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Rosetta Stone V4 TOTALe: Spanish (Latin America) Level 1-5 set

1 rating: 4.0

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1 review about Rosetta Stone V4 TOTALe: Spanish (Latin...

An amazing program, but not without its frustrations

  • Oct 22, 2010
  • by
Without a doubt, Rosetta Stone V4 TOTALe is an amazing product. It is easy to install on your PC and puts a whole world of resources at your disposal to help you learn a new language. If I could have given it 4 1/4 or 4 1/2 stars, I would have, but since I had to decide between 4 or 5, I'm giving it a 4. 5 to me is perfect and my experience with RS was not perfect.

Why? Because using RS can be very frustrating to a new user. This was my first time using RS but not my first time learning a new language. I learned French the "old-fashioned way" in school and taught myself sign language from a book. In both cases, I got to ask questions of the teacher or look up additional information in my NATIVE language to help me understand the nuances of the language and to clear up any points of confusion. But RS provides ZERO assistance to the student in their NATIVE language. I understand that the very basis of Rosetta Stone is total immersion, meaning you are totally immersed in the target language while you're learning it. However, I had hoped that there would be SOME opportunity to get questions answered in English and there is not (or if there is, I haven't found it). When you are in the RS software, there is NO English used (unless, of course, you are using RS to learn English!). When you have your live tutoring sessions with a native speaker (which are, by the way IMMENSELY helpful), the tutors are apparently restricted by their employer from speaking in any language but the target language. This means that, until I am several months into my study, I will not yet have the skills to ask the questions I need to ask in my target language!! Something is wrong with this picture!

Additionally, though I am a smart person, at times I could not figure out what was being asked of me in my RS language lessons. Putting aside the fact that I don't know yet that pelo means hair, I don't even understand what I'm supposed to do. Repeat the question? Give the answer? MUCH of the learning is VERY intuitive. They say hola. I repeat hola. They say adios. I repeat adios. But as the lessons go on, things get more complicated and there were times when I was failing lessons literally because I did not know what was being asked of me--what I was supposed to do. Eventually, I figured it out. Some things I figured out by visiting the Rosetta Stone website. Some by talking to someone I knew online who was also doing RS but in a different language. Some by trial and error. But to a person who is used to grasping most things on the first try and succeeding much more than failing, it was at times a supremely frustrating experience.

Now that I am about to complete the first level (which has taken me about 2 months), I feel much more confident and am having much less frustration with the system. I have had 3 live tutoring sessions and have learned a lot from them. The first was, of course, nerve-wracking, but I am really enjoying them now. In addition, there is Rosetta World, where you can play games to help you learn the language, either alone or with other people from around the world. I am learning Latin American Spanish, and most often play either with other Americans who are also learning Spanish or with native Spanish speakers (usually from South America) who are learning English. They help you, you help them...it is a nice system, and you get to "meet" some nice people and learn about other countries as well.

The system also provides audio CDs so that you can take your lessons with you in your car, on your iPod, etc. I found this less helpful, but it is a nice touch, especially for those who commute to work every day and could use that time productively by reinforcing their lessons during their commute.

I am now a proponent of total immersion, in that I do see a positive difference between how I recall Spanish when I prepare to speak it vs. how I would recall Frensh or sign language when I would prepare to speak or use them. The old way of learning language required us to constantly translate in our heads...translate what someone says to us in another language into English and then translate our response from English back into the other language before we respond. With total immersion, you just THINK in your new language...there is very little translation going on. In other words, instead of thinking "hair = pelo", I might touch my hair and think "pelo" without the literal mental translation of "hair = pelo". I still have issues with the fact that the tutors can't/won't answer questions in my native language, but at least I understand more now why they can't/won't.

Do I recommend this product? Yes, wholeheartedly...BUT with a caveat. Don't expect it to always be easy. Don't expect to never be frustrated. And don't expect to ever see or read or speak your native language while you're learning.

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July 16, 2011
This was a very detailed review. Berlitz overcomes this problem by having scheduled periodic user meetings to iron details such as in the above. The problem with verb forms is that many are non-standardized. i.e. como comes come comemos comen for the verb comer- to eat Now look at agradecer which is another "ER" verb: i.e. agradezco agradeces agradece agradecemos agradecen The "I thank" has a "z" in the verbal conjugation. Where does that come from and how could you figure it out? For these non-standardized deviations the best thing to do is to memorize the exceptions.

