I’m pleased to announce that on Tuesday, March 20, 2012, I finally finished all five levels of Rosetta Stone German. In case you’re curious, it took me a little over a year to complete the entire program.
I’ve previously reviewed Rosetta Stone Online here and here. Below is my final review.Does Rosetta Stone make you fluent? The answer to this question depends wholly on how you define fluency. I appreciated this article’s explanation of the subject, and after five levels of German, I would consider myself conversationally fluent.
I’m able to easily make a pediatrician appointment over the phone, speak to the nurse in person about what’s wrong with my child, and answer most of her questions. Just last week, I was surprised by how effortlessly I spoke with a neighbor on the playground for at least 20 minutes on a variety of subjects. I don’t always understand everything said, but I can often infer the meaning of unknown words from context and listening to the words I do know.
This is not to say I never struggle with expressing my thoughts and ideas. But once I mentally decide how I’m going to start a conversation, I’m often able to keep speaking.
Native-like fluency takes many years, and it was never my goal to achieve this status. Despite the many similarities to English and numerous cognates (and false ones!), the German language is extremely complex and has oodles and oodles of words.
What are the strengths of the Rosetta Stone online program? I believe Rosetta Stone has many strengths, but let me focus on three.
First, I really like how the program is broken down into 5, 10, 15, and 30 minute segments. This allows almost anyone to be able to work language learning into their schedule. It also combats frustration by allowing the user to feel like learning was accomplished, no matter the amount of time spent. I discussed this a bit more in my first review.
Second, the program employs the use of repetition in learning. The modules within the units are set up to drill the words and phrases over and over again albeit in different formats (speaking, reading, writing, listening).
Also, when completing a lesson review, the program automatically sets up a reminder to quiz you again on the same material in several weeks (called Adaptive Recall) in order to help ensure retention.
Third, Rosetta Stone online offers the user a very large vocabulary. I know words for random things like forklift, EMT, and polluted. I still have many words to learn, but Rosetta Stone has given me a great platform to continue building upon.
What are the weaknesses of Rosetta Stone? Let me state up front that I think Rosetta Stone is a fabulous language learning resource. I’m only nitpicking to give an accurate view of the (my) experience. Despite what is written below, I still fully recommend the program.
As I mentioned in my previous review, the order of vocabulary baffles me. For instance, emergency situations (like car accidents) were only covered at the end of Level 5. Some concepts such as visiting a restaurant are covered incrementally across the five levels.
I thought some of the vocabulary presented was not necessary. For example, I am not sure how much I really will ever use farm or construction vocabulary. I would rather know how to discuss whether or not my son’s daycare teacher is going to get a substitute when she’s sick instead of how the bulldozer moves dirt and the crane picks it up.
Part of this stems from a strength of Rosetta Stone, pictorial learning. It seems much easier to teach straightforward words (bulldozer) rather than more abstract concepts (substitute).
And one major gripe I have is the alphabet is never taught. As an expat, it would be extremely helpful to know how to spell my name letter by letter in German.
Finally, although Rosetta Stone teaches you to instinctively know which form of a verb to use without memorizing rules (a strength), it does not ever explain when and why to use the grammar that’s presented. As such, I am not sure if some forms can be used interchangeably or if switching between two forms changes the meaning entirely. I plan on taking a week-long intensive course to hopefully help answer some questions and iron out the confusion I have regarding grammar.
All in all, I think Rosetta Stone is an incredibly useful tool. It has given me confidence to attempt to speak in many situations I would’ve shied away from previously. I now have the desire to join a conversational group and practice what I’ve learned.
Thank you, Rosetta Stone German for the gift of language learning!