on December 13, 2010
I recently purchased Rosetta Stone V4 TOTALe levels 1-5.
This is an expensive piece of software but I have found it worth the investment. The software is easy and intuitive to use but the real strength of the software is the mixture of speaking, reading, listening and writing in the activities.
I have attempted to learn French a number of times (my wife speaks French) but I did not made much progress as I never felt confident enough to start speaking. With the on-line instructor led studio sessions you can practice speaking in a class like session and interact with others at the same level as you. This helps get you going and builds confidence when others can understand what you are saying. I had some issues connecting to the live studio sessions but the tech support helped me sort out the issue quickly which was great. You get access to the live studio sessions for 15 months so it is worth starting them as soon as you can to get the full benefit.
I really like the iPhone application that you get access to with the software. It has speech recognition that allows you to practice when you are away from your main PC which is fun, and my kids love the novelty. The audio companion is less useful but it does allow you to develop listening skills but will not really help with pronunciation. It is best used as a reminder.
The software also allows you to play games on your own or against other users which breaks up the course and adds a bit of fun.
Overall I really like the software, I debated buying this for 2 months vs taking lessons and I'm glad that I bought the software. From past experience I signed up for lessons and then missed half of them due to work commitments. With the software you can come back to it as time allows. Lessons from a good teachers are probably better but this is a great way to make progress if you have a challenging schedule.
on August 22, 2015
Beginning with knowing only a handful of French words (and with no natural talent for acquisition of languages), this program gave me a good solid knowledge of French. I completed the five levels, added a couple of grammar books, the Pimsleur listening CD, and then enrolled in a five-week French Immersion program. The effort resulted in passing a French test at the intermediate level required for entrance into a bilingual doctoral program.
on January 29, 2015
A user-friendly program. I'm not sure it's the best available teaching method, but I believe it will still get results. Compared to Unforgettable Languages, I don't think it's as effective of a method, but the interface is a little cleaner and easier to use.
You certainly won't go wrong with this product if you prefer it's friendly appearance vs it's peers. For better language retention, consider investing (less money) into Unforgettable Languages.
I tried the Rosetta Stone French Part 1 course last year and I was impressed with it so I was really keen to try out the entire course. It is certainly not the cheapest on the market, but many state schools rate it sufficiently highly that they are prepared to allocate part of their budgets to purchasing expensive software licences. Many professionals rate this as the best course around.
I found the software very easy to install – install is via DVD and you then put in your unique code. There is also a download option. The combination of French words and pictures to accompany them, without anything at all in English means that one is thinking in French fairly much from the word go. Pronunciation, reading, writing and vocabulary are all covered and I initially revisited the Part 1 course which I had already covered. When I did that course I found that I had been making various errors in pronunciation and happily this time round much of what I had learned had stuck! I was soon onto the next part and learning new vocabulary.
One element which is certainly true is that the Rosetta Stone course really makes it fun to learn. I found myself progressing through the course much faster than I had expected and really wanting to keep going onto the next segment. The scoring system is an incentive and you find yourself really getting a kick out by hitting 100% in any section.
There are some aspects that would be purchasers should be aware of however. This course comes with a 3 month access to the online aspects which include live tutorials with French native speakers, and various community activities with games etc to improve your skills. You have to commence your inclusive three months within six months of purchase. Should you wish to extend this beyond the inclusive three months you can extend it but there is a quarterly charge. Rosetta Stone Customer Services were unable to tell me how much it costs per quarter to extend this feature which I find a little strange.
If you are serious about learning French using Rosetta Stone, then it is much more cost effective to buy this full course rather than starting with Part 1 and taking it from there. The Part 1 course is almost half the cost of the entire Part 1-5 course and there is no upgrade system so if you want to go on to purchase the entire course, you will not be automatically given credit for what you have already paid out. However, I do understand from RS that if you ring up and talk nicely to customer services they may be able to do something. This is, of course, not guaranteed.
As a final point, what you are purchasing is a personal license from Rosetta Stone, and you cannot legally sell this on - hence you are not legally going to be able to recover some of the cost on the second hand market when you have completed the course and given that this is quite a big upfront investment, this is a point worth noting.
I've spoken French, with varying degrees of proficiency, since I was young. It was a mandatory subject in middle and high school, as well as a requirement living in Montreal. At University, half my courses were in French, so I have more than a passing familiarity with the language. However, when moving around the world to areas that French is not used, it's easy to forget parts of the language, especially when you don't have a need or opportunity to use the language frequently. So, over the decades, I've had to brush up my French on numerous occasions, refreshing my memory as to some of the language structures and vocabulary, not to mention the grammar, which can be complex. To help brush up, I've built up quite a library of French instruction tapes and CDs, including all the popular ones. Two years ago, I added this Rosetta Stone box to the list, and used it to try and update my skills once again. Unfortunately, I had mixed results with the system.
To start with, you really need an Internet connection to use this set, which is a limitation I had not counted on when travelling frequently. You can get by without, but it's an annoying process. Second, the never-ending push to buy a subscription really annoyed the heck out of me. I'd just dropped hundreds of dollars on the box, and all Rosetta Stone wants is me to buy a subscription for support right away! The nagging goes on and on, never letting up, with no turning the messages off. In the end, if there was one thing that made me give up on this set, that was it.
What about learning the language? Rosetta Stone relies on pictures to show you context, and a microphone analyzing your speech to determine if you are saying things correctly. Unfortunately, the algorithm is annoying. You can be repeating the word exactly as the instructor shows, and it doesn't get a match. You can repeat dozens of times, with slight variations to try and trick the system, but sometimes it just won't get past the blockage. I speak the language well, according to Francophones, but according to Rosetta Stone's stupid voice recognition system, I have trouble saying basic words! The other thing that really annoyed me about the system is the way it expects you to be able to type in French without seeing words written out or helping develop your written skills properly. You'll be asked to type out a sentence or fragment, based on sound alone, and that's not easy in French! If I had not studied the language for years, I would have given up on this system in the first few levels. As it is, I completed the entire system, mostly out of stubbornness, but I am convinced if I didn't have a solid understanding of the language before "learning", I would not have made it through.
To make sure it wasn't just me, I had a visiting Parisian friend give the system a shot at Level 5. He had exactly the same experiences I had with the voice system, as well as criticizing some of the approaches used to teach words. He said they were not technically wrong, but also not in general usage in the language.
Yes, I did brush up my French with this system, but no more than I have done with other (and cheaper) systems. I worked through this system once, but I won't return. I was disappointed in the approach the system uses, the demands it places on purchasers to buy subscriptions, and the stupidity of the voice recognition system. I can't recommend this over some of the other systems on the market to teach French, without the high cost or aggravation.