115 of 124 people found the following review helpful
Just starting out, seems like a good way to learn
, February 25, 2011
This review is from: Learn Italian: Rosetta Stone Italian - Level 1-5 Set (CD-ROM)
I'm updating this review as I use the course, since waiting to provide a single, full review after I'v'e progressed through all the levels would likely take months. Since this is the newest version, I feel it's more important to update as I go along. Hopefully this is more benefit to you reading this now, rather than me waiting 6 months or a year to write the review, at which time Rosetta Stone might be on to a whole new version anyway.
My 9yo daughter is really excited about learning a new language, so I'll try to mix in her experience as appropriate as well.
What it comes with:
-1 program installation disc
-5 Language level discs (these provide the actual lessons). You can install them as you go or all at once.
-5 levels of audio cds, each level contains multiple cds (4 each level).
-Keyboard overlays, with both black and white overlays. These are stickers you can place on your keyboard keys to show the language's special characters.
-USB microphone/headset combo
-Registration card (it's like a credit card but you scratch off the registration number and enter it when you install the software).
Installation is simple, although it warns you that you cannot change the install location at a later date. I've heard RS is hard to get reinstalled and reactivated. Total size is about 2.5 GB of data plus a few other folders. Therefore, ensure you have about 3 GB of free space just for the program. If you rip the audio cd's to iTunes, mp3, etc, you'll need additional storage space for those.
The USB headset has been a bit buggy on my system. I had to reboot several times before my PC (Win Vista Home Premium) would properly install the drivers. Once that occured, it works fine, however it seems that any time my pc goes to sleep, when it wakes up the headset will not work until I do a full shut down and restart. Other reviewers have also had problems with sound only coming from one ear. Overall, I think it's just a cheap headset. The software does let you select which audio devices you want to use, so if you have a better one or just want to use speakers and a separate microphone, I believe you can do that.
As a watchout, you cannot later sell or reinstall this software. Don't plan on buying it thinking you could sell it later, as you might run into problems. It also detects if you make major hardware changes. For instance, when my computer's motherboard failed, I swapped my hard drive into a different computer, the software detected this and it wanted me to update the registration. It was painless in that it just popped up a screen with the activation code already filled in and I just had to click ok. Hopefully it'll be just as easy when I get my original computer fixed and swap the hard drive back into it again.
You can create multiple profiles, so that more than one person can use the software. For instance, I created my profile and one for each of my children. You enter your name, age, and male/female. Note that you must supply an age over 13 to be able to access the online content. As you begin your lessons, you choose how you want to learn from preset options inluding speaking, listening, reading, and writing.
Note that the online lessons are only available for 1 learner, and there's a note in the package that states you MUST start the online lessons within 6 months of installing the product. Plan accordingly, and don't expect that even though you can create multiple user profiles that you can then each utilize the online tutors. If you list a profile user as less than 13, it will not allow that profile to activate the online access. The software & website does give you the option to buy online access for additional learners with the price ranging from $25 for 1 month to $150 for 15 months.
Right away you're presented with the language. It's a multi-media experience right from the go. For instance, the very first screen shows a picture of a girl and another picture of a boy. The program speaks "Una bambina" as the words are shown above the picture of the girl. You then have to repeat the phrase, and repeat it correctly to move on. You can adjust the difficulty of speaking and how strict your pronunciation must be. It then moves on to the boy's picture, "Un Bambino". The next screen has a girl drinking and a boy eating, with the appropriate phrases.
As you move on, it presents you with scenes like a man drinking, woman eating, etc. The program is teaching you to recognize male vs. female, old vs. young, and the accompanying words to use. Additionally, the program starts to ask you to click on the right picture without seeing the written words.
In essence, you're hearing, seeing pictures, seeing words, and having to speak the words all in the same lesson. While they don't call out word gender, etc, you're being exposed to it. Then the next steps take what you've just learned a bit further. Each screen builds on the previous in a logical and natural way.
Audio Companion CDs:
Each level comes with 4 audio cds. Ripping them to iTunes in AAC format on the "iTunes Plus" setting results in each disc requiring about 300-400MB of space.
I've installed it, but have yet to use it. Initially, when I tried to login using my credentials it just gives me a message saying "No languages available". I believe you have to initialize your online access first, then it will let you use the iPhone app with your purchased language.
General Program notes:
-It keeps track of where you are, and has a progress line at the bottom of the screen.
-Adjustable levels of speech recognition.
-Speech recognition considers male and female speakers.
-If you choose to buy the lower version with only 3 levels, you can upgrade level by level through the online interface. It said that with each upgrade you purchase you'll get the audio companion, a new cd, and a new headset. It didn't show me the pricing since I had all levels installed.
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