Please note that this CD-ROM/software version of Rosetta Stone Homeschool is being phased out after 10/30/17 and will be replaced by an online subscription-based product on 10/31/17. Support for Version 3 software will continue through 10/30/18.
Weve all heard the adage "If its not broke, dont fix it." That was my initial reaction when hearing that Rosetta Stone was coming out with an entirely new version. NASA, the Peace Corps, the U.S. State Department, thousands of elementary and secondary schools, as well as colleges and universities across the country are all users of The Rosetta Stone, so why change it? Well, Im beginning to appreciate why the Rosetta Stone people are excited about their newest version. Version 3 is not just a revision of the old, it is a complete reworking and rewriting of the entire program. The "dynamic immersion" methodology that distinguishes Rosetta Stone is still foundational. But there are some changes: more grammar and writing activities, more curriculum structure, more flexibility in meeting learning objectives. And there are some technical tweaks that will make the homeschool moms life easier.
Rosetta Stone combines multimedia technology with a total immersion approach. The resulting Dynamic Immersion environment utilizes four aspects images, intuition, interactivity, and instruction. First of all, real-life images are coupled with words or phrases both spoken (by native speakers) and written. These images convey meaning by using your intuition to discern meaning from the clues provided in the images. This learning is reinforced by constantly interacting with the program making selections which are confirmed if correct. Constantly building toward language acquisition, the student explores his understanding by spoken responses to real-life simulations completing the instruction picture. This methodology bypasses the old translate-in-your-head approach. And arent we glad?
Rosetta Stone levels are divided into Units. These Units each focus on a language topic such as greetings and introductions, work and school, shopping, etc. Each Unit has Core Lessons, Focused Activities and a Milestone. The Core Lessons utilize a full range of skills (A) Listening & Reading combined, (B) Listening only, (C) Reading only, (D) Speaking, and (E) Writing. The Focused Activities are exercises that concentrate on language skills vocabulary, pronunciation, grammar, reading, speaking, listening, writing. A feature called Adaptive Recall schedules review material to reappear at an optimal time to help move language into long-term memory. As the language is mastered, Adaptive Recall appears at longer intervals. Each lesson also includes a formal Review and Test that evaluates the student on the material he has learned to that point. Milestones serve as end-of-unit "rewards" allowing the student to practice his new language by speaking and interacting in real-life scenarios. Each student (or the parent/teacher) can determine his Course through the program based on various combinations of these different components. Here is where the increased flexibility comes in. The RS program has outlined a number of different courses based on specific learning objectives. You might think of these as templates. When a student first logs in, he makes certain selections that will determine the order (and number) of activities. The Full Year curriculum path takes the student through every language skill and is intended to guide him through one level of language in a scholastic year. However, there are seven alternative curriculum paths available as well as four placement tests which might be more appropriate in certain situations. (i.e. A student already has some language skills and wants to progress from "midstream" or perhaps is confident in the written language but needs work in pronunciation.)
The Version 3 computer screen interface is very user-friendly. Completing Core Lessons and the various Focused Activities are mostly self-evident with any necessary help to getting started provided in the Users Guide. At various time as the student progresses through the lessons he might be asked to choose an image or prompt, pronounce syllables or practice her speech by producing new phrases or sentences. Writing exercises are easy to complete thanks to an on-screen keyboard that shows you how to type special characters and a tile drag-and-drop function that lets you build sentences without being bogged down by spelling (a feature brought over from V 2).
One of the strengths of Rosetta Stone has been the pronunciation diagnostics and Version 3 continues this desirable feature and improves it with state-of-the-art technology. Speech analysis includes visual graphs of both the native speakers pronunciation and the students that provide assessment and input for fine tuning. Additionally, prompts are given when a students efforts need to be repeated. A headset with microphone is included with the purchase of each level or combination of levels. Timing when speaking into the microphone is important, so some experimentation might be necessary. (Background noise can affect results.)
Another area of improvement is the Student Management tools. All tools are now included within the program application and are "unlocked" with Activation. After activation, the program can be installed on two computers and used by up to five students. Parents can plan, track and print reports of student progress. As mentioned above, lesson plans are more flexible and can be chosen to meet specific learning objectives. This flexibility also means that the curriculum path can be adjusted to accommodate a younger learner.
