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Old 29th January 2009, 10:02 PM   #1
JamesDillon
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Rosetta Stone Language Software

Has anyone ever used this to study a language? If so, how effective did you find it, and what kind of time committment is required? The advertisements seem persuasive but the software is not cheap so I'd like to hear about someone's experiences using it before I shell out a couple of hundred dollars.
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Old 30th January 2009, 02:00 AM   #2
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I didn't like it. I learned more, faster, using audio cd's such as Pimsleur and a German/English dictionary, stuff you can usually find at a public library.
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Old 30th January 2009, 03:43 AM   #3
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I used it and it was ok for increasing you vocabulary, especially on words which you may not learn on a daily basis, but I got more out of the tapes then RS. But I must admit I didnt finish it, just maybe 12 lessons.
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Old 30th January 2009, 07:14 AM   #4
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I'm using it to learn Spanish. I love it, because it seems to work more the way I learn, by associating words and images, rather than memorizing translations.
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Old 31st January 2009, 12:32 AM   #5
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I prefer using it in combo with a traditional textbook. They are both more effective at different things.
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Old 31st January 2009, 08:43 AM   #6
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I used it to learn rudimentary German. As a complete languagephobe, I was pretty happy with it. There are cheaper competitors with good reviews out there. Rosetta Stone is not so good for advanced material. Also, the CDs are pretty much the same for all languages. This means they miss some colloquial usage.

But I have been sufficiently pleased that I would probably buy again.
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Old 11th February 2009, 08:32 AM   #7
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Pimsleur == way better.
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Old 19th February 2009, 09:33 AM   #8
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I've been using Rosetta Stone to brush up on my Russian.

Here's my take. (Disclaimer: My version of RS is a couple years old, so some of these observations might be out of date. From what I've seen in the mall demos, though, it hasn't changed that much.)

Rosetta Stone is excellent, and I mean excellent, for memory retention. Memorizing vocabulary has always been my weak point in learning languages, so this is very helpful for me. (Grokking syntax and structure has always come easily to me. Probably comes from being a programmer.)

However, it's often tough to "get" the grammar and structure, unless it's explained to you (and not always even then). Russian structure can be a little weird for English speakers, esp. when it comes to declension. since RS works by association (what it calls "immersion"), I don't think it's capable of explaining what they are and how they're used. Which is important if you don't want to sound like a cretin when speaking.

Don't get the wrong idea--RS does introduce grammar concepts in its teaching. It just doesn't explain them, which can be a little daunting.

Another weakness is familiarity with the alphabet. If you can't read the alphabet at all, RS is not the place to learn. It's even worse if the language you're learning is Arabic or Hebrew, which works completely different than European languages. (I see they teach Mandarin using English characters, which is smart.)

Now, I studied Russian in college (Arabic too, actually), so I could already read the characters and knew enough about the grammar to get by. So RS has been working wonders for me, and I've been very impressed with it.

However, if I hadn't had that instruction, I'm pretty sure I'd be confused and irritated.


So in the end...


Before trying to use RS to learn a language, I'd recommend at least taking a 101-level class on that language first, so you learn the basics of reading, writing, some grammar, and you can ask questions. Even if you only have the bare-bones 101-level understanding of the language, that basis will make it easier for you to grok the associations that RS presents to you. (All IMO, of course.)

If you do that, or use RS as a companion to classroom learning, you're going to get a lot out of it.
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Old 18th April 2009, 06:44 PM   #9
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My 5 years of Latin in H.S. and college helped me when I learned Russian as an adult (I am now a semi-retired translator). It may just be too hard for most people to learn a heavily-inflected language from software instead of an interactive process like a classroom or a tutor.
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Old 19th April 2009, 04:29 PM   #10
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Funny, I have a RS with indonesian somewhere.
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Old 23rd February 2012, 02:58 AM   #11
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Well at least I'm consistent-- 3 years later I'm searching the archives for any mention of Rosetta Stone, only to find that I started a thread about it myself. I'm still kicking around the idea of trying it, but have another question: why do there seem to be no used copies for sale anywhere? Nothing on Ebay or Amazon; given the cost of this software I'd think that at least some users must want to offload a used copy cheap. Is there some kind of license restriction to prevent that?
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Old 23rd February 2012, 03:09 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by JamesDillon View Post
Well at least I'm consistent-- 3 years later I'm searching the archives for any mention of Rosetta Stone, only to find that I started a thread about it myself. I'm still kicking around the idea of trying it, but have another question: why do there seem to be no used copies for sale anywhere? Nothing on Ebay or Amazon; given the cost of this software I'd think that at least some users must want to offload a used copy cheap. Is there some kind of license restriction to prevent that?
I sourced an ...um...unofficial, shall we say... version of RS as a 'try before I buy' to learn Korean and didn't get very far with it.

