on January 15, 2011
I have completed level 3 in Rosetta Stone Spanish, course 1-5, totale 4. The product has a lot of very good features. They do an excellent job teaching you vocabulary. The online lessons are very useful.
I think many of the reviews that are available on Amazon are from people that only have a brief experience with the product.
This is what I think needs improvement:
1. There needs to be translation into your native language. From the pictures, it is sometimes very difficult to figure out whtat they are trying to express. I wish I could click on the text and read it in English as well as Spanish.
Here's a huge tip. Download the couse content guide for the English version of this course. It's almost the same content and you can read the script in English that cooresponds to your Spanish lessons. You can find the course content guides in the support-download section of the Rosetta Stone web site. The English lesson guide has the content of the core and milestone lessons. It makes a tremendous difference to be able to read the text in English so you know what they are trying to tell you. Also, use google translate.
2. There should be grammar explanations and lessons in your native language as well. They cover grammar by showing you different scenes expressed with different grammar text. It is very difficult at times to figure out why certain grammar is used in certain cases. I think a spanish grammar book would be very useful along with the Rosetta Stone software. My son is studying high school spanish. I looked at his spanish book and it really filled in the blanks on several fuzzy areas that I have at this point with Rosetta Stone.
3. They should give you a spanish-english dictionary of all of the words that are used in the program for reference.
4. Word recognition can be tricky. You can mispronounce a sentence completely and get told the pronuciation was correct, but sometimes single syllable words are practically impossible to score correctly in certain cases.
I feel you can go through the lessons successfully but not really learn how to construct sentences or speak the language in a conversation with a spanish speaker.
I am also testing out "Tell Me More-Spanish" level 1-10. It is much more comprehensive. The program does contain grammar as well as English translations. There are over 8600 Spanish words in the program. I've got about 30 hours into this one, it doesn't spoon feed the vocabulary as well as Rosetta Stone. The learning curve is much steeper. I will need more time to make an evaluation on whether I like Tell Me More over Rosetta Stone. Tell Me More claims that by the time you finish their course, you will have total mastery of Spanish. I spoke with their support staff. One person said she was on level 7 of the spanish program and she can now converse fluently with native spanish speakers. That is something you will not have with Rosetta Stone because it is not as comprehensive.
January 2013, I have just ordered Fluenz Spanish 1-5. The reviews that I've read look very promising. They claim to offer detailed explanations of grammar, verb conjugation, and sentence structure in English.
Update: I've put about 15-20 hours into Fluenz and I'm quite impressed. It seems to start out slow, but that's likely because of my previous Spanish experience. They take the opposite approach of Rosetta Stone. Each lesson begins with a conversation (with Spanish and English subtitles). The next exercise breaks it down very thoroughly in English, word by word, and covers grammar and sentence structure. That is followed by several exercises to reinforce the material. My plan is to complete all 5 levels and then go back to Rosetta Stone for further reinforcement and additional vocabulary. I may also consider online tutoring via Skype. There are programs that offer private tutoring with native Spanish teachers for as little as $11 per lesson
Will using Rosetta Stone Spanish allow you to say: "Me sorprende que soy capaz de hablar un español fluido después de usar este programa sólo por un par de semanas!" ('I am amazed that I am able to speak fluent Spanish after using this program for only a few weeks')?
Probably not. It is, however, a very useful and well thought out program.
The Rosetta Stone line of language products all share the same basic design and interface. The key to the Rosetta Stone system is the presentation of word and action associations, influenced by context. This simulates the sort of cues that one would parse and process in speaking any language, even your own native language. Normally, you don't think about this as you speak your own language. But it's one of the hardest things to simulate outside of dealing with a second language in its own country and having the chance to deal with real life situations involving speakers of the second language.
Each screen is accompanied by a phrase, spoken out loud by a native speaker in the program, and four slightly different picture scenes that require you to pick the one that the sentence is referring to. Beginning at a very basic level -- such as "the boy is under the tree" (in whatever language) with four pictures of a boy next to, under, in the limbs of and cutting down the tree -- your proficiency improves as you move through these basic cues to more advanced and complex speaking and contexts. By the end of the program you are dealing with fairly complex situations, sentences and associations.
