Learning about a culture before travelling to a country is something I always look forward to. I am always curious about local customs, etiquette, restrictions and language.
If you want to travel the world you’re going to want to learn a few languages. Maybe not inside out but you’ll want to learn at least the basics. No matter how much (or how little) language you know, don’t be afraid of adventuring somewhere where that language is spoken. A little goes a long way.
Though I’ve travelled a lot in Europe, I haven’t made it to Millau until I had to make a business trip there. I didn’t know French… at all. By the way, did you know that Millau viaduct holds the world record for the tallest bridge, culminating at 343 metres (higher than the Eiffel tower)?
Anyone who has spent even a bit of time in France knows how important is to speak a little français.
Locals will quickly warm up to travellers who make a small effort to speak their language. Whether you’re saying “Bonjour” when you just entered a shop or ordering politely in a café, the French will take note of your courtesy. Any useful French words or phrases you can remember will help you interact with residents and make the best of your trip.
So back to my story, that was the moment when I decided that when I will book my next flight to France, I wanted to have the most authentic experience possible and I decided to learn French. My language-learning plans were met with mixed reactions. But because I am not a quitter I gave it a go.
Finding the right app
I used one app in my pursuit and today I’m going to offer you some balanced insight on the Rosetta Stone app, and whether or not it can be an effective learning tool for travellers.
My purpose was to learn basic French and to be able to have a simple conversation.
As a new user to Rosetta Stone, you have to:
- Sign up. Even though Rosetta Stone is a paid application, it offers a trial version, meaning you can create an account and give it a try. You can do a quick trial to see what the learning process feels like.
- Choose the right plan for you. You can opt for 3, 6, 12 or 24 months depending on your level and time you have to learn. Don’t worry, you can cancel anytime, plus they have a 30-day money back guarantee policy.
- Select your course: you can pick to learn reading, writing, speaking and listening, reading and writing or for speaking and listening.
- Start learning!
How it works
I will be honest. It was not what I was expected. I was expecting my instructions in English but, guess what? I didn’t receive any.
I didn’t have to memorize a long list of words. All that I was seeing, hearing, speaking, reading and writing were all in French. From the very beginning. I wasn’t learning just word- I was learning phrases with a context. After the accommodation, it was pretty easy to figure out what I had to do: multiple choice to associate the photos with the right word/sentence that is written and spoken.
Each unit adds up new words that build on top the ones I already learned before. That is how Rosetta Stone builds your vocabulary. It feels more of a game because you have to do some matching (words with pictures), pronunciation (you repeat a word or a sentence and you get a score for it), and writing (you have to fill in the blanks with the correct version out of multiple possible).
At the end of a unit, you will always see your scoring and you can repeat till you get the 100% if you are competitive, like me.
And if you want to go the extra mile, they have a section for extended learning where you can play games (my fav is Buzzbingo), practice your conversational skills with friends from around the world or read or listen to your favourites stories.
Their TruAccent technology helps your pronunciation and accent. Even though at the beginning I felt like Joey from Friends and had some issues, Rosetta Stone didn’t say “good job” and moved on the next lesson. It held me accountable and I had to practice more. I had to pronounce the words correctly. So no “je te coop clow” for me.
Do you remember this episode? It’s the one where Phoebe tries to teach Joey French, she quits and then he is trying to learn it from a course. Didn’t quite work out for him.
Did I enjoy it? Is it perfect for a traveller?
What makes Rosetta Stone different for other apps is that you learn the actual language, not just words. Whether you’re learning common social phrases, playing games, reading interesting stories or having real conversations with native-speakers tutors (tutoring is not included on all languages), Rosetta Stone really goes beyond the traditional way of learning a new language. And the best part of it is that makes you want to learn more and go beyond the regular phrases.
Here’s what I liked about Rosetta Stone:
- it’s fun. With all the games and reading it was fun to learn a new language.
- it has some spaced repetition. You didn’t learn a few new words and that was it. You learn to build a lot of sentences around those words. It was impossible to not memorise them.
- it teaches proper pronunciation. Ah, oui, the pronunciation problem. It’s known that French is not the easiest to pronounce but their speech recognition is top.
- I Can Start Speaking Right Away: what I love the most is that I can start speaking right away. A great thing about Rosetta Stone is that it provides me with useful vocabulary right away. Unlike other language courses, it doesn’t just start off with random words that can’t be used in day-to-day sentences.
- you can learn whenever you have time: I use it on my phone early in the morning and while getting to work and in the evening on my laptop. My progress is saved on all devices. Even more than that, you can save parts and also learn offline. I even used it at the airport and at the hotel while I travelled to Amsterdam.
- it even has a phrasebook with everything you need to know. How cool is that?
And the best of the best: they have a travel section! This was exactly what I needed.
Rosetta Stone is great, but, it does have a few flaws worth pointing out:
- Grammar is a bit harder to grasp. Even though conjugation is repeated quite often sometimes it’s hard to remember the right one.
- Sometimes the TruAccent technology doesn’t catch all you say and you get an incorrect score. This was making me quite upset at first when I was reaching for the perfect score. The good part is that you can give them feedback on this, so they know where they can improve.
- Images don’t always do the job. Sometimes I had troubles figuring out what is in the image- not often but It happened.
Despite the few flaws I have found Rosetta Stone is a great tool that has enhanced my desire and ability to learn French. It seems that I am in good hands and as it turns out, my progress over the last few weeks is proof of how awesome this app is.
So whether you are looking to pick up another language for fun, or prepping for a long term trip to a county that doesn’t speak English, I highly recommend you give Rosetta Stone a try.
XOXO Stories of a Brunette