I think I need something more structured to help me learn and I need to have the grammar and the rules spelled out to me so I know WHY thats the way to say X not just that it is.

RS just seemed like a listen and repeat thing which would be nice to have as an additional tool to proper classes and a textbook but its kinda expensive and its now just sitting on my harddrive doing nothing.
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Old 23rd February 2012, 07:19 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by JamesDillon View Post
Well at least I'm consistent-- 3 years later I'm searching the archives for any mention of Rosetta Stone, only to find that I started a thread about it myself. I'm still kicking around the idea of trying it, but have another question: why do there seem to be no used copies for sale anywhere? Nothing on Ebay or Amazon; given the cost of this software I'd think that at least some users must want to offload a used copy cheap. Is there some kind of license restriction to prevent that?
I'm only familiar with Rosetta Stone from teaching several hundred international students to get ready for univeristy level English over a 2 year period. It was one of the software packages in the language lab.

And yes, they are very strict with their licensing.

It seems that the comments above are from people who never tried the full package, which makes very good use of voice recognition software for pronunciation correction, live native speakers, and other features that you simply aren't going to get in a $30 Pimsleur CD set.

And that mirrors what I observed in the English program...
The students found the first few levels of Rosetta Stone boring and repetitious.

Those who just sat down a few hours every week and did the exercises until they had completed the whole package were also the students who were doing well in their coursework, and whose English progress was among the best.

Those who were impatient with the beginner's levels and tried to find ways to get around doing it, were among those having the most trouble with the program overall.

Having said that... Unless someone is in a similar situation, I'd go with a less expensive company like Transparent Language.
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Old 23rd February 2012, 08:48 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by JamesDillon View Post
Has anyone ever used this to study a language? If so, how effective did you find it, and what kind of time committment is required? The advertisements seem persuasive but the software is not cheap so I'd like to hear about someone's experiences using it before I shell out a couple of hundred dollars.
I use it for language maintenance and vocabulary development but I doubt it's value for language acquisition. I don't see how you learn grammar or verb tense from it. I like Pimsleurs if for learning some basic survival language.
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Old 23rd February 2012, 08:58 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Craig4 View Post
I use it for language maintenance and vocabulary development but I doubt it's value for language acquisition. I don't see how you learn grammar or verb tense from it. I like Pimsleurs if for learning some basic survival language.
Second language acquisition for academic purposes is a little more complex than that.

In the specific context I gave, Rosetta Stone is simply a small part of an overall program, where students also spend considerable time drilling grammar, as well as listening, note taking, academic writing, and oral communication. It is a 30 hour week minimum for roughly a year. Rosetta Stone might fill 2 hours a week for about half of that period.

Pimsleur aims his material more at tourist language, but as noted, you can get a lot more for the price from other companies.