Ancillary materials are provided in PDF format but availability differs with the language. Workbooks in hard copy form are not included but can be purchased separately for Spanish (Latin American) and English (American). Currently, PDF material (listed below) is available for English (American) and Spanish (Latin American) Levels 1, 2, & 3. Printable PDF files include tables of contents for each level, scripts for each lesson, an index to all words in the program, a 96-page student Workbook including a quiz for each lesson, Unit Tests, and the Answer Key for workbook quizzes, and tests. Online registration gives the purchaser access to other support downloads and updates.
Levels 4 and 5 are currently available for English (US), French, German, Italian, Spanish (Latin American) and Spanish (Spain).
So what do the levels mean now?
Level 1 - Builds a Foundation. Fundamental vocabulary, essential language structure, basic conversational skills including greetings and introductions. Includes colors, adjectives, numbers, prepositions, definite and indefinite articles, singular and plural nouns, family relations, the five senses and time of day.
Level 2 Navigate Your Surroundings. Builds on vocabulary and essential language structure. Giving/getting directions, using transportation, telling time, dining out, and enjoying basic social interactions. Includes verb tenses, adverbs, formal imperatives, school subjects, months, and emotions.
Level 3 Connect with the World. Builds on language fundamentals and conversational skills. Learn to share ideas and opinions, express your feelings and talk about everyday life, your interests, your work, and current events. Includes household items, physical activity, animals, possessive pronouns, present subjunctive, present perfect, weights, and measurements.
Level 4 Deepen Your Understanding. Expands on what you learned in Levels 1, 2, and 3. Negotiate complex situations with confidence. Develop conversational skills to navigate the workplace, care for your health, arrange repairs, and move abroad.
Level 5 Develop Your Command of the Language. Refine crucial communication skills and make full use of everything youve learned in Levels 1-4. Discuss entertainment and culture, government and the marketplace, and celebrate language-learning success.
Each level or combined level program includes: application CD, language CD, the Audio Companion, headset with microphone (USB port), keyboard stickers (to identify the changes necessary when typing in the language being studied actual typing conversion is controlled by the RS program), installation guide, illustrated Users Guide, and Parents Guide. The Audio Companion is the audio content for the program in a take-and-go format (MP3 format CD). This allows the student to listen and re-listen to the audio content on any MP3-compatible CD player or MP3 player. The Users Guide provides an orientation to the RS method, and step-by-step instruction for setting up and using the course. The Parents Guide has information on creating lesson plans, suggestions for supplemental cultural activities, 45-week daily lesson plans, and instructions for a Progress Report (activity status and completion, when the activity was completed, the duration of activity, scores for completed activities, and the students overall progress).
Rosetta Stone Version 2 and Version 3 are completely different and switching from one to the other is equivalent to completely changing curriculum. Although some subject matter from Version 2 has remained, other content has been added and the types of activities have changed. The program now includes exercises focusing on pronunciation, grammar, and vocabulary as well as activities focusing on more conversational elements such as listening and speaking.
Investing in a foreign language program is a considerable commitment. Rosetta Stone offers an online demo of their language programs on their website (rosettastone.com). If you are unsatisfied with a purchased program, the publishers have a 30-day return policy. The product must be returned to Rosetta Stone, after you have provided them the activation code, and they give you a ticket number. Contact us with the ticket number, and we will contact Rosetta Stone to receive an RMA number. We will then contact you with the RMA number, and you can then ship the product back to Rosetta Stone directly. Rosetta Stone returns should not be shipped to us. Defective or damaged discs will be replaced by the publisher.
System requirements: Windows XP SP3, Vista SP2, Windows 7, Windows 8 or 8.1 (but not RT); Mac OS X 10.5 or later; 1 GB RAM; 16-bit sound card; 1024 x 768 display resolution; high-speed internet connection (at least 768Kbps); USB headset with microphone is included. Please note that these CD-ROM and CD based products are being phased out by Rosetta Stone, but will be supported through 10/30/18. ~ Janice