Someone clearly put a lot of time into creating the Rosetta Stone program. The production values are pretty good. But, the purpose of the program is to learn Japanese, and the amount of Japanese you can learn from all three programs is very limited. Better to spend the money on covering more material, and skip the bells and whistles.
In my estimation, all three programs are insufficient to equal even one full year of college Japanese. I'm not saying that the program is bad, just that it is limited in the amount of material covered. Perhaps my expectations were too high, but given the shockingly high price, I think I had a right to have those kinds of expectations. I would have returned it if I could, but I foolishly bought it on sale when it cannot be returned.
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54 of 55 people found the following review helpful
Not recommend for beginners..June 11 2012
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I study foreign languages in my free time. Having said that, my preferences lean towards product that aid in increasing my confidence in speaking, reading, writing, and understanding. Generally, these programs have clear audio, pictures, simple grammar lessons, and clear breakdowns of phonetic structures for non-native speakers (being entertaining and cheap is always a plus!)
Rosetta Stone is a wonderful vocabulary builder. The pictures and audio help store new words in long-term memory. The games *can* be fun and the lessons test listening skills and adaptive recall. With purchase, a user gains access to online tutoring sessions with a native speaker after completing chapter units (to try out their new skills.) Listening to the natural rhythm of native speakers in the program helps reduce accent and familiarize a user with the new language. There is a lot of content in level 1 of Japanese alone, which is broken into 4 units: Language Basics, Greeting/Introductions, Work/School, and Shopping. Each lesson builds on the last, helping the user retain vocabulary previously studied (but sadly, nearly prohibiting skipping ahead).Unfortunately, there are some major flaws:
This isn't the fastest self-taught curriculum; you won't learn useful, everyday phrases right away. Sure, I understand "The cat is sleeping." Or, "The boy runs." That's good, but how am I to realistically apply this to practical conversation? It took hours of lessons to learn phrases like "goodnight," or "Where is the bathroom?"
Grammar is never fully broken down. Users are left guessing how or why sentence structure or the Japanese particle system works (if they can even figure out what that is). Vocabulary, even with the pictures, is also vague at times. A child learning a new language uses a lot of guess work and is constantly corrected by parents in the early stages of language development. An adult, however, shouldn't need to make nearly as many mistakes as a babbling toddler, let alone without being constantly corrected. When confused about a word or phrase meaning, there is no direct translation available through Rosetta Stone itself- ever. I shouldn't need to use Google Translate to understand what I'm learning. It can be frustrating for absolute beginners. The phrases, when repeated listen for accuracy in the user's speech. However, one must only be about 80% correct for a sentence to register as right. I tested by saying and omitting words at times, and skimmed through the lesson with few problems. It's not that it's not okay to make mistake while learning, but proceed with caution. The words pop up as the user speaks them. Parts of a sentence that do not register as clear will appear in a more faded font. There were times when I spoke correctly, and still read faded font, second-guessing myself. (Though my sensei confirmed I was correct!)
Lastly, despite having lots of content, the lessons can be insanely repetitive and even confusing at times. It's easy for beginners to get disheartened, or think that language isn't their niche due to a poor start with the wrong learning materials. Conversational Japanese is actually the easiest self-taught language I've studied, with consistent sentence structures and easily approachable sounds for native English and Spanish speakers.
I used Rosetta Stone as a vocabulary builder along with my college JPN 103 class. I got what I paid for: increased confidence, greater fluency, and larger vocabulary. The catch is that I already mostly understood what and why words were ordered in each set. I recommend Rosetta Stone for people with some basic knowledge of Japanese language looking to build on what they already know, but definitely not for a novice. For the money, I can see how this would be an overwhelming frustrating disappointment. Invest in something with audio and a simple grammar book, some hiragana/katakana workbooks, and flashcards. Ganbatte!
32 of 36 people found the following review helpful
Let's learn with PictionaryAug. 23 2011
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The good news is Rosetta does a job of teaching vocabulary but you have to accept that you won't learn anything except vocabulary. There is almost no grammar or verb conjugation instruction which yes is boring but is necessary to learn a language and No, I don't believe this can be picked up by "immersion."
Have you ever take a language class where the teacher showed you pictures of people driving and you thought, "Ah, that is a negative verb conjugation." No, yet this is how Rosetta expects you to learn-- without any instruction. I'm trying to learn a new language not play pictionary.
Because I was annoyed with the lack of instruction, I bought the Genki textbooks and found a tutor (native speaker) who has taught me more in 4 hours then the 4 weeks I spent clicking on pictures. I'm still using the program because it is good vocabulary practice but my tutor rolled her eyes and laughed when I told her I was using Rosetta Stone to learn Japanese.
