Is Rosetta Stone Really Worth It?

People ask me all the time whether or not buying a language learning program like Rosetta Stone is worth the investment. Admittedly, it has a hefty price tag, but it is significantly cheaper than when it first became available.

Rosetta Stone was at one time under contract with the US Army, and is now collaborating with four year universities to offer online language learning programs for credit. The software definitely has some obvious benefits and is clearly effective.

Is it right for you?

Well, that really depends on the kind of person you are. Are you the kind of person who starts a project and sees it through, or are you a serial project starter who frequently moves on to the next project once you start to lose interest?

I’ve found that if you have the dedication it takes to go home after a long day of work, then open up your computer and be productive, then this type of program would be perfect for you.

On the other hand, if you’re the kind of person who is always going to ‘start tomorrow,’ then, maybe it’s best if you sign up for a traditional classroom course.

If you are the kind of person who feels like Rosetta Stone is the right fit for you, then by all means, jump right in! I personally think the idea of studying a language at your leisure, while in your pajamas sounds like a pretty good time!

Of course, it’s still wildly beneficial to combine your e-learning with some conversation appointments with a private tutor or native speaker over coffee or tea. By using the language skills you learn on the computer, you’ll be able to put them to good use in conversation with that person.

Whichever method you choose, try your best to stick with it. Learning a language cannot be done overnight, and you are bound to lose interest at some point when the going gets a little tough. Believe me. It will be so worth it when you’re traveling the globe and can rattle off your dinner order for you and all your friends.

Rosetta Stone has so many different languages available, so whether you’re interested in studying English, Spanish, Italian, French, Chinese or Japanese, you’re bound to find a language that intrigues you.

Buena suerte!




Fun, Educational Gifts for the kiddos

We are officially in the midst of the chaotic Christmas season, which inadvertently leads to insane amounts of extra clutter and toys that will bore kids as soon as the wrapping paper is thrown away. This year, whichever holiday you celebrate, consider giving educational gifts that will not only be fun, but will keep them mentally stimulated.

Here is a list of some fun Spanish learning ideas for various ages.
52 Weeks of Family Spanish

Bite sized lessons to get you and your family learning throughout the year!

The Everything Kids’ Learning Spanish Book

In my opinion, this book is great for all ages, so give it a try

My First Bilingual Little Readers

Great for parents and teachers to start reading in Spanish

Everyday Words in Spanish: Flashcards

I love this set of flashcards! The pictures are great and the words are big and easy to read. Great for studying and bulletin boards!

Oso pardo, oso pardo, ¿qué ves ahí? (Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See) (Spanish Edition)

Kids love the story in English, so why not try it in Spanish?

La Oruga Muy Hambrienta (The Hungry, Hungry Caterpillar) (Spanish Edition)

This book is fantastic in any language!

If you’re looking for more specific recommendations of educational gifts, please let me know. I’m happy to help with recommendations!


The Benefits of Being Bilingual

There are so many reasons that every person should be at least bilingual, if not multilingual. It feels like every day the world is shrinking a little bit. With international travel becoming easier and more accessible, and the internet making international communication and business just clicks away, it is in our best interest to start working on our foreign language skills today. After all, just being able to say “donde está el baño” doesn’t mean we’ll be able to understand someone when they explain to us in Spanish where the bathroom actually is.

There have been numerous studies that bilingualism helps develop cognitive function in both children and adults. It has also been shown to stave off Alzheimer’s and decrease the loss of cognitive function in older adults. Bilingualism serves all of us well at every point in our age spectrum.

If you have children, as a parent, you should be aware of the importance of bilingualism. You work hard to feed and clothe your children, and of course you want your children to be well prepared for school and work. Providing them with a bilingual education is another wonderful way you can help your child to be everything that he/she can be.

Libros en Español
Photo by Enokson

Bilingual education for children has been shown to increase vocabulary in both languages, improve self-esteem and also enhance cultural awareness and sensitivity. Many private schools require the working knowledge of two languages. Additionally, many universities require some foreign language knowledge.

If you are an adult learning a language, I’m sure it has been brought to your attention more than once, that knowing even a few words in another language comes in handy at one time or another. You don’t want to be the only person at a dinner table in a French restaurant who can’t order his/her own food, and you especially don’t want to be stuck in an airport with no idea how to get to your hotel because you can’t talk to the taxi driver. In this economy, you also don’t want to be turned down for a job solely because you are monolingual. Even if you do get hired as a monolingual employee, you should know that your multilingual peers are most likely making more money than you. The benefits are evident and motivational.

Meeting nieuwe leden
Photo by Voka – Kamer van Koophandel Limburg

Yes, it is easier to learn another language as a child, but if you are a monolingual adult, please do not let that stop you. It will be a little more challenging, but believe me, it will be totally worth it! Join a class, get a tutor, start listening to podcasts. Do whatever you can to start learning a language right now. With every new word you remember, you will be motivated to continue.

Feel free to contact me with any questions on how to get started. If you’re learning Spanish or English, I can help you myself. If you’re learning another language, I can can give you some direction on where to go.

As you can tell, I’m obviously a proponent of multilingualism, but if you don’t believe me, check out some of these sites with facts and information about the advantages of being bilingual. Ciao!

For the Parents

In my 13 years of teaching experience, nothing has made quite a difference in the learning curve of my students as when the parents are involved in their children’s education. It’s pretty interesting, because many parents are very hands-on with all their children’s school subjects with the exception of language, art and music. (I don’t teach art or music, but I do think they are also crucial to a child’s personal and creative development. In this post, I will only touch on language, but it is not my intention to imply that art or music are any less important.)

Nobody should expect their children, themselves or their students for that matter to be fluent in a language if their only exposure is that weekly 60 minute lesson. Most kids spend much more time than that playing video games or updating their FaceBook pages, yet we are still surprised when students can’t speak after 2 years of classes.

Parents and other family members should take an active interest in their children’s language learning as well. Even a couple minutes a day can make a huge difference in a student’s language growth. For example, when you’re sitting down at dinner time, ask your child “what is this” in that language. If your child is learning Spanish, point to the dinner plate, glass, table or rice and ask “que es esto?”

Family having lunch at restaurant
Photo by Tetra Pak

So many of my younger students’ parents ask me if they should try to speak with their children when their accents are heavy or they don’t have perfect grammar themselves. I always say that a little practice with some mistakes is better than no practice at all. The main goal is to communicate with others in that language. If you can do that at home, chances are, you’ll feel a lot more confident to try speaking with a native speaker. I normally find that people hesitate to speak with native speakers, not because they can’t speak, but because they’re scared.

So what happens when your child is learning a language that you have never studied? You should take this opportunity to study the language from scratch right along with your child. Try some of the following techniques to learn even the basics of the language with your child.

  • Hire a private tutor to come work with you and your child
  • Check out the many language learning websites for helpful tips, vocabulary lists and pronunciation guides
  • Check your community to see if there are language groups you can join
  • Make a weekly foreign film movie night
  • Label different things around your house and make it a family affair to try to learn more vocabulary
  • Celebrate holidays and festivals from that country
  • Try a new recipe from that country
  • Subscribe to online or paper magazines/newspapers in that language
  • Start listening to music from that country and try to sing along
  • Write your shopping lists in that language
  • Do some research to see if there is a popular game from that country you can play with your family
  • Play I Spy in the car (of course in that language)
  • Have fun – Everybody’s idea of fun is a little different, so be creative and do something with your family to include your child’s own personal interests, while speaking in that language

Let me know how these techniques work for your family and if you have any other ideas to share!