Help a student learn a new language

by Bruce Kasanoff on October 14, 2009

Rosetta Stone can be, in some ways, more personal and helpful than a classroom experience.

Many students will appreciate the pacing of the program. It provides as much time as needed to answer a question, but changes the type of question frequently enough so as not to bore.

The program is designed so that regardless of the language you speak, you can begin learning immediately just by looking at the pictures and learning nouns and verbs. The lessons themselves are mostly fun to use. Although the matching games got a little tedious for me, the speech and listening lessons were fun.

One of the most useful, and novel, uses of Rosetta Stone is the speech recognition technology. With the use of a headset and a downloadable plugin, the program is able to listen to your speech and give feedback on pronunciation. Overall, the technology is very impressive – the site could always tell what I was saying, and tell me how well I was saying it.

In order to further test it, I tried mispronouncing key english words in a sentence. The program almost always successfully highlighted the mispronounced word, and asked me to try it again. It is a joy to use.

A smart idea included in speaking questions is that, even if you do not pronounce the words perfectly, a close answer will be accepted, helping to alleviate frustration, as well as give the speech recognition technology some room to make mistakes.

One of the coolest lessons included in the program comes at the end of units, in the form of what the site calls a “Milestone.” The program walks the user through a story, told by a series of pictures taken from a first-person perspective, with dialogue delivered by people in the story. The characters speak to the user, and the user speaks back with phrases he or she has learned. The program at first lets the user try and figure out what phrase should be used, but it eventually tells the user if he or she is having difficulty.

Rosetta Stone is a very enjoyable way to learn a language, and as a supplement to the class, it can be undoubtedly useful. The program is not an intense study of a language, nor a replacement for a real class or a real teacher, but it is useful for picking up key phrases and manners of speaking in a language. Coupled with the speech recognition tools, Rosetta Stone is a great choice for anyone looking to enjoy learning a language.

Most of this article was written by my son, Jeff Kasanoff, a high school student.

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