Last edited by crimresearch; 23rd February 2012 at 09:00 AM.
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Old 24th February 2012, 02:48 PM   #16
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I do Pimsleur because Rosetta Stone does not carry Czech. I listen to the Pimsleur CDs while driving & I find them good for pronunciation & basic vocabulary; however, I won't be able to carry on anything other than the most basic conversation when I'm done. I think I'd find a supplemental visual-based program useful, myself.
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Old 29th February 2012, 04:29 PM   #17
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I've done Pimsleur, and found it excellent for Chinese, Greek, Italian and Spanish. I've tried Rosetta, and found it really, really annoying.
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Old 29th February 2012, 09:19 PM   #18
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Public libraries have a hard time keeping language CDs/sets on the shelf because they're so popular. Consequently, quite a few libraries now subscribe to online services that people can access from home. Mango Languages is one of the more popular ones -- and it's pretty slick! Berkeley Public Library offers it here: Berkeley Public Library Online Resources. You'll probably need to enter your library card number to access it.
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Old 1st March 2012, 01:33 AM   #19
JamesDillon
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Originally Posted by Mahatma Kane Jeeves View Post
Public libraries have a hard time keeping language CDs/sets on the shelf because they're so popular. Consequently, quite a few libraries now subscribe to online services that people can access from home. Mango Languages is one of the more popular ones -- and it's pretty slick! Berkeley Public Library offers it here: Berkeley Public Library Online Resources. You'll probably need to enter your library card number to access it.
Thanks, that is very helpful! Should have thought to check that. Now that you mention it, I wonder if the UC libraries have any of this stuff.
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Old 1st March 2012, 07:32 AM   #20
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If those commie socialist foreigners would just learn to talk English like the rest of us, we wouldn't need any of the Rosetta Stone crap.
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Old 1st March 2012, 08:02 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by Cleon View Post
I've been using Rosetta Stone to brush up on my Russian.


However, it's often tough to "get" the grammar and structure, unless it's explained to you (and not always even then). Russian structure can be a little weird for English speakers, esp. when it comes to declension. since RS works by association (what it calls "immersion"), I don't think it's capable of explaining what they are and how they're used. Which is important if you don't want to sound like a cretin when speaking.

Don't get the wrong idea--RS does introduce grammar concepts in its teaching. It just doesn't explain them, which can be a little daunting.

Another weakness is familiarity with the alphabet. If you can't read the alphabet at all, RS is not the place to learn. It's even worse if the language you're learning is Arabic or Hebrew, which works completely different than European languages. (I see they teach Mandarin using English characters, which is smart.)
100% agreement.

I have been using it for Russian on and off. I have no aptitude for any language and did not have it in school. But I have had some success with it for studying Russian by keeping a dictionary handy while using it. I will never be fluent in Russian but I can read signs and sometimes pick up the gist of a conversation when in Russia on business.

I should get back to studying it more......Boy on plane...boy under plane....boy in plane....
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Old 1st March 2012, 10:27 AM   #22
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I am using it to learn Mandarin. It's good but I echo what others have said about sentence structure. I've found a few free sites that help clarify confusion. It's all about how you learn, though.
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Old 1st March 2012, 11:09 AM   #23
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I was interested in learning Japanese and tried Rosetta Stone (I borrowed it from a friend). I found it difficult as total immersion without other people to talk to was not helpful for me. I tried Pimsler and found it much easier to pick up the language. I haven't gotten to the writing/reading yet and I assume that I would need a different program for that. Mostly, I would just like to be able to speak enough of the language to travel the country (though I'm sure there are plenty of people who speak English, but I like to at least try to speak the local language when I travel).

I do really think it depends on how you learn.
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Old 1st March 2012, 11:13 AM   #24
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Rosetta Stone would be nice if you are brushing up on a language (I found it helpful with French). Like some of the others posters have said, RS doesn't really explain the grammar and I thought that it really just throws you into the language without much explanation. With the Japanese, I really needed a lot of explanation.
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Old 17th March 2012, 01:01 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by Indy418 View Post
Rosetta Stone would be nice if you are brushing up on a language (I found it helpful with French). Like some of the others posters have said, RS doesn't really explain the grammar and I thought that it really just throws you into the language without much explanation. With the Japanese, I really needed a lot of explanation.
I thought it was worth the money for Spanish because I took it in school and Rosetta Stone helped review. I didn't think it was as helpful for Chinese, which I haven't taken.
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Old 6th April 2012, 12:43 PM   #26
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Will it not be bastard to me like my French teacher used to be?

I'm telling you, that woman put me off learning new languages forever
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Old 6th April 2012, 03:06 PM   #27
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Rosetta Stone is a good language program, but it's really overpriced.
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Old 6th April 2012, 04:07 PM   #28
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Originally Posted by dudalb View Post
Rosetta Stone is a good language program, but it's really overpriced.
Yes it is.
But I have found it to be very useful to trim up the language.
I wouldn't say I was I fluent prior, but it certainly helped.
It is very good for 'High Spanish', but less so for central America.
I got use out of it when I was down in Chile.
My x-wife speaks both Castillan and Anderluth. (I think I spelled them wrong) She had no problems in Mexico, whereas I had a difficult time there and in Venezuela.

