I've been seeing Rosetta Stone all over the place on TV, in magazines, and in stores. Have you tried using Rosetta Stone to provide foreign language instruction to your homeschoolers, and what kind of results did you get? Would you recommend it?
If not, what other tools and approaches would you suggest for foreign language instruction at home?
I havn't personally used Rosetta Stone. I'm sure it's very good, but also very expensive. If your budget can handle it I'm sure it will be great. We decided to go with Sing and Speak Spanish It was very reasonable and is also very fun and effective.
Rosetta Stone is the best language learning program out there. You learn a language just as you did your native language. Total immersion. There is no converting or defining or congegation. Thank goodness! You just learn to speak by hearing it spoken by native speakers with images putting it in proper context. You learn the difference between singular and plural, and masculine and feminine easily and naturally. The only thing that I would suggest, in addition to this program, is to become involved in a language club or some other activity that will allow you to practice your conversation skills. If you never have an opportunity to use your new language, what good is there in leaning it?
I think it depends on the language. A friend of mine said it is no good for Japanese. For French, the plurals are generally the same sound, or very subtle differences that would be difficult to hear, which I found frustrating.
My son really didn't want to stick with it, and I didn't view it as worth a battle. He later learned quite a bit of French, first with a tutor, then in college classes, and enjoyed it. But he didn't enjoy working with Rosetta Stone. I think that may partially be a personality matter.
We like Rosetta Stone, and while it is expensive, using for multiple children actually makes the cost per child palatable. However, we also combine the program with a conversational Spanish class another mother conducts every other week. I still feel the kids need to be in actual conversation with others in the new language.
Had the other mother not started the class, I was going to hire a local college kid fluent in Spanish to come speak with my children.
Whatever you choose, I'd strongly recommend that much of your early foreign language learning include listening to native speakers of that language -- and as much as possible to having it be (gently) corrected by a fluent speaker of that language. Good quality computerized programs can be a good part of your learning, especially at the beginning. Actual speaking practice is very important, especially at the beginning of your learning journey. It's how native speakers learn, and it works. Realistically, you need regular practice to keep learning, and computerized programs can be a great part of that for many people.
Rosetta Stone is not really appropriate for language learning. They pride themselves on not teaching grammar (see first link below, first question)! You cannot learn a language without learning grammar. It is a reasonably good resource for practice and review, if it's worth spending the money for that. There are a lot of other options for actually learning to speak a language. The cheapest (and supposedly one of the best) is the FSI language courses (second link below); they offer a wide variety of languages. The BBC (third link) offers resources, as well, in several languages.
Even though our son loves learning on the computer, Rosetta Stone hasn't worked for us, although we're open to the possibility that it may in the future, when Ds7 is older.
A note on cost; While Rosetta Stone software is very very expensive, at least in our city the Public Library has copies of every single language program that they sell available both for borrowing & for use in the library (in a private room)...2 different copies exist within the library so that there is always a reference only copy in house. Conceivably a person could go through the entire program just by checking it out, or perhaps more commonly, test drive it for a few months before shelling out for that language.
In the meantime, we continue our language exposure by watching movies/cartoons/listening to news and music on the radio in multiple languages, as well as by asking primary speakers that we know to use their language as much as possible when our son is around (in our case German, Swedish, Japanese, Chinese, Italian, & Hebrew) so that his audio cortex is able to identify the different language sounds.
For our kiddo, part of the problem with Rosetta Stone is that it teaches a person to be able to say things like "the woman is on an airplane" before (at least I'm assuming before, we didn't go through the entire program) it teaches common everyday language; like sumimasen or permesso (both which translate to "excuse me" or "beg pardon" in everyday usage... but sumimasen directly translates to "I'm sorry" and permesso to "permit"), or how to ask to get some water or use the bathroom or to say "wow/ cool/ awesome/ yuck/ boring/ groooooooss/ etc.". The things that he wants to be able to say, and learns to say with primary speakers just by being around them... at least in the early lessons... jusy aren't there with Rosetta Stone. To HIM there's no point of being able to say dog if he can't also say "dog's bum" (to a 7yo boy apparently "bum" is an essential word) or "can we pet your dog?" or "my dog is the best dog in the whole world, but yours is cool, too".
