|Editor's Review Costs & Features User Reviews|
We have awarded Rosetta Stone - German our prestigious Silver Award in this category, having reviewed 23 Teach Yourself German Guides. Read our review below to find out why...
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You will probably have heard of Rosetta Stone before, not only due to their high profile marketing and publicity but also because of their pioneering role in promoting a total immersion approach to teaching yourself a language. Where as most other products in this category promise to develop a combination of reading, writing, speaking and comprehension skills, Rosetta Stone promise to get you thinking in German. Upon commencing your Rosetta Stone course you will be immediately exposed to German words, sentences and phrases linked not to translations but to their actual meaning. Through navigating a puzzle-like environment which includes graphics, audio and video, rather than simply being told the meanings of words and grammatical rules, users are encouraged to work them out independently. This process of assisted self learning, or Dynamic immersion, involves more than simply memorizing the language. In fact, you actually begin to know the language, making the entire experience far more profound. We found this approach to be more enjoyable and stimulating than the traditional textbook approach as recall, comprehension and speaking felt a lot more natural. A good example is the learning process involved in the acquisition of your mother tongue. Although you probably don’t remember much, we all know that kids have no need for grammatical rules, verb tables and vocab lists. They simply learn through trial and error, unconsciously forming associations between vocabulary, syntax and means of expression by interacting with the world. Rosetta Stone believe that, as adults, there is no reason why we can’t learn languages like kids and their software attempts to imitate this, immersing users in German from the word go.
Aside from Rosetta Stone’s flagship teaching method, users are able to consolidate what they have learned though Dynamic immersion with a range of learning materials each focusing on a key area of language learning; speaking, listening, reading and writing. It is proven that a variety of learning techniques such as this stimulate different areas of the brain, optimizing the learning process. Furthermore this variety of learning materials keeps the learning experience fresh, maintaining your motivation to learn. Adaptive recall is a learning technique that is designed to optimize the learning process and is incorporated into all of Rosetta Stone’s learning materials; basically, a specific algorithm dictates the pace at which users recall words and concepts and are exposed to new material. Speaking being arguably the most important aspect of a language, Rosetta Stone comes with advanced speech recognition technology that allows you to practice your pronunciation, compare it to that of a native and perfect it. If all this isn’t enough for you then you can continue your learning with Rosetta Stone away from home with audio CDs and MP3 files and Rosetta Stone's Mobile Companion. Not only can you convert time you would otherwise spend just cooking, walking the dog or driving to work into productive German learning but being exposed to the language as much as possible is vital to the immersion approach.
Any of us who have tried learning a foreign language will attest that, although learning grammar and vocab can be an effort, by far the most daunting part is actually putting it to use with native speakers. Rosetta Stone, unlike many of their competitors, do everything in their efforts to prepare you for this. Users can interact and communicate with other enthusiastic German learners at Rosetta Stone's Online Community but the coup de gras is really delivered through the live online sessions. These give users the opportunity to practice their listening, speaking and accent with native speakers in real life conversations. Each session is linked to the Rosetta Stone software course which not only consolidates and builds on what you have learned but also really motivates your independent study. This process of native socialization is an invaluable way to increase your confidence in conversational German; arguably the next best thing to actually living in Germany. Furthermore, language simply being a form of communication, it is natural that communication should be the central means through which language is learned.
We were especially impressed with the customer support offered with Rosetta stone, most notably through their Success Team who will do everything in their power to ensure that you are making the most of Rosetta Stone. Manuals, updates and an FAQ section can be found in Rosetta Stone’s comprehensive and well cataloged Knowledge Base which should answer most of your questions. If not, Rosetta Stone's support services, contactable either by international free phone or Email or live chat, are on hand to personally resolve any issues you may have with the software. However, it must be noted that when we attempted to contact customer services we did not receive a reply. Where Rosetta Stone go above and beyond regular customer service is with their Concierge Team, who keep tabs on all Rosetta Stone users, monitoring process and offering tips and advice to optimize your experience with Rosetta Stone.
It must be noted that if you are used to, and enjoy, traditional learning techniques you may find Rosetta Stone’s approach frustrating. Critics and competitors quite rightly point out that it is all very well to claim that we can learn German 'like a child' but the fact is, we are not children. Our brains are different, we don't have dedicated parents to help us learn German and we will never be fully immersed. Furthermore, although children pick up new languages remarkably (sometimes annoyingly!) easily and naturally, they certainly can't translate texts, draw up business plans or write essays; activities to which many adult language learners may need to apply their German. Personally however, we found Rosetta Stone's techniques simple, effective and enjoyable. Although we sometimes had to refer to grammatical explanations and dictionaries online, doing so was not a problem as such resources are easily accessible and free online. Although Rosetta Stone is a lot more expensive than most products in this category, this is a top of the range product, marketed at those with the money and motivation to invest in learning German. Please, however, check out the great savings by ordering box sets of more than one level, which do make the price of Rosetta Stone somewhat more manageable. Advanced users may actually find Rosetta Stone more economic than other ‘complete courses’ in this category as they just order the advanced level, not wasting money on beginners material which they already know. Rosetta Stone may not be for everyone, but they are certainly top of the range in terms of what they offer. Before you do anything, check out the free trial available on Rosetta Stone's website. It is the only way to know whether or not their teaching techniques are right for you, and at the very least, you will certainly learn something.
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