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Old 7th April 2012, 04:53 PM   #29
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Originally Posted by dudalb View Post
Rosetta Stone is a good language program, but it's really overpriced.
Yeah, even with the sales that it seems to be having 364 days of the year, it is definitely the most expensive option.
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Old 8th April 2012, 06:54 PM   #30
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My Rosetta Stone anecdote. Those of you who have taken the course might giggle.

I'm in Berlin, Germany with 40 Americans and brits. This trip is a big deal and was a real treat for many of the attendees. One of whom took Rosetta Stone German. We are on the escalator at KaDeWe, the big department store. Dude spots a display table in the store and says "Das grosse Ei ist auf dem Tisch!"

I laughed for about a week straight. Your mileage may vary.

I liked RS for German, but I knew a little German when I started.
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Old 9th April 2012, 06:33 AM   #31
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I just picked up Russian -- fairly big percentage sale at a discount book seller. Pricey, but most of the other language learning systems on CD are running $60-80 on the low side, so not THAT outrageous. If it works.

Had several people recommend it highly, so we shall see.
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Old 14th June 2012, 03:58 PM   #32
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I just started on the Rosetta Stone German set recently and of course I'm suffering buyer's remorse. I've done a bit of scanning on the web for criticisms of RS but it's hard to find an unbiased review, i.e. the criticism is followed by an endorsement of another product which itself is harshly criticized elsewhere.

So a simple question. Is anyone aware of people who learned to read/write/speak a language adequately through Rosetta Stone? Other compensations like watching movies and reading news websites may be included, but separate from taking night classes or joining a language club. Ultimately what I want is to be able to take a train trip through Germany on vacation and converse with the locals while not sounding completely inept. I also don't want my accent to sound like some bizarre mish-mash of different regions. I think of how weird it would be to talk to someone who learned English from a source that included British, Southern American, Canadian, Australian, and oh, I don't know, Jamaican accents.

I don't know any native German speakers who I could get that reinforcement and help from, though the RS online features seem like they could be useful and does address one of the consistent criticisms of the software. But, short of actually living in Berlin or something, is this reasonable?

Two things I am finding difficult with it so far are grammar and pronunciation. I expect the former will come with time as I figure out that language's rules but the latter I find confusing, especially with the letter R. Some of the speakers strongly roll the R, others sound like they're hocking a loogie, others barely pronounce it at all (with the same word, i.e. "rot" I've heard pronounced as "hlrlrlrlroht" "hchoht" and "hwoht").

Originally Posted by carlitos View Post
Dude spots a display table in the store and says "Das grosse Ei ist auf dem Tisch!"

I laughed for about a week straight. Your mileage may vary.

Well I haven't even completed level 1, unit 3, and I can read that. I have to wonder how far did he actually went with the program? This story terrifies me BTW as I don't understand what's funny about it. Was there not a large egg on a table, or was it a bizarre way of expressing his observation?
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Old 14th June 2012, 04:57 PM   #33
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I don't get it either. My German isn't good enough for me to detect anything odd/funny/punny about it.
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Old 14th June 2012, 10:01 PM   #34
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Quote:
Two things I am finding difficult with it so far are grammar and pronunciation. I expect the former will come with time as I figure out that language's rules but the latter I find confusing, especially with the letter R. Some of the speakers strongly roll the R, others sound like they're hocking a loogie, others barely pronounce it at all (with the same word, i.e. "rot" I've heard pronounced as "hlrlrlrlroht" "hchoht" and "hwoht").
That's a weakness I suspect with any franchised software program. The publishers can't be native speakers in every language and regional dialects are bound to slip in. What you describe is the regional dialects German speakers have (similar to the way each region of England has a different dialect). As well as the "rr" the "ich" sound is quite different from North to South. Schwabians (South) pronounce "Ich" as if hacking a big one. Rhineland-Falls pronounces it almost like "ish." Berlin is infamous for "ick."