Another part of the problem, is that fully half the things that Rosetta Spanish taught him, were corrected by his friend Fernando (and/or his parents) as being inappropriate. Not rude, but not the best way to say something in a situation. Okay, sometimes rude... his mom and I cracked up that he demanded "Woman Please! Much important water!" in the politest tone of voice. Oy. Even though he loved Rosetta Stone in the beginning, he didn't see the point in learning the wrong phrase for what he wanted to communicate.
While I can see the program working for older students, and for many students his age or younger... it just didn't work for us.
Rosetta Stone was very frustrating for both of my teen daughters and 3 of their friends, all different languages. None of them liked it and learned very little from it. I believe it was because it does not teach grammar. Kim
As an alternative, you could try a PowerSpeak course. They're online courses instead of boxed products, with optional teacher support (an actual human who reads your student's essays, listens to their audio recordings, and answers questions) and accredited transcript for certain courses (acceptable in place of a high school class at most schools and universities). Quite a few dissatisfied Rosetta Stone customers have experienced great results with PowerSpeak; however, Rosetta Stone still offers about six times as many languages.
Full disclosure: I maintain the PowerSpeak learning management system—the web application used to take the courses.
Wow, One of the PowerSpeak maintainers is here! That's really kewl! Thanks for your post Eric!
Above, Linda wrote:
"I think it depends on the language. A friend of mine said it is no good for Japanese. For French, the plurals are generally the same sound, or very subtle differences that would be difficult to hear, which I found frustrating."
I can totally appreciate your input and anguish on this particular point Linda ;)
When I attended the University of California in the late eighties, we had what was considered a novel, unique, and stellar language program (Complete w/Apple II computers in the language lab LOL).
I was experiencing the same exact issues you describe above, and when summer rolled around after my first year of not being able to adequately discern discussions at the language tables, I figured I had better brush up and take a summer school class at my local JC - El Camino College.
I'll never forget the prof. He once corrected a couple of girls in the class for stuttering. He said, "Non, Non, Non, Eet eeze okay to stutter, but you must stutter in French!" That was the first day in class, and I found him remarkable. He sounded off how they were saying "uh" in English, when they should be saying "ew", instead (I'm not sure if that came through coherently) :)
Anyway, About the third day, once we had all had a chance to settle into the class, he began to explain some issues with French - determining pluralities and tense from conversations. No Scholarly student has extreme issues learning out of the book, but speaking and understanding a spoken language are indeed much different than that conversational aspects of any given language.
He introduced something to us that was NOT present in UCSD's language program - Dictée.
He explained to us, that in order to learn to speak French, you need to learn how to listen to it first. He told us, that not only is Dictée a big part of learning French in France itself, but that it is also commonly used as a family after-dinner game, where everyone gathers around in the living room and participates (This kinda infers that conversational French isn't easy for French people either).
In English, we tend to place emphasis on listening to the nouns to determine plurality, but in French, you MUST listen to the articles instead. They tell you, before you even hear the nouns, whether it is going to be past or present tense, and also whether it's going to be feminine or masculine ;) No wonder they put the adjectives first! :)
I don't have any experience with Rosetta Stone, but at k12, my Daughter is studying French using PowerSpeak, and it's working pretty good. It was recommended above by someone that conversing with native speakers is very important, and it is, but since we live in a rural community that's kinda hard for us here.
My daughter started off as a three year old listening to and watching the "Muzzy" tapes and videos. As a toddler, it was very fun for her and she enjoyed watching the cartoons several times twice (Each time it was the same cartoon for a lesson - once in English, and once in French).
This laid a groundwork that she has been able to call upon as she studies French with PowerSpeak, in a more traditional, yet much more innovative language program than I endured at UCSD.
I'm glad to hear that Rosetta stone is available at some libraries, and I'm going to look into that, but as far as grammar is concerned with regards to conversational aspects of a language, I tend to feel that the best way is to learn that through assimilation - not scholastic studies.
Sure, grammar is important, but we've all chuckled a bit at how some folks who come to the USA speak Ennglish, in a cute way, and then we gently correct them, with our improper grammatical constructs.
Why? Because they studied what is called "Queens English", and we speak "Colloquial" English in real life.
Jennifer, who will be 14 ans next month, is still grappling with French, but loving it nevertheless :)
Well I hope I've made some sort of valuable contribution to this discussion :)
Bradley D. Thornton
Up to 2 attachments (including images) can be used with a maximum of 524.3 kB each and 1.0 MB total.