Writing a review of Rosetta Stone English is problematic because, of course, the review is being written in English for an English language web site, for a product intended for persons who do not, as of yet, speak fluent English. That said, and assuming that a English speaking friend or Google Translate is helping someone read this, one might ask: Will using Rosetta Stone English allow you to say "I am amazed that I am able to speak fluent American accented English after using this program for only a few weeks! I will now go to America and speak with the Americans there as though I was born in California"?
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.
on July 9, 2013
So, after I purchased the 5 level program for over $500, I was quite surprised to find out that if I wanted Rosetta Stone on my iphone or tablet that I would have to download the Totale application. Ok, No big deal right? WRONG! Rosetta Stone charges $25 per month to use it even though I paid full price for the 5 CD program. The rep over the phone tried to rebut my complaint by stating that it costs Rosetta Stone a lot of money to provide streaming material. Give me a break! I pay $7 per month for Netflix and can stream unlimited movies to my iphone, tablet, home computer or television at no extra charge. When you charge over $500 for a program, the app should be included free of charge. Get with the times Rosetta Stone! ...Feeling completely ripped off!
I gave this to a friend. He is American and speaks English fluently. He also speaks Chinese and Korean. His wife, however, speaks only Korean. So this product was to help her learn English. What follows is the review of my friend after they had used this for about three weeks.
There a number of different products available in the market to teach foreign languages to the casual learner (i.e., someone who wants to learn a new language at his or her own pace in the comfort of his or her house as opposed to someone who takes a course for academic credits at an educational institution or online). Some of these products come in a single format (e.g., a book, a set of audio tapes or CDs, a podcast); other products combine two or more formats (e.g., a book and a set of CDs).
Rosetta Stone TOTALe language learning application attempts to go several steps further by utilizing the awesome capabilities of a computer with Internet access to present an integrated platform of learning formats that engages all of the primary cognitive skills and senses of the language learner, including sight, hearing, speech, visual and word recognition, writing/typing, and simulated and live conversation.
Rosetta Stone's TOTALe English (American) program has five levels, each of which contain different lessons covering a range of topics. You can purchase Level 1 as a stand alone unit (perhaps on a try-out basis if you are unsure if you want to plop down the money for the complete set that contains Levels 1 through 5), Level 1 & 2 as a set, Levels 1 through 3 as a set, or Levels 1 through 5 as a complete set.
Having tested out the trial version of one of Rosetta Stone's products previously, I decide to get the complete set of Rosetta Stone TOTALe (Version 4) English (American) (Levels 1, 2, 3, 4, & 5 Set) for my wife who is an English language learner.
Because the Rosetta Stone TOTALe language learning program is not inexpensive, I want to describe exactly what you will find in the box:
(1) One set of CD-ROMs containing five compact discs (one for each of the five Levels)
(2) Five sets of audio CDs (each set contains four CDs, one CD for each lesson unit contained in each Level)
(3) Headset and microphone
(4) Activation card for access to online tutorial and language learning games
(5) Quick Start booklet
Initial Set up
The process of installing the software is fairly easy. After choosing the native language for the installation instructions, you can install all five CD-ROMs sequentially when you first start the program or each CD-ROM as you progress through the program. After the software installation process, the user creates a user account.
CD-ROMs & Headset
The complete set contains five Levels presented in the form of a CD-ROM for each Level. Each Level contains four units, each filled with a series of topics and exercises that engages the learner to learn the English language through developing pronunciation and vocabulary skills, learning phrases and sentences, and engaging in speech and conversation. Most of the topics are those that you would expect to find in a language learning program: basics words and phrases, such as age and family relations; questions, greetings, introductions; telling time, calendar terms, the weather; directions, locations, dining out; emotions, opinions, ideas; political, media, business terms; arranging home repairs; planning to move abroad; discussing the arts and tourism; careers and conducting interviews; and problem-solving and commercial transactions.
Many of the exercises require the learner to recognize and analyze relationships between the words displayed and spoken, on one hand, and the pictures displayed on the screen, on the other hand. Other exercises require the learner to repeat words, phrases, and sentences using the headset and microphone that is provided by Rosetta Stone and utilizing Rosetta Stone's speech recognition technology, which I found to be fairly accurate. Lastly, there are other exercises that require the learner to type the words, phrases, and sentences that the learner is learning using a computer keyboard or the virtual keyboard on the screen.
Because the learner's responses are tracked by the software, the learner can view his or her progress through each of these exercise. Furthermore, the learner can also go back to any exercise in any lesson at any time to review and redo that exercise, which should greatly aid the learner in the overall learning experience.
There are three key aspects of the software program that I found lacking. First, the absence of any instructions (let alone instructions in the learners native language) about what the learner is supposed to do in each of the exercises (e.g., whether the learner is supposed to click on the picture that matches the phrase or repeat the phrase that the learner hears) can be frustrating, especially if the learner is not computer-savvy. But after going through the first unit in Level 1, the learner should be able to navigate through the rest of the software program with relative ease.
