Rosetta Stone Review

The Rosetta Stone language software is named after the famous stone tablet discovered in 1799, and which gave archaeologists the key to understanding the language of the ancient Egyptians.

The developers at Rosetta Stone aim to unlock the secrets of learning new languages in a similar fashion. However, the Rosetta Stone software is more than just a digital phrase-book. It uses sophisticated voice-recognition technology that allows it to listen to you as you progress through your language lessons and actually correct your pronunciation.

We tested the Portuguese version of the software prior to a holiday in that country, but there are versions available for almost 30 languages, including most European languages, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, and even Welsh. The package also includes a headset that you can use to listen to phrases and then repeat them back so that the program can check your pronunciation.

This aspect of the program is certainly impressive. In fact, it actually worked better than some English-language speech-recognition programs we’ve tested in the past. However, we did feel that the lessons sometimes progressed a bit more rapidly than we were prepared for, given that we were complete beginners in this language.

Some lessons display words or sentences on screen so that you can read them aloud, but although the program can check your pronunciation, it doesn’t necessarily check that you understand what you’re saying. We sometimes felt that we were simply reading phrases by rote, without really committing the words themselves to memory first.

Of course, there are other exercises that do focus on vocabulary and grammar, but there were times when we felt we’d prefer to get the basic vocabulary fixed in our brain before worrying about the accent and pronunciation.

The advanced voice-recognition technology also means that Rosetta Stone is pretty expensive, costing £139 for a the Level 1 beginner’s course. However, it does offer a six-month money back guarantee for anyone who feels that they haven’t made adequate progress within that time.

OUR VERDICT

The voice-recognition technology built into Rosetta Stone is truly impressive, but we did feel that it could have paid a bit more attention to basic vocabulary before worrying about our accent. If you’re serious about studying a language then Rosetta Stone will be a powerful learning tool, but it’s probably overkill for people who just want to pick up the basics for when they go on holiday.

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