Then , of course, there are the famous "idioms" in Spanish. For instance, "darse encuentre de" means to encounter  literally. How is this? The verb "dar" means to give. How does "to give" translate literally into "encounter" ? The most difficult translations are in the Castillian Spanish from King Ferdinand's time. i.e. Don Quijote de la Mancha
December 29, 2010
Great review. I can't agree with you more. People buy this thinking they are going to talk like a native in no time and that is about as logical as thinking that with the Ab-blaster (or those other exercise do-hickeys) you will have the body of a world class athlete. This has to be looked at as a supplement. Even being fully immersed in the language you would have a reference dictionary available. People will learn a language if they put their mind to it and are able to practice with real people. (hard to learn Swahili if you live in Russia). I mastered Spanish, where people who are smarter than me either learned little or forgot what they learned. Why? Because I had the determination to speak the language and forced myself into sitiuations where Spanish was the only option for me to communicate.
December 29, 2010
Thank you, Michael! I am now halfway through Level 2 and WOW is it getting harder. I am learning verb forms/tenses and I have NO IDEA what I'm learning some days, which is very frustrating! When learning nouns, RS has a great way of teaching by process of elimination...but verb forms don't take to that process as easily. I haven't been this frustrated since I began the program in August, but I'm trying to push through and continue my learning.
December 29, 2010
I have some suggestions for you if you do not have a Spanish person available for practice. Try watching Spanish television especially Las Noticias (the news) where the speakers use better grammar and pronounciation. Listen to some of Marc Anthony's or Shakira's Spanish songs and then find the English translations by Google. Both of them use a better level of Spanish. I also like Cristian Castro and a beautiful song he has is Volver Amar.
December 30, 2010
Tried to post a thank you for the tips yesterday, but Lunch was not cooperating. I tried to post that I have been a fan of Latin dance music for years so I already have SOME music in Spanish. I checked out Cristian Castro on AMazon yesterday--lovely voice!
February 24, 2011
Hi Sheri, just wanted to check in with you to know how you are progressing with your study. Did you finish Level 2? How is level 3? Do you still feel the product rates a "4" or have you changed your opinion?
February 24, 2011
Hi MIchael...I lost a LOT of study time to being sick in December and January and then had a hard time getting back in the study groove once I was well, so I'm still in Level 2. Due to my frustration with the way verb forms/tenses are taught in RS, I bought a book (Spanish Verb Tenses by Dorothy Richmond) to give me some non-RS assistance in that area. Depending on the day and how frustrated I am, I waver from 3 stars to 4 stars. Though I believe it is an absolutely amazing program, I don't think I could ever get to 5 stars because of the frustration factor and because of never being able to ask questions or get clarifications in my native language until I'm proficient enough in my target language to ask my questions in that language (which can be a long time, depending on the complexity of the question). Thanks for checking in.
February 24, 2011
P.S. I try to read Spanish whenever I come across it (on my friends' Facebook pages, in operating instructions, etc.), though I do not have anyone that I can practice my Spanish with in person, except for the preschool children I read to once a week.
February 24, 2011
P.P.S. I find that I am much better at reading Spanish than speaking it, so I occasionally ask Spanish-speaking Facebook friends to write me a paragraph in Spanish so I can practice my translation skills. Problem is, a few of them are native speakers but most aren't, and I get confusing and conflicting reports of what a word means, etc.
February 25, 2011
Pues creo que enviarte una mensaje en espanol. Por ejemplo: Pauncha plancha con cuatro planchas con cuantas planchas plancha Pauncha? Es una travalengua.
February 25, 2011
Woooo....either I haven't learned most of those words yet or they are forms of verbs that I haven't gotten to yet. LOL I think the first part is "Can you believe that" and it has something to do with writing me a message in Spanish. The last part looks like a Spanish tongue-twister like How many chucks would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood? :) I could use a Spanish translater on the web, but that would be cheating. I'll keep workign on it. Thanks for the challenge...it's a big one!
February 25, 2011
Tienes razon! Es una travalengua. Escribame cuando has traducido todo. Hasta luego.
February 25, 2011
Gracias, Michael!
December 01, 2010
Thanks, everyone, for your comments! The expense IS jaw-dropping, I agree. I had been wanting to learn Spanish to speak to the mostly-Latino pre-K class I read to as a volunteer so, when I was offered the opportunity to try this new version before it was released to the public, I VERY happily agreed to provide a review. The first time I was able to read to a child with very limited English skills in Spanish, it almost made me cry. His face just lit up!
December 01, 2010
Great review! I speak a few languages and have learned each of them a little differently. I agree with you that immersion is probably the best because I'm completely guilty of doing the "hair = pelo" thing when I speak Spanish which I learned in school. I've always been interested in RS to help me refresh the languages that I could use some brushing up on. Thanks again for sharing!
November 30, 2010
Thanks so much for sharing, Sheri! Rosetta Stone is something that I've really been meaning to try and I always love reading about people's experiences with it.
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