14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Good and interactive but I still sort of miss having a grammar book.,
This review is from: Rosetta Stone French Complete Course (CD-ROM)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Language learning has changed hugely since I was at school - mostly for the better. There is no endless learning pages of grammar or declining verbs. Instead, courses like Rosetta Stone seek to replicate how children learn their native language. This involves lots of pictures and complete immersion in the language (everything here is in French - not a word of English). Since total immersion in a language is the only time I have ever been able to grasp a language, this seemed a good place to pick up my rusty French. If you go to the Rosetta Stone web site, you can follow a couple of examples of the concept but beware: inevitably these are the basic lessons and therefore quite easy and fun. The start of the course is similarly easy and fun. But while this is perhaps more interactive than some other courses, it doesn't totally address the issue of a sudden cliff in terms of learning. I've experienced this with other language courses (Pimsleur, Berlitz) where you think you are making huge progress and then suddenly in one lesson you feel that it's all moved up a gear and you are completely at sea again. Same here.
To start with though it's straightforward and fun. You hear a phrase and see some pictures and you have to "guess" which one is correct. Then once you have grasped some familiar words by repetition, they appear in different situations so you get to mix familiar with new. It's pretty effective. Inevitably as it goes on you start to make more intelligent "guesses". It depends on how you learn best but while I was delighted not to be faced with reams of grammar books, I sort of missed being able to see some of the, say, verb endings in print though.
The course aims to meet the needs of whatever style is your dominant learning style (ie visual, audio or active). The best bit of the course for me is the pronunciation approach. All audio courses will have you repeat phrases but a CD player cannot tell yo when you are correct. Here you repeat into a web cam or microphone on your PC and you do get feedback. I have no idea how it would cope if you had a very strong regional accent but it seemed to do the trick for me and is certainly a great idea and not something I have seen a lot of other courses try. It does make it more like a language lesson face to face.
Of course that's another limitation though - you do need to be tied to your computer. Other language courses I have played in the car on long journeys - not always ideal in terms of concentration but the flexibility is nice. On the up side though it does allow you to take advantage of on line support etc.
For me, it's a step in a positive direction. However, while it emphasizes the learning like a child aspect, what no course can replicate is the feedback loop of human interaction. Yes, Rosetta Stone goes further down this route than most with the pronunciation system but when you want to ask "why is it?" like you would in a class, it's not so great. I may be old fashioned, but I would really like a basic text book to work from too with standard verb endings etc. At some point it seems to have been decided that technology supplants books, when in fact it is most effective when used in combination for me. This would be a criticism of all such courses though Rosetta Stone is one of the better ones. "Mange tout, Rodney" as Del-Boy might say.