Third Time’s a Charm

third times a charm e1396999956458In the middle of my German language learning travails, Rosetta Stone reached out to me and asked me to blog about my language-learning process in light of being able to try out their new solution, Rosetta Stone TOTALe. So, here I am.

What have I learned in the last couple months using TOTALe?  Well, I have learned quite a bit and it is working.  Seriously.  And I’ll tell you why.

I actually got to meet Duane Sider, Director of Learning at Rosetta Stone, and he pointed out something that now seems so obvious, which is that people don’t learn languages based on charts, irregular verbs, vocab cards, rote memorization.  I didn’t learn English that way when I was a child and Mark didn’t learn German that way either—we learn languages by learning like children, learning phonetically and over time, which phrase works best in which situation.

I guess in the past, what I had been doing is learning what each English word means in German and what each German word means in English. Then I would try to piece each sentence together based on subject, verb, object noun agreement, like a puzzle, that at the end of the day, would convey meaning and secure me a loaf of bread and a bottle of milk.

Here’s the hard truth: you can’t really have a conversation with someone if you’re trying to do real-time translation based on coming up with a sentence such as, “I would like a loaf of bread and a bottle of milk” and then try to sort out that German equivalent, while still trying to be charming at the grocery store.  What you need to be able to do is see bread and milk and automatically think “Brot” and “Milch.” And when you would like something, you had better be nice and say: “Ich möchte Brot und Milch, bitte.”

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  • Cm

    I’m looking forward to hearing how TOTALe is different from regular levels and exactly how you learn! Thanks for writing 🙂

  • Philip Towne

    Although I consider myself intellegent, my ignorance of the technical aspects of language, even english which i should know, scares me.

    The truth is, i can’t explain the difference between a noun,verb or any other aspect of language, i only know words…

    The good news for me is that i do want to learn and that in the final paragraph of “Third time’s a charm” blog, I discovered that perhaps my goal doesn’t need for me to become a German linguist, but simply perhaps to have the skill for a polite 53 year old American truck driver to be able to communicate an idea or thought to a German speaking person.

    • Rosetta Stone

      Hi Philip, you don’t need to be a linguist to speak well in a given language. So much of learning a language has to do with an intuitive grasp of the “right” thing to say. Sometimes, people think that Rosetta Stone doesn’t teach grammar because our products do not name the “parts of speech” explicitly. You might be interested in reading Duane Sider’s thoughts on this. He is our our director of learning, and you can find a blog entry about the topic here:

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