Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Rosetta Stone Review (French)

I love Paris.  I love baguettes, croissants, and strong coffee with a touch of steamed whole milk for breakfast.  I love France.  I love the culture.  I love a place where people still go to a different store for their bread, meat, and vegetables, because that's how you get the best of each.  I love a place where it's normal to sit for an hour in the afternoon with a glass of champagne and watch people walking by on the streets.  I love that the people would rather have fewer things and less space and take long lunches, more weeks of vacation, and longer maternity leaves. 

September, 2009.

I love that you can park yourself on the grass in front of the Eiffel tower and split a bottle of champagne and a pizza with your husband and it's legal.  I love that people speak quietly in restaurants and on subway cars, so you can enjoy your meal to the murmer of many voices instead of the obnoxiously loud conversation of someone next to you.  I love that people dress nicely for the theater and for dinners in restaurants, that you're never over-dressed for a date because someone next to you decided to attend in jeans.

I love the cheese.  I love the chocolate.  I love the bread.  I love the language.

When we got on the plane to come home from our trip in September of 2009, I actually cried when the wheels started to move the plane down the runway for takeoff.  I wasn't sure I actually missed my cat enough to come home.

Now, I can't wait to go back.  I want to re-visit Paris, and the Cathedral at Reims.  Explore the French countryside, make it down to the coast.

It might not be soon, but I'm sure we'll get back.  In the meantime, I've been working on my French.  (At the very least, it'll help when we take our next road trip to Canada!)

Greg got me the Rosetta Stone French software for my birthday, and I have to say, I'm impressed!  Research shows that immersion is the best way to learn a new language.  That's why more and more college language classes are being held entirely in the new langauage even at early levels.  Rosetta Stone does this by using images instead of translations, so you're always thinking and learning in the new language instead of thinking in your native langauge and translating - an extra step that gets in the way of learning.

I've taken French classes in high school, college, and at a French cultural center in Boston, and I have to say that I feel like I'm learning just as fast with Rosetta Stone. 

Here's some things I like:

I can do it from home, whenever I want, for as long as I want (essential for a parent of young kids!)
I find it really fun
I already feel as though I've learned a lot, just putting in four or five hours a week
There's a great online feature where I can take classes with other new speakers and a native instructor
There are online games that take less than five minutes to play but are good vocab refreshers
The headset works great, it actually tests your pronunciation

Things I don't like as well:

It's hard to eat and drink when using the headset

It was hard to figure out where to start since I've taken quite a few French courses.  I don't want to miss anything, and yet I'm not a beginner either.

There's a lot of repetition, which is how you learn, but was frustrating until I figured out to do a major lesson one day, then the grammar, listening comprehension, and vocabulary sections another day, since they often contained repeats of the slides from the lesson (this makes sense)

I'm not sure how it will do with advanced grammar.  I think it's an amazing resource for conversational French, but I'm not convinced you can master a language without some direct explanation. 

The software is really expensive, so I never would have bought it for myself.  That being said, there's ALWAYS a sale going on, and it's less expensive than taking the French courses would be, by far.  I also don't have to pay a babysitter, or spend money on gas to get to a French class.  (The reality is that I just wouldn't be learning French.)

Overall, I love it so far, and I am three weeks into learning, four-five hours a week.  I would recommend it to anyone seriously interested in learning a new language.  Not learning more French when I was in school has always been a regret for me, now maybe I can fix that!

Can't wait to get somewhere French speaking and order myself a baguette!

A baguette... or champagne?  Or champagne and a baguette?

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