July 26, 2010 | Greek

A Rosetta Stone Investigation

I try to determine how the program works.

Today I decided to figure out how the Rosetta Stone writing lessons are being scored. I suppose I could have asked the Rosetta Stone people, but I like to check these things out for myself.

Joyride Truck Outside Fairway Today: They Use Greek Yogurt in Their Frozen Yogurt Products

Joyride Truck Outside Fairway Today: They Use Greek Yogurt in Their Frozen Yogurt Products

The writing module in Unit 2, Level 2, Lesson 1, was the subject of my in-depth, undercover investigation.

My investigative methodology: I wrote down notes on how much I screwed up each frame of the lesson. The typical writing module frame works as follows: You are shown a photograph, and a voice dictates a sentence, describing the photo, that you are then supposed to write down.

You do this by pecking away at a little Greek keyboard that appears on the screen. It is quite a laborious process, because practically every word has accents, and naturally the letters are not as familiar as the Roman alphabet. If you get something wrong, you are asked to try again. If you get it wrong again, you are asked to try again. And so on. And so on.

You cannot leave a frame until you get every single letter, including accents and capital letters, right! So bring a snack.

Rosetta Stone Snack Option

Rosetta Stone Snack Option

This time for me, Frames 1, 2, and 3 went pretty well. In each of those three sentences, I got just one letter in one word wrong, and then fixed it successfully the first try.

Frames 4 and 5 I got totally right the first time. Frame 5 was the Greek equivalent of “Yesterday I bought meat and vegetables.” Χθες αγόρασα κρέας και λαχανικά. I was pretty proud of that one. It had past tense and two food groups in it.

Then things started to go downhill. In Frame 6, I got the same word wrong maybe five different ways. The only reason I ever got it right is that I secretly slunk off to Google Translate to look up how to spell “I cook.” Μαγειρεύω, it turned out to be. Help. No wonder I had trouble.

Things went pretty unevenly for me through Frame 10, when I had to go to Google’s translator again because I had absolutely no idea how to spell “golf” in Greek. I got the first letter right—it’s a g-like sound—but how the hell was I supposed to know to put a k between it and the o? The spelling, in fact, is γκολφ, which is essentially like writing gkolf in English. Freaky.

Right around now an actual Greek teacher would have come in handy.

By the time I finished, I got a few more frames right, but mostly I got things wrong—typically between two and nine letters wrong per frame. In between mistakes I could often be found lurking around the Google translation site.

A Rainy Day: Perfect for Studying and Conducting Undercover Investigations

A Rainy Day: Perfect for Studying and Conducting Undercover Investigations

If I hadn’t done that, there were frames I would never have escaped. In fact, I would still be there, trapped like a contestant in a Big Brother house.

My final score was 35%. Which is certainly better than the 6% I got the other day. But not enough to make me remotely employable in Greece.

I was informed that I had gotten seven correct and 13 incorrect. Interesting! They were saying there were 20 problems, and I had counted 20 frames. Was each mind-numbingly difficult frame worth only one point? I felt so undervalued.

One thing that did throw me was that, according to my notes, I got only six frames completely right, not seven. Meaning my score should have been even lower. Or maybe I messed up in my counting somewhere along the way. It does get confusing, when you constantly get stuff wrong, to keep track of the stuff you actually get right.

Although I can’t be sure, the fact that the number of problems corresponded to the number of frames I counted leads me to believe that it is an all-or-nothing scoring system. Either you get a sentence entirely right and get a point, or you don’t.

How mean is that? If all you mess up is one tiny little letter that totally makes sense according to the Greek rules of spelling, they should give you credit! Or at least partial credit anyway.

Not wanting to leave on a low note, I stormed off and got 97% and 100% on the next two Rosetta Stone lessons, respectively. I sure showed them!

Comments (3)

Julie • Posted on Thu, July 29, 2010 - 5:55 pm EST

You need TV.

Michelle • Posted on Sat, November 26, 2011 - 6:49 pm EST

Lol, you go girl! I hate being tested by electronic tests - well, they’re ok until they go wrong! I have a language game on my phone where it gives a word in either native or target language and you choose which of the four below in the opposite language it is. This is great until you get a choice of four answers where two could be correct! (i.e two different yet correct words, or a repetition of the correct word). So frustrating if it stops you getting full marks! Sigh, I do love it old school - books, pen and paper lol.

Ellen Jovin • Posted on Wed, November 30, 2011 - 7:08 pm EST

I am a fan of the old-school approach myself. And I am very particular about the writing implement I use in my grammar books: Pentel Twist-Erase 0.7 pencils. I do a lot of erasing, and they don’t break when you press down hard in a fit of grammar frustration!

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