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on January 28, 2014
This is how a language program should be designed. It is structured in much the same way anyone learns a language natively; it shows you the visual of the action, then pairs that with the words and sounds, and over time, your brain connects it all together. What most impresses me are the pronunciation exercises, which record your voice and allow you to compare it by way of a sound graph with the native speaker. If you work the program, you are going to learn how to speak whichever language it is. It is intuitive, easy, and straightforward, and gives you immediate feedback.

There are a couple of minor annoyances.

One: I was not able to download the program from the website, and had to install it from the discs. No big deal. Just a little wasted time. My suggestion is to just use the discs to install the program and forget downloading it.

Two: Rosetta Stone seems to be encouraging you to sign up for an online subscription service called Totale. When you attempt to install the program, it sends you to their site where you are sort of railroaded into signing up for the trial program. There doesn't appear to be any opt out feature, that's why I say railroaded. However, if you wish to effectively disable all this Totale business, when you are registering, just put your birthdate as under 13, and it will just go to installing the program and disable the Totale mumbo jumbo.

But all that is a small deal in comparison to how great the program is. I think it is fantastic actually, but would keep my eye out for getting it on sale or during a Lightning Deal. If you can get it for under $250 or so, that's a more reasonable price I think.
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on February 22, 2016
A while back, I decided to buy a french language programs, I tested out Ouino and Fluenz (more on them in a minute) and I read the reviews for Rosetta Stone. Here is everything I wish I had known before I bought this, including the absolute minimum price they charge (I monitored their prices for a year, on multiple sites. So you don't have to.) Break it down!

THE LEARNING METHOD: I ended up buying Rosetta Stone Level 1-5, and it is absolutely wonderful and hugely effective. They use the immersion method, where all lessons are entirely in the new language. This builds vocabulary remarkably quickly and teaches you to think in the language (it wasn't long before I began to dream in it as well). The lessons are engaging and are broken down in 10 to 20 minute sections, so you can basically fit at least something into your daily routine. You will need to get a separate grammar book, because the immersion method means you don't get grammar explanations in English. You basically would have to memorize what looks correct. Same with the the "writing" sections, the most annoying part of the method. They make you memorize exact spelling. And accent marks (Duolingo lets you make typos.). It's awful and I personally just write it all before hand and type it in from my notes as I go. Still, the other sections make up for it and each time I sit down to learn I really feel I walk away with my money's worth. I've used all sorts of methods, and by far I am happiest and have seen the best results with this one.

So why the three stars?

Rosetta Stone the company.

This is a very greedy company. If they make a deal with you, you can be sure you will be on the bad end of it. For example, your purchase will come with three months of the online subscription, which includes tutoring sessions. They don't tell you that you don't get unlimited sessions--you only get a few per month, and they don't roll over if you don't use them or have to cancel. In fact, they don't want to give you any upfront details at all. Under their FAQ on the Rosetta Stone website, there is a question about how many sessions you get per month. And they don't answer it. On their own FAQ. The customer service for this company sets a new standard for murkiness. They only allow you to download on two computers for the lifetime of the program, absurd for the price of the product. A full star and a half deducted for the shadiness of RS the company. Moving on to...

VOICE RECOGNITION: Probably the weakest part of the actual system. Sometimes their microphones just won't pick up your answers, tanking your score on the section. I've actually had to butcher a phrase to get the software to pass me through. RS has had years to work on the problem; they should have fixed it by now.

LIVE SESSIONS: The beginning lessons at the start of Level One do not contain greetings, introductions, the basics of meeting someone, etc. That comes later. Unfortunately, you will need that info for your first live tutoring lesson. The lessons themselves have a good chance of being torturous, because while every tutor I had was gracious and kind, there is a phenomena of advanced learners taking the Level One live sessions, probably because they're easy. All you have to do to get around Rosetta Stone's locking you into a certain level is start again as a new user. So this means you have conversationally fluent learners with absolute beginners, as many as four people per session. It's really not the best system, but Rosetta Stone makes it worse by their policies. You can pay extra for one on one sessions if you wish.

GAMES: Unbelievably dumb and dull as ditch water. Obviously, people will pay for online subscriptions if you make it worth their while. In this case, that would mean fun games you actually want to play. These games play like they were created in the 90's. Early 90's. And by the people who made that E.T. game.

PRICING: The absolute lowest price I ever saw on the Level 1-5 set was $189.99, in December. If you sign up for their emails they will plague you with offers. I personally paid $199.99 for the set; don't pay more, is my advice, if you have time to wait them out.