The program also allows you to repeat the phrase and, using the supplied microphone, match and score your own pronunciation against the supplied sample. You can also test your ability to properly write out a second language by spelling out and typing the phrase, although the work arounds for using a US English QWERTY keyboard with the special characters and distinct keyboard layouts used by different languages can be awkward. There are several variations on all the visual, verbal and textual tests.
The most important question one must answer when considering this product is: will it, as the advertising suggests, be a magic gateway to language learning that is all you need? The answers is: sort of.
First, this is an expensive product. Make no mistake, when you pay for a heavily advertised product like this that you are, in part, paying the cost of the extensive advertising that brought it to your attention and put you in a mind to buy it.
Second, although Rosetta Stone is an extremely well thought out and useful system for review, practice, improving reaction times to prompts in other languages, and gaining fluency through exposure to variable contexts, it is not a complete language course.
I have purchased a load of different language courses for languages that I have wanted to study on my own, and I can say, at least for me, that using at least two or more different packages that compliment, reinforce and overlap with each other is always better than trying to learn everything with only the logic and pattern of one single course. Besides, you really do need to learn grammar and other parts of the subject that cannot really be covered by, or communicated well by, a single program, even one as well thought out as Rosetta Stone.
At some point you really do have to crack a book and do some regular studying and learning, even though Rosetta Stone strongly implies that you can be speaking away in a second language with nothing more than some time in front of your laptop.
Conclusion: whatever language you are wanting to study, seriously consider Rosetta Stone. But also seriously consider buying a Pimsleur and a Living Language course to go along with it, and seriously contemplate the very un-Rosetta Stone-ish subject of studying verb conjugation rules, grammar, usage and verb tables.
All together you will stand a much better chance of gaining real fluency, and not just the ability to distinguish if the boy is in, under or besides he tree, or if all of the people, two of the people, the two men or the three women in the picture are eating steak or drinking wine. It's all good, but no one product or course can do it all.
Without a doubt, Rosetta Stone V4 TOTALe is an amazing product. It is easy to install on your PC and puts a whole world of resources at your disposal to help you learn a new language. If I could have given it 4 1/4 or 4 1/2 stars, I would have, but since I had to decide between 4 or 5, I'm giving it a 4. 5 to me is perfect and my experience with RS was not perfect.
Why? Because using RS can be very frustrating to a new user. This was my first time using RS but not my first time learning a new language. I learned French the "old-fashioned way" in school and taught myself sign language from a book. In both cases, I got to ask questions of the teacher or look up additional information in my NATIVE language to help me understand the nuances of the language and to clear up any points of confusion. But RS provides ZERO assistance to the student in their NATIVE language. I understand that the very basis of Rosetta Stone is total immersion, meaning you are totally immersed in the target language while you're learning it. However, I had hoped that there would be SOME opportunity to get questions answered in English and there is not (or if there is, I haven't found it). When you are in the RS software, there is NO English used (unless, of course, you are using RS to learn English!). When you have your live tutoring sessions with a native speaker (which are, by the way IMMENSELY helpful), the tutors are apparently restricted by their employer from speaking in any language but the target language. This means that, until I am several months into my study, I will not yet have the skills to ask the questions I need to ask in my target language!! Something is wrong with this picture!
Additionally, though I am a smart person, at times I could not figure out what was being asked of me in my RS language lessons. Putting aside the fact that I don't know yet that pelo means hair, I don't even understand what I'm supposed to do. Repeat the question? Give the answer? MUCH of the learning is VERY intuitive. They say hola. I repeat hola. They say adios. I repeat adios. But as the lessons go on, things get more complicated and there were times when I was failing lessons literally because I did not know what was being asked of me--what I was supposed to do. Eventually, I figured it out. Some things I figured out by visiting the Rosetta Stone website. Some by talking to someone I knew online who was also doing RS but in a different language. Some by trial and error. But to a person who is used to grasping most things on the first try and succeeding much more than failing, it was at times a supremely frustrating experience.
