Sunday, December 09, 2007

Rosetta Stone

For some combination of birthday and Christmas, my parents gave me Rosetta Stone for Latin American Spanish. I've been really excited about this, because I've been wanting to learn Spanish for years and I suspect using Rosetta Stone will probably be the most effective and enjoyable way to do that. The co-founder of the original company, John Fairfield, was a graduate student in the Duke Computer Science department. In fact, two of the senior executives, Mike Fulkerson and Greg Keim, were graduate students in the department when I was an undergraduate.

Rather than requiring the memorization of vocabulary definitions and verb conjugations, it leads you through the process of intuitively figuring out words for yourself based on selections of images. It continues to build on itself as sentence constructions become more complicated. At the same time, you have to speak words and phrases and it checks your pronunciation using speech recognition. You can even graphically see how the sounds you make compare to their audio examples. Since you are only exposed to the spoken language audio, images, the written language and no English translations, there is actual potential to learn to think in the new language early on.

I've only completed a couple of lessons, but I'm even more optimistic now than I was before I experienced what they refer to as the "dynamic immersion" method. It's basically like playing a game for which you are constantly learning and that's hard to beat.

1 comment:

  1. At first I thought the girl in upper-right was you :-)

    Good luck with the learning. The Economist roundup gave good marks to Rosetta Stone. Though I find the "Farmboy has one chance to impress Italian supermodel" ad to be annoying. Then again, I'm still remembering the ad and who it's for -- so I guess that's why it's still running.

    I'm going to Merida, MX in January and February to recover/enhance my own Spanish.