Rosetta Stone Japanese
March 10, 2013
Series Rosetta Stone
Publisher Rosetta Stone
Price $399 for all three levels; $179 for Level 1
Skill Level Beginner, Intermediate
Rosetta Stone Japanese offers an interactive, computer-based learning experience that includes games, voice-recognition features, and even human tutors if you want them. I am not a fan of Rosetta Stone for more familiar languages—such as French, Spanish, Italian, or German—but it can sometimes be helpful with languages that look, sound, and operate completely differently from English.
Japanese would qualify as one of those completely different languages.
I like the way Rosetta Stone Japanese gets right down to teaching you basics like “milk,” “bread,” “dog,” “bicycle,” and many of the other concrete words that figure so prominently in our lives. The photos are lovely.
I am especially fond of the reading lessons, which introduce unfamiliar characters in small, digestible nibbles.
One thing to know about Rosetta Stone: there is no English. This is their version of an immersion experience, in which all you get is the target language (unless you call customer support!). Restricting yourself to your target language can be helpful, but is also sometimes a royal pain.
For example, Japanese has a very complicated writing system with three different categories of writing elements: hiragana, katakana, and kanji. You can represent a syllable like yo in hiragana, or in katakana—two different characters. I happened to know about the existence of these different categories from other sources, but if I hadn’t, the reading lessons would have become confusing when, after a total focus on hiragana symbols, katakana showed up all of a sudden and started taking aural market share from them.
A little English explanation would have gone a long way; fortunately, I didn’t need it this time. (This kind of thing is why I never rely on only one source for self-study.)
There are three levels available for Rosetta Stone Japanese, and I made it to the second. It just didn’t engage me enough to keep me going.
The pricing listed above is for the CD-ROM options. The company also offers a subscription option starting at three months for $129, but the problem is, when your subscription ends, so does your access to every bit of the Rosetta Stone Japanese content you just used. I don’t find that reasonable. With the CD-ROM option, you keep your access to the learning materials.
If you really want to work on your ability to speak, I would recommend Pimsleur Japanese over Rosetta Stone.
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