A Gift for the Traveling Family

Last Updated on November 30, 2009 by Jody Halsted

I have to admit, the commercials made me skeptical. I’m a failure when it comes to foreign language. I completely bombed jr. high Spanish; my girls know more espanõl from watching Dora than I do. I tried learning Gaelic from a book and CD but couldn’t get beyond what I already knew: craic (pronounced crack; it means fun, entertainment, enjoyable conversation) and slainté (pronounced slanj; it’s a toast meaning good health or “cheers”).

So when I was asked to try Rosetta Stone I was hesitant. What made their approach so different? Well, they treated me like a 3 year old. That’s not a bad thing. Not many of us can remember a time when we didn’t speak. But if you have children you know that they learned to speak by listening and observing you. And that’s how Rosetta Stone works; you listen and observe. Within minutes I could identify girl (cailín) and boy (buachaill), woman (bean) and man (fear). The software went on adding plurals, eating, drinking, walking, reading, swimming- all quite seamlessly. I was learning new words without even trying!

The software has a voice recognition system that helps you with pronunciation along with a visual system that helps you match the words and phrases to the correct images. It’s really quite nice, but difficult to explain. To see it in action click here. To try it yourself click here.

I used the Irish and, after listening to me for a few nights, Doug tried it too. We were both very impressed and are planning to buy the full set soon. I really like that it comes with Audio Companion CDs that I can load into my iPod and listen to anywhere.

Rosetta Stone is kid friendly and easy enough for a 3 year old to use. Both of my girls tried it and asked to “play the Irish game” again. (Just a thought for Rosetta Stone- a Nintendo DS version would be amazing!) Rosetta Stone is available in 31 languages including English (British- which I must say I am intrigued to play with!), French, Spanish (both Spain and Latin America), Italian and Chinese.

If learning a new language is on your New Years resolutions or a foreign vacation is in your plans Rosetta Stone can help achieve your language goals. As for me, I hope to be speaking decent Irish by May.

Disclosure: Rosetta Stone let me demo the software online and sent me a headset to try it.

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  1. Interesting perspective on Rosetta Stone. I’ve heard both good and bad experiences. I’m wondering…did you see a difference the next time you were in Ireland? I hear it may make learning easier but the actual speaking part might be a bigger challenge. Thanks for your point of view!

  2. tylerlingolive I have spoken Irish in Ireland…  and it just doesn’t so as beautiful as when my Irish friends speak it. But even ‘ta cupla focal’ (a couple of words) is better than none at all.

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