Monday, August 29, 2005

Rosetta Stone

I’ve been looking into learning some other languages.  In middle school and high school I took Spanish every year, so that was 6 years of Spanish; some of it has stuck with me and I can make myself understood and if I spend a week in Mexico, I remember a lot more and become even more fluent.  All of that said, it would be nice to brush up on my skills in Spanish, and I also have some amount of desire to learn a Middle Eastern language like Arabic.

Someone recommended Rosetta Stone as a great place to start with self-taught language lessons.  Looking at the pricing, I can spend either $195 for the Level 1 and $225 for the Level 2 Spanish CD-Roms, or just $49.95 per month or $149.95 for 6 months for internet access to the same lessons.  Obviously the internet access seems to be the best deal, but then I do not retain the CDs to be able to use in the future.

Has anyone used the Rosetta Stone system?  If so, did you buy the CDs or do the online version?  If you did not use Rosetta Stone, did you use someone else, and why?

Any comments are appreciated.


Anonymous said...

I've managed to learn another 2 languages in the past 3 years. I've not used a CD-Rom based solution so can't compare but here are my (probably slightly biased) views:

First - make sure you know why you want to learn the language and how you are going to use it. If it's for the holiday then you probably need to learn a conversational version. If it's for working in the language you might be better off learning the correct grammar at the beginning.

Second - the only thing that seems to work is practice. If you want to have conversations in Spanish you need to have conversations in Spanish. If you want to write you need to practice writing. Reading and listening will only really help your passive skills, not your active ones.

Given that I would say the most effective way would be to take some lessons. Here in Europe our local governments provide evening courses which are great value. In bigger cities the major embassies will often have cultural institutes which have great lessons. Make sure you have a 'native' teacher or at least one that has spent a lot of time living in the country.

Finally, if you know someone who is fluent arrange a regular meet where you only speak that other language. Just make sure that they know their stuff or you'll learn all their bad habits.

I'd polish up the Spanish and then go for the Arabic. That way you'll get the confidence of learning a language before you try the Arabic. Friends who speak it say it's difficult to learn for an English speaker.

Hope that helps.

Ross said...

All of what your wrote above is good advice, thanks. I totally agree with you about figuring out the motivation. Primarily I was thinking a CD- or internet-based solution just for the convenience of not having to attend a class; study on my own terms and schedule was the general idea.

Thanks for the input.

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