The Real World
Honestly, the reason why I bought Rosetta Stone is because the area where I am moving to has no English speakers, almost whatsoever. So Rosetta Stone is a good wake-up call. However, if one wants to casually learn a language, is going on study abroad, or just wants another language under their belt, this is NOT program you want to purchase! It is an awful idea if you're learning Chinese, Japanese, Greek, or Arabic because Rosetta Stone does not initially take the time to educate its students about the different aspects of the "new" alphabet(s)/letter(s) that get used and thrown around within words and sentences that the students see within the first several lessons.
For a newcomer to a foreign language, it is absolutely frustrating. Honestly, I learned conversational French at age ten through using my English-speaking skills, and I learned sign language (ASL) from ages five to seventeen through the English language. It was very easy to learn multiple languages if one language could be used to translate the other.
Rosetta Stone's immersion process isn't helpful because the format for understanding the language is introduced through using pictures, and the pictures of what RS is asking about are typically unclear. There are multiple people and activities going on in each shot (even within the first lesson), and since they aren't using English or another language to compare to, the activity and person they're
asking for is typically unclear.
Guess/Test/Revise is the only learning method that one can use, which DOES become quite frustrating.
As a French speaker, RS Arabic has been a laugh because I put a Northern French spin onto the words (there is a lot of "hacking" and "slurring" used in both languages), making the pronunciation ten times harder, and thus the vocab becomes so much harder to grasp. The additional audio CDs used to put on your iPods are so much fun because they just repeat Arabic words over and over again, making it easier to get the pronunciation right, but there's no translation so no one has any idea what they are saying unless they can remember the exact photos that were shown on the computer programs. For some people, this is easy, but for others they need a mechanical aspect to their learning or at least a conversion element. Learning how to properly say several Arabic words without understanding their meaning proves pretty pointless.
Rosetta Stone takes too much time. If you're going to spend that much time and money you might as well take a language class at a community or city college where the text books for classes in the 100s are NEVER completely in the foreign language. Even if the teacher does not allow for in-class English speaking, the text and other media provided by the teacher will have conversion elements/instruments.