Customer Review

92 of 100 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good with flaws, 10 May 2012
This review is from: Rosetta Stone, French, Version 4, TOTALe, Level 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5 (Mac/PC)[OLD VERSION] (CD-ROM)
Okay, so I have seen the 5 star reviews on this, and the many people who are praising Rosetta Stone. And I agree to a certain extent. This IS one of the best ways to start to learn french. I'll start with all of the advantages. Firstly, when I got this I was very excited as I studied french in high school but was terrible and really lost interest in it, and so never really tried very hard. However, Rosetta Stone makes learning fun - not in a way that you will be wanting to do French constantly or even in a way that you will be doing fun activites, it just makes you more confident in your own ability. After a few weeks of learning, you do start to feel really proud of yourself and of how much you have learnt and that you can now already say a few sentences and know a decent amount of words. After many months of learning it continues to add to your vocabulary and advance your french speaking ability. So, in a way this is a really excellent way of learning french, and it does keep you interested for a good amount of time. They even do stories for you to read after every chapter you complete in which you can have read out loud to you - and what I would do was to translate these stories into English, because this helped me learn new words. You work through it like a book, going from one chapter to the next, with small activities in between, gradually building in new words and a bit of basic grammar.

Yes, Rosetta Stone is a very good way of BEGINNING french, however, one of the biggest flaws with it, is that it DOES NOT tell you what ANY of the words mean. This means, eventually, when you get into reading sentences it DOES NOT translate words for you and tell you the french to english translation. You may be able to read a lot of the words, but as soon as it brings in a new word it shows you what words mean with pictures. Easy enough, the word 'pomme' is above a picture of an apple. However, once you get to words like 'Je voudrais' which means 'I would like' there is no way to show this in a picture. Most words cannot be shown with a picture, look at the words in this sentence for example, how can the words 'look at' be shown in a picture. This is not too bad however, yes it doesnt translate, but a good dictionary next to you means that Rosetta Stone can still affectively teach you. Although for £280 odd pound (at time of writing this) is excruciatingly expensive for what you get. It is in NO WAY worth that amount of money. I could understand if it was maybe £100. One of the things I didn't like about this, was that the little activites (mainly just match up the sentence to the picture) get extremely repetitive, and you find yourself thoroughly bored after awhile doing the same thing over and over unti lyou get to the next chapter. You can skip ahead, yes, but as soon as you learn something new you have to do all of these little boring activities again to get through to the next chapter.

I stuck with Rosetta Stone for about 6 months, and I am not arguing that it is not a brilliant way to get you started, (I had forgotten everything I had learned in high school) and this helped me greatly to get off of my feet to start learning. But, eventually, I bought a basic textbook. Just a £15 odd pound textbook that I could remember using in high school. It honestly took me MUCH further with my french ability than I believe Rosetta Stone could. With Rosetta Stone, yes you learn a language with new words and a bit of grammar, but you never learn any REASON for anythign you are learning. For example, I started to learn more in depth grammar when I started to use the textbook, because Rosetta Stone does not teach you WHY these things happen with grammar. WHY when you write 'You are' is it COMPELETELY different to 'I am', what infinitive is it under? What are infinitives? How do i comnjugate them? It doesn't answer any basic grammar questions but just shows you picture after picture hoping you understand what each word means. When I started learning grammar I started to learn SO MUCH because I could finally underdstand HOW to speak and write french rather than just knowing a load of jumbled up words that I could put into sentences and for the sentence to not mean anything because I hadn't learnt that some words change meaning in different places of a sentence and that I have to move other words in a sentence because English and French have completely different order of words.

I certainly am not saying Rosetta Stone is bad, I DID really enjoy it, however, after I started learning with a basic textbook I found it was NOT worth the price in ANY way, and that it really can't teach you past a certain basic level of french. If you think you can finish all five levels and be fluent without any outside help, I will tell you now, you can't. I have since joined an online penpal site with many french people on there (for free may I add) who I can email and have full conversations with them in french (yes with the help of a dictionary), this is basically free help that is priceless in comparison to Rosetta Stone. I have come along with my French in leaps and bounds since joining the site and using a textbook, whereas I can guarantee if I were to have just stuck with Rosetta Stone I would still be in a very basic ability and not know HOW or WHY things happen in french sentences. And if you don't know how or why, you will never learn how to put sentences together. I urge that if you buy this, first make sure you will not regret spending that much money, and secondly know that it will not be the only tool you will need to use to learn the language, it can be used as a small help to the side, but for that amount of money, I really dont think a small help to the side is worth it.
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Tracked by 6 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 15 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 15 May 2012 08:38:32 BDT
Last edited by the author on 16 May 2012 09:26:06 BDT
Sprachfex says:
Well, what you describe - that there is no word-for-word translation - is part of the concept. It's their USP, not a flaw. This method might not be for anyone, but it is pedagogically - and linguistically - sound and works better for certain learner types than anything else. I am one of them, and I can attest to RS's efficiency IF one sticks to it and practises daily. Granted, to make the most of the programme, you have to pay close attention to what it going on on the screen. But since everything is well-graded and clearly laid out, this is usually an enjoyable process.

