August 30, 2010 | Hindi
Return to Rosetta Stone
A prodigal student gets back on her computer to learn.
I began my day with Pimsleur, then turned later—for the first time in many days—to Rosetta Stone.
I admit, I have neglected Rosetta Stone. Part of the reason is my addiction to multitasking. I am trying to stretch my way back to running health, and Rosetta Stone and my laptop cannot come down onto the exercise mat with me. Pimsleur, since it is oral lessons only, can.
Jewel of India, a Times Square Restaurant I Passed Today on My Way to Lunch Elsewhere
So Pimsleur it has been.
Unfortunately, when I logged into Rosetta Stone, I discovered I now had access only to Greek (my last language), not to Hindi. It took 32 minutes and nine seconds for me to recover access to Hindi. Before that happened, I got transferred three times and spoke to four different people. But everyone was polite, and I am after all enjoying complimentary access to their products, so I can’t complain.
The situation did, however, remind me of the irksome lack of control that comes with more technologically advanced products. Books don’t break or malfunction.
Because I had been away from Rosetta Stone for so long, I thought I might have to go back to the beginning. I was kind of dreading that, honestly. The reason for my pessimism: even though I have been studying Hindi daily, the emphasis of Rosetta Stone is really quite different from Pimsleur.
Times Square Today
As a running friend of mine observed the other night, Rosetta Stone teaches a lot of nouns. Things like “dog,” “cat,” “boy,” “girl,” “pen,” “book,” and other concrete nouns figure much more prominently in Rosetta Stone than in Pimsleur. I figured I would have forgotten too many of them to continue without a review.
I was wrong. My reading skills had advanced significantly through the work I’ve done in my language books, and I had acquired quite a bit of vocabulary—even some nouns—through Pimsleur. I actually did fine picking up from where I had left off. I thoroughly enjoyed it, in fact!
Here is one of those things I remember from school: there is a certain kind of pleasure associated with being overprepared for a class. When you know all the answers, it feels good. Not that I did know all the answers, but you could say I was well equipped. I felt like an eighth grader in a seventh-grade English class.
Brandt saw me with my Rosetta Stone headset and told me I looked like a call-center employee. He was correct.
In fact, though, I was having microphone troubles. This happens sometimes, typically when I remove the headset mid-lesson and then put it back on, or when I accidentally knock it in some way while it is on my head, thereby changing the relationship of the microphone to my mouth.
Immigrants Building, 44th Street
In case you’ve never used voice-recognition software before: this kind of thing matters. Each time you log in to Rosetta Stone, you have to recalibrate the microphone by speaking into it the words “one, two, three, four, five.” If the microphone is moved post-recalibration, trouble can ensue.
I haven’t figured out how to recalibrate mid-lesson, so if some jostling happens, I usually get into a big fight with the Rosetta Stone program over whether I am pronouncing things correctly. Once the headset is bonked around, the program often just stops accepting my answers—or at least large chunks of them—even if they are right (or close enough).
Last night, for example, I had to speak, whine, beg, and ultimately scream the word for “pen”—which actually sounds very similar in Hindi—at the screen like eight to 10 times before it accepted my answer. I have a good enough ear for language to feel confident that my first or second or third version was also acceptable.
Again, this is just the kind of thing that happens sometimes with technology. You rise gloriously with it—and fall precipitously when something fails.
By the way, TOTALe, which is the web-based Rosetta Stone offering I am using, encourages its customers with little scrolling notes about the learning milestones they have achieved. While I was doing my lessons, I noticed a message on the bottom right of the screen that said, “EJ earned Animals.” I think that was about me! I had in fact just been working on “dog,” “cat,” “horse,” and “fish.”
Right below that it said, “Dan C earned Investigator.” No idea what that means, but go, Dan C, whoever you are! Nice work!