Rosetta Stone in Iraq

The U.S. Army has made Rosetta Stone available for it’s soldiers for years. During my second tour in Iraq in 2005-2006, I was looking through the Army website and found the program. We were immersed within the culture on a daily basis and we frequently interacted with the civilian population. We had interpreters but their knowledge of the English language wasn’t always 100%. So I made it a goal for myself to spend at least one hour every day working with the Rosetta Stone’s Arabic program in order to be able to learn at least basic conversation topics and key words. What I didn’t know is that by the end of the deployment, I was able to actually hold a conversation with the people and understand most of what they would say.

Unfortunately, I was injured prior to our unit re-deploying back home and I ended up having to get out of the military due to my injuries. Nevertheless, I was very happy with how easy it was to learn such a hard language with the Rosetta Stone program that I decided to buy the program myself and get back to it. The next program I want to buy is the Spanish program. I speak it fluently but unfortunately my son doesn’t. He lives with his mom during the school year and what I’m able to teach him during the summer, he forgets very quickly as soon as he goes back. With the Rosetta Stone program, I’m confident he wont have a problem maintaining what he learns.

Iraq War Veteran
Pembroke Pines, Florida

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  • ellen

    great story! thanks for sharing!

  • Retired Teacher

    Rosetta Stone Storyteller, You need to brush up on your English grammar. Your first sentence, “The U. S. Army has made Rosetta Stone available for it’s soldiers for years.” makes a glaring mistake. When its is a possessive pronoun, as it is here, there is no apostrophe. All possessive pronouns already show ownership. An apostrophe is only used when ‘it is’ is shortened to make a contraction. You should remember from first grade that the apostrophe shows that a letter has been left out.

    • Rosetta Stone

      Hi there, retired teacher. You have a great eye for grammar! The “Storytellers” are actually customer reviews. We don’t alter or edit them at all, so please be forgiving to our loyal supporters!

  • paul

    Dear Victor,
    Thank you for sharing your story and for your service in the military. I trust that you have fully recovered from your injuries. Please disregard the uptight “Retired Teacher.” You shared a beautiful story. I’d rather be friends with a soldier/ scholar over a critical nit-pick any day!

  • Not Yet Retired

    Retired Teacher, You need to brush up on your English grammar. Your second sentence, “‘The U. S. Army has made Rosetta Stone available for it’s soldiers for years.’ makes a glaring mistake,” makes a glaring mistake. When a quote doesn’t complete a sentence, as it doesn’t here, there is no period; instead, there is a comma. All commas at the end of quotations already indicate the end of a sentence. A period is only used when both the quoted and the entire sentence ends. You should remember from high school that quotations should end in a comma when the sentence doesn’t end.

  • Bill Parsons

    I remember from first grade to watch out for anal teachers like that one – particularly since he/she is missing the point of the story. i’m sure the past students are happy she/he’s gone! Thank you for your service and effort while deployed, Victor and wish you well. I bet your boy is going to love it!

  • FRED

    Dear retired teacher,
    You have brought back all the nit picking memories of grade school for myself and times I was forced to intervene on my children behalf. Luckily the nit picking times were few. Now u have a post to correct.

  • Alicia

    First and foremost, a message to Víctor:
    Muchísimas gracias por su sacrificio y servicio en nombre de todos nosotros. We support you! I am embarrassed that a fellow American would have the gall and disrespect to correct anyone’s grammar, nevermind find fault in the post of a soldier who suffered injuries while defending this country.

    Personally, I have found the Rosetta Stone program to be highly effective with many children – my foreign-born students as well as family members who are native speakers of English. I like it as an ESL teaching tool, and I like it as a foreign language teaching tool, because it can be tailored toward whatever domain needs to take priority (listening/speaking then reading/writing).

    I commend our military for providing the Rosetta Stone software to servicemen and women in the Middle East. Being able to speak a language such as Arabic or Pashtu in a volatile situation could be a matter of life and death for our troops and innocent civilians.

    Again, I say “shukran” to Víctor. Víctor, I hope that you continue to study Arabic in spite of the injuries you suffered in the Middle East. I strongly urge you to keep helping your son to become bilingual and more importantly, BILITERATE, in English and Spanish. It will only be an asset in whatever path he chooses.