Now that I am about to complete the first level (which has taken me about 2 months), I feel much more confident and am having much less frustration with the system. I have had 3 live tutoring sessions and have learned a lot from them. The first was, of course, nerve-wracking, but I am really enjoying them now. In addition, there is Rosetta World, where you can play games to help you learn the language, either alone or with other people from around the world. I am learning Latin American Spanish, and most often play either with other Americans who are also learning Spanish or with native Spanish speakers (usually from South America) who are learning English. They help you, you help them...it is a nice system, and you get to "meet" some nice people and learn about other countries as well.
The system also provides audio CDs so that you can take your lessons with you in your car, on your iPod, etc. I found this less helpful, but it is a nice touch, especially for those who commute to work every day and could use that time productively by reinforcing their lessons during their commute.
I am now a proponent of total immersion, in that I do see a positive difference between how I recall Spanish when I prepare to speak it vs. how I would recall Frensh or sign language when I would prepare to speak or use them. The old way of learning language required us to constantly translate in our heads...translate what someone says to us in another language into English and then translate our response from English back into the other language before we respond. With total immersion, you just THINK in your new language...there is very little translation going on. In other words, instead of thinking "hair = pelo", I might touch my hair and think "pelo" without the literal mental translation of "hair = pelo". I still have issues with the fact that the tutors can't/won't answer questions in my native language, but at least I understand more now why they can't/won't.
Do I recommend this product? Yes, wholeheartedly...BUT with a caveat. Don't expect it to always be easy. Don't expect to never be frustrated. And don't expect to ever see or read or speak your native language while you're learning.
on December 28, 2011
I read in other reviews that you get 15 months of online access when you purchase Levels 1-5 together (online access being required to play games and take studio session lessons). I purchased this thinking, hey, it's expensive, but it'll be worth the money for the interactive component. Well, apparently they quietly changed their policy earlier this year: now when you spend $500 for Levels 1-5, you only get 3 months of the online access, and to renew, you'll be shelling out a lot more money. A LOT. It's completely disingenuous and misleading on the part of Rosetta Stone to imply that the interactive stuff is "included" when, in fact, you barely get to use it before it expires. My advice is to choose another company's product!!!
on December 23, 2011
My first experience with Rosetta Stone should have been a tip-off.
After numerous ads in Scientific American imprinted the Rosetta Stone name into my noggin over the years, I finally purchased Levels 1, 2 and 3 - the Homeschool Edition, for my kids to study Hebrew. The motivator was an ad I received by email offering free shipping.
So, I went online and attempted to purchase. I kept getting an error message which didn't mean anything to me, so I called Rosetta Stone for help. In the course of the conversation, it became clear that the free shipping offer was for U.S. addresses only. I objected that they had sent me an email that offered free shipping with no such qualifier.
After going around the mulberry bush a few times on that subject, I realized that the operator was not going to break forth from her programmed algorithm. If I wanted the product, I'd have to pay the shipping.
When the product arrived, we installed it and began to run it.
The kids seem to enjoy the sessions and do well at them, although the voice recognition seemed to have trouble with the kids' voices. My daughter has a better accent than I do, but the software seemed to understand me better than it did her.
My impression is that you can learn a language from the software, but it does have a cookie-cutter approach. As you may have heard, language is culture. People in France talke about different things in different ways than people in Saudi Arabia. You can't have this diversity in a one-size-fits-all approach like Rosetta Stone.
Then, one day, for no apparent reason, the software stopped working. I called tech support and spoke with a friendly enough agent whom I'll call "Suraj."
Suraj didn't really seem to understand what the problem was, but did help me to get going again.
Eventually the problem hit again, apparently after installing one of Rosetta Stones recommended updates. This time I got "Armaan" on the line. Armaan got me going again somewhat, and we had a nice chat about about the weather in India while the software loaded. I had an opportunity to help Armaan with his English as well.
Except the headphone wouldn't work. I could see that this particular headphone, which had come with the software, was beginning to look a little more than gently used. Armaan suggested I get a new headphone and try again. I was a little suspicious, because now I could see that the software wasn't working with the internal speaker and microphone system either.
I bought a new headphone/microphone and plugged it in. No dice.