45 of 54 people found the following review helpful
Rosetta Stone has problemsJan. 23 2011
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I want to learn Japanese to travel to Japan and read signs/menus/media and speak with native speakers (of Japanese and Spanish); so I purchased both Rosetta Stone Spanish (1.5 years ago) and Japanese (last month). The Japanese tool provides some basics but has much room for improvement. The same difficulties exist with both. (1) The milestones frustrate learners greatly. Only a SINGULAR programmed response is acceptable; there is far too little information to discern it exactly (or even guess something close sometime); and as unacceptable responses mount negativity towards the product grows. This terrible feature (Milestone) should be eliminated or vastly improved. (2) The allowable pronunciation of some runes (boht Japanese and SPanish) is VERY tight, while it is quite loose on others. It is irritating & frustrating. The pronunciation aid screen provides additional insight, but there are a few letters I cannot produce acceptably. In Japanese Shi, Chi, and Sa are far too tight. The use should be able to LOOSEN these. (2a) Even after I produce an acceptable pronunciation, later in the lesson it is rejected. A HUMAN is needed to explain and help. The COMPUTER only defeats the learner's enthusiasm. (2b) In longer words and sentences, the same mispronunciation of the same runes is allowed. The program is inconsistent. (2c) What are you trying to teach? Can a native speaker understand the learner? If so, let it pass - even for single runes. (3) The estimated time for each lesson is FAR too low. To think, read the strange new Japanese runes, pronounce the words (acceptably), and try to impress them into memory requires effort. (4) When new words are introduced through a group of pictures, the learner islimited to SIGHT only. FOUR of the FIVE other senses are NOT ENGAGED. This is NOT AS ADVERTISED "learning the way you learned your first language." (5) Because of this, a collection of pictures (for example family members) should NOT be used to INTRODUCE new words. The method of sound plus 2 pictures then choice of 3 pictures, followed by one picture with audio and a choice of three, followed by audio and the same choice of three is FAR BETTER. At least it involves TWO SENSES. (6) A collection of 4 or more pictures should be programmed to keep the "NOT" choice until later among the choices. When the FIRST choice is "The person is not a DOCTOR" and there are 4 pictures, one of which is a doctor, it is difficult to pick out the correct picture. You may think you've given enough clues, but it is NOT a positive experience for the learner who is unsure what the word for doctor is. (7) I tried to return to UNIT 1 after the MILESTONE and the program does not allow it. You need a REVIEW OPTION. (7a) On my demand, I want to see pictures of NOUNS, their spelling, and AUDIO. When I learned my original language, I could do that via human interaction or media. (7b) On demand I want to see verbs also. (7c) I want to be able to get a definition, even if its only in Japanese using words I've already supposedly learned, on demand. For example, FUTARI. Eventually I had to ask a native speaker what it meant. At first I thought it meant standing, then smiling, then I gave up.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Worked well enough for meNov. 3 2013
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I just finished level 1 of Japanese, and from the time I started to now I've learned tons of Japanese. I can't say all of this was from Rosetta Stone, though. I thought Rosetta Stone was pretty good, but I don't think I could call it a standalone resource to learn Japanese. A major part of learning Japanese is mastering the katakana, hiragana, and kanji, and Rosetta Stone is definitely not the best way to do that. There's a section of the program that teaches katakana and hiragana, but I feel that Rosetta Stone has a pretty inefficient way of teaching the alphabet.
I really liked Rosetta Stone's voice recognition. Not many other programs offer that. I had to turn up the speech precision difficulty though because I thought it was being too lenient on pronunciation. I definitely did not like the milestones at the end of each unit, which expect the user to speak his/her way through a "real life" situation. The problem is that even though language is dynamic and diverse, Rosetta Stone says there's a single specific response for everything, and it's not easy at all to guess this from the context.
Rosetta Stone was great for teaching vocabulary, and I've retained most of what I've learned from it. To fill the shortcomings of Rosetta Stone, I've been using some other resources which I'll list here. Human Japanese: For the money, this teaches much more than Rosetta Stone can. It covers the alphabet, grammar, vocabulary, and cultural notes and it's a really interesting read. GENKI I: An Integrated Course in Elementary Japanese [With CDROM] (Japanese Edition) (English and Japanese Edition): I'm only a few chapters into Genki, but it's known as one of the best "real" textbooks for self study. Remembering the Kana: A Guide to Reading and Writing the Japanese Syllabaries in 3 Hours Each (part 1) (Japanese Edition): Dr. Heisig's Remembering the Kana was the quickest, most efficient way I could find to learn the kana. Remembering the Kanji: A Complete Course on How Not to Forget the Meaning and Writing of Japanese Characters: Heisig's Remembering the Kanji has taught me several hundred kanji so far, and I still remember the ones I learned almost a year ago.
I liked Rosetta Stone a lot, but it's too expensive for what it gives. For the same price as a single Rosetta Stone level, you could buy a much more diverse set of resources and learn a lot more. If money isn't an issue though, go for it. I think 3.5 or 4 stars is a good rating.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
My Japanese vocabulary is great!!June 22 2012
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But I didn't buy the program to learn a bunch of words and not know how to use them. I like the association with pictures. I memorized them all but I didn't know how to use them. It was kind of fun watching Japanese programs and listening to the music understanding a word or 2. It was not fun still not knowing what was being said.
RS might be great for some, but not for me. I would like to know what I'm saying. Am I saying the boy is on/over the table or the table is on/over the boy? Eventually, I licked my wounds and gave up. I tried another program and in one lesson I feel as if I learned more about the Japanese language (sentence structure and some basic sentences and words) than with months (bought it 2 years ago really) of RS.
I do not agree that we need verb conjugation and grammar. No one really learns that way. If we did, damn near everyone in the US would be bilingual because of HS language. After 4 years of Spanish or French who really leaves school knowing how to speak a 2nd language? Plus, I'm watching my 3 year old niece pick up Spanish like she's drinking water. She conjugates her verbs in both languages correctly over 90% of the time. So obviously immersion works. It's just a matter of finding what works best for you.