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Your Best Bet for Learning French Is Rosetta Stone

written by: Joe Schurman • edited by: Tricia Goss • updated: 1/4/2012

With the volume of training seminars I do in Canada and Europe, learning French had become imperative to my growth professionally (not to mention it would let me fit in much more easily when in Paris). I chose Rosetta Stone's French Level 1 learning language program and it did not disappoint.

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    Hot or Not?

    As a speaker who travels around the globe to provide training seminars, I realized it would be beneficial to learn a second and even a third language. Given my desire to learn the beautiful French language, I chose the ever-popular software series produced by Rosetta Stone. In the spirit of full disclosure, I had seen the software's commercials and the print ads in my Continental Airlines in-flight magazine, and I had heard the buzz regarding the product through various online media recommendation sites, like this one. All of this information had an impact on my decision to choose Rosetta Stone French Level 1 for my new learning venture, though that decision proved the right one as I started to use the program.

    Find out what's hot and what's not about this application.

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    Price to Value


    I feel that language learning software should be affordable for all people. Rosetta Stone French's current list price is a bit unreachable unless you are absolutely desperate to learn.

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    Installation & Setup


    The installation process is awkward. There are two CDs that you must install from. The first is for the Rosetta Stone application, which is the framework or shell of the Rosetta Stone software. Then you install or run the language CDs you want. While this is a good way to save storage space, there should be only one installation package instead of forcing the user to install two.

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    User Interface


    I liked the subconscious sophistication built into this learning software. What I mean by this is that during the lessons, even though the individual modules seemed easy and repetitive, each module prepared you for the next. I was left sitting there wondering how I had already understood a certain word or sentence as if I had known the language my whole life. I really liked that feeling. For example, the modules started with simple recognition lessons such as “this is a horse" or “this is a boy," which evolved into “this is a boy riding a horse and then falling." By the end of the lesson, I really understood the verbs and nouns perfectly.

    I then moved quickly into the voice recording and playback, which was actually funny because I had my two daughters participate and we had a few laughs when we messed up. They were competitive when trying to reach the “green" level on the recognition meter that compares what you say to the speaker. I also liked the flow of the lessons, pointing back to the psychological subconscious effort, starting you with the basics, moving into more complex areas, but bringing back the easy stuff during the process. This makes you feel like you can still accomplish something. To me, this is probably the easiest way to learn a language, and I have tried a few other language learning software programs before, only to become extremely bored and frustrated.


    I am used to Microsoft software where there is an embedded help menu with every feature. When I use the Rosetta Stone software, it takes a few minutes to figure out what the heck I am actually trying to do as all of the menus are written in the language I am trying to learn.

    The other feature I did not like is how the screen maximizes to cover the entire desktop. I could see this as a feature for some who do not want any distractions, but I just do not care for that kind of blatant blanketing of my desktop.

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    Product Features


    I will say that despite the "Not" categories I mentioned, this is still the best language learning software on the market.

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    [inlineImage|sectionimages||Lessons menu..In French..for your anger management test.|][inlineImage|sectionimages||Image of a specific lesson in French|][inlineImage|sectionimages||Recording is actually pretty fun.|]
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    Suggested Features

    Rosetta Stone is in dire need of a better setup and install process, and a more intuitive help guide. If the manufacturer cleans up the UI to list the menus in English or to allow the user to select the language, adds additional help menus, and simplifies the setup process, there will be no room to compete with this software in the marketplace.
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    I was impressed with Rosetta Stone French Level 1 and I will continue to use it. My kids both agreed that the software was a lot of fun to use while providing a good education on the language. I hope to be speaking fluently in a foreign tongue within the next couple of months. Until then, bonsoir!

    Source: author's own experience

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