At this point I had spent a lot of time on the phone with India and while I value the cultural experience, it's not the one I paid $500 for.
Last week my computer died. It had been hiccupping for some time, and I was not too surprised to see it give up the ghost. I bought a new one for less money than the Rosetta Stone package cost, and decided to try loading it. I forwent the offer to download the upgrades.
I typed in the activation code and got a message telling me that the code was invalid. The message window kindly suggested that the software may have been installed on another computer.
I got on the blower to see what Armaan and Suraj could do for me. I listened to some very uplifting music for about twenty minutes and decided to hang up.
This software is recommended if you would like to learn one of the many languages that India has to offer, as you will spend a good amount of time speaking to Armaan and Suraj. You will also have the opportunity to develop your musical appreciation as you wait on hold. There are not even intermittant messages punctuation the music telling you to please continue to hold as your call is important to them. They know you know better.
Dealling with Rosetta Stone feels like making a pact with the devil. It's tempting to do so because they offer some appealling bells and whistles. But it's never good form to do business with someone you can't trust, and I have found them untrustworthy. The devil may offer temporary benefits, but at what cost? I didn't lose my soul, but I lost my time, and I lost my $500.
Rosetta Stone contacted me by email after I posted the above review. I emailed them my receipt and the activation codes. They authorized the activation and the product appears to be working now.
on March 1, 2013
This product description states : "Enhance your learning on-the-go with Rosetta Stone mobile apps for the Kindle Fire HD, iPad and iPhone . Access included with purchase. Language-enhancing games; live online lessons". All that sounded great until after I purchased it and Rosetta Stone told me the ON-LINE features are only included for three months. It is EXTRA for the ON-LINE services. It never stated that anywhere at the time of my purchase. I purchased the entire set levels 1-5. With our busy schedules we don't use it every day or could we get through all those levels in the three month time period. Rosetta Stone advertise these features to sale the product, but they don't advertise the features cost extra. I am highly disappointed that I purchased a product based on these features to find out it cost $25 a month to continue using the on-line services. This product is expensive enough then to have those services cost extra is very disappointing.
on October 22, 2011
I bought the complete Rosetta Sone Spanish DVDs, mainly because the new version finally had iPad support. The sales guy clearly stated that the iPad functionality was free, and it says so on the box itself.
However, "free" to Rosetta Stone means "download the app for free, then pay 40 bucks a month to use it". They include 3 months of free access, and probably hope that stop using the product before you realize you have been scammed.
Well, I thought at least I have the DVDs so I can use it on my laptop. However I had installed it on an old laptop, got a new one now (yes, the old one has been formatted), and wanted to re-install. Can't do that because my code has already been activated.
Their customer service is totally useless and does not seem to care at all.
So after paying 500 bucks I can not use it on the iPad and can not re-install even once on a new machine. Sorry, this is unacceptable, no matter how good learning might be. My recommendation - do not buy.
on April 28, 2011
First the good:
-- The product is easy to use
-- It is relatively "bug " free
-- My 14 y/o daughter likes it and is learning the language
Now the bad:
-- Dealing with the customer service and technical help is a nightmare. For example, after my hard drive crashed twice, I was trying to reinstall Rosettastone which took days. It took days because Rosettastone requires a new authorization after one reinstall. That would be no big deal if they had not assumed that we had stolen the software that we had paid over $200 for a few years ago. After we dug out the receipt and faxed it to them(thankfully we still had it) they reluctantly agreed to let us use the software we had paid for.
-- We recently decided to buy the next level of Rosettastone; so we responded to an ad they ran in a magazine that we receive. When we went onto their website, put in the code from the ad, and viola no discount or free shipping. We reluctantly called customer service to get the problem fixed. We were told we were using an expired ad. We told the agent that the magazine came out a week ago and the expiration date on the ad is 2 months away! He responded by saying they would not honor the ad. We called the main number the next day. They responded by saying they had lowered the price on the product, so regardless what the ad says they would not honor the offer.
All in all, if you haven't already started with Rosettastone, I would recommend you keep looking elsewhere.
on April 20, 2011
Beginning with Level 1, I am now halfway through Level 5. So I think I'm qualified to give good insight on what it's good at, what it's not, and the big question: does Rosetta Stone "work."