    Best of luck…
    Alicia from Peabody, Massachusetts

  • Geno

    Thanks for your service. That you took the time to learn the language while there is great. Good luck with teaching your son spanish.

    Thank you not yet retired. I get a kick out of when people trying to be all high and mighty get put into their place. The kiddies would say “OWNED” I believe. Nice work.

  • Randy

    I remember reading once that, “a gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Boy, I hope that I punctuated that correctly! My hat’s off to Viktor for his service and for using this great resource available to our troops. I’m an Army guy, too. I did not take advantage of Rosetta Stone during my Iraq tour, but was amazed at how a few hours in one weekend in Korea helped me to begin understanding a very hard language. The product works and should be made available to our kids early in their education.

    Oh, by the way, retired teacher, it was a bunch of teachers who let me make that same punctuation error all the way through my public education, but it was a good English teacher in college who corrected me in a polite, non-humiliating way. I still think kindly of her for that and many other good lessons.


  • Maggie

    Victor. I thank you for serving our Country.

    Retired Teacher, should have been Fired Teacher.

    Not Yet Retired Teacher. . . .Love it. .

    Again, Victor, I thank you for serving our Country which allows our wonderful and not so wonderful citizens the right to free speech.

    Too bad Retired Teacher has some issues that only allowed him to see the negative and not the positive. I punctuate the way I want the person to read it. . .not monotonous up tight sentences. . . . that’s not how I say my words out loud so that’s not how I want them to be in print. .

    Oh, well, too much time on the negative.. .lets move on to positive.

    Retired Teacher. You know your grammar and that is a good thing. But there is a time and a place to instill it upon someone.

    To both Victor and Retired Teacher. God Bless.

  • Muriella

    The United Nations Language Programme provides stellar training in the 6 languages in which the UN operates – English, French, Spanish, Russian, Chinese, Arabic
    I speak three of them having gone through the UN programme and am now learning Arabic. A fantastic collaboration could evolve with Rosetta Stone and the UNLP as students could use the Programme for follow up and “immersion” during their courses and after they end.

    • Rosetta Stone

      Thanks for the suggestion, Muriella. You seem like a great addition to the community, especially with all your knowledge of languages. Welcome! What is your native language?

  • Another Not Retired Teacher

    Retired Teacher didn’t tell the whole story when s/he wrote: “You should remember from first grade that the apostrophe shows that a letter has been left out.”
    An apostrophe is also used to show possession: My cat’s paws are white [one cat], or My cats’ paws are white [more than one cat].
    Also they’re used in informal speech to indicate a word (or more) is missing: ” ‘Going my way? ” asked the stranger.

    Every teacher I know is gentle and respectful about correcting grammar because we too can make mistakes. I only correct my students’ errors and never others’ errors unless they ask for my proofreading help or if I’m in a public discussion such as this.

    Unlike one poster here who seemed to dismiss grammar lovers as “anal,” I think it’s just another interest like some have of baseball statistics or the workings of an engine. Correct grammar helps to make our written communication clearer, as in the placement of an apostrophe to show if the noun is singular or plural.

  • Barry Levine

    To both teachers…….Thank you for the refresher in English grammar, so many of us really need it!!!

  • michael


  • Janet

    I must admit that it has been a long, long time since I was in the first grade .. however I’m pretty sure that we didn’t deal with punctuation of any kind that early in our schooling years.

    Anyone that speaks more than one language well has a distinct advantage in life.

  • Hugh

    Retired teacher should also spend a little time “proof-reading” his post before he makes an even bigger fool of himself.

    “When its is a possessive pronoun”? I mean really, you’re going to try to ridicule someone but you end up sounding worse than the object of your pompous ego…

  • Delmar Knudson

    My mother was brilliant, and an exceptional teacher; but taught with a very soft gentle compassionate hand. Like others who have posted here, I have often found that honey works better than vinegar. I taught physicians for 40 years (and found that not all were the most literate). When I found someone was mistaken, and especially if that person were also pompous, I enjoyed perforating his/her balloon with arcane medical specialist jargon. I suspect that they often didn’t realize that I was calling them the harsher term for a donkey until they went home that night. My father wouldn’t teach us boys the Norwegian language, since he felt he was not well educated, and would teach us poor grammar. This was a big mistake! I would be very glad to speak “Norsk” fluently today, bad grammar and all. I speak five languages to a degree, none fluently, except perhaps English. I congratulate the young man for learning a difficult language, and trying to understand another culture. We should all try to understand one another, without being overly critical.

