German Language Software Review
My Portuguese husband selectedRosetta Stone Germanto take on my mother tongue, having sifted through half a dozen German language training software. As a trained linguist, I reviewed it myself. Here is what we think.
Rosetta Stone German offers a matrix of different versions, sorted byinterestsand bydepthof desired knowledge.
- a)by interests: Personal (best for travellers), Business, Public Sector (even United Nations staff are using it), Education, and Homeschool. We tried the personal version.
- b)by depth of desired knowledge: There are five CD Roms, each including content that builds on the previous CD Rom. The first CD Rom covers the basics a traveller would need to get around. The first 3 CD Roms enable you to have a conversation and express your feelings and opinions. The whole pack of 5 CD Roms enables you to formulate plans for the future, have higher level conversations and actually live in the country.
We (Miguel and Barbara Cacao) have found: The better a language training software can make you re-produce the new language, the more successful the learning experience will be. Rosetta Stone German does this well.
Rosetta Stone German‘sImmersion methodalso teaches languages intuitively like a child would, through comparing, making conclusions, and playing around with and in the new language. The programme builds on visuals, dialogues, word and phrase games, and conversations in online forums. This means, you either interact with the programme or with individuals such as teachers or fellow learners.
At the beginning, my husband found it actually hard to learn a new language completely without grammar charts and translation exercises. Talking about photos and doing games was not his view of learning a language properly, yet he made his biggest progress with learning German when he used Rosetta Stone German.
Ease of Use
My husband, who used Rosetta Stone German for longer, found it easy to plan and conduct his lessons, to find his way round, and use the different features like games and live language lessons. As each completed language lesson is stored, Rosetta Stone navigates you seamlessly through subsequent learning units.
However, Rosetta’s Immersion method and visual learning can get complicated as more complex contexts and meanings of words and phrases are introduced. Since no one explainsmultiple meaningsof words or particularities of grammar to you, you may end up with assumptions that at a later stage prove to be wrong.
The three key areas of the Interactive Learning areGreetings and Introductions, Rosetta Studio, and Rosetta World.
Note: In April 2013, Rosetta Stone acquiredonline language learning community Livemocha. This is just what Rosetta learners needed: a lively and engaging online community where they can practice their new skills.
Both my husband and I are intrigued by the ease of the intuitive learning.Descriptive photographsand little photo stories prompt you to select the right word or phrase. As we progress, the groups of words and phrases vary: While first a girl eats fish and a boy drinks water, then the girl drinks water and the boy eats fish. Soup, salad, coffee and juice keep up your attention. Following that, the pronouns he, she and I come into play. At each new situation, you will eventually have to align a word or phrase to the right photograph just by listening to it – no writing. Once you have taken that hurdle, the plot unfolds: A waiter asks ‘What do you want to eat?’ And guess what: You will already know what to answer. Each lesson usually takes between 40 and 50 minutes.
ThegamesI tried were based on the same method of attributing a phrase or sentence to the right photograph. It was fun though different style games would be great in order to shake up the basic approach using photoraphs.
TheRosetta Studiois the lab where you can practice your conversation skills live with a tutor who appears on the screen. There are usually between two and four other learners with you online, which eases the ‘teacher-pupil’ confrontation.
My advice: Use the language sessions with a live tutor in Rosetta Studio to clarify any doubts of grammar and vocabulary that come up during the lesssons.
Fall back on fundamentals such as grammar, sentence structure and pronunciation rules. This will make sure you avoid cementing false assumptions, and you acquire knowledge of totally new uses of linguistic elements that you never knew even existed.
I often find I can’t communicate with non native German speakers because I don’t understand what they are trying to say. My husband honed hisGerman pronunciationwith Rosetta’s speech recognition, which worked brilliantly. (I could distinguish his accent acquired by Rosetta and not by me because he had a slightly German rather than Austrian accent, which is fine.) The speech recognition would create a sound pattern of his pronunciation. My husband would then compare it with a tutor’s sound pattern and rinse and repeat until the patterns almost overlapped (you don’t need to get it 100% right).
Rosetta Stone German’s design builds on beautiful and engaging photographs, which typically showcase certain circumstances and actions. The navigation design is simple, straight forward and doesn’t overload you with content.
People like my husband and me need to regularly know where they stand in order to plough ahead at good speed. Earlier versions of Rosetta Stone German offered graphs, charts and other means of tracking your progress. The new version 4 seems to lack this (at least we haven’t found anything like it), which frankly will dismay those among us who thrive best when observing their progress with quantitative means.
Installation and Updates
TheRosetta Stone Germanonline subscription-basedsolution doesn’t require you to download anything. You can access all materials and features online, from the interactive course and speech recognition to games and activities. The TOTALe licence is less expensive than the CD Rom set, but only available for 12 months. TOTALe is by far the most trouble-free solution for learners. Subscriptions last for 12 months and can be renewed flexibly. TOTALe also enables learners to study on the go via Rosetta Stone apps for iPads, Smartphones and Androids.
Price: USD 179 to USD 499
This is a hybrid between going for an online solution and a CD Rom set. Once you purchase the product online, you receive and email with a download key which will enable you to download the courses. It’s not that straightforward, though, since you’ll need to download and install a support programme first, called Akamai Netsession Interface. There are a total of nine steps to download the whole programme, and another six steps to install and activate Rosetta Stone.
Price: USD 179 to USD 499
CD Rom Set
If you buy a CD Rom set, it requires you to install the programme on your desktop or laptop. Your purchased licence allows you to install the software on two computers. My husband had installed the software without problems on our Apple laptop. When I wanted to install it on our desktop, it was anything but easy.
Installing the updates also took ages on both devices.
My advice: Unless you feel confident about installing software, go for TOTALe.
Having bothtechnical and language supportat hand when you need it is a must. When the problems with the CD-Rom installation occurred (see above) I hang on the telephone for almost one hour with a Rosetta Stone technician: “With Windows Vista clients we have always had problems”, he let me know. And “this is the longest installation I have ever seen.” Not sure whether I was really an exception.
The support technician was also rather patronising when we went through the installation problem: “No, no, no, no, you can’t do that…”. I felt like back at school. In the end, he did not manage to solve my problem, which leads me to advise you: By all means, go with Rosetta Stone German because it is a great learning tool, but do stick with the online subscription, not the CD Rom set.
Find more information and deals on theRosetta Stone Germansite.