Pimsleur vs Rosetta Stone

What is the best way to learn a language?

The best language learning program is…

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drumroll please….

more drumming….

OK OK I can’t tell you just yet! That was a teaser, so sorry about that. There is one clear leader among my two choices, Pimsleur Spanish and Rosetta Stone Spanish. But to say anything definitive right now wouldn’t be fair or fully informed. I can say for certain that I’ll be planning a trip to Mexico with the missus in the next few months…not too soon because I want to make sure my Spanish is muy bueno but also to let her have a few weeks to get a crash course in before we go. Anyone have recommendations on the best time of year to travel there? Swine flu still active? Thanks in advance!


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August 4, 2009 at 5:31 pm

Como Agua Para Chocolate

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My how time in the summer slips by! Last night I got a chance to watch Like Water for Chocolate with the wife. Yeah I know we’re about 17 years behind the curve in movies, but it was a nice time. Set in the Mexico of old, it’s a touching love story, and also is conveniently in both Spanish and English, which meant that a newly aspiring language geek like me had a lot of fun, and probably too many side comments!

I tried forcing myself to stop reading the subtitles, which proved to be very difficult. When they’re there, you want to read them! At certain points I actually closed my eyes to concentrate on the words, and pick up as much of the Spanish as I could. Maybe because it was a historical drama (and not full of modern slang) I felt that I could keep up pretty well. I couldn’t exactly pause and look up words (not with our date movie night anyway!) so I missed a couple of things.

Also I thought it was funny that Doctor Brown clearly didn’t use either Pimsleur or Rosetta Stone Spanish. Ha! His accent was terrible! Spanish is a beautiful language, and that’s part of why I chose audio courses…why learn from a book and get the accent all wrong? More updates on my progress to come.

Hasta luego!

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July 23, 2009 at 5:07 pm

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Interesting review of Rosetta Stone vs other language programs

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I liked this video, done by a guy who has had a lot of Arabic learning experience. The video is quick, but just a brief summary of his critique: Rosetta Stone ties you to just one computer, and doesn’t have enough instruction content.

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July 16, 2009 at 2:42 pm

The Comparison So Far

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OK everybody, it’s been a while. Busy with getting the kids off to camp, but now I should have some peace and quiet to get some major studying done, and maybe mow the lawn for once. Speaking of which, I decided that mowing the lawn and learning a language are pretty much the opposite. The longer you wait in between mowing, the more it grows. The longer you wait in between lessons, the less you remember and your language skills shrink!

I found that taking a week off of Pimsleur was a bad idea. I had to review the past 2 lessons to get back up to speed, and now I feel confident about speaking Spanish again. Rolling back to review in Rosetta Stone was kind of a pain, lots and lots of clicking back, but I managed to get far enough back to get a decent review session in.

So what’s the Rosetta Stone vs Pimsleur comparison looking like so far? Well, if I want to speak some Spanish off the cuff, like to a friend who speaks Spanish, I’ve found that the whole way I think about the language and put it together has been formed by Pimsleur lessons. But if that friend asks me a question I didn’t quite expect, or calls upon certain details, then I find I’m relying on words that I learned from Rosetta Stone.

For example, if my friend and I are talking about the weekend, and she says something like “hey, did you take the kids out to the lake?” I would have to use my Rosetta vocabulary to think about how to say words for beach, or swimming, or lifeguard. But Pimsleur fills in all the gaps, so I can use verbs to make actual sentences! It’s kind of incredible how fast I’m progressing. I can’t tell if my brain is wired for Spanish or the programs are wiring me for Spanish. Time will tell!

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July 10, 2009 at 8:35 pm

Switching to Rosetta Stone Spanish

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…but just for a little while! In my unorthodox pursuit of finding out how to speak Spanish easily, I’m switching between Rosetta Stone Spanish and Pimsleur Method Spanish, and seeing what the differences are. Last week I was on Pimsleur Spanish, and now I’m strapped to my computer to do Rosetta.

It’s quite interesting how different the courses are. Rosetta gives you the USB headset you plug into your computer, and so when you speak aloud it “reads” what you’re saying and tells you if your pronunciation is right or not. Since Pimsleur has already trained me to speak Spanish with a proper accent (to some degree! not done yet!) I guess according to Rosetta Stone it’s taught me well. I haven’t missed a pronunciation yet, though maybe when the words get longer and trickier I will.

I think Rosetta Stone has been most useful so far vs Pimsleur in teaching the vocabulary for everyday objects. Sometimes I don’t want to know how to do something (which I learn in Pimsleur), but what something is. I’ll keep going with the lessons and see how far I can get beyond the phrases which I already know.

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June 23, 2009 at 3:53 pm

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Progressing with learning Spanish

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Oh how the summer is flying by! I have found that my Pimsleur Spanish lessons are flying by too. (After this week I’m taking a Pimsleur break and moving back to trying Rosetta Stone.) So far I’ve only had to repeat a lesson twice before moving on, just for clarity and emphasis. A lot of people complain that there is no transcript of the lessons so you can’t see how things are spelled, but Pimsleur is really about speaking. I think the text-free approach is better for getting started speaking, because let’s be honest, who wants to carry on a conversation with someone who has to keep looking at their notes? I’ve already started speaking without thinking which is really cool…no stuttering or long pauses, just going from the gut and talking in Spanish. It sounds crazy, but so far Pimsleur’s working great for me.

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June 18, 2009 at 6:36 pm

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Learning languages online

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I was doing a lot of thinking this weekend (when I could, after running around like crazy for errands) about learning, and was wondering if you can really learn a language only online, or whether you could do it only with a language course you can bring away from the computer. I think once I’ve got the hang of Spanish I’ll try doing just online programs for Japanese maybe….

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June 8, 2009 at 6:57 pm