  • Sto Lat

    I love Rosetta Stone. Right now I am learning Polish Level 3 and am able to use it extensively while traveling to Poland. I highly and enthusiastically recommend this product to anyone.

  • Ed

    Learning a second language is easiest for the young but I’m 72, have been studying Spanish for two months, and am finding it a very good program.

    • Rosetta Stone

      That’s great, Ed. Thanks for sharing your story!

  • Michael

    Okay so the trooper has a little stubble but not “chin hair”, what has been mistakenly called chin hair is actually the chin strap. Kevlar helmet chin straps have a bit that goes under the chin and a bit that goes across the front of the chin.

  • Rich

    OORAH. Thanks for your service. I hope that you have fully recovered from your injuries.

    Rosetta Stone keep up the good work. Any advantage that our servicemen/women can get will help keep them safe. I never really learned a second language, however I did live in Europe for 8 years and pick up a little Greek and Spanish. Language skills are a big help.

  • Cynthia

    I have been considering the Rosetta Stone in order to learn Spanish, and have been very impressed with the positive comments about the program. I also heartly agree with Mr. Delmar’s comment that, “we should all try to understand one another without being overly critical.” It seems that people in general are so eager to tear down instead of buidling up.

  • Michael

    Guess what guys, I hate to tell you all this because you all seem like really smart people. But there is one thing you all missed about the original post from, Retired Teacher. That was is intent, his intention was not to correct grammar. NO NO NO! His intention was to Troll.

    You might not know what a troll is, so let me explain. A Troll is a person that reads through internet post looking for any reason they can to start an argument. Their goal is to get a fight started, to have people doing exactly what you have all been doing.

    You have all just been Trolled, next time you see a guy doing this type of thing you will recognize it and simple ignore them. That way they will not derive what ever twisted pleasure they get from it.

    Anyway, I have the Spanish program, I like it. Wish i would be more dedicated to learning from it. The program teaches Spanish not dedication. LOL Good Luck.

    P.S> please don’t bother Trolling on my Grammar because i am closing this window and will never come back here to see your witty comments.

  • J. Apolinario

    Actually, unless you’ve bothered to learn the Arabic alphabet beforehand, a lot of the Rosetta Stone program is useless. It also concentrates on fusa, which is classical Arabic, (akin to Shakespearian English) instead of amea, which is what you hear on the streets of most of the Arab world. .

    If Victor really got much on-the-ground use out of the program I’ll tip my helmet to him. Phrases out of the RS Arabic program I used in Baghdad in 2004/5 often got me nothing but a blank look and I always had trouble with the responses. (And after 10 years of living in Saudi Arabia I knew I was pronouncing at least some of the phrases corrrectly.)

    This is largely because the program also completely ignores regional slang and terminology. I’ve worked in Baghdad and am now in Basra. The linguistic differences are about the same for English between Glascow and London.

    I’ve used RS programs an number of times and while very handy for intro work its almost always at odds with what I end up hearing in the target country. To make their programs truly useful they need to specialize them to specific Arab regions or even nations.

    • Rosetta Stone

      Hi J,
      We do offer an alphabet tool within the program, so it is not necessary to have previous knowledge of the Arabic alphabet. The Arabic that we teach in the program is Modern Standard Arabic. This form of Arabic is different than regional dialects like those in in Egypt or Iraq. We aim to provide a broad introduction to Arabic across North Africa and the Middle East with our Arabic product. Obviously, different regions will speak with different accents and vocabulary. By teaching Modern Standard Arabic (which is used by many Arabic-speaking newscasters), our learners can be understood by the broadest possible audience. Also, we did expand our Arabic selection to include Iraqi Arabic for military use. This new option may have come out after you worked on Modern Standard Arabic with Rosetta Stone. We appreciate your feedback, and we’re sorry to hear that you didn’t find our program more useful.

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