Neither do I agree that they charge too much. I have just finished level one, which took me five weeks, and am currently studying unit one of level two. So far, I have participated in four of their live online sessions with a native speaker and up to three other learners. I intend to take further live sessions to revise previous units while simultaneously proceeding with training sessions to accompany the upcoming units. By the end of the three-months subscription that comes with the software package, I will have participated in about 20 tutoring sessions (and could have enroled in as many more as I desired). At 16 £ a session this would be decent value even without the software and the online stories and games.

Luckily enough, the software with its 80 lessons, 700+ exercises, some 10,000 photographs, about 10 hours of audio content and speech recognition is included and can be used long after the online subscription has expired. So I find the whole package quite reasonably priced.

Posted on 17 May 2012 21:01:24 BDT
Last edited by the author on 17 May 2012 21:05:03 BDT
B. Golding says:
I understand what you're saying, and yes I agree that their method of learning may work much better for some types of learners than others, but that does not justify why such an expensive product has such a basic way of teaching. Yes, a basic way might be the best way, but they do not pack enough actual bulk into the product. Pictures are a good way to learn to START learning, but they will in no way help you at all with any sort of slightly in depth grammar. I stuck to Rosetta Stone and practised daily and YES I learnt a lot of basic words and phrases, but when I picked up a decent textbook for less than a tenth of the price I learnt a lot more about the way to write, read and speak french. Also, you add that there are 700+ exercises - there are about half a dozen exercises that are repeated using different pictures and different words. It DOES become boring. I can understand using it for the first level, but to use it for all 80 lessons and not get bored of the repetitiveness and a little bit annoyed at how much you paid for this reptition would be crazy.

I understand that it has helped you, and it has helped me too, but try using it to learn FULL french - grammar, when to use certain words instead of others, WHY you use those words instead of others - its just not possible to be able to learn all of this with photographs and nothing to actually EXPLAIN anything. It's easy to understand some words and with some words yes, you do not need word-for-word translation, but certainly to learn a whole language you DO need something to explain to you grammar and to explain to you how to actually construct sentences correctly. You can ask any french person that their language can not be learnt through the use of pictures, and it would be a slap in the face to the french language to say that you could learn their language just by matching up words and phrases to pictures. Just like many english-speakers would say that you would not be able to learn to fully understand and speak english by using what is essentially a match the word or phrase to the picture game.

In reply to an earlier post on 18 May 2012 10:12:24 BDT
Last edited by the author on 20 May 2012 08:16:09 BDT
Sprachfex says:
Thank you for taking the time to comment on my comment. You are right, RS offers an introductory course that teaches only the basic building blocks of grammar and vocabulary, approximately up to level B1, no more and no less. It hardly ever gets more complex than "Because there are many customers, the grocery store needs to increase the number of clerks" (sentence taken from level 5). Still, most people communicate like that most of the time.

To learn the "full French" (like, for example, being able to read Sartre, Hugo, Racine, or converse fluently about intellectual topics) will be a lifelong task, and a rewarding one at that, but to ask this from a single course, any single course, probably means to ask for too much.

I do not think RS teaches language by pictures alone but through a combination of sound, script, visuals, exercises and a very logical structure - pretty much like many traditional courses but with more visual content (and without the use of anything but the target language). It is not a game either, although it can be entertaining at times.

I suspect that many people are still strongly influenced by the way language was taught to them at school - if it is playful, if it is enjoyable, if there are no tables to learn by rote, then something must be wrong. Well, I for one hope that this is not true. Over the years, I have accumulated no less than seven French courses. This is the one that keeps me going. If any other course does the trick for you, that is, of course, perfectly fine by me.

