Recently we’ve been trying out the Rosetta Stone Arabic programme. Both Mr Z and I have been able to use this, and we’ve found it a really convenient way to learn. Nowadays you can access Rosetta Stone courses online. You just go to the website and log in with your password which is much easier than the old days of having to use CDs and install the software. It’s so easy to just take a few minutes and do some extra language work when you have some time to spare, and you can also access the course from your iPad. Just be aware that you must be logged out from the website on your computer in order to log in via your iPad as it won’t allow you to be signed in at two places at once.
When you enter the programme you will be greeted with this home page, where you can select which lesson and unit you want to study. There are lots of activities within each unit, including vocabulary, speaking, listening and more.
Rosetta Stone teaches via an immersion method so you won’t see or hear any English in the lessons, but there are plenty of pictures which help you to understand the words and context. This is the same way that humans learn their native language as babies, and the same way that people manage to quickly pick up a language if they find themselves in a new country so it’s a very natural way to learn. If you are someone who does not enjoy sitting down with grammar text books and studying in that method then it’s likely that the Rosetta Stone method could suit you a lot more. I found this suited Mr Z quite well, as he is still young (5 years old) learning through pictures and listening to the words works quite well. Many young children do learn well in this way through visuals. Mr Z is not fully confident with his Arabic alphabet yet so it’s hard to teach him vocabularly through reading and writing. The auditory element of Rosetta Stone is a solution to that, as the child can look at the picture and absorb the words through listening. They are also prompted to repeat things back to help store it in their brains!
As you can see here on one of the vocabulary screens, the pictures are shown along with the word. If the pictures may not be so clear, they might give you three different versions so that it sinks in when you hear the word and see three different types of fence, that “seeyaaj” means fence (apologies for my lack of typing in Arabic letters!)
After you see these then you also get the chance to match up words to the relevant pictures. As you move further through the programme you will get the chance to match up slightly more complicated sentences:
Here you can see that some of the basic grammar has been introduced like how to form plurals but these are all taught just by exposure to the different structures, listening and absorbing them rather than showing a table with all the forms presented.
Personally I am someone who likes the grammar books and tables BUT the way this is taught in Rosetta Stone is also really great, so if you can use a combination of whatever methods appeal to you then that will be the best thing to strengthen your learning. I actually speak Arabic already so I have used this programme just as a refresher to help brush up my skills and it is ideal for that. Because I was doing this, I just hopped around through whatever lessons I fancied but for Mr Z I have started him at the beginning and I am asking him to move through a little more methodically as he is a beginner.
Mr Z found the format fun and enjoys speaking into the microphone. He is always keen to use the laptop so that motivates him to come and learn! When you speak into the microphone, the Rosetta Stone software will monitor what you said and give a green light for good and red light for a mistake. I did notice that at times the software let him get away with slight pronunciation mistakes! But nothing too serious. I suppose it is a balance, as if the software was so picky then it would become a little too demotivating for those who are beginners trying to learn!
The earliest lessons are pretty simple and suitable for young kids with language like “the boy jumps” “the girl drinks” “the lady reads” etc but later on a lot of the content does move on to those topics which will be more useful in business. The screen you can see below is discussing about how many languages people speak, which language are they talking in etc. This is a useful topic for anyone but they do show a lot of people in business wear which emphasises that it’s useful for business. I definitely think Rosetta Stone would be a useful tool if you are someone who travels for business and wants to quickly immerse yourself and improve your language skills before you go.
You also get activities where you can read stories and then listen, or read aloud and have the programme record you to let you know of any errors. I did find that this window at times showed a little small, I would have loved it to be bigger. You can increase the font size but I didn’t seem to be able to drag the actual box to fill more of the screen – perhaps that’s my mistake though!
Some of these stories have content which is better for children, and some are more for grown ups or news orientated type of pieces. The one shown below is about a trip to the beach with a girl and her brother. It’s pretty short, more like a passage than a story but if you wanted to work on some small reading and listening exercises with kid who are at this level – this would work. Mr Z can not yet read a passage like this, so I’ll keep it in mind for the future. I did read some of them myself which is good practise just to keep the Arabic language fresh in your mind!
With these you can record the whole thing and it will highlight any mistakes for you. I found this one is a lot more sensitive to errors and will show you very exactly, even if you missed a vowel or haven’t pronounced something exactly then it will show you some read markings so you know where to focus if you go back and read aloud again. You can see the red marking here to show I made a mistake at this point, and if you don’t understand a certain word you can hover over it and the picture will appear to help you out – again reinforcing the learning through natural immersion and visuals.
There are more features available within the Rosetta Stone Arabic e-learning website, you can connect with others and speak to them via web chat if you want to practise conversation with a real person. I haven’t done this but maybe in the future!
If you are looking for a method to learn or practise your Arabic online, or something to help support your kids learning then this is definitely a useful tool. Rosetta Stone is not only available in Arabic, you can sign up for whichever language you need – they offer a very wide variety and all the languages are taught by these same methods.
With the world cup coming up it’s a great time to introduce children to learning about the world, different countries and different languages. Learning language can be a lot of fun, you could make up plenty of games to go alongside the learning! I was really interested in languages as a child, we learned French and German in school and some basic Spanish, and I learned Arabic as a teenager. I taught myself from age 12 or 13 and then enrolled in my local Arabic school, and then went on to do a degree in Arabic. It’s my favourite language, so it’s quite fun for me to go back and practise with the Rosetta Stone. I would not want it to get too rusty – which is a real danger when you spend so much time busy with family and kids and don’t have so many chances to practise in day to day life!
Have you ever tried Rosetta Stone? Which languages would you most like to learn? Let me know in the comments!