OUINO, FLUENZ, AND DUOLINGO: I tried out a lot of competing methods, including just watching videos on Youtube. If you are thinking about investing in Ouino or Fluenz, I would definitely try out the free demos first, and take the product reviews with a grain of salt. I remember one review for Fluenz describe the photos as "stunning"--they are really more "pedestrian" than anything else. I find both Ouino and Fluenz to be more tedious for the long-haul the RS system, but this is a personal preference. Duolingo I think is actually the strongest competitor that Rosetta Stone has--they have a similar structure in many respects. But Duolingo is free. I use them both on a daily basis (when I am applying myself) and while I still feel Rosetta Stone has the edge, Duolingo is my second choice over every other method.

In conclusion, I do recommend the product, providing you pay under $200 and know what you are getting in to. It won't really teach you to speak the language, for that you will need to converse live with speakers, either paid or unpaid. But it will teach you to read it. And it will build your vocabulary at a rapid rate. Make sure you won't be replacing your computer anytime soon, and start your free subscription (you control the start date) when you have the time to take the sessions as they are use or lose it. Sadly the best option out there, at least for me, and rating as follows:

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I just purchased this Rosetta Stone French Level 1-5 Set and was very anxious to get started. It did not load properly on my MAC and I had to spend nearly an hour on the phone with one of their specialists. The problem got solved but it was a pain in the neck.

I went through the whole first lesson and found it good. However, I've had four years of high school French and minored in French in college. It's been decades since I've studied the language but if I hadn't had the background, I would have been lost. The graphics are great and the pronunciation is very French. The lessons consist of vocabulary, written, pronunciation, and one part I just couldn't figure out. For the heck of me, I couldn't guess what they wanted me to do. I failed that section and got over 95% in the others.

I think this program would work best for people with SOME background in French or those who can learn by pure immersion. I like the combination of writing, reading, speaking and repetition.

Because I had problems with the installation, I received a letter from Rosetta Stone's representative. Ironically, she has some problems with English writing. Instead of 'you're', she wrote 'your'. That always gets me. A representative of a language learning program should be able to write the language of the user. Oh well, I also ordered the Pimsleur French program and it will be interesting to compare the two.
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on March 22, 2017
I love this program.After buying many French-learning programs,I find that Rosetta Stone is the best.I learn more each day with it that I have using all the rest. And those products are good,but the method R.S uses suits me the best. I learn best with jumping right into each lesson/level ,fearlessly.
I also use RS online ,and feel very comfortable using that method as well.
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on November 9, 2015
This is just a set of talking flashcards, except not as pleasant to use as actual flashcards. I haven't found anything better for studying a language at home though.
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on July 21, 2014
I've always wanted to speak a second language. I took Spanish for seven years between middle and high school. I can say I still understand a fair bit, but I can barely speak it at all. I've always kind of wanted to speak French (despite it having no real practical use in my daily life) so when I saw Rosetta Stone was on sale I decided to finally pull the trigger. As I write this I am just finishing up the first level and I can honestly say I probably speak more French right now then I do Spanish. The immersion learning system works really well for me. I associate the words with images instead of other words so there's no awkward translation going on in my head. I see a cat and I think un chat. That being said I think this system works better for vocab then it does for grammar. I think I am slowly picking up some grammar rules along the way, but that's much harder than just the vocab. You're never quite sure if the conjugation you just learned is universal so it's hard to know if you can apply to another phrase. To be fair, I think that's probably true of learning one's first language as well. Children are more likely to screw up grammar than they are to pick the wrong noun. I may pick up a book of some kind to supplement and help me learn the grammar rules faster. That being said, this is the best way I've found to learn another language. It's certainly working better for me than any traditional class I've ever taken.
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on May 2, 2011
The bad: the software can sometimes be a pain, mostly because they try to lock it down so much so it can only be active on one computer at a time (older versions allowed multiple computers to be active at once). I've had problems installing, one computer had to disable antivirus, another netbook I just couldn't get it installed.

The good: once installed and working, it really is good for learning a new language. I enjoy doing the lessons and find that it works very well.

If you can look past the potential issues installing/activating the software and possibly dealing with support then this is a great product.
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on June 15, 2016
Software and bundle was a good purchase, at a good price. I had waited until it was on sale, and then bought it. Excellent way to learn a new language if you don't have access to a traditional classroom.
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on September 8, 2017
Couldn't recommend more! This was one of my "Prime Day" purchases, and boy was it a steal. I suggest allotting ample spare time to dive in to the lessons. They are time consuming (well worth it) and if you don't make the time for it, it will be a waste of your money.
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on December 6, 2016
I had high hopes for Rosetta stone French, but have found it very disappointing. It is only through photos and the user has to guess exactly what they are looking for. It would be much better if there were supporting English to translate what they are going for, or at least a work book to accompany the program. Yes, French is difficult to learn, but I would not recommend Rosetta stone to anyone. I just got off the phone with a person that had tried Spanish via Rosetta stone and she gave up on it. It seems to me that there should be a lot of additional materials that would support the learning. I think the program is outdated and they are just milking it for all it is worth. Would I buy it again. NO!
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