Customer Review

168 of 190 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Speak French like a native!, September 8, 2010
This review is from: Learn French: Rosetta Stone French - Level 1-5 Set (CD-ROM)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Rosetta Stone TOTALe French v4 is marketed as an innovative, total language solution for someone wishing to learn to speak, read and write conversational French. It certainly meets and exceeds those claims - it's remarkable!

Apologies in advance for the length of this review. Rosetta Stone TOTALe represents a substantial financial investment so I am assuming people considering it will want a lot of information before making a buying decision.

Rosetta Stone is an immersion-style language program. That means that during the core lessons, there is no written or spoken language other that the one you are learning. There are no instructions or directions or translations in your native language, in my case English. The only words you will read or hear are French. The meanings are made clear through pictures, gestures and logic. It sounds almost impossible, but it is actually quite intuitive. It's amazing how quickly you pick up the words, the sentence structure, the grammar and the spellings. Immersion is how all children learn language, and it works just as well for many adults. However, because this software is quite expensive, you might want to make yourself familiar with immersion style to make sure you are comfortable with it before purchasing. I also use a free online French-English dictionary quite frequently after a lesson to make certain I am clear on some words and tenses. I will probably purchase a hard copy dictionary soon as a supplement. In other words, for anything further than being able to converse well and read signs or packaging or instructions, you will want some other resources.

The core program is divided into 5 levels, each with many, many lessons and reviews. Each lesson focuses on a particular aspect of the language - vocabulary, grammar, writing/spelling, pronunciation, etc. The lessons are short, so it is easy to do a lesson or two throughout the day when you have time. If you must end a particular lesson before it is finished, Rosetta picks up exactly where you left off the next time you sign in. This makes it extremely easy for even the busiest person to find time for lessons. They also move quickly from one exercise to another. Because of this, lessons are rarely tedious.

I particularly like that it employs numerous speakers, unlike courses that only use one male and one female voice. This way, you hear many different people saying the same words and phrases, which makes it much easier when you reach the point that you want to follow and understand conversations, french movies, etc.

The package includes a fairly nice, binaural usb headset with microphone. In most lessons, you are prompted to repeat, and later answer questions, in French. If your pronunciation is off, or if your answer is wrong, it prompts you to try again until you get it right. The voice recognition is good, but you will need to fine tune your headset settings and microphone position initially. The microphone needs to be pretty close to your mouth and the volume needs to be high enough. I suspect I will need to replace the headset regularly since I have several people in my house using it every day.

In addition to the core language levels (all 5 of them), there are also 4 companion audio CDs for each level - a total of 20 companion CDs. These are great for using in the car or in your MP3 player! Each CD includes the MP3 files for easy download to your player. It reinforces what you are learning and if you are chauffeuring kids around, they will be learning, too. I listen to them while on the treadmill because it makes the time go faster and I feel like I'm multi-tasking.

You can set up multiple users for the core program. My 20 year old son in college, my 8 year old son, and my husband are all users and working at their own pace. For me, it makes the cost of this program a little more reasonable. The 15 months of online support, which is the TOTALe part of this package, is only available for one user, so choose carefully which user will get this as it cannot be changed later.

The online services make Rosetta high octane. There are games and stories and individual tutoring sessions with native speakers and opportunities to converse in French with other learners. This feature absolutely speeds up the process of becoming conversational as quickly as possible. The individual sessions with native speaking tutors are scheduled, but the games and stories and other features are available anytime.

If the online opportunities don't appeal to you or you don't have enough time for scheduled sessions, you might consider purchasing one of the regular Rosetta Stone language packages. It's the same core language program, but without the 15 months of online services, and is less expensive. As an alternative to the online part, there are some free online communities, like Livemocha, where language learners can converse online with other learners. It's not as fluid as Rosetta Stone since the other learners are using many different programs and classes and are at different levels, but it's still a nice opportunity to practice speaking your new language.

A down side to Rosetta Stone is it's EULA. This software is non-transferable. If you don't like it, you are stuck and it would be a very expensive mistake. Also, I have read other reviews that say it is difficult to get help from Rosetta in the event of computer crashes or upgrades. I didn't have any issues with my install so I cannot speak to that, but it bears consideration.

