Review of Rosetta Stone Hebrew After Completing Level 1

Are you getting an itching to do something more with your phone than simply playing mobile jackpot casino games?  May you have thought about learning a foreign language.  You have seen the advertisements for Rosetta Stone.  Everybody has seen them at some point.  But is it worth the money compared to free software online?  That is the million dollar question … or in this case, the $299 question (cost of Rosetta Stone unlimited edition plus a year of group coaching).

After completing Rosetta Stone Level 1 would I do it again?

The simple answer is yes.  I would do it again, but there is a lot that Rosetta Stone is not directly telling on their front webpage.

Rosetta Stone Scope and Sequence

The “scope and sequence” describes a summary of what is going to be taught in each lesson.  Would you go on a trip without a roadmap?  No, because the roadmap gives you an idea of where you are going.  Just because you know 5 miles down the road is a beautiful scenic overlook does not take away the beauty that you feel when you see it yourself.  The same is true with using Rosetta Stone.

Rosetta Stone has a “Scope and Sequence” document that gives an overview of each lesson.  The core concepts describe what vocabulary is going to be taught in the lesson.  The grammar and usage describes what grammar concepts are going to be taught.

By prereading this document before starting a lesson, you can get an idea of the grammar that is going to be taught during the lesson.  Then if you are confused about the grammar while doing the Rosetta Stone lessons, at least you know what do look up to find more information outside of Rosetta Stone.

Rosetta Stone Course Contents Documents

The core contents document is simply the transcript of the Core Lessons.  I am learning Hebrew, so I downloaded both the English Core Lesson documents and the Core Lesson Documents for the language I am learning.  In my case, it is Hebrew.

Some people complain that Rosetta Stone follows exactly (or almost exactly) the same sequence (and pictures) for every language.  There is a separate set for Asian countries, but for English and Hebrew, they both use the same set of images.

The benefit of this is that you can simply open the Course Contents documents in English to get an understanding of what the images are supposed to be representing.

Although, for myself personally, since each picture is usually trying to teach a single new word or grammar concept, I can type the unknown word into Google Translate.  Every screen has the ability to display the answers.  So if you are really confused just display the answers and just keep practicing the saying and translating the sentences or phrases until you are confident.

Rosetta Stone Teacher’s Resources in English

Rosetta Stone has created numerous documents in English (and some other languages)  to help teachers.  All of the materials are available in English.  None are available in Hebrew, but since English is my native language, for resources like the “Teacher’s Guide” that is not a problem.  That is the one that I use the most.

There are other resources, and I will talk one by one, if I feel that they are useful or not.  But you download the whole set from one ZIP file.

Rosetta Stone Teacher’s Guide

The Teacher’s Guide is extremely useful to have in your native language.  For me, that would be English.  Let’s look at Lesson 4.3 (Unit 4, Lesson 3).

  • Lesson 4.3 Part A: Materials and Merchandise
  • Lesson 4.3 Part B: Weight and Speed
  • Lesson 4.3 Part C: Young and Old
  • Lesson 4.4 Part D: Journal Activity – Super and Superlatives (cheap, cheaper, cheapest)
  • Lesson 4.4 Part E: International Cultural Activity – Architecture through the ages
  • Lesson 4.4 Part F: American Cultural Activity – American Idols

The first thing that you will notice is the “Part A”, “Part B”, and “Part C”.  If you are using Rosetta Stone on a PC (or through the web), you will only see “Core Lesson” that is 30 minutes long.  But if you use Rosetta Stone on an Android tablet or phone, you will see the Core Lesson broken into 3 subparts that are 10 minutes each.  It “sucks” that you cannot get the Core Lesson broken down in the PC version, and I hope that Rosetta Stone adds that feature in the future.

Teacher’s Guide Grammar and Usage

Although with Hebrew, the Grammar of Hebrew is different from English, but the grammar items are the same.  So even though the Grammar and Usage explanations are for English, it gives me an idea of what Grammar and Usage the specific lesson is trying to teach me.

I personally brought a separate grammar book.  Rosetta Stone teaches grammar through example.  Sometimes this is enough, and sometimes you need a bit more guidance.  A book that explains grammar in English for the language you are trying to learn can help a lot.

But sometimes even just knowing what to look up can help with internet searches.

Teacher’s Guide Core Lesson (Part A, Part B, Part C)

Every lesson is broken into 3 parts.  The teacher’s guide tells you the vocabulary that will be introduced during that part.  You can take the list of english words and translate them into the language you are trying to learn either before you being working with Rosetta Stone or even while you are working with Rosetta Stone.

The Teacher’s Guide also provides activities that you can do to help learn the language.   These activities are intended to help learn the language outside of Rosetta Stone.

Teacher’s Guide Journal Activity

The Journal Activity (which is included in every lesson) is 100% outside of Rosetta Stone.  You can either use a traditional journal book, a standard notebook (paper version), or if you want to go high tech, you can create your own WordPress blog or use Microsoft Word.

There is always something about writing with a pen and paper, but when trying to learn a foreign language, it makes a lot more sense to take advantage of spelling and grammar checkers.  “Popular languages” like Spanish and French have grammar checkers and speller checkers for both WordPress and Microsoft Word.  But for a less popular language like Hebrew, there are no grammar checkers for WordPress, so Microsoft Word (and Hebrew specific word processors) are what I am going to use.

The Journal Activity is introduced in Lesson 1.1.  But since this is K-12 curriculum, the first Journal Activity is teaching what a journal is, and the actual first writing assignment starts out with just writing words of things that you see: boy, girl, man, woman, cat, dog, etc.

From words, the journal activities progress to writing phrases, sentences, questions, and finally paragraphs.

Teacher’s Handbook Final Level Activity

At the end of every level, there is a big 2 part project (first draft and final draft).  For Level 1, the big project is writing a Newsletter.  The teacher’s handbook recommends working with a group of 3 to 4 students.  If you are not learning with a study buddy, maybe look for Facebook groups or homeschooling groups to find other people who are trying to learn your target language.

So what kind of writing is in a newsletter?  A newsletter that is 1 or 2 pages (front and back) long usually has 2 – 6 articles.  More images (and larger images) equals less text that is written.  Not to mention that if you include the weather, calendar of events, etc. some of your “articles” (space taken up) are not really articles, but other forms of writing.

Summary

Most of the critical reviews of Rosetta Stone revolve around the fact that if you only use the Rosetta Stone software (and nothing else) you will have great understanding skills, but not so great creating skills.

By doing the Activities from the Teacher’s Guide, writing daily journal entries in your native language, and working through the end of level projects, you will end your Rosetta Stone studies with a more well-rounded language education.

As with any technology-based learning program, there is only so much that can be done with technology.  As with all learning, there comes a time when you have to take your learning “into the real world” and work with what you are learning in a “real world” non-tech setting.

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