Rosetta Stone is a series of foreign language programs that helps the student understand spoken words as well as written ones. These are also self-teaching programs, so parents need not know the language their child will study. Rosetta Stone’s programs offer computer-based instruction that includes the student speaking and typing into the computer. While this is primarily a conversational approach, there is also some grammar instruction.
Rosetta Stone Homeschool Version 3 runs on Windows 2000, XP or Vista as well as Mac OS 10.4 or later. The speech recognition feature of the program requires use of the headset with a microphone that comes with each program.
Rosetta Stone uses essentially the same extremely interactive methodology for every language. For example in early lessons, first you look at four photos and listen to words by native speakers that are illustrated by the photos. Listen to the sequence over and over or choose a particular photo and hear the words as many times as you wish. Many lessons show the words on the screen as they are spoken. Later lessons frequently reuse the same photos, possibly asking the student to repeat a sentence describe a picture, make the correct response, or choose from a few options the correct word or response. The photos are multicultural to be appealing to various nationalities.
Parents can set up the program to follow a set lesson progression. There are eight choices ranging from the “Full Year” program for students working toward high school credits down to “Speaking & Listening Focus.” Younger learners or those who don’t need to read or write the language for some other reason might choose the latter. In between are choices that are more streamlined than the Full Year. One lesson path includes reading but no writing. Another path focuses on both reading and writing for the person already familiar with the spoken language. “Speaking” can be turned on or off, even in the Full Year lesson path.
Those who prefer can skip around the lessons as they please rather than follow a programmed lesson progression. This might be very helpful to those tackling an unfamiliar language who want much more repetition of a certain type exercise. Students can repeat a lesson as often as they like.
Rosetta Stone Homeschool Version 3 has an improved record-keeping and reporting system where parents can both manage and track each student’s progress. The program can handle a large number of students, so it will certainly maintain records for your entire family. Tests at the end of each lesson show the number of answers correct and incorrect as well as a “percentage” score. Parents can access reports showing where the student is within a particular activity, which activities have been completed as well as when they were completed, length of time to complete each activity, scores for activities, plus an overall progress report. Reports are printable for those who need to maintain or turn in academic documentation.
The foreign languages available in Homeschool Version 3 (with three levels each) are Arabic, Spanish (either Latin American or Castilian), French, Italian, German, Dutch, Russian, Portuguese, Polish, Japanese, Chinese (Mandarin), Hebrew, Hindi, Greek, Irish, Persian (Farsi), Swedish, Tagalog, Korean, Latin, Turkish, Vietnamese, and English (either U.S. or U.K.). French, German, Italian, Spanish (either Latin American or Castilian), and English (U.S.) also have levels 4 and 5.
Rosetta Stone packages also include a set of Audio Companion™ CDs for each level of the language. Audio Companions for the Spanish program I reviewed included four CDs for each level, with each CD presenting native language speakers pronouncing words and short phrases that the listener should practice repeating.
In addition, all Rosetta Stone Homeschool Version 3 programs include a Supplemental Education Materials CD-ROM with PDF files you can view or print on your computer. This disc has the entire course content for the level purchased, including scripts for each lesson, plus an index to all the words taught.
The Latin American Spanish, English (both American and British), French (Levels 1-3), Latin, and German (Levels 1-3) programs have additional material on the Supplemental CD: a student workbook that includes a quiz for each lesson; unit tests; answer key for worksheets, quizzes, and tests; and instructions written in both the language and in English for the worksheets, quizzes, and tests. The Supplemental CD material certainly helps to make these courses sufficient for high school credit.
Because of the flexibility of the Rosetta Stone programs, the same program might be used with learners from about third grade through adult levels.
Rosetta Stone has on-line product tours so you can get a good idea of what it looks like before you buy. They also have a 30-day, money-back guarantee if you are not satisfied.
I had reviewed a Version 2 program when I selected Rosetta Stone as one of my Top Picks in 2005, and Version 3 has further solidified Rosetta Stone’s position as one of the best foreign language options for homeschoolers.