This is the second of several reviews and articles on learning Spanish — or another language. Without a doubt, language immersion is probably the most effective way to learn another language: such as extended travel to a Spanish-speaking country. This is not always the most practical solution.

There are a number of other options, such as taking night classes, using your smartphone apps, listening to Spanish radio or television, or a computer software program. Using multiple approaches tends to reinforce what we have learned.

In this article, I will discuss Rosetta Stone. Over the last few years I have spent quite a few hours on the Rosetta Stone language immersion course (in my case, trying to learn a little Hebrew).

There are some things in life that require self-discipline. Learning a language is one of them. Rosetta Stone gives us many tools to make language learning fun and productive. I had the previous version of Rosetta Stone which consisted of a computer software program and MP3 audio files. I want to thank Rosetta Stone for providing the newer version for me to use in this review. Rosetta Stone has added an app, a place to play games and meet others who are learning, an even a virtual classroom.   

Computer software

Rosetta Stone is truly an immersion program. We only hear and see the target language we are trying to learn. For instance, if we are learning Spanish, we will see a photo representing the target word or expression, accompanied by the pronunciation of the same in Spanish. Little by little our vocabulary is added to. We may see a woman and hear mujer, and then we see a woman drinking, la mujer bebe.

Whenever possible, it is better to have a photo representative rather than a written or verbal description in our own language. The idea is to associate the word in Spanish directly with that item, rather than have to take multiple steps. Instead of seeing a horse and translating that into our minds, “ah, a horse, horse means caballo” we think caballo right away.

Rosetta Stone teaches the target language with native pronunciation, and provides plenty of vocabulary to form a base from which to expand to other areas of interest. In one of the screens, for instance, we may see four photos: a boy drinking, a boy eating, a girl drinking, and a girl eating. Even though we may not have previously been taught the full expression, we can figure out what it will be by the time we get to that screen. Before we know it, our mind begins to make grammar rules and think in the new target language.

For the most part, Rosetta Stone does a very good job of building from one word, or short expressions, to longer expressions. So you know la mujer, then la mujer bebe, and finally, la mujer bebe leche (the woman, the woman drinks, and the woman drinks milk). It is very nice to learn how words work in context, rather than as a vocabulary list. In this way we will learn to follow proper grammar rules almost effortlessly.

Rosetta Stone will also test our knowledge and review earlier lessons as we move on through the course. This process helps to keep the vocabulary active in our minds. And of course, we can review any particular lesson as many times as we wish. After I had completely conquered a lesson, I found it very useful to completely turn off the sound on the computer so that I was not just repeating the lesson, but testing myself. I used this in two different ways. One was to assess my reading skills and another to see if I had really internalized the expressions.