If you want to learn French (or any new language) and can afford it, I heartily recommend Rosetta Stone. If you want/need to learn French as quickly as possible, Rosetta Stone TOTALe would probably be helpful in speeding up the process, although learning a new language well is never an overnight process.
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Showing 1-8 of 8 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Oct 21, 2010 7:21:47 PM PDT
I doubt that you went through all 5 levels and I'm not convinced you weren't paid. Version 4 came out on September 14 and the review was posted on September 8th. Could you also elaborate the differences between version 3 & 4. I've used version 3 and want to know what has changed.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 21, 2010 8:41:17 PM PDT
Terry says:
My apologies, Paul, for not making it more clear. This is an Amazon Vine review, as noted at the top of my review. Vine reviewers are given a product, in this case well in advance of it's release, for the purpose of reviewing the product. There is no payment involved, although we are given the product.

I cannot speak to the differences between version 3 and 4 because I have never used version 3. I had only completed level 2 when I wrote the review, although I looked through the other levels in the course of writing my review. I will check around for you and try to find out the differences in V3 vs. V4. Was the version 3 that you used also TOTALe?

Posted on Dec 24, 2010 9:07:37 AM PST
Happy Face says:
How many hours do each of the five levels take to complete?
If I complete one lesson every day or will the 15 months be enough?
I like that you have 15 months to get through it all, it might help keep people like me focused.
I bought this set (through Amazon) and wanted both me and my wife to have full access to all the bells and whistles, so when I set up her account I paid $149 and now she has the full online support, too, but it was frustrating figuring all that out. They really don't make it very obvious what the exact rules are for sharing the software within a household, and the first customer service person I talked to couldn't wrap her head around what I was trying to get. She told me I had to uninstall it from my computer, then said I had to buy a whole new program if I wanted my wife to have access. Finally I got another customer service person who confirmed that I just needed to buy the online support for however many months my wife wanted. Whew! Customer service was based in India, and first customer service lady was named "Sharon." I didn't know Sharon was an Indian name, but there you go!
Anyway, I've ran through a couple lessons and I'm really enjoying it. Looking forward to more lessons. Wondering how many hours the full total course takes.

Posted on Feb 2, 2011 11:39:41 AM PST
BB says:
LOL Rosetta Stone Rep. wrote this. Don't fall for it. Again good bye RS.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 3, 2011 4:41:10 PM PST
Terry says:
Hi Benny,

In a back-handed way, I feel somehow complimented by your comments. I guess it means my enthusiasm for this Rosetta Stone package comes through loud and clear. LOL

Shill reviews are a problem all over the internet and I have concerns about them, too. How can a consumer know if a review is honest and unbiased? There is really no way to know with absolute certainty, sadly. One clue to a shill review is that the reviewer has written only one review, or several reviews for products from only one company. But even that is not an absolute test.

However, I would like to state plainly that I am not a rep for Rosetta Stone. I have no relationship with them at all except that I received this product through the Amazon Vine program and I am happily using it. I have been a reviewer on Amazon since 2007 and this is the only Rosetta Stone product I have or have reviewed. You can click on my name to bring up my reviews and verify this.

I do thank you for bringing this up because it gives me the opportunity to speak to it.

Kindest Regards,

Posted on Mar 7, 2011 7:13:50 AM PST
M. Seabolt says:
It would be too hard for people to click on Terry's name and see the other reviews she posted. She's written 110 reviews giving mostly 4 and 5 stars to the products reviewed. There are 2 star and 3 star ratings. Of note, not much in the way of Foreing Language Software reviews out of the 110 she has written. I would wager, Benny, that if she were paid by Rosetta she'd have significantly more reviews of their products under her belt. But again, don't let a silly thing like research get in the way of your baseless accusations.

I have learned Rosetta Version 3 for the past year. I'm currently nugging through level 5. I can't say how good or bad V4 is. I didn't even know they had a V4. But V3 is a very good tool for learning French. I can't imagine the product would get worse with a new upgrade. So I believe Terry's review is pretty much in line with what I've experienced from Rosetta thusfar.

Posted on Jun 21, 2012 4:56:09 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 21, 2012 4:56:34 AM PDT
Fantastic review! Thanks loads for the time you invested in such a thorough critique. I've just started the course myself, but was a little unsure of its structure (no English translation), so came on here to check out the reviews to see if I'd made a terrible mistake! I'd done some research on British websites before my purchase, which were almost all positive, but after coming to the US version of Amazon, I've found your review to be by far the most helpful -- many thanks!

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 27, 2012 12:38:17 PM PDT

I would love to know if you ever finished all 5 levels. If so, what are your impressions of the usefulness of RS (French) in your quest to learn a new language?

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