Mister Eclectic (howeird) wrote,
Mister Eclectic

Rosetta Stoned

Rosetta stone is a software language tutor. The free demo disc covers 28 languages, including all the ones I wish I knew more of:
Arabic, Korean, Chinese, Vietnamese, Tagalog and Spanish. britgeekgrrl will be pleased to know they do Welsh. Hebrew and Thai are also on there - the plan is to use those as a control.

So I launch Vietnamese. There are four photos in a 2x2 grid. A boy, a girl, a dog, a cat. The voice says a short sentence, which is written in Vietnamese above the grid. Vietnamese uses the Roman alphabet, with some fairly intuitive tone marks, so it's not hard to learn to read as you learn to speak.

Trouble is, instead of just saying "boy", they say something like "here is a boy" or maybe "this is a photo of a boy".

Whatever they say, you have to guess which photo applies, and click on it. If you guess wrong, it puts an X on the picture and repeats the sentence. If you guess right, it says another sentence, one of the words has changed. Maybe more than one if gender conjugation is involved. Once you guess all four, another grid comes on. Man, woman, car, airplane. Soccer ball, horse, airplane, elephant. Cat with car, boy with airplane, man and boy, woman and girl. And so on.

They have a couple of  right ideas - do it visually, do it in the language being taught (no translations). They have a couple of wrong ideas - they do not reinforce what you have learned (they should repeat the sentence when you click on the correct picture, instead they interrupt the sentence as soon as you click the image, and launch into the next sentence of next set of images. The images are also too ambiguous. For example, the photo they use for a man and a woman is a bride and groom in full Chinese bridal costume. The image of the boy and the plane shows the kid from the back, climbing onto the wing of a small private plane (you can't tell gender from that photo).

I thought this would be good stuff for reinforcing a language you are learning, but it's not great for starting a new language from scratch. So I popped open the Thai lesson. Same photos as the Vietnamese lessons. Not a huge mistake, but lazy. And yup, it was a lot easier to get the Thai answers but the vocabulary was sometimes different from what would be common usage.

On to Hebrew. Much clearer photos. While there are still Orientals in some of the images, there are more Caucasians, and even a black kid. The dogs and cats are prettier and the photography is better. The woman saying the sentences needs to work on her diction. Again, some of the words would be my second choice, but I'm not as up on Hebrew vocabulary as I am on Thai.

So, bottom line, I don't think this is the way to learn a new language. I do think it is a good study tool to use while taking classes, though. Better than high school language lab was, where the only words I still remember are "gehen wir jetzt zu hause", "augenblik" and "Copyright Harcourt, Brace and World, Incorporated. Under applicable federal law this tape may not be duplicated without the express written permission of the publisher."

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