I’ve always wanted to drop a little knowledge about the R.
So where can I start? Let’s see, first things first, anyone who knows this blog, will see that a big part of my learning was through Osmosis mostly because of the way I was adjusting to Japanese culture over a few months. But you can read any of the old blogs to see what I am talking about.
Now, Rosetta Stone has always been a source of heated debate as to whether it works or not, so since my Japanese is “okay” I will give some feedback on it’s usage at my current level. Basically for me, I think that people generally want to learn a language:
quickly, easily and painlessly.
This my friends, I feel, is impossible. Rosetta Stone doesn’t promise this, nor does any other major software program. You can start “speaking” a few words and phrases, but if you hop from Rosetta stone to say, a Japanese comedy DVD after lesson one, you will be lost. That said, I will explain what I see are the benefits of Rosetta stone.
I feel that learning vocabulary through Rosetta stone is one of its major pluses. The lessons are structure in a manner that teach you the basics with pictures and audios for everything you hear. This way you can remember some key words like ‘cat’ ‘dog’ ‘plane’ ‘house’ ‘boy’ ‘girl’ ‘car’ and so one pretty easily. I still suggest using a dictionary with the program occassionally, or dropping harder to remember words in an SRS as the number of words increase.
2. Logical structure.
I cannot say personally that Rosetta Stone feels like “native immersion”. Frankly, Japanese people do not speak they way they do in Rosetta Stone unless you are in the supermarket or a restaurant. However if you’ve NEVER, EVER spoken Japanese, it’s not a bad way to start. However the buildup is “logical” so lessons generally overlap as you keep going and allow you to revise stuff you learned previously. What I don’t like is the pace of this… the revision system is pretty intense (dare I say monotonous) and might bore a lot of people. In the earlier lessons it makes sense to pronounce, write, read and check grammar points for your lesson. But say you are like me and you already know the grammar, it’s really painful so go so slowly. Again, good for a beginner.
3. End Points
In learning any language, you need a visible end point in your mind as to where your final destination is. For me the idea of “fluency” in Japanese is a matter of speaking, reading and watching Japanese a lot. I don’t think there is a way around that. So far with dabbling with Rosetta (I am on level 2), i get the feeling that I am moving more slowly, but again I am biased because I lived in Japan for an extended period of time and I’m aware of super-polite Japanese versus day to day Japanese. But it’s setup in a way that has:
For each level there are 4 Units (e.g Traveling, Past & Future)
each Unit has 4 core lessons, which each take 30-45 minutes to complete. Then there are speaking and reading parts that range from 5-10 minutes each. These increase as you approach the 4th core lesson, forcing you to keep revising. So I would estimate on average it takes four or five hours for each Unit, which equals sixteen to twenty hours per level. Since there are three levels of Rosetta Stone, it might be possible to finish it in sixty hours or so, but I am not exactly sure, this is all rough. What I’ve found is that it’s good practice for me because I can set the program to Kanji and read new Kanji as I go along, and then it’s good to keep speaking questions and what not, but like most programs of this nature. For me it can get god awfully boring. But that’s just ME…. I cannot sit speaking to a computer all day and feel like i’m getting somewhere. But I have learned some cool traveling vocabulary, among other things.
But at the end of the day, so I want to spend a hundred or more hours using Rosetta Stone not really being able to speak better from it? Not really. I’m using Rosetta stone piecemeal every now and then to just get some new vocabulary in different lessons here and there (in context). When I lived in Japan, I had to figure out how to get around, how to deal with day to day things and so on, so re-learning that (even if I don’t know some of the vocabulary) feels like a waste of time.
One more point…
Rosetta stone is a bit easy at certain points. I look at a picture, pick one, and then if i get it right, “oh goodie!” but i’m not really “learning” in the way of true immersion. I am mentioning this from the point of “true Japanese immersion” after living there. Again, you can read through this blog to get an idea of my highs and lows, but learning the language requires a brutal honestly, push and drive to get to a level you are comfortable with.
I am not in Japan at the moment, and I wanted to fiddle with Rosetta stone to see if it would help me “keep” whatever Japanese I have. What i’ve found is that, even though I learn some new words here and there, I am waaaay past learning “the boy went to school” at their level 2 part of the program.
Currently I have a bunch of Japanese DVDs that are a mixture of TV shows, J-dramas, you name it. I’ve been watching some of these to get the noise of people speaking natively. I’m going to start a new revision system which I will post in a few days. But if you want to use Rosetta Stone, i’d say, it’s somewhat okay, but it is NOT real immersion and it takes a really, really long time to get to learning basic words and phrases that you can learn faster in another program, or even on your own.