Posted on 21 May 2012 09:46:41 BDT
B. Golding says:
I agree with you on many points, for example that Rosetta Stone is excellent at starting french, and also that I shouldn't expect it to teach me fluently - I never expected it to. However, my point still stands that it does not teach you grammar, I honestly don't think any one can learn even the most basic grammar with this, and grammar is a hugely important point when learning french. Yes, it may use more than just pictures, with what you said - sound and a logical structure. But all of this boils down to just (usually) four pictures with a french sentence that you have to match up to the picture. The biggest flaw is the not the way it teaches you - even though I do think it is very repetitive and needs to be broadened, but it's the fact that you can't learn to speak, write, or read a language without knowing the grammar of that language. All Rosetta Stone will teach after five repetitive levels is how to say words and then expect you to be able to put them together in a sentence to make sense. This cannot be done with french, I can't put one word after another expecting it to make sense, because the french language is completely different to English. I just think that it should have included a grammar learning section, where it will state things like:-
Etre - to be

Je - suis
Tu - es
Il/elle - est
Nous - sommes
Vous - etes
Ils - sont

This is one of the first things you should be learning, and there are a huge amount of verbs like this to learn, this is just one of them - and one of the most used, that Rosetta Stone expects you to automatically learn through their methods. What about irregular verbs? what about ER, IR, and RE verbs, and what rules they follow? I just can't see how any one could learn even basic grammar through Rosetta Stone when it is such a huge, complicated thing to learn. I don't mean to disagree with you, I do understand your points and your point still stands - some people learn in different ways and maybe Rosetta Stone just isn't for me.

In reply to an earlier post on 21 May 2012 11:22:37 BDT
Last edited by the author on 10 Jul 2012 18:20:36 BDT
Sprachfex says:
You address some very valid points here. Still, methodology changes over time. If for the better or the worse is hard to tell while it is still happening. Modern pedagogy tends to let pupils discover the rules of grammar themselves. This is what we do as children when learning our first language, and our brain is supposedly good at it. (The conjugation of être, by the way, takes place within the very first lessons of RS. Just take a look at unit 1, lesson 3, screen 34 of the core lesson for a summary.)

Does this "natural" approach work with foreign languages too? Only time will tell. Does it work equally well for all types of learners? Probably not. Does it work for me? So far it does.

Posted on 19 Jun 2012 19:01:13 BDT
Last edited by the author on 19 Jun 2012 19:01:24 BDT
PsychoPigeon says:
I have experienced the same problem. I have spent hours in RS and have got to the point where they teach you whole sentences. However, they do not explain what the words mean. I end up having to just hope I'm right. I found a translator online so I can get the jist of the word meanings. Without the online translator I would simply be guessing my way through the picture sequences. I thought maybe it was because I was early into it but a friend who's gone further says he ended up doing the same thing, with the online translator for pronouns.

In reply to an earlier post on 19 Jun 2012 21:11:24 BDT
[Deleted by the author on 10 Jul 2012 18:18:51 BDT]

In reply to an earlier post on 20 Jul 2012 22:04:22 BDT
coolcity says:
I was quite interested in this course but am now wondering if it is worth the asking price. I have dabbled with a couple of cheap courses in the past and immediately found I was struggling simply because there was little or no translation of what the words meant, especially when strung together in a sentence. I thought, because of the price and reputation, that RS might be much better but I'm now thinking you just might have saved me £280. I would be more interested in what the name of the text book was at this point!

In reply to an earlier post on 9 Aug 2012 16:14:50 BDT
i find that the fact that it is repetive in each lesson, the way it uses words over and over again in an excersize/ lesson adds to how much you learn. in primary school and high school did you not repeat times tables, the elements and various other things so that they would stick and not be immediately forgotten? it is a basic way of learning but an extremely effective one and the fatc is that a text bookis helpfull in learning about inffinitives etc. but reading through a paragraph about how to ask for a drink will not leave it imprinted on your mind. you may think it is alot of money to spend on a language course, but you would not be able to learn french from a text book alone. did youn ot say that in school you struggled with french and you used a text book similar to the textbook you have purchased? would you not play with the idea that the reason you can learn from a text book now is that rosetta stone enabled you to learn to speak french and the text book enabled you to undertand the reasons behind the french words changing meaning in different sentences, the infinittives etc.? to conclude my argument i think rs is very useful but will help you more if you use it with a basic text book. (i am about to start my GCSE's and have found rosetta stone very useful in enabling me to get up to the same level as is adequate for french GCSE's, it has also helped with my condifence in class.)

Posted on 2 Sep 2012 11:06:11 BDT
taeko says:
i think it's the same free website i was using, i wish i hadn't bought rosetta stone and stuck with the free website i would of saved a lot of money and with the money saved i could of actually took a trip france :(((
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