Rosetta Stone is language-learning software produced by Rosetta Stone, Ltd. Its title is an allusion to the Rosetta Stone, an artifact inscribed in multiple languages that helped researchers to decipher Ancient Egyptian by comparing it to the Greek inscription.

The Rosetta Stone software utilizes a combination of images, text, and sound, with difficulty levels increasing as the student progresses, in order to teach various vocabulary terms and grammatical functions intuitively, without drills or translation. Their award-winning method is called the Dynamic Immersion method. The goal is to teach languages the way first languages are learned.

Use


Instruction takes the form of a unit of lessons consisting of ten groups (more in some of the later units of Level I) of four images each, with an associated word or sentence both written and spoken aloud by a native speaker of the language, except for those languages that are no longer spoken natively, such as Latin. Lesson topics range from grammatical concepts such as verb tense or mood to specific topics such as colors, hot and cold and associated words or the use of money.Within each lesson there are sets of exercises testing listening, reading, and speaking (for which the computer must have a microphone). For languages using the Latin alphabet, there are also writing exercises. The writing exercises for non-Latin scripts use a substitute, on-screen keyboard. All sets except reading and speaking offer four exercises each; there are two reading exercises and one speaking exercise. They are identified by the software as A, B, C, D and E.The user is offered either text, sound or image (and later, video), to match against four possibilities. With a mark and/or sound chosen by the reader from the preferences menu, the program indicates whether the right or wrong choice was selected. A score from 0 to 100 is kept; it is visible during the exercise in practice mode but not in test mode. The first choice in a group of images nets four points for a correct answer, the second three, the third two and the last one.In all units, the last lesson is a review of the previous lessons, with each predecessor represented by one group of images. There are no formal grammar guides or instructions included with the software. The only documentation is a manual with written versions of the phrases and a word index.

 

U.S. Military/U.S. Government


The United States Army began offering a free, online version of Rosetta Stone software to its personnel in November 2005. In December 2007 they began offering a special Military version of Arabic (http://www.rosettastone.com/global/press/news-20071203-rs) in order to help troops deploying to the Middle East learn faster the skills needed for conversations and phrases important in a military situation.The United States Air Force also offers a similar version to company grade officers. The U.S. Department of Homeland Securityoffers levels one through three to Special Agents of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

 

Awards


Rosetta Stone has won a number of awards from software magazines and associations concerned with language learning such as textbook publishers and homeschooling magazines, amongst them the Gold Awards for Best CD-ROMs Used in School and Best CD-ROM for Language Learning i-Magic Awards in 1996 and the Best Software in Second Language Foreign Language Learning Program annual awards by ComputED magazine in 1994 and 1996.

 

Versions


The latest version is currently version 3. Not all the languages are available in that version and some of them are still in version 2. The version appears on the exterior of retail packages and this information is apparent through their Web site Macworld had reviewed version 3.0 several months earlier. A demonstration is available at rosettastone.com.Rosetta Stone version 3 software has a built-in feature to download and install upgrades from the online Web site. Newer versions have featured a larger interface, new functionalities, improved learning experience and better-quality pictures than their predecessors.

The Michel Thomas Method is an original method developed by Michel Thomas for teaching languages. Thomas stated that his students would be conversationally proficient after a few days’ study.

Thomas was hired by Raquel WelchBarbra StreisandEmma ThompsonWoody Allen and by Grace Kelly when she had to learn French rapidly after becoming engaged to Prince Rainier of Monaco. Towards the end of his life he recorded audio versions of his courses that were especially popular in Britain.

Method


With Thomas’s method, the teacher cautions students to avoid making notes and to refrain from making conscious attempts to memorise, promising that the teacher will “be taking full responsibility” for their learning. Thomas stated that keeping the students relaxed and entertained is a central focus of the method.The teacher then introduces short words and phrases in the target language. The students are asked to translate English sentences into the target language, starting with trivially simple sentences and gradually building up to more advanced constructions. When a student gives a correct answer, the teacher repeats the whole sentence with correct pronunciation. When the student’s answer is wrong, the teacher assists the student to understand their mistake and to correct it. The most important words and phrases are reviewed several times during the course.The teaching focuses on modal verb constructions such as “I want to go”, and pronouns, so that students do not need to memorise the many nouns and adjectives of the language. Grammar rules are introduced gradually, and grammatical terminology is avoided. In this way the students are, at an early stage, able to translate a sentence as complex as “I want to know why you don’t have it for me now, because it is very important for me and I need it”.The teacher often exploits the shared linguistic heritage of the two languages to teach new vocabulary.

