Did Rosetta Stone version 3 NOT correct the flaws in version 2 ?

by Abe
(Atlanta, Georgia)

I purchased Rosetta Stone version 2, both French and Russian. I do not recommend it. Besides typos and other scattered, random errors, Rosetta Stone has serious flaws in its overall teaching strategy that makes it very difficult to learn any language, and near impossible to learn some languages.

Please see all the details at the following link. If the link is broken, search at ePinions.com for reviews of Rosetta Stone French.

I recommend to anyone who insists on purchasing Rosetta Stone, to be sure to take Fairfield up on their money back guarantee. Purchase it at RosettaStone.com, to get the guarantee. Before the guarantee expires, spend a lot of time with the software, in order to find out if you are learning. Do not let Rosetta Stone sit on the shelf. Don't blindly accept the claim by Fairfield Language Technologies that it takes time for their Rosetta Stone method to work. Fairfield Language Technologies advertises that Rosetta Stone is the "fastest way to learn a language." However, it is a paradox that they also claim that their "dynamic immersion" method takes time to work-- apparently a long time.

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My skepticism about the Rosetta Stone learning method is based on larger issues than tech support, or the isolated and random errors in spelling, usage, and grammar, that are scattered throughout Rosetta Stone software.

Before I get into the details of Rosetta Stone, please understand that Rosetta Stone offers NO explanations or help in the student's native language. Each language edition, like the old Berlitz method, is entirely in the target, or foreign language. Each edition is offered to all students, regardless of their native language, or any prior knowledge of other foreign languages. I will explain later why this approach makes learning much more difficult for the student, and cannot be explained away by the claim that Rosetta Stone "dynamic immersion" causes the student to learn as a child does, without even thinking about vocabulary or rules of grammar.

Further, with minor exceptions in ancient Latin, the same set of pictures is used for each language edition of Rosetta Stone.

But most important, among a number of things, I don't see a large enough volume of material in Rosetta Stone 2 to even begin to allow the student to learn naturally. Aside from the meager quantity of examples, Rosetta Stone has numerous gaps in their material. A student cannot learn what is not presented. At least, that seems clear to me. Somehow, that is not clear to the parents and students who have high hopes for learning a foreign language from Rosetta Stone. Perhaps, there is a belief that by learning a minimum number of carefully selected words, those words can be recombined into a larger repertoire of sentences. This is not likely, because of idioms, which must be learned one by one.

In a natural human language, words cannot be arbitrarily strung together. Perhaps this misconception originates, in part, from students studying computer languages, which DO allow any "legal expression," as they say, to have meaning, and "execute" with precise and consistent results. Perhaps this misconception also originates from students and teachers using single language dictionaries to expand their vocabulary, in their native language. The students do not realize that they are pinning down the meaning of each word by unconsciously using a vast knowledge of the idioms of their native language.

As best as I can understand, each student brings with him preconceptions about grammar and idioms, based on his native language. Almost every foreign language will present a student with some fairly significant differences in idioms and grammar, which require additional explanation to help the student along, especially at the beginner level. As a consequence, language teaching needs to be tailored to take into account BOTH the students native language, as well as the target, foreign language. Rosetta Stone ignores this reality, and takes the approach that one series of pictures, sound bites, text clips, and follow-on quiz questions can teach ANY student, regardless of the student's native language.

Let's take one example of gaps that open up in the lessons, because of the inflexible Rosetta Stone lesson plan. In version 2, the software is so strongly channeled into presenting the same series of four panes of pictures, that the numbers 21, 31, 41, 51, 61, 71, 81 and 91 are not mentioned, in any language. In English, this is not a significant omission, as English numbers follow a predictable pattern. English numbers (and adjectives) do not change at all, based on grammatical gender, number, or case. There are no declensions or inflections, as the learned linguists say. (The only thing to watch for in English is an irregular plural for some nouns. Most nouns just add an "s" or "es" sound.)

However, for French, it is a significant oversight to never mention the numbers 21, 31, 41, 51, 61, 71, 81 and 91. Those particular numbers are completely different in pattern, as these numbers change (decline), depending on the gender of noun modified. (Other numbers in French do not.) With Rosetta Stone version 2, an American student of French would be completely ignorant of a fundamental principle, needed to speak informally or to study in an academic environment. Because of this and other oversights, the student would do very poorly on any placement examinations. A student who does well with the "multiple-guess" questions in the Rosetta Stone software would get a false sense of confidence. This is inexcusable.

