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Customer Review

190 of 191 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Flawed., 4 Mar. 2005
This review is from: Rosetta Stone Italian Level 1&2 (PC/Mac) (CD-ROM)
The basic idea of the Rosetta Stone course is that you associate words with pictures. Fine. The pictures certainly make for a more enjoyable experience than plain textbooks.
One of the main advantages of computer-based courses is that you can record yourself speaking then play it back and listen to how it compares with the native speaker. It would be better if the program repeated the original recording after you've heard your own, but it doesn't. There is a speech recognition thing that indicates how well you have done, but it is not accurate: you can say the wrong word entirely and it will sometimes indicate "good".
The box says "learn a new language the way you learned your first language" and "you learned your first language easily and naturally". This is nonsense. We do not learn additional languages the way young children learn their first language, and anyway it was never effortless - we've just forgotten how hard it was. What they mean is that they don't explain anything: you have to figure out the grammar for yourself. That may or may not be a good thing.
I had tried a computer-based language course before ("Tell Me More Italian") and found that it was rubbish, so I was wary of getting another. Well, Rosetta Stone is much better than Tell Me More. You may not want to use this as your only source of instruction, but to supplement other methods it's quite good. Having also done some pure audio courses (just listening and speaking), I now wanted to extend my vocabulary and improve my reading and writing skills. Unfortunately, the program assumes you have a non-standard keyboard layout (qzerty not qwerty) so you can't use the keyboard for any of the written work. In Lesson 1 Question 1 the answer is "bambino" but if you type that on an ordinary English keyboard it comes out as "ba,bino". I emailed Rosetta Stone about this. They replied "This is a common problem" and suggested that I should look at the picture of a keyboard on screen and press the keys on my keyboard that are in the corresponding position, even though "the markings may not be the same". I found this reply astonishing. If it were cheap software I could accept it, but having paid nearly two hundred pounds I expect the program to work properly.
If you are happy to omit the written work, or if you are willing to use the on-screen keyboard, then you might find Rosetta Stone useful. Personally, I don't, and the search for a good computer-based language course continues.
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Showing 1-6 of 6 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 8 Jan 2009, 15:29:56 GMT
S. E. King says:
This is just the sort of practical review one wants -- thanks to this reviewer for saving me hundreds of pounds

Posted on 29 Apr 2009, 18:32:52 BST
Tony says:
I purchased the Rosetta Stone Italian Course and found it dissapointing for the money and I purchased it second hand at £70 it really isn't worth it. I have a EuroTalk course at half that price with 5 C.Ds. and all at different levels and great fun to use, I would not buy any more Rosetta Stone Courses at the normal price of £250+ for two C.Ds.
Ever been had ? What a waste of money.
Anthony Perry.
Norfolk

Posted on 7 Aug 2009, 17:38:28 BST
Carol Morgan says:
i bought this course and received a sheet of transparent stickers to go on top of my own keyboard, indicating changes in key recognition, dont know if you received this, or didnt use it, but it didnt offer me any problems, and now helps me use italian keyboards with my work in Milan,
an excellent product

Posted on 11 Nov 2009, 12:13:21 GMT
Cath Andrews says:
Excellent review, thank you and I echo what S.E. King says - I was on the verge pf paying out £300 for this course. To say I would have to use stickers on my keyboard is nonsense when I'm paying that kind of money. I want to learn Italian, not learn how to use an Italian-based keyboard.

I've now invested in a satellite aerial whcih enables me to receive Italian TV instead; I find that a good way of picking up languages. It was only £100, so I even have some cash left over for a trip to Italy!

Posted on 20 Jun 2010, 12:30:37 BST
Rej Brown says:
Thanks very much for this review - sounds like I would not be pleased with this purchase and it is rather expensive to find this out too late!!

Posted on 24 Jul 2011, 23:20:31 BST
It sounds to me like the software is working fine. However, it would be nice to have the option to use the Windows-configured layout. I want to use a Dvorak variant so I'm stuck.
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Location: Cambridge, UK

Top Reviewer Ranking: 13,103