Rosetta Stone supporting Trailblazers to learn languages
In May 2012 eleven Trailblazers took on a generous offer from Rosetta Stone, the leading language-learning software in the world, to learn the language of their choice online and from the comfort of their bedroom, living room or study.
The Trailblazers have chosen a wide range of languages which include, French, Italian, Japanese and Turkish.
Over the coming months we will be posting their experiences with the courses on this page, so please do return to see how Seán, Zoë, Rebecca, Matilda, Jagz, Laura, Judith, Catherine, Krishna and Keisha progress!
Well, it's almost time for the end of the Rosetta Stone trial period. I've been registered on the online Italian course for the best part of a year and I now can say that I can now communicate in Italian up to level... one.
Yes, I am still a complete beginner who can hard hardly string to words together to make a complete sentence (unless it's to do with food. I can say "I'm hungry" (mangio - ok not even two words...). However, I have to say that is almost totally down to myself and my own lack of motivation rather than any failings on Rosetta's part.
After the changes they made around the summer the site got much better in my opinion and although slightly slower to load, it was easier to use and get the most out of. Unfortunately for me, my PC (or headset , or the Rosetta Stone program - I never did work out which one) decided to go caput re the microphone/speech recognition. Speech recognition was the main draw for me with Rosetta, so that wasn't great alongside my newly emerged dip in motivation. Saying this, it is possible to still use Rosetta Stone without the speech recognition, but not so much fun.
Also late in the day, I discovered Totale Companion, an app that goes on your phone and allows you to practise the language, well, on your phone away from your PC. This is amazing and I wish that I'd followed the advice of a fellow learner and installed and used it from an earlier stage.
On the down side, the Studio, where you are supposed to get the chance to practise your new language with a small group of fellow students and a live tutor, is a lovely idea that I should have left well alone. It was far too advanced for me. My advice for other learners on that would be to leave it until you are a couple of levels up. At least that way you have the confidence of knowing quite a bit of vocabulary. Trust me at level one, you are not ready for a level one studio. No-one who can't say "I don't know" in their student language is for Studio.
All in all, I enjoyed using the Totale system, even though I didn't achieve my aim of level 5 in Italian this time. In fact, I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would given that I haven't got a brilliant record with solitary distance learning anyway.
Looking back I wish that I had chosen a different language, like French, as maybe doing the language of a country I've actually been to a few times may have helped maintain my motivation and confidence. As it is, I would consider doing another course with Rosetta Stone, I don't regret that I signed up for the trial and would definitely recommend the system to others wanting to learn a language outside of a classroom situation.
Keisha Walker, Birmingham
I haven't been much of a conscientious student since my last review. Not sure what it was, but really lost confidence. However, it's the start of a new month, even a new term for some, and I am raring to go.
Got a pleasant surprise when I logged in - the Rosetta website has been revamped. And for the better it seems. Although things seem to take a bit longer to load (I'm hoping this won't be a huge problem), the layout is brighter and clearer. It's now much easier to see what type of lesson you are doing, or have done, and what you have left to do.
They have also included a chat area where you can see immediately who is online and ask them if they'd like to play a game or chat. This is significantly better than the previous situation of just having to hang out in the play area until someone came along.
The labelling on the games are also much better. Now they tell you what skill that particular game helps develop, for example, listening, pronunciation or word recognition, stressing the idea that the games are actually an important part of the learning process, not just a bit of fun.
I'm really looking forward to getting back into it now and achieving my aim of Level 5 by May 2013!
Catherine Alexander, The Wirral
I've been using Rosetta Stone for a few months now and so far, it's been going well. I like how the lessons are split up into the main language learning skills and are in short sections of up to half an hour, as this makes it easier to keep learning the language even if I don't have much time on my hands. I also like how the lessons use images, words and audio to share information.
The only problem I've had with the program is the voice recognition aspect of it. Due to my disability, I speak quite quietly, and can struggle to pronounce clearly sometimes. This meant that I found that the program often did not accept my pronunciation in the speech sections of the lessons. However, eventually, I managed to figure out how to change the settings so that I did not need to do the speaking elements any more.
Rebecca Unsworth, Huddersfield
Another month using the Rosetta Stone Turkish language course. I haven't used the language course much this month, but that's the good thing with the Rosetta Stone course. You can do as much or as little as you like. I have found that i can now read and understand Turkish words/sentences although grammer is still a real problem but I will keep trying.
Talking Turkish is really difficult but there is a studio part on the website which you can schedule sessions to do single or group sessions with a Turkish tutor. The sessions are in Turkish only with no English so you have no choice but to speak it, which is good for practicing speaking in the Turkish language.
The games on the site are another good way to test yourself. There are a variety of games; one where you are given the Turkish word and have to match it with the picture that corresponds to the word and another where you have to listen to the Turkish word and point to the written Turkish word. These games are good for testing yourself on reading and listening.
Matilda Ibini, London
Well like learning any language you will need a lot of perseverance and patience (and with my internet speed even more so). It took a little while for sections to load and after a few glitches here and there, it's full steam ahead once you do get going.It's addictive and creates a ‘seeing as I've started I might as well finish' attitude and before you know it three hours have flown past.
Lessons start off with the basics, bite size vocabulary accompanied with visuals which are easy to digest before becoming a little more complex when it comes to grammar and spelling. (Luckily I have my French GCSE to fall back on... not that it helps.My GCSE's were a while back.) And I am frequently left a little embarrassed at my inability to identify gender in some of the photos. I could blame Rosetta Stone for misinterpreting androgynous pictures but at times it's those same pictures that are often the only way I could understand what the conversations were about.
Though one thing I have learnt is that completing a section once does not mean you'll know it fluently, it takes much practice and revision to fully benefit from the software (after all memory is based on repetition) and by going back over content you may have already completed a while ago will equip you with the confidence to progress further.
Whoever Rosetta is, she's alright in my books and with a trip to Paris looming as motivation, I am becoming a little more confident enough to converse in French even if it's only pleasantries, that I manage to utter.
Rebecca Unsworth, Huddersfield
I am studying Turkish with the Rosetta Stone language course. I chose Turkish because it is where I go on holiday. I have so far only managed to pick up words like 'hello, please, thank you and goodbye' and thought it would be useful to learn more.
The language courses are made up of three levels, each level consisting of four individual units, which correspond to different topics. On level 1, the four units are language basics, greetings & introductions, work & school and shopping. In each unit you learn vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation, reading and writing. The lessons are taught in a variety of ways including listening and repeating words so you can learn dialect and tone of words, matching words to pictures and writing words. There are other activities that I have not yet tried out; these are the Rosetta studio, which are live online classes, and Rosetta world, which is where you play games either solo, as a duo or as a group.
I am currently working on Level I language basics and have found it an interesting course so far. They are good points and bad points to this course. The bad point I have dound is that once you have chosen the language you are studying there is no English in the lessons. You use flashcards to show you are being taught. This is fine for objects like dog and cat but sometimes it is not always obvious what is being shown and so you are learning a word without knowing the meaning. I use a Turkish dictionary to help when I am not sure. Another thing I have found it difficult is grammar. Grammar is not my strong point in English but it is harder to learn Turkish grammar especially when it is not always clear what you are being shown.
The excellent thing about this courses that it can be done at your own time and pace. You can also repeat each lesson, as many times you need until you feel confident you have the right dialect and understanding of what you are learning.