Rosetta's Dynamic Immersion Lost On Certain Languages!!
(Seattle. WA.. U.S.A.)
I to have used Rosetta Stone which I found almost useless in learning Japanese. Here's a case where Rosetta falls flat on it's face. In Japanese you have several roadblocks to contend with. Not to mention the different levels of politeness as well as three writing styles to boot. Which is, if not more important then the speaking part itself. Japanese is a very indirect language in reference to other western languages. Body language and context can effect how you react in many situations. A word or phrase can have a completely different connotation (meaning)depending on it's context and usage. Which in turn affects how you speak and interact in many formal and informal situations. This is where the whole pictures with words concept becomes utterly useless. In Japanese there is no distinction between past and present tense. Linking verbs come at the end of a sentence instead of in the middle like English.
Words are not grouped together. There is no indication of where a sentence begins and where it ends. No reference to upper or lower case letters either in most cases. How you determine words, phrases, sentence structure depends on your knowledge of the 3 writing styles and understanding of the different verb forms. This is the key to learning the Japanese language. Besides the three forms of writing (kanji, hiragana, katakana), Japanese is sometimes written in romaji. With romaji, one can read Japanese without knowing the Japanese writing system. This is primarily what method Rosetta Stone uses for teaching Japanese. Although what good is it to be able to read what what you don't understand. From what I have experienced Romaji at best should be used as a reference and never as the primary means of learning the language. Most Japanese don't even use it that much. You might see it with English names on some store fronts but that's about it.
What’s more, Romaji doesn’t even capture the Japanese perfectly. There are some sounds in Japanese which don’t exist in English, and their transliterated romaji equivalents are just very rough approximations. If all you know is romanized Japanese, then you’d better pray the word you’re looking for is in a romaji dictionary. This in and of itself is utterly inadequate to learn Japanese. Yet it seems Rosetta stone is dead set on this. Even in the English language without knowing some grammar can get yourself into trouble. Japanese especially this holds true. Another big handicap is that Rosetta doesn't distinguish between speech used between men and women. After all you don't
what to sound like the opposite sex nor a child. This would be awkward not to mention embarrassing wherever you come from. Some words in Japanese as well are only used by women as with men. It is beyond me that Rosetta doesn't find it necessary to distinguish between the two.
The only real plus was with it's speech recognition. This at best helps with tonal inflections but that's where the compliments end. In retrospect to add to the list of programs I have used are the Rocket Languages Courses. This is one of the best audio courses I have come across. Unlike other mundane speak and repeat after. This coarse is engaging with energetic native and non native speakers. In the case of the Japanese coarse I find this to work quite well. The hosts both work very well together, quit funny at times and point out key aspects which may need an English translation to better grasp the concept. I like the whole co-op approach as keeps things fun and interesting. They also give real life modern day examples in actual conversations which you will actually use. It keeps updated and uses relevant terms as well as more formal and informal speech. This is one area that is lacking in many other audio courses. In turn this can make or break how successful you are or not in interacting with Japanese people. Rosetta once again doesn't focus on this which won't get you very far in those situations.
Rocket Languages also has some great study material which you can access when you become a member. As well as a supportive forum community. I have learned more with Rocket Japanese then with the entire Rosetta Stone version 3 coarse. Another great service program I've used is with MyLanguageExchange. This is useful as you are paired up with native speakers which also want to learn your language. It uses skype or other text based chat services in your language courses. This is great motivation not to mention a good way of meeting people with mutual interests. Rosetta is doing the language learning community a huge disservice. There is no fast way to learn any language. Buying into that idea will only leave you with empty pocketbooks and no closer to your goal. In closing Rosetta showed huge potential at first but sadly money has clouded it's better judgment. Fortunately though people have other options which are better in many cases. Just because Rosetta may be the biggest, certainly does not make it the best. Case in point.