In this review of The Habit of Ferocity by Steven Kotler, I’ll go through my personal experiences as a student and graduate of the program.
Rosetta Stone provides a comprehensive option to learn Spanish, offered in Castilian or Latin American. It combines with great efficacy reading, listening, writing, and speaking exercises, making it one of the most thorough options for learning a language now in the market. The content is wide and organized into different interesting and relevant daily-life topics. This service caters to a broad audience, balancing engagement and effectiveness across all linguistic competencies.
Rosetta Stone is a classical computer-aided language learning software that started in the 90s and is now one of the most well-known online learning services for language learning. The system follows a spaced repetition system on daily-life topics instead of focusing on grammatical structures. Its clean design and overall cohesive structure will take you on a learning journey that is rigorous, fun, and engaging at the same time. Let’s take a closer look at this platform and whether Rosetta Stone might be the right choice for you to learn Spanish.
To start with Rosetta Stone, you must decide between Castilian Spanish (Spain) or Latin American Spanish. This will depend on your learning goals or travel plans. The platform will then ask you to choose between thematic categories: viajes (travel), familia (family), en el trabajo (at work), and conceptos básicos (basic concepts). Depending on your chosen topic, Rosetta Stone will create a learning plan you can follow for six weeks. Every week’s content is separated into days, and each day into different lessons. However, if you seek a more inclusive learning path not limited to these specific subjects or pre-arranged order, you can explore Rosetta Stone’s content in a different tab.
These courses are called unidades (units) and cover different topics of daily life activities, such as viajar (travel), etapas de la vida y la geografía (life stages and geography), turismo y recreación (tourism and leisure), amongst others. Each course comprises four lessons corresponding to different thematic components. For instance, Unit 12 Lugares y Acontecimientos (places and historical events) is divided into four lessons: política y medios (politics and media), idiomas y negocios (languages and business), aprendizaje y memoria (learning and memory), and celebrar festividades (celebration of festivities). As Rosetta Stone Spanish offers 20 units in total, the subjects you will encounter in the learning plan might cover the interests of almost everyone.
Each lesson is divided into different sections that can vary in organization and duration. Most of them comprise a main lesson where you will get familiarized with the content, and then you will proceed to pronunciation, speaking, vocabulary, reading, and grammar sections. Between sections, you can also find revisions to check your learning progress. These components can intercalate within a single lesson, which means that in some, you will need to do more than one set of exercises on a specific linguistic skill or even more than two revisions. What is interesting about Rosetta Stone is that you can jump from one component or session to another, giving you flexibility in the topics that most suit your needs.
This might be one of the most particular aspects of Rosetta Stone’s method: it covers with equal importance all the linguistic skills you need to develop to master a new language. Many other online language-learning platforms focus too much on reading or listening. In Rosetta Stone, you will have a comprehensive learning experience based on reading, listening, writing, and speaking.
How does it work?
Before starting a lesson, the first step is training Rosetta Stone’s language recognition engine. You can choose your voice type: male adult, female adult, or kid. After repeating a couple of numbers on the screen to teach the engine how to recognize your voice, you will be ready to start learning. You will be guided to the main lesson (30 minutes), which follows a learning system that works through the association of texts and images, something I found well-crafted and suitable for any learner, especially those who rely on visual memory. Furthermore, the high voice and image quality make the learning experience coherent and well thought out.
After going through all the exercises in the main lesson, you will proceed to the pronunciation part (10 mins). Here, you will be asked to listen to a voice recording and repeat the phrase as phonetically closest to the narrator as possible. The platform will recognize your voice while typing the words it hears. Depending on how you do it, it will score you with different colors.
The writing section (5 mins) will show you several cards composed of images and audio recordings you must type with your keyboard. This section has probably the best functionality I have ever found among different online language learning platforms, as it allows typing on your keyboard to write phrases. This might seem a little detailed, but I think it is important. This function lets you type easier and associate writing new words in a new language with the same tool you write in your native language, not by using the mouse, which I feel is unnatural and dissociative. Moreover, the natural inclusion of Spanish accent marks makes the writing experience easy and more applicable to daily-life natural writing.
The vocabulary section (10 mins) will guide you to different kinds of association exercises between written and spoken phrases and visual images. For instance, the platform can ask you to link one image to one of several options of written phrases or one written phrase to be linked with one of the images shown.
The grammar section (10 mins) can offer different kinds of exercises that require you to do some logical reasoning. For instance, it can ask you to create and say a phrase after following the consequential logic of the previous three that are shown. As in the following example:
Suppose the first card says el vaso está lleno (the glass is full), the second that el vaso está vacío (the glass is empty), and the third one el cubo de la basura está lleno (the rubbish bin is full), then you will be expected to understand the logical reasoning and visual association behind and say el cubo de la basura está -vacío- (the rubbish bin is empty). Although it can sometimes become difficult, I found this exercise important for training linguistic associations between objects, situations, and meanings while learning a new language. This can be extremely powerful. Other exercises in the grammar section will ask you to choose words that are correctly spelled.
The listening section (10 mins) will come after reviewing other sections and learning the meaning, spelling, and sounding of different words and phrases. Only sound and visual images are present in this section, so you must associate recordings with pictures without written clues. However, if you find it too difficult, you can select the option showing the written answers in each exercise.
The duration and arrangement of sections vary depending on the lesson. Still, it generally follows a progress line from the most simple and basic knowledge to the more intermediate and advanced one.
Rosetta Stone offers the possibility of joining group sessions about specific course topics. You can find the time that is most convenient for you.
On the platform, you can access small stories you can read, listen to, and repeat with your voice. This great feature combines reading, listening, and speaking skills about interesting topics.
You can also download the audio files of the content of the courses into zip files that you can play while doing other life activities. This is a great option for those users who want to keep learning while commuting, cooking, walking, etc.
Rosetta Stone’s purchase plan is quite simple and clear. You can buy the whole content of a single language for three months ($11.99/month or $35.97 billed as one payment), twelve months ($7.99/month or $95.88 billed as one payment), or a lifetime subscription for $179 which includes all 25 languages. This last option might be the most affordable for users passionate about learning different languages. Moreover, compared to other services, having lifetime access to different languages and high-quality content for this price is truly remarkable.
What are the pros and cons of Rosetta Stone Spanish?
- Best option for visual learners: The well-crafted system of meaning association between text and images throughout all the lessons and practice sections is remarkable.
- Lifetime access for an affordable amount: The price-to-content value proposition of the lifetime subscription is unique.
- Covers all linguistic skills: Unlike other online language learning platforms, in Rosetta Stone, the equal and interconnected emphasis on reading, listening, and speaking makes it one of the best options for a comprehensive and holistic learning experience.
- Great content quality: Not much to say here. Images, text, and audio have excellent quality.
- Live group sessions: You can schedule joining group sessions on specific topics learned in the course.
- Lacks cultural insights: This is something I greatly missed. Information about culture and history is left secondary and irrelevant to the learning process.
What is the audience for Rosetta Stone Spanish?
I would say pretty much everyone. The wide catalog of topics, the good coverage of all linguistic competencies, and its affordability make this one of the best options in the market for learning new languages. Rosetta Stone will make you stay focused and motivated to learn daily, which is hugely appreciated and hardly achieved by other services.
My overall review
Rosetta Stone is now part of my top 3 online language learning services. The incredibly good pedagogic and thematic design makes it one of the most effective options for learning a new language. The Spanish taught in Castilian or Latin American options is relevant and interesting. Undoubtedly, this is one great example of balancing all linguistic competencies in a fun, entertaining, rigorous, and engaging way.