Good program if your expectations are realistic
I have been using Rosetta Stone to learn Dutch for almost a year now. I am a speech therapist who specializes in bilingual language development, so I was intrigued by the "dynamic immersion" approach and speech recognition features. Overall, I think this method is an excellent way to build functional vocabulary skills and automaticity with grammatical structures. I like the interactive style and use of visual cues. The program is designed to meticulously control the new vocabulary and level of grammatical complexity you are exposed to in each lesson. This is an effective way to learn, but the trade-off is that conversational phrases are introduced gradually and somewhat sporadically, in comparison to more traditional methods.
The exercises in RS can start to feel redundant, but then so did all my homework assignments in college Spanish. Language learning always requires effort and practice, regardless of what method you use. This particular method requires problem solving to deduce meaning from the pictures, which can be frustrating at times, but it’s part of the learning process. If you prefer explicit rules and memorization, then RS probably isn’t for you. You also have to generalize the words and structures you learn, no language program can teach you what to say in every situation, you have to think for yourself and use what you know. No one method is a be-all and end-all for language learning, so I have supplemented with a book that includes grammatical explanations and more examples of Dutch conversation.
I don’t anticipate being fluent by the end of level 3, but at this point I can at least participate in simple conversations, which is pretty impressive considering I didn’t know a word of Dutch when I started. Nothing can replace real life experience, but I think RS gives a good foundation for understanding and speaking a new language.