A book describing the method in detail called “Michel Thomas: The Learning Revolution” by Jonathan Solity is due to be released in January 2008. The method received a US Patent in 2003.

This approach was adapted to tape and CD by recording a course with two students. The listener then attempts to translate the phrase on the tape before the student in the recording does, pausing the tape and rewinding as necessary.

The Pimsleur language learning system is a language acquisition method developed by Dr. Paul Pimsleur. The system is centered around four main ideas: Anticipation, Graduated Interval Recall, Core Vocabulary, and Organic Learning.

The Pimsleur method is an audio-based system, in which the listener constructs phrases or repeats from memory out loud along with a recording. The system is made up of 30 minute lessons, which are repeated until 70-80% comprehension is attained, at which point he or she may continue to the next lesson. As the lessons repeat themselves and add new material, the system does not demand complete mastery of the material, since the material is reviewed at varying intervals throughout the course.

Methodology


  • The student listens to a recording on which a native speaker speaks phrases in both the foreign language and the language used for teaching (usually English).
  • At varying intervals, the student is prompted to repeat a phrase after the speaker finishes it
  • The student is then introduced to a new phrase and the meaning is explained
  • After repeating several times, the student is asked to repeat a previous phrase, but integrating vocabulary from the new one.
  • More new phrases are introduced, while old phrases are prompted at random. The random recall is intended to associate words with meanings.

Pimsleur Learning Principles


Dr. Paul Pimsleur developed his system using four principles he regarded as important to forming memory associations and language recall.

Anticipation

Language courses commonly require a student to repeat after an instructor, which Pimsleur believed was a passive way of learning. Pimsleur developed a “challenge and response” technique, where a student was prompted to translate a phrase into the target language, which was then confirmed. This technique was thought to be a more active way of learning, requiring the student to think before responding. Pimsleur thought that the principle of anticipation reflected real life conversations where a speaker must recall a phrase quickly.

Graduated Interval Recall

Graduated Interval Recall is a method of reviewing learned vocabulary by having students rapidly recall learned material and then gradually reviewing the material at increasing intervals. It is a version of retention through spaced repetition. For example, if a student learns the word deux (French for two), then it is tested every few seconds in the beginning, then every few minutes, then every few hours, and then every few days. The goal of this spaced recall is to help the student to move vocabulary from short-term into long-term memory.

Pimsleur’s 1967 memory schedule was as follows: 5 seconds, 25 seconds, 2 minutes, 10 minutes, 1 hour, 5 hours, 1 day, 5 days, 25 days, 4 months, 2 years.

Core Vocabulary

The Pimsleur method focuses on teaching commonly used words in hopes that this will lead to a comprehensive understanding of a “core vocabulary”, but leaving the students breadth of vocabulary somewhat limited. Word-frequency text analyses indicate that a relatively small core vocabulary accounts for the majority of words spoken in a particular language. For example, in English, a set of 2000 words composes about 80% of the total printed words. In other words, an understanding of these 2000 words would lead to approximately an 80% word comprehension rate.

The number of words needed to comprehend varies from language to language. For example, data for Indian languages in the CIIL corpus show the number of words required for 50% coverage varies from 199 words in Hindi to 7,699 in Malayalam, while 80% coverage for those languages is 2,874 and 126,344 respectively.

The Pimsleur method teaches almost no grammar, instead leaving the student to infer the grammar through common patterns and phrases.

Organic Learning

The program uses an audio format because Dr. Pimsleur believed that students of languages would learn better with their ears, as opposed to traditional written formats. Dr. Pimsleur called this “organic learning,” which entails studying grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation simultaneously. Learning by listening is also intended to teach the proper accent, which cannot be learned through written material.

Effectiveness


Paul Nation’s comprehensive review of vocabulary learning, Learning Vocabulary in Another Language, concluded that Pimsleur’s “memory schedule” has been validated by research subsequent to Pimsleur’s seminal paper. According to Nation’s summary of the research, “effective retention of vocabulary requires a certain amount of repetition over spaced intervals”.