Second, the software program does not provide a dictionary (whether as feature integrated into the lessons or as a separate feature that the learner can consult to look up the definition of words that he or she is learning.) I suppose that somebody who is learning a new language will probably have a dictionary on his or her shelf, but having access to a dictionary in the Rosetta Stone software program could come in handy.
Lastly and perhaps most importantly, the absence of instructions on formal grammar rules may tend to hinder the process of learning a new language. The exercises contained in the software program require the learner to actively think and to a large extent figure out the grammatical relationship between the words in a sentence. Having had the experience of studying a foreign language to a level of basic proficiency myself, I believe that understanding the grammatical structure of sentence not only help the learner learn a new language better. I suggest that Rosetta Stone produce basic grammar lessons that purchasers of the software program can download as a document from the company's website as a way to improve what is already a pretty comprehensive platform for learning a new language.
Other Features: Online tutorial and Mobile Companion
At the end of each Level, the learner is prompted to access the online tutorial and engage in further learning with a live tutor. While I have not had the opportunity to test out this feature, I would agree that the ability to engage in live conversation with another person can only help you learn a new language better.
One last feature that is offered by Rosetta Stone is the Mobile Companion, which is a learning application that the learner can download to an iPhone or iPod Tough to continue the learning process. After installing and logging into the Mobile Companion application on my iPhone 3GS, I received a message stating the "[t]here are no Languages available." I will provide an update for this review after I have the opportunity to contact Rosetta Stone to figure out a solution to this problem.
on November 11, 2012
I studied multiple languages and Rosetta stone is at best used for memorization of vocab, from common to somewhat obsucre, and reinforcing simple grammar. It will never explain grammar.
You never do more than repeat what the computer says and select a b c or d. I have had native speakers use the speech recognition software and it still messes up for them. Furthermore, after a few days it will bore you to death. It is incredibly redundant.
Also, it's super formal and super uptight language to the point where it is robotic grammar. It's boring and not spoken. I would like to see someone who learned a language through rosetta stone as their main source of information. I doubt such a person exists, because I do not see how you can become remotely "fluent" using such a system. It was a good idea when the software first came out, but Rosetta Stone never adapted, and now people still pay hundreds of dollars for it and think it helps them and is worth the price, when a little bid of dedication and searching online, even listening to an online radio would be much better. There are so many free options out there that are better than Rosetta Stone.
Please do not purchase this product. It is bad enough that the federal government pays for it so their employees can "learn" a second language.
And, if you think it is really worth that much, then you'd think they would make more of an effort to tailor the program to the specific language, which they barely do. Every Rosetta Stone language program uses the same images and same sentences. The only piece they change is the recorded system. They create one program, record a ton of voices, and then sell each language for HUNDREDS OF DOLLARS--it is a scam.
on January 5, 2012
I purchased the full English course for my wife this Christmas. Wow I was expecting so much more. This might be worth a hundred bucks for someone who understands nothing about a language. Having written many web and pc based applications, I am very disappointed with the lack of ability to quickly and easily navigate through the tool.
I received this from Vine, but since I already speaking English as a first language, I gave to a friend of a friend who has practically no usable English. He's been using the product for about 4-6 weeks now and there's an appreciable improvement in both the sentence construction and accent. The course itself is massive, and there's enough to material to spend 3-6 months at an hour or so a day.
The Rosetta Stone method may not be for everyone, since there's a lack of formal grammar training and it makes no attempt to explain anything in the speaker's native language (it works by matching pictures with words and phrases). But from what I can see, if you practice regularly and follow the exercises, there's no doubt that you can significantly improve your conversational and basic writing abilities in the language very quickly.
I have experimented with "Rosetta Stone - English" for many, many months now. As an instructor of English, I was curious if one would receive a better education at one's local community college (which would be fairly inexpensive) or via Rosetta Stone (which is actually less than many community college courses). Now, I feel compelled to note that while I have a Ph.D. in English, I do not have a degree in ESL (English-as-a-Second-Language), so please keep this in mind when making your selection. (And, since many of the previous reviewers have detailed the contents and approach of the product, I merely comment on the convenience and results in order to prevent redundancy.)
Like many, I find the work-at-your-own-pace aspect to be invaluable. Not every person can invest time in a traditional class: family and work often prohibit taking a regularly scheduled class. Not to mention, if one's life necessitates missing even a single class meeting, it is often a massive struggle to catch-up. (Many of us many remember how this felt when we studied a foreign language in high-school or college). Rosetta Stone genuinely allows one to set a slower pace. And, certainly, the contrary applies. Those who are truly committed to learning the language as well as those who are "fast learners" will appreciate not being held-back by those who are struggling in a traditional course.
Now, many find the "dynamic immersion" approach daunting. However, I found it to be highly effective (and as close as one can possibly get to "total immersion" with computer software). I think that instead of panicking, one needs simply to surrender to the process. Rosetta Stone is the Cadillac of language software because it is highly effective. So, I think that just maintaining faith in the fact that this software does work will assuage all worries. I learned Japanese through Rosetta Stone after unsuccessfully experimenting with several other "cheaper" programs. I can positively testify that Rosetta Stone produces results. And, from what I understand and have seen of the English version, the same applies here.