First, it's fun and actually addictive. I've come this far in less than a month. I avidly look forward to my Spanish sessions, and am reluctant to stop.
So the fun factor is 5 stars. But RS gets there by pandering to its audience, and for being too easy in places. When it's not multiple choice - the easy part - it gets hard real quick. You sail through all the MC parts, and then you hit the Writing section. It can be murder - and that's even with the accent-sensitive feature turned off! It's hard because it's not multiple choice, it's unforgiving, and it's more like real language lessons. The rest of the course should be more this way. But then it would be more like work, and far fewer people would buy. So RS takes the short cuts.
What it's good at is teaching vocabulary. The repetition and the pictures work just fine.
What it's terrible at is grammar and verb tenses. Here the pictures are often no help at all. RS Spanish desperately needs a companion grammar book.
RS is now like a bad teacher in school. He or she might have been a great teacher, but they decided that there was only way to teach, and they closed their minds to the other ways.
I should say that I've supplemented my RS sessions by immersing myself in Spanish-language radio, TV, and newspaper. This is easy to do almost anywhere, but still easier for me since I live in L. A. Start listening to radio en espanol and you'll immediately know the limitations of Rosetta Stone. The words come out like machine-gun fire, all strung together. At first, this was painful to do. I felt like a stroke victim - awakening in a world where I knew only one word in ten, and everything was moving far too fast for me.
After a few weeks, though, I just got used to it. If I concentrate hard, I can maybe make out 10- 20% of what's being said, and at least I get the general drift. I am determined to live in this "stroke" world longer, and we'll see if the magical thing that people talk about, a sort of language osmosis, will some day come to me. But I doubt if it will be soon.
Reading is easier. Tip: subscribe to El Universal on your Kindle, and set a Spanish to English dictionary as the default dictionary. You can look up words on the fly, and read at something like a slow-normal rate. This might end up being a better learning tool - and far cheaper! - than Rosetta Stone (though it doesn't help with pronunciation).
As for the much-groused-about voice recognition feature, I think it's fine. Occasionally it doesn't recognize a phrase until you've repeated it a dozen times, but it's rare enough. The fact is, YOU know when you've pronounced something right - we don't need a computer to tell us.
Finally, what RS is good for, and how it's worked for me, is focusing my work on the language. It can be a central tool, and a fun one. But it can't be the only tool. Es imposible.
on April 7, 2013
In addition to knowing that you are only allowed to use a particular software license on a maximum of two machines, regardless if those machines are damaged or lost, please be aware that Rosetta Stone is attempting to completely destroy the second hand market for its software in violation of the first sale doctrine of copyright law.
I bought a brand new shrink wrapped box of a Rosetta Stone Language course from a private party. I decided to buy fluenz instead and sell the unopened Rosetta Stone set on Amazon but amazon would not allow me to post it for sale saying it is a prohibited item. I tried to post it for resale on eBay repeatedly but the posting kept getting removed as a "copyright violation" even though my item is not pirated and I have not copied or reproduced any copyrighted material whatsoever. I bought it and it belongs to me. I listed it for sale on Craigslist and it was simultaneously removed from every category I listed it in without notice and without explanation. What is happening is that Rosetta Stone is very aggressively policing the second-hand market but they are overreaching. While Rosetta Stone has a copy "right" to prevent unauthorized pirated copies from being made they do not have any "right" to prevent lawful purchasers from reselling their copies. What this really does is it allows Rosetta Stone to sell more copies of its software to buyers at the highest possible price because buyers don't have access to any used copies for sale on the second hand market. This is known as a violation of the first sale doctrine and Rosetta Stone is routinely engaged in it. I am considering legal action but in the meantime I would want you as the consumer to be aware that if you do buy Rosetta Stone the company will (inappropriately) not allow any (e)tailers like eBay, Amazon, or Craigslist to list used versions of this product for sale on their sites. Rosetta Stone is putting tremendous policing resources into eliminating the second hand market for their programs. They won't allow you to re-sell what is rightfully yours. Buyer beware.