I have found no programs so far that actually engage in conversational elements that help to build language spontaneity. I am in no way, shape, or form claiming to be an authority on language learning software packages so if anyone could point me in the right direction to a platform that does engage in conversation/language spontaneity, I am all ears and would greatly appreciate it. For those really trying to find a good supplement and are serious about learning a language you know what I mean.
For the person who is lurking, just waiting to pounce on this post and say something to the effect of 'well of course you can't have a conversation with your computer its an inanimate object...duh' and then sponsor or stick up for a particular product (and they cannot even speak, write or read the language), or something similar...save it. True language learners will understand what I am getting at here. AND AGAIN I am desperately looking for a product that can supplement other materials when being 'in country' is not a possibility at this point in time. So if anyone knows of a high quality product that really hits on building language spontaneity/conversation skills, let me know...by answering this post.
I do have a lot of experience with using foreign languages at varying degrees of proficiency as well as various situations and needs. I do speak two additional languages fluently or at least as good as my native tongue so I believe I have something to contribute with regard to language learning. (none of these additional languages were acquired via software...rather in country immersion) Although I am still searching for that magic supplemental platform when being 'in country' just is not possible yet.
I have some friends who have claimed to 'pass' these language learning software programs and claim to be fluent yet they cannot engage me in any conversation whatsoever. At ABSOLUTE BEST they are level 2 at Speaking and Listening (S2/L2) of DoD or Language Learning Roundtable classification...and thats being a bit generous on my end.
AND their pronunciation is quite bad. They claimed to use Rosetta Stone and some Microsoft platform but they have not told me which one after I have asked multiple times (so they are either hiding a great secret or ashamed to answer). Plus it is IMPOSSIBLE to obtain fluency using only a computer program and no human contact/interaction. (at least at this point in time, the year is 2009)
So with the above statement serving as my disclaimer I will proceed :)
IN SHORT: If you are like me and looking for a good supplemental platform to help build language spontaneity and spoken proficiency, Rosetta Stone is not that platform, in my opinion.
did find it useful in generating basic structure and memorizing particular language characteristics but nothing near what I would expect after the investment and nothing near approaching what I needed.
* Although my version is not the latest, but I did get bored after awhile and resorted to scanning level after level after level looking for some useful interaction or conversation elements...none were found. So it could have been my own fault and ignorance/lack of thorough knowledge of the product. Which again would have me ask any future developers of such products to include an index system WITH CONVERSATIONAL pieces clearly highlighted.
By conversation, I mean above and beyond:
I need a haircut
I am going to the bus station/taxi station
How are you?
I feel sick
I need medical attention
I am from......
etc...etc. This is not conversation but is considered conversation to too many 'language authorities' and platforms.
What happens after you ask one of these questions or make one of these statements and then the native responds!? You are never provided with materials or skills to comprehend or identify a probable response nor are you provided with any SUITABLE reservoir of vocab/response phrases.
What if you did need to get to the hospital and someone gave you the directions? -DOH!, you don't understand do you?
We need something that goes way above and beyond this 'interface'.
Does anyone know of anything?
Aside from pen/chat pals which are the next best thing to being in country.
SUMMARY: SO FAR THERE IS NO SUCH PLATFORM THAT OFFERS ANY SUITABLE INFORMATION OR KNOWLEDGE THAT CANNOT BE ACQUIRED FROM DISCIPLINE, SELF STUDY, AND SEEKING OUT NATIVE SPEAKERS. -DON'T WASTE YOUR MONEY...THEY ALL FALL UTTERLY SHORT OF THEIR CLAIMS.
FOR VERY BASIC TO INTERMEDIATE INTRODUCTIONS TO LANGUAGE LEARNING THESE PLATFORMS ARE GOOD BUT AGAIN WAY TO EXPENSIVE FOR WHAT YOU GET, ESPECIALLY WHEN YOU CAN GET THE SAME FROM A TEXT BOOK AT A FRACTION OF THE COST.
PLUS GOVERNMENT AGENTS, DIPLOMATS...ETC. HAVE THE DEFENSE LANGUAGES INSTITUTE AND OTHERS RESOURCES TO ACQUIRE LANGUAGES...THEY ARE NOT GLUED TO ROSETTA STONE MONITORS...ETC LIKE THE COMMERCIAL IMPLIES.
MY PARTICULAR FAVORITE IS BRAGGING HOW NASA ASTRONAUTS USE ROSETTA STONE:
1) Why? For asking aliens for directions or providing conversational ice-breakers in Earth-based languages?
OH no its for speaking with other astronauts from other countries working in the international space station...OK so Rosetta Stone provided the advanced fluency of trouble shooting advanced engineering and technological situations? Which level?
EXACTLY, like I said. These platforms are for very basic language introduction, intermediate AT BEST.
Save your money, buy a book, get a pen pal, find some local natives in your hometown/ area community or go to the country.
OR lets hook up and make the ultimate!