The programs I have used generally gloss over this but to a native speaker it's going to be disconcerting for you to slip back and forth between dialects. Imagine someone who speaks American English but slips in the occasional bit of Mancunian or Kiwi dialect.

Also I have to agree with the earlier poster who mentioned the various programs lacking in their use of non-Roman script. A common error people will make learning a non-Roman script language (e.g. Russian, Arabic, Chinese, etc.. is to transliterate vocabulary into Roman characters. This is a crutch that will get you only so far then becomes a hindrance as you have associated the words in the wrong format to easily read text. So unless the program also teaches you to properly read their script (unlikely because of their teaching model) you are going to be handicapped.

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Old 15th June 2012, 03:48 PM   #35
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Originally Posted by Bloodtoes View Post
Well I haven't even completed level 1, unit 3, and I can read that. I have to wonder how far did he actually went with the program? This story terrifies me BTW as I don't understand what's funny about it. Was there not a large egg on a table, or was it a bizarre way of expressing his observation?
It's just that - when you take the course - you are saying these silly things - the blue cat is on the car; the yellow sun is in the sky. Obviously, they do this as a teaching aid. Then, there really was a big egg on a table in the store. You had to be there.

I have a weird sense of humor. I just told this to some Germans and they didn't think it was funny either.
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Old 15th June 2012, 05:57 PM   #36
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Originally Posted by carlitos View Post
It's just that - when you take the course - you are saying these silly things - the blue cat is on the car; the yellow sun is in the sky. Obviously, they do this as a teaching aid. Then, there really was a big egg on a table in the store. You had to be there.
Aha, I got ya. I was just concerned that there was some grammatical faux-pas, or it was a case of "well, that's not how a German would say it" kinda thing, or some absurd slang ("groß Ei"). I have noticed that the phrases are rather mundane but sometimes amusing. So far my favourite is "Die Katze ist im Hut" which has an appropriately amusing picture to go with it. That and "Die Katze ist auf dem Fernsehr."

Maybe I am just amused by cats.

What are the later language levels like? I expect Level 1 is very basic, but I have all 5 levels, will I get into grammar explanations eventually? I think I'd really benefit if the software included explanations of regional differences like Robrob mentions above, or what the differences are between, for example, ihr/ihre/ihren. That sort of instructive element would be helpful.. I don't know, maybe it's added later on but explained in German instead, once it gets you to a point where you have the vocabulary to understand.

ETA: Post #500! Neat.
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Last edited by Bloodtoes; 15th June 2012 at 06:19 PM.
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Old 15th June 2012, 06:35 PM   #37
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I honestly found Rosetta Stone to be one of the dullest, most boring and therefore useless language learning programs I have ever encountered. And I have encountered a lot of language learning programs.

If you're genuinely serious about learning a foreign language, I recommend checking out the web page of Alexander Arguelles, a polyglot, and look at his "language study" information.

http://www.foreignlanguageexpertise.com/
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Old 15th June 2012, 07:48 PM   #38
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Originally Posted by Doghouse Reilly;8374342[url
http://www.foreignlanguageexpertise.com/[/url]

Very interesting. I've watched a few of his videos so far and it's given me much to consider. The guy seems like he's ready to explode at any moment though.

The formality of the comments on his channel is a bit disconcerting.
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Last edited by Bloodtoes; 15th June 2012 at 07:52 PM.
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Old 15th June 2012, 08:54 PM   #39
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I thought Rosetta Stone was fun, there were various different activities that kept it interesting. I found the learning curve too steep however, and there was no bridge between lessons. I kept repeating lesson one until i was sick of it hoping I would gain the insight and skills to start lesson 2, but even after completely tiring myself of lesson one I still could not understand what was going on in lesson 2. I wish it had progressive help menus that would eventually talk you through it in your own language if you clicked help enough times.
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Old 15th June 2012, 10:48 PM   #40
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Originally Posted by Smackety View Post
I kept repeating lesson one until i was sick of it hoping I would gain the insight and skills to start lesson 2, but even after completely tiring myself of lesson one I still could not understand what was going on in lesson 2.
Exactly what I meant when I said it's boring. A good program should not bore you before you have managed to master the material.
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