Finally, many students inquire with me if one should supplement Rosetta Stone with college classes. And, while I completely commend such zeal, I think it could only prove confusing. Professors work at a different pace and have varying priorities ... I feel that these could fall in conflict with this software. So, while it may seem surprising, I would begin with the software exclusively, practice with native speakers whenever possible, and request frank feedback from these native speakers.
Rosetta Stone is a boon to those who are self-motivated (i.e. do not require a professor to motivate her/him to invest in the work via quizzes). Combined with practice (and weigh-ins) with native speakers, this system can actual save one money ... and, in many cases, prove abundantly more convenient and successful. Kudos to Rosetta Stone!
on July 25, 2013
The non-profit center where I currently work has several copies of this program. We just purchased another for a new computer from our grant fund to help immigrants in our community learn and improve their English as a supplement to our private and small group classes.
After installation, we got error 2123. Tech support had us delete a file and replace it, which let us into the program. After several sessions of use, error 2125 (invalid database file) started popping up once in awhile. Tech support will no longer work with us over the phone without charging (the product is out of the warranty date) and the email support's "solution" is (you guessed it!) to delete that file again. Deleting the tracking.db3 file eliminates all the user profiles, student progress, etc.
The last time I asked for support on the issue, the response was, basically to upgrade to the new version at OUR cost because the new version doesn't have the error. And why would my non-profit pay to upgrade a product when Rosetta Stone doesn't support its current products?
If you can get the program to work and are lucky enough not to have the 2123 and 2125 errors, the program is a useful tool. If not, you have a fancy $300+ yellow box!
on February 1, 2013
Designed for the most novice beginner to build the most basic vocabulary. You spend your time matching pictures to sentences. Example: Which picture is a dog. Which picture is a white dog. Which picture is a running dog. Which picture is a sleeping dog. Which picture is a cat. Which picture is a cat and a dog. Which picture shows a cat chasing a dog. After spending a couple of hours like that, I skipped to the very last lesson on the hardest lesson. The teaching style did not change, they just added newer words and pictures.
They advertise that you get live online chats with native speakers? Two 30 minute group sessions a month. If you want more than that, they charge you $40 a half hour.
The voice recognition is terrible. When I tried to properly pronounce dog, I tried all of the following: perro, perraye, perruh, perreye, perree. The program accepted all of them as good.
So, I don't think matching pictures to sentences is really immersion, I think the voice recognition is terrible, and the online support is a sham. I finally settled on TellMeMore Spanish. It is everything that I thought RS was and more.
on December 8, 2015
My 10-year-old son's English teacher highly recommended Rosetta Stone, so I reluctantly purchased the download for my Macbook Air despite the criticisms I have read about the pedagogy in the past. If someone who teaches children English as a second language for a living says Rosetta Stone works, I am compelled to believe them. I suspect the picture driven methodology works particularly well for young children who would only be confused by explicit grammar instruction, have limited reading and writing skills in their first language, and cannot touch type. For adults and older children, Duolingo.com is an excellent, free program complete with iOS and Android apps that is probably far more effective.
I have only had the program for a couple days, so I cannot confirm it's effectiveness for my son, but I can say it is an ongoing headache for me. First, the 2 GB download crawled along, taking 4 hours to download. Once downloaded, I was unable to open it, getting an OS error. I ended up downloading the 2 GB program four times before I was able to successfully open the file on my computer. Once installed, I had to download the lesson packs, which was another large download. A full day after my initial purchase, I finally had everything downloaded and installed.
I open the program and see a progress bar for 20 seconds... "Could not connect with server." Click "OK." Another progress bar... I am prompted to answer a half-dozen questions about my son. Another progress bar, another 20 seconds... "1117 Voice recognition will not be available this session." Click "OK." Another godforsaken progress bar... And we finally reach the main lesson page.
My son is on Level 4 at school, but he doesn't know his account information, and Rosetta Stone provides no way to skip levels, so he is stuck repeating four levels. Next time I opened the program, it apparently was able to call home, and I was prompted to fill out a long form and set up a username and password for my son. Great, another account to keep track of. Then it inexplicably opened the browser instead of going to the normal installed application screen, apparently pushing the subscription online service I don't want. Next time, I had to uncheck an "Always open online" box. More often than not, when I open the program I get the voice recognition error. When I have been able to use a microphone, I wasn't able to use the internal mic in my laptop. Instead, I had to plug in an external mic. Every time I open the program, it's a solid 30 to 60 seconds before it loads. It goes through three different progress bars, and then often it will hang for a few seconds with just the background displayed. Sometimes, it will get stuck on one of the progress bars indefinitely, just the endless barber pole loading symbol -- no error.
Of the dozens and dozens of programs I have on my computer, this is by far the worst quality program I own. It is also by far the most expensive. It's like a virus I paid two hundred dollars for the privilege of installing that also happens to teach English.