Rosetta Stone, French screen shot

As people come back from their foreign holidays they may feel the urge to use the winter to develop their language skills in time for next year’s vacation. Rosetta Stone is a good starting point for complete beginners or those who want to improve their existing language skills.

Complete Course, Learn a Language Properly

It should be borne in mind that Rosetta Stone is aimed at those who wish to learn the language properly rather than get a few words to use in hotels and restaurants. Rosetta Stone is a comprehensive language course designed to develop all aspects of a new language: reading, listening, speaking and writing. It is not a glorified phrase book or a quick fix but the diligent student should be able to reach a useful level of proficiency in a few months of concerted study even if starting with no knowledge of the language.

Rosetta Stone aims to teach language in way that is similar to the way we learn our first language, what it calls Natural Discovery. As a result it does not teach grammar in the traditional sense but one is expected to pick it up by usage. This will not suit everyone as some will wish to understand the grammar. However to get to a basic level of competence it feels like a good approach to not clutter the mind with a lot of rules. However it is not difficult to find inexpensive books on grammar to fill that gap when the need is felt.

For the students refreshing existing language knowledge then the lack of grammatical “rules” is less of an issue especially if they originally studied the language in the traditional of way building on grammar rather than use of language. The grammar trends to come back quickly; it is the vocabulary and fluency that is missing with lack of use. In that case Rosetta Stone is particularly useful but, initially at least, it may feel a bit slow as the student has to work at the course’s pace, or risk missing needed content by skipping ahead and missing lessons.

Provides All-round Ability with Language

Rosetta Stone develops an all-round ability with the language and covers listening, speaking, reading and writing using technology to replace the teacher. It provides effective guidance so the absence of a teacher is of little concern. The technology is largely unobtrusive and additional help can be called for detailed on such things as pronunciation. A technology based solution is ideal in many respects as it has infinite patience, is rigorous as it will not let thingsgo unless they are right and the student can make the faltering first steps in private with no need to feel embarrassed.

Around an hour's study a day for six months should get most students to a very usable level. As with learning any new skills the main thing is to persist and not to get frustrated by apparently initially slow progress. With language particularly adults have an expectation from their fluency with their native language and get frustrated with limited abilities with a new language; young children do have that hang up and just take it as it comes. And it will come with a bit of diligence; it accelerates as one gets past the initial stages and achieves some fluency albeit with an initially limited vocabulary.Rosetta Stone Language Courses

Rosetta Stone is therefore a valuable tool for those learning or refreshing foreign language skills. A more detailed description of the components and how it works is in an earlier M-dash Miscellany Magazine review.

Rosetta Stone  is available for more than 30 languages, all of which adopt the same format; this review is based on French, Spanish and Dutch. Most languages are available at three levels and some of the more popular ones have five. Pricing varies depending on the modules taken and format but varies between £149 for single Level 1 course to £379 for all five levels.

Add new comment

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.