There have been other in-depth reviews of Rosetta. All I can say is that I hated their approach and I didn’t feel like the focus would make me a good speaker. Luckily, I got it from the library, so no harm done.
I’m wrapping up the first DVD, so I might be jumping the gun a bit here but I am confident that my results here will be much better. The lessons are focused so that you can build intelligent utterances from the first one; and you’re learning to have conversations that a person might actually have in Mexico, Spain, or anywhere else in the world. The lessons build on each other in an intelligent and useful way.
Each lesson starts with a very brief introduction, followed by a conversation. You have the option of playing the conversation with no subtitles, with Spanish subtitles, or with Spanish AND English subtitles. I like starting with none, then Spanish, then Spanish and English. This means that I have to rely on my ears first and that makes it a bit more difficult. Since I had Spanish in high school, many, many years ago, even with Spanish subtitles I can get the gist of the conversation. By forcing myself to go without the subtitles first, I really have to focus. It isn’t always easy because of the way the words sometimes slur together, but that’s real world training.
Sonia then explains the conversation, paying special attention to the new words and offering useful side information. This then leads to the workouts. The workouts are well done and the variety is very effective.
- Repeat The Words — words are displayed and you say them out loud. There is a play button that lets you hear the native speaker say those same words.
- Match The Words — provides two columns. The left column has Spanish words or phrases. The right is in English. You drag the Spanish version to cover the English version. When you’re correct both sets gray out.
- Choose The Best Image — you are provided with four images and a word. You click on the image you believe represents the word.
- Write The Word You Read — a word is displayed in English. You type the equivalent Spanish word (and they provide shortcuts to emulate the Spanish characters not on your keyboard).
- Write The Phrase You Read — same concept as above but with phrases.
- Write The Words You Hear — a native speaker says a word in Spanish, then you type it.
- Write The Phrase You Hear — same concept as above but with phrases.
- Basic Conversation — the conversation for the lesson is displayed. For each line, you can hit the play button to hear the native speaker. You record your own voice saying the same line and compare the two.
- Advanced Conversation — you take the role of one of the speakers from the conversation and record your part. You can then play back the original recording or a new version with your voice interacting with the other speaker.
- Pick The Right Answer — a question is displayed in Spanish, as well as three possible answers. You select the best answer.
- Type The Conversation — the conversation from the lesson is played, one line at a time. You type that same line, based on what you hear.
- Match The Phrases — just like Match The Words.
- Repeat The Phrases — just like Repeat The Words.
Through these workouts, you are getting new material and old material all the time. The review is a natural part of the way the lessons and workouts are structured. It is sometimes annoying, but always effective. There is also the option of picking “Challenge Mode.” With Challenge Mode, you have to type all the words with their correct accents. Without it, they cut you slack as long as you spell the word correctly.
Since the focus is on conversation, you are learning the conjugations you need rather than learning all the conjugations at once and trying to remember them all. This approach focuses you on the most useful conjugations and you begin to remember them as a natural part of the conversations you build.
If I can get through all 5 DVD’s, I’ll probably pick up Mandarin. I hope they’re working on expanding that set as well.