In the French version, nothing is mentioned in Rosetta Stone to explain differences between formal and familiar pronouns. The student is expected to figure that out, from a series of still photos, French sound bites, and multiple-choice questions. This is quite overwhelming, as French idioms (expressions) employ many more pronouns than English idioms. Rosetta Stone does not explain grammatical genders and cases, at all. For a student who is fluent only in American English, this makes learning French a rather challenging task, as English no longer uses the pronouns thee and thou, has no grammatical genders, and does not modify numbers, based on grammatical case and gender. In American English, the pronoun "it" serves to describe animals and inanimate objects, while "he" and "she" is used to refer to humans or other living things with a biological gender. In French idioms, humans are occasionally (and politely) referred to as "it" while inanimate objects must be called "he" or "she" based on their grammatical gender. More complicated, French idioms use many different pronouns for "it". In American English "it" is pretty much all you can use, along with "this" and "that" for emphasis.

Nothing is mentioned that the past tense in French uses the auxiliary verb "to have", but switches to the verb "to be" for verbs of motion or state. Translated word for word, you don't say "I have gone to Paris." Grammatically correct French sentences translate word for word as "I am gone to Paris" or more puzzling "I am stayed in Paris" instead of the expected "I have stayed in Paris." This quirk of French grammar looks and sounds like one of those Rosetta Stone typos, to anyone who knows only American English. Possibly, some students would not even notice the change in auxiliary verb. Although I know about it, and have drilled for years, I often forget about using the verb "to be" for past tense French verbs of motion or state, as it seems so strange to my ears.

And I have not mentioned that the present participle that is used in American English to describe ongoing or habitual processes is usually expressed in French with the simple present. Oddly, things that are about to happen in the immediate future, are also expressed in French, with the simple present, while in American English, we use the future tense. Bridging over these numerous quirky differences in languages is what makes learning a second language so challenging for adults, who already have developed a mind set on what is intuitively correct.

What I have just discussed are not nit-picking fine points of French grammar. These are basic skills needed to speak or write French, without sounding like a comedy act. (We have all seen the comedians with the stock character, a recent immigrant who innocently muddles up the language of his adopted country.)

If not impossible, the Rosetta Stone method is very time consuming and frustrating. Is it really intended to be used by itself, as their advertising claims? Are other students making productive use of Rosetta Stone by combining it with help from a tutor? Or other textbooks?


Comments for Did Rosetta Stone version 3 NOT correct the flaws in version 2 ?

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Version Three does correct the flaws you mention
by: Stacy Vlasits

I'm not sure I quite understand the title of this review. It seems you should be talking a good bit more about version 3, but you don't. In fact, you don't mention it at all in the body of your review.

While many of your complaints quite accurately point our flaws in the version 2 (pre-2007) version of the product, they have actually been addressed quite ably in version 3. The language builds much more naturally. The need to guess-and-check is now almost completely removed. The inattention to formality and informality (as well as many other language-specific issues) have been attended to.

Pick up a demo copy and see, or use it online. Version 2 was the best multimedia software language learning solution, but version 3 is the bomb.

Don't own version 3, I reviewed version 2, to ask if upgrade worth $500
by: Abe

I will attempt to explain again. I did not talk about version 3 of Rosetta Stone, as I do not own it.

The title of my review is to point out that I purchased version 2, worked with version 2, and reviewed version 2. Further, I am currently trying to find out if the upgrade to version 3 is worth the upgrade expense of $500, plus the cost of a new computer.

Why elaborate in detail? Because comments continue to be posted, restating the obvious, that my review is of version 2. Further, the comments advise others to NOT read my review, since it is of the previous version.

Version 2 is worthless. Worse than wasting money, I wasted over a year of study time to figure out that I had been deceived.

For $500 asked of me for the upgrade, version 3 should be "the bomb," whatever that means.

Aside from saying "it's fixed" in version 3, no reviewer has answered any of my specific questions about version 2.

I requested a demo copy of version 3, on CD, many months ago. I have received nothing. The online demo is a video in which a narrator lists vague platitudes about how "dynamic immersion" works with "intuition, images, interactivity, instruction, and immersion". The online demo shunted me off into a demo of Turkish, then asked for $500 for the French edition version 3.

Few reviewers have reported on whether they got a refund, as promised by Rosetta Stone. Could any of you who have written reviews comment on that? Did anyone get a refund, if dissatisfied by version 3? Did you ask for one? (Or am I asking a naive question, perhaps of pirates? - LOL)

What is "the bomb"?
Stacy Vlasits wrote
"... Pick up a demo copy and see, or use it online. Version 2 was the best multimedia software language learning solution, but version 3 is the bomb..."


V2 vs V3
by: Anonymous

Upgrading from version 2 to 3 is an absolute waste of money. Version 3 may correct the spelling and gramatical flaws but the content is extremely limited.

Version 3 tries to focus on "what is important" hence they eliminate alot of the information given in version 2. Level 1 to 3 in version 3 probably has half the information of version 2 level 1.....and there is also a version 2 level 2 available

Practice is the key to learning anything. More information does not necessarily improve the programme but version 2 can at least provide the required practice to reach somewhere significant in the language......Version 3 can not!

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