Rosetta Stone and Pimsleur

Steve asked a question on his blog about some of the other language programs out there, and their strengths and weaknesses related to LingQ. I thought I would post a review of Rosetta Stone.

I started off using version 2, and i H-A-T-E-D it. It was boring and simplistic, had limited content, and only used third person vocabulary… which is not very helpful as it is rarely used in conversation. Later…I started using version 3, which is a much better program, but I am still not sure that it is worth anywhere near the money that people pay for it. Still…it sticks to the target language…never deviating. While this is good on many levels…I also found it frustrating, as there are often grammatical rules that are not as intuitive as the creators of the program might believe. While it is certainly helpful with learning additional vocabulary, I’m not so sure about it’s help in actually learning how to speak the language.

Another program I used is the Pimsleur Spanish program. I actually like Pimsleur. The CDS are easily converted to MP3 and I take them everywhere. It is much more convenient than being tied down to a computer. Pimsleur uses a drill based system as well…but I found the content to be extremely practical and of value. the main weakness of Pimsleur is that the amount of vocabulary taught is minimal…even after many hours of study. Pimsleur is great for the absolute beginner, but I’m not sure of it’s use after that.

So how have these programs worked out?

Several months ago, My family decided to take a trip to Mexico. Three weeks before the trip, I started using Rosetta stone (Version 2) and Pimsleur, both for the first time. My wife chided me, that where we were going, there would be plenty of people that spoke English…besides…what could I learn in 3 weeks? Undaunted…I decided to continue my studies.

I’m glad I did, because…as soon as I arrived in Mexico, I needed to go to the store and buy some groceries. we were confused about the pricing in the store, and whether they accepted dollars…and there were no English speakers around. I approached a clerk, and began asking questions in Spanish. I was surprised that not only did I know the relevant questions to ask, but I was also understood. Pimsleur taught the grammatical patterns, and Rosetta Stone gave me some additional vocabulary, that I was able to fit into these patterns.

I wasn’t fluent by any means…but I was elated at having the ability to hold basic conversations which was good, because there were very few English speakers in the places we visited.

I have had a similar experience with Rosetta Stone and others. Fundamentally, you can achieve a basic level in a language using any number of available programs including Rosetta Stone, Pimsleur, etc… None of them will take you to fluency the way LingQ can. They simply do not offer enough content nor do they offer a method that is efficient enough to digest it. What’s interesting is that many will pay a lot of money for these types of systems but balk at paying $10 a month for LingQ…

LOL…that sounds like me…but I must admit… I have paid nothing for using these programs. Both Rosetta Stone and Pimsleur are available to borrow for free from the Public Library.

I don’t think there is any “Language program” that can really bring somebody to fluency. What they can do… is give someone a basic enough foundation in a language, that they are able to successfully matriculate into more complex material.

I happen to think that it is an incredible leap, for many people, to move from a set language curiculum to “native material”. Many people are afraid to take it to the next level, by embrassing pod casts, news articles, and even fun novels. In my language learning experience, I have found that it is fun to just “jump in”, even if I’m not totally understanding what is going on. Having had that experience before… That’s why I’m not afraid to try to initiate a conversation, even though I just arrive in Mexico!

What LingQ allows, and what these other systems fail to achieve in any signifcant level, is the ability to import custom content. It technically allows people to download an ebook or audiobook, and take advantage of LingQ.

i think tell me more is the best, rosetta stone is the worse.

I thought rosetta stone was kind of fun at first. but then as I got into the more advanced levels I thought some of their pictures were kind of strangely related to what was being said (I only tried the free example on the website). I have never tried Pimsler, but Steve said it is full of english so he would never use it.

I have been studying French on LingQ for about 5 months now, from zero. Now i am reading french recipe blogs, and I really want to learn more about french cooking. I am picking it up a lot faster than I did when I was learning Japanese the normal way of learning a language. I love learning on LingQ. It is cheeper and more effective than any lesson I have ever taken.

I’ve never heard of “tell me more”. What makes their program, “The best”? What makes Rosetta Stone, “The Worst”?

“Tell me More” makes some claims on their website regarding American government and FBI use of their program, that I know to be factually incorrect. In addition…they want to sell my contact information to affiliates in order to allow me a trial of their product.

I have to admit…not even trying the product, I am already a bit dubious.