92 of 100 people found the following review helpful
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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