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Rosetta Stone is well known for publishing excellent language learning software covering over 30 languages including Spanish, French, Italian, Russian, and many more. Interestingly, Rosetta Stone offers Latin, its only dead language program, among much more practical languages.
Until recently, Rosetta Stone only offered one level of Latin and the Latin language program was not upgraded to version 3 of the software along with all of its other language programs. At first, I erroneously assumed that the publisher might be phasing the language out due to low interest in the language, juxtaposed with more accessible and popular languages such as Spanish, French, and German. To my surprise, Rosetta Stone not only upgraded the Latin language software to version 3, it also added two more levels to the program as well.
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Initial Reactions to Rosetta Stone’s Latin Language Software
For those familiar to version 2 of Rosetta Stone’s language program, users will be pleasantly surprised by the upgrade to version 3 and the addition of two additional levels. In a previous review of Latin version 2, level 1, my only real complaint was that the software was not as comprehensive as other Rosetta Stone offerings due to its long time resistance to upgrading the software to three levels. Users of the new version 3 will be happy to know that the software has been expanded to include far more material, exercises, and options in line with other version 3 language programs.
The most important upgrade is the addition of speech recognition to the Latin program. Absent in previous versions, students of Latin can now learn to speak the language rather than just listen to the language being spoken by someone else. Progression of the speech recognition eases the student into this difficult and enigmatic language without the need for any previous knowledge of the language’s lexicon or grammatical constructions. The headset included in the package is well-built and works flawlessly with the software. Not once did I have to repeat myself or receive a false-negative pronunciation error while using the headset. When I started this program, the words quality and comprehensive came to mind.
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Comprehensiveness of Rosetta Stone’s Latin Language Learning Program
As I mentioned above, one of my complaints with earlier versions of the software was lack of comprehensiveness. Having perused the software thoroughly, I noticed that all of the major aspects of the language are covered. The learner will experience everything from the five declensions, the four conjugations, and even the exceptions to most of Latin’s grammar. Latin is a language of exceptions. Understand that Latin was a language spoken for a long time by a largely illiterate population. The result is a language whose rules change and seem to make no sense to the uninitiated. This is not a problem with Rosetta Stone’s version 3 because the learner is spared the tedious nature of Latin’s grammar, lexicon, and structure.
Students are able to dive right into learning Latin with no preparation whatsoever. There is no need to take notes, memorize grammar tables, or have advanced knowledge of English grammar to proceed with the program as is normally required in traditional, classroom Latin programs. Rosetta Stone’s Latin software is the closest thing to immersion in the language as any student of Latin could ever hope to achieve.
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Practical Use of Rosetta Stone’s Latin Software Version 3
Immersion in a language is the only way to truly understand the nuances of a language and make the transition from student to fluency. Since Latin is a dead language, immersion is difficult except for a very few special circumstances. In fact, most traditional Latin programs do not require mastery of speech as a component of learning. In those programs as in most High School and College courses, the focus is on reading, writing, and translation of the language. This, of course, is preceded by months of memorization and rote learning.
Rosetta Stone breaks this mode of learning Latin by making speaking and listening major components to the program. In fact, without speaking and listening, Rosetta Stone’s model of language learning would not work. Its approach to language mastery is to immerse you in the language and teach you a new language as you learned your native tongue. Unlike other languages, almost no language program is able to immerse you in Latin the way Rosetta Stone does.
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Progression of Learning Latin from Rosetta Stone Version 3
One of my concerns with learning Latin from a software program is whether the progression is fluid enough to allow for previous lessons to build on subsequent learning of the language. I was concerned that the software may simply be packaging a traditional Latin program into a software package without regard for progression as a key component of language learning.
My fears were put to rest as I progressed through the lessons. As someone fluent in the language, I could see that students new to Latin would be able to use elements learned in previous lessons. In fact, the progression is so intuitive, that the learning seems more like a game than a tutorial on the language. In one word, Rosetta Stone’s Latin program is fun, even for someone fluent in the language. In fact, this software package could serve as a refresher course for teachers of Latin to ensure that years of non-immersion have not tainted or skewed proper pronunciation to something inaccurate that is passed on to students.
As a final thought, I would like to mention that unlike traditional Latin programs, Rosetta Stone offers an important learning tool; non-linearity. Students struggling with a lesson can repeat the lesson as many times as they want, allowing the student to study Latin at a comfortable pace. They are putting emphasis on those lessons that are difficult and breezing through those they find more difficult. No doubt, different aspects of a language are difficult for some and easy for others. Rosetta Stone not only offers immersion, it offers a customized pace to appeal to each student’s capacity, experience, and motivation to learn the new language.
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Rosetta Stone’s recently-released 3 levels of version 3 Latin language program is a welcomed upgrade from the previous one-level paradigm. The upgrade brings with it the ability to immerse yourself in the dead language in a way that is nearly unachievable in the real world. Those interested in Latin for the first time and seasoned Latin students will both find something to learn from Rosetta Stone. If you are serious about learning Latin in a way that deviates from traditional Latin programs, Rosetta Stone’s Latin program may be your only option to immerse yourself in the language of the Romans.
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Image Credit: Rosetta Stone