When our family made the decision to send our kids to school online this fall due to the pandemic, we faced the same obstacles many parents have encountered. And it wasn’t just the juggling required to be both a parent, teacher, and remote employee at the same time. Once we’d carved out a corner in our living room and filled it with desks and computer chairs, it became clear being successful in an online learning environment wouldn’t be as easy as clearing schedules or making space for laptops.
In our school district, one of the biggest hurdles was that the online classes for high school kids were lackluster and restrictive. The choices for students who wished to do language learning online had been whittled down to Spanish and more Spanish. Our son Owen, who had taken German as a freshman, wanted to continue his sophomore year in the same language. And it wasn’t just about having four years of language learning on his college transcripts. Owen wanted to continue investing time in a language he was interested in.
That’s when our family decided to invest in supplementing his high school curriculum with Rosetta Stone’s German lessons. Owen began taking lessons when he started back to school online in August, and I interviewed him to see how it was going and whether he felt it had been a successful online learning experience.
**Disclaimer that while I am a regular contributor to the Rosetta Stone blog, I did not coach or edit these responses.**
Q: How do you incorporate Rosetta Stone lessons into your school schedule? Is it working to juggle this independently with your other classes?
I incorporate Rosetta Stone into my school schedule by having a scheduled time during the school day for language lessons just like I would do if I was taking a class. I find most days I can do at least one and sometimes two lessons during that time block. I typically do it in the morning when it’s still quiet so I can use my microphone to practice pronunciation before everyone gets up and starts moving around and making noise.
Q: What’s been the best or your favorite part about Rosetta Stone lessons?
I really like how simple and easy it’s been to make progress. I’m relearning the basics and it feels like I’m really building my knowledge up. I like that it reviews things you’ve learned previously and makes sure you feel confident about those words before it introduces something new. Last year, I felt like I was forgetting stuff almost as fast as I learned it.
Q: How is it different from taking language classes at school?
It is different from taking language classes at school in a couple of ways. One, you can completely go at your own pace. You can take one lesson a day, or five. It’s completely up to you and I like that flexibility.
Another thing is that you learn in segments with a specific topic for each lesson. Rosetta Stone has a lesson to help you learn reading, writing, and listening. I feel like it makes it so that you don’t have any gaps in your learning.
Q: Have you learned new or unexpected things since starting Rosetta Stone lessons?
Yes, I’ve learned many different words that I didn’t know before, like die Zeitung for “newspaper” and vocabulary for food like reis for “rice” and kaffee for “coffee.” We were taught some basic vocabulary words but not many German words for food or things that would be helpful in ordering from restaurants or shopping.
I am also finally learning how to use German pronouns, a skill which I didn’t understand when taking in-person classes last year. Because the Rosetta Stone lessons include a German pronoun with every vocabulary word, it helps you get the hang of which pronouns to use. I also learned some of the gender-neutral pronouns from Rosetta Stone lessons, which was not something we discussed in class.
Q: Would you say you prefer taking language lessons online or in a classroom? What have been the advantages and disadvantages of using Rosetta Stone to supplement your language learning?
I definitely prefer taking online language lessons. Rosetta Stone makes it simple and easy to fit into my daily schedule. You learn all the skills like reading and writing, not just speaking. And I get the chance to practice my pronunciation more often than I would in a classroom. For me, Rosetta Stone is a more personal learning experience.
The only disadvantage I can think of when it comes to Rosetta Stone is that there isn’t a teacher you can ask if you get stuck on a question or are having a hard time with a concept. That’s one of the reasons my mom suggested we could start using Rosetta Stone’s live online coaching a few times a month to help me fill in any gaps in my understanding.
As a parent suddenly thrown into supervising my high schooler’s curriculum, I must confess the past few months have been more than a little overwhelming. In contrast, having Rosetta Stone handle Owen’s German lessons has been a welcome relief. Unlike his other classes, I don’t have to peer over Owen’s shoulder and worry about what he isn’t submitting. And unlike some of his other classes, Owen rarely has to be nagged to keep up in German, something I attribute to the easy to digest and engaging lessons.
Owen intends to return to school for his junior year and is hoping to be able to take up his third year of learning German right where he left off. With a little help from Rosetta Stone.