Customer Review

45 of 46 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not really what I expected., 22 April 2011
This review is from: Rosetta Stone Version 3: Spanish (Spain) Level 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5 with Audio Companion (Mac/PC) (CD-ROM)
I have heard people mention Rosetta Stone and when I saw I could get a "Spain" version I thought I would give it a try. As I live in Europe, I am more likely to visit Spain than Latin America. I spend about two hours a day learning and practising Spanish. I've done a few home courses over the last 18 months and I have a reasonable vocabulary. I wanted Rosetta stone to help me with the pronunciation of Spanish in Spain and to add to my vocabulary.

Each of the language courses I have used has its own focus on what is considered important to teach. Rosetta stone seems to put a lot of emphasis on using the progressive (-ing) tense. eg. He is eating. The courses I used prior to Rosetta stone mentioned it but said it wasn't used as widely as in English. They taught it so you would know it when you heard it but brushed over it. It is an extremely easy tense to conjugate and doesn't take much practice. Rosetta stone is the complete opposite. If I had only used Rosetta stone I would now be convinced that the progressive tense is the tense of choice. Ignorance is bliss. Not being an expert in Spanish, it left me a little confused. To resolve the issue I found some scripts for Spanish films and checked for the progressive tense being used. I found a couple of instances of it being used in dozens of pages of script which contradicts the level of use in Rosetta Stone. I am curious to see other languages in Rosetta Stone. Have they written the scripts in English and then done a direct translation into other languages?

Until using Rosetta stone my learning has been fairly straight forward. The usual forgetting words but everything was straight forward and clear. After using Rosetta Stone for a while I now find myself with uncertainties in word ending when conjugating verbs. Instead of improving my Spanish it has set it back in some areas. The introduction of the present tense ending and imperative endings for the same verbs at the same time just creates confusion. Other courses get you familiar with to one first and then introduce the other.

Rosetta Stone make a big deal about their "Immersion" learning techniques which sounds great. It is all about learning language the way you did growing up. Wouldn't that be great? It was so easy! There is one element that is missing from the process. It is the "Why" element. Anyone who has spent time with children growing up will be all to familiar with the word "Why?". Rosetta stone tells you when you get answers right or wrong but it doesn't explain the why. It would me nice to have a button to click on in the lessons to explain what it is teaching so you can understand. We are grown ups after all. We can understand the concepts of grammar.

As a software developer I probably have a more critical eye than most when using software. There are some bugs/inconsistencies but I think as software goes it is quite well presented. It combines audio,visual and written material. You can choose if you want to concentrate on listening/reading/writing which should allow you to tailor the course to your preferred learning method. Unfortunately it just doesn't seem to work as well as it could. The first time I used it I set it on the most thorough option. After a few lessons, I was dying of boredom. The various levels either seem to rush through the words or it repeats things ad nausium. It's difficult to find a happy medium.

It works by showing a set of images and prompts you to select either an image to fit a phrase or a phrase to fit an image. I find it a bit slow with what seems to be a lot of time waiting for it to display the next set of images. They randomly change the order in which it asks the questions in mid lesson. This can cause confusion the first time through a level. The pictures forming a sequence of events aren't always self explanatory if the software starts prompting from the end. When the first prompt is "The cup is red" and you have two pictures with red cups, which do you choose. It is obvious once you know the rest of the phrases to go with the pictures. It's not the end of the world if you get some wrong but it does get irritating. There have been numerous occasions where I have understood the Spanish but struggled to work out which picture they are trying to reference. It sometimes feels like you are spending more time playing "Hunt the picture" than learning Spanish. I would think the aim is to reinforce the association between sound/word/image and not to spend so much time improving your picture finding skills.

I couldn't honestly recommend this to anyone as a serious tool to begin learning Spanish. There haven't been many applications I regret using but this is one. It has been good to listen to pronunciation by people from Spain. It has added a few words to my vocabulary but it has caused set backs in my learning that I will have to work hard at to resolve. For me the disadvantages of using this software outweigh the advantages.

There seems to have been a lot of work put into the software and I think it has the potential of being a truly great package. If I hadn't used other courses my opinion might be different. It is far better than cheaper "Spanish in 10 days" type courses but I don't think the price tag of Rosetta stone is justified by the results I obtained from the package. Rosetta stone has an excellent sales pitch. They just need to tweak the software to match. There is a free Spanish course on-line that use similar techniques for teaching and does it in a much better way.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 30 Jul 2011 09:28:39 BDT
Barbara says:
Thanks for an interesting and informative review Gerard. You mention a free on-linecourse which is similar. Would you be able to tell us the web link for that. Would be very grateful. Thank you.

Posted on 15 Nov 2011 14:30:59 GMT
lady in red says:
A fantastic review and i thank you for saving me a substancial amount of money. It does not appear that RS would have anything to offer me, I just need to keep going to classes.

Posted on 3 Jul 2013 02:44:42 BDT
M. Paddon says:
Your comment about a child saying, "why?" is not a good analogue really, as a child has to be able to speak the language to ask the question, "why?" and have a comprehension of the language to understand the answer. So having a "why" button that explains it in your language would in some respects defeat the purpose. If it explained it in Spanish then fair enough, that's the same as normal. Maybe you meant that, but it didn't sound like you meant for it to be in Spanish.

How far did you actually go with this course?
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