I'd been rather curious about the Rosetta Stone language learning courses. Were they really worth the hype and the high price? Well, I just had the opportunity to review the Chinese Mandarin language software and, you know what, I'm absolutely impressed. Rosetta Stone does live up to its reputation in this instance. I did have a couple of issues here and there, but minor ones. The overall teaching strategy is excellent and well-planned.
Rosetta Stone and the Direct Immersion Language Learning Method
Rosetta Stone teaches by the "Direct Immersion" method. This means when you start learning, it is in your new language, as opposed to your native one. You don't, for example, get subtitles in your native language. The idea is to pick up the new language the way you did your old one - by a gradual immersion process. That is, you start using the language from Day One. You just immerse yourself in it - learn words, then sentences, then concepts and ideas and so on and so forth.
Rosetta Stone Learning Levels
I did start out a bit doubtful though. It was my first time studying a language online; I had always used books and audio CDs before. Would the direct immersion method work with Chinese Mandarin? It always seemed such a difficult language. But, I guess, quite a few things seem difficult until you try them. In this case, with the first lesson, I was a convert. I've fallen in love with the Chinese language, much the same way I fell in love with the violin the first time I took it up. Absolutely delightful.
At the beginning, I went to the Chinese Mandarin section of the Rosetta Stone website, and read the information about the language and the course. Then I logged on and waited - a loooong time - for the program to load. A list of languages came up. You pick the one you are learning and the level.
There are three levels in the Rosetta Stone Chinese Mandarin language learning software. Each level has four units. You can start at Level One and let the software take you through the paces to Level Three. You can also click and select the lessons you want to learn, although progressing directly to Level Three would rather be pointless if you have no knowledge of the previous levels. Still, if you do, the program is flexible and can be adapted to your requirements.
Rosetta Stone Chinese Mandarin Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3
The first level is the introductory one and you learn about reading, writing and listening to basic words and actions. Topics include people, greetings, clothes, family relations, colors, time, days and months, etc. The new vocabulary is repeated throughout the level, so you really grasp and retain it.
The second level takes you further on with Chinese Mandarin conversational and grammar skills. You learn how to tell the time, about locations and directions, and destinations. You learn the words for different celebrations, emotions and meals. You learn a bit more about grammar.
The third level of Chinese Mandarin is the most advanced one, obviously. Here the idea is to make you comfortable with expressing yourself in a regular, everyday situation. So you learn to give your opinions and ideas in Chinese Mandarin, and expand your vocabulary to include financial, business, political and social terms.