobody I know will buy it either once I talk to them.
On the positive side, the audio headset is useful with my other software.
I am still interested in learning Portuguese before I travel to Brazil again so I am looking for an honest, reputable alternative. Anyone that advertises as much as Rosetta Stone must have poor customer retention and loyalty.
14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on August 15, 2012
If you want to quickly learn some business or other practical phrases, this is not for you. It follows a long and labored trail through simple household type items, with relatively unused verb tenses, etc. Very little will be usable quickly.
It's extremely expensive, especially compared to the simple $30 dollar Pimsleur programs you can buy on Amazon.
It is only usable, as far as I can tell, as a practical matter, on your computer. Web access seems to cost more. The car is the best place for many of us to learn--Pimsleur, Michel Thomas or similar programs are much better for this purpose.
It is incomplete because one is always left guessing the meaning of a word. They only show you a picture and you cannot necessarily tell what it means.
Activation can be a real pain, especially when a hard drive crashes and you need to reload the software. Customer support is bad; I could hardly understand the person.
It is childish, in that it seems more tailored to children learning a language, in a simple way at home.
Often the meaning of words is not clear, and grammar can be unclear as well.
I don't really recommend this for anyone at the price point.
Check out "Hacking Portuguese" and websites referenced there. The Fun with Brazilian Portuguese is truly excellent, as a web site and pod cast.
A combined grammar book (check for recommendations on Hacking Portuguese), iphone App vocabulary learner (there are great apps for very little cost), Pimsleur seems a much better approach.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on December 27, 2013
I learned Portuguese a couple of years ago (the reason I bought this) because I was going on a mission trip to Brazil, and I like to be able to communicate when I travel. Rosetta Stone not only makes language learning easy, it makes it natural. My favorite things about the Rosetta Stone system (I've also done part of Spanish and Chinese):
- You learn how the language is broken down and pronounced. So, you actually can speak it with little to no accent.
- You don't feel like you're "learning", meaning that you're cramming information into your head.
One of my early experiences with Rosetta Stone was after going through level 1 of Spanish. I hadn't really thought I'd learned anything and was feeling "blah" about the product. Then, I was at a Chipotle and the lady behind me ordered a burrito with rice in it. I heard it, and felt there was something weird about what I'd heard. Then I realized she'd ordered in Spanish. And that's what I love about Rosetta Stone: you really learn the language, not how to translate from English into the language.
I know some people complain about Rosetta Stone, so:
- You may feel like you're not learning - you probably are and just don't know it.
- Rosetta Stone is designed to teach you how to converse with native speakers, not write (although you do learn some of that).
- When you're done with 3 levels, you won't be fluent, but you'll have a good basic grasp of the language, and should be able to tell the guy behind the counter at the hotel that you and your friend need a room with two beds when they screw up your reservation. ;-)
- It is hard work learning a language: Rosetta Stone makes it as easy as possible, but it still took me 2 hours a day for several months. The idea behind Rosetta Stone is "immersion", so you're not speed-learning, you're immersing yourself. It does make my brain tired (literally, I feel like falling asleep) after a while. Rest, and start again.
- Consistency is key to getting through this: commit to 1-2 hours a day or you won't get through it.
- Yes, it's expensive, but do the online version and be consistent and it's worth it (see below).
I actually (strongly) recommend doing the online version versus the boxed product. It's a much better deal. BUT, you *must* be consistent. Honestly, if you're not, you're just not going to learn the language, because you really do need to be immersed. If you are consistent, you'll learn it in less than the year you're subscribing to online, so just do that.
Also, they've added extras like Studio and some games - I've never found those of any use at all. Just plow through the card-based lessons as fast as you can, and DO do the writing ones as they're very helpful in getting a grasp of how the language's grammar works and how the words are put together. The boxed set comes with a microphone, but I've used my iPhone headset with the online version and it's been fine.
You get to customize your lesson plan when you start. I picked the recommended plan that included everything (writing, reading, speaking, etc).
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on March 18, 2013
I bought this program about 9 months ago, but I just started using it 1 month ago. So far, I am through the first half of Disc 1. I must say I am impressed.
- the interface is intuitive and uncomplicated.
- the learner instinctively understands the grammar.
- depth of learning experience; I have seen tons of reviews that state "RS doesn't explain things..." In fact, there is a section in a drop down from every tutor screen that allows for a deeper understanding of the material. Also, there are graphically rendered pronunciation screens that allow you to record your own pronunciation and match it up against the standard (computer) pronunciation. RS has the depth, you just have to look for it and use it.
- the pacing of the learning environment is perfect.
- the "AI" is encouraging; the program makes you want to push on learning.
- the 3 disc box set is equivalent to about 1.5-2 years of college level language instruction in a standard 3hr per week course, if you utilize all the materials. Just going through the lessons in each disc once is about 80-85hrs.
- price; yes, the "market value" is about 20%-35% too high.
- As I stated above, the RS program has the depth many look for, but it seems that many people never recognize it. I believe that RS puts it away in little drop downs and corner-buttons so as not to make the interface cluttered. Still, I like the sleek, uncluttered look. It lets you focus on the lesson at hand. My recommendation is to open RS and begin lessons looking to click on every button and drop down in the window. This is the only way you will learn where deeper explanations lay.
Overall, I think Rosetta Stone is a solid "A." There may be no "A+" program out there, but RS is my favorite due to its strength: building a solid foundation for true fluency through repetition and intuitive, natural language acquisition techniques.
I also recommend a good "verbs" book, a good dictionary, and an introduction grammar workbook. I like to have the workbook/dictionary for times when I just feel like stepping away from the computer or when I want to go outside and leave the computer.
Rosetta Stone is the real deal if you give it the time it deserves. Not cheap!!!! Yet you can get your money's worth through a lot of usage!