Dia Duit: All About Irish Rosetta Stone, Online Version
Offering the Same Learning Experiences
Rosetta Stone online offers the exact same Irish learning experience that you’ll find with the packaged Rosetta Stone software. The biggest difference between the two is implementation. The packaged Rosetta Stone software can only be installed on one computer at a time, but you can use the software on that one computer anywhere you like, with or without an Internet connection.
Rosetta Stone online, on the other hand, can be used for learning Irish online from any computer with an active Internet connection. You also have to renew your subscription to Rosetta Stone online on a six-month or yearly basis, which means that subscription fees can add up quickly. A one-time subscription costs less than the packaged Rosetta Stone software, but by the time you’ve renewed it once or twice you’ll end up paying more than the one-time packaged software fee.
The rest of this article will focus on what it’s like to learn Irish online with Rosetta Stone.
Rosetta Stone online: Irish opens with a cheery greeting in Irish, dia duit. This phrase literally translates to “God save you,” but I didn’t learn that through Rosetta Stone. I had to look it up in a dictionary. Rosetta Stone teaches with the idea that associating Irish words and phrases with their appropriate concepts is more important than memorizing English-Irish translations by rote. As a result, you won’t see the Irish words you’re learning translated into English--ever. But who really needs a translation when a picture is worth a thousand words?
Rosetta Stone doesn’t think you need it, and I have to agree. When a do pops up on the screen with a bright number two beneath it, I don’t need to see “two” spelled out to understand what a do means. Especially not when it’s surrounded by other Irish word-number pairings. This is contextual learning at its best. While it may be frustrating at first to learners that expect old-fashioned rote vocabulary memorization, this way of learning Irish online lets you connect the proper images directly to the right Irish words without having to use your English vocabulary to mediate. You begin thinking in Irish--albeit rudimentary Irish, just like a child--right away, and as the lessons progress so do your level of comprehension and the complexity of the language you’re learning.
If you just can't live without rote memorization you can always tackle it later to expand your vocabulary.
While the Irish version of Rosetta Stone online starts with simple, concrete words and concepts like boy, girl, drink, water, run, sit and so on, it manages to build on previous lessons and cleanly transition through more complicated concepts like here and there, near and far, time and possession. Leaping forward from one level to the next is an exercise in frustration as is any attempt at learning a new language. But if you stick with the lesson progression and don’t skip around too much, you’ll start to get it. It’s obvious that a lot of time and thought has gone into designing this learning progression and, even better, it works exceptionally well.
Vocabulary and Reference
While Rosetta Stone does an excellent job of covering basic vocabulary, there’s no escaping the fact that contextual or immersion learning requires a lot of repetition. This means that learning Irish online with Rosetta Stone doesn’t cover the same number of vocabulary words as a rote memorization-style program would.
I see this as a small sacrifice for the chance to learn through immersion via a computer, but still, programmers of Rosetta Stone software: Would it have been too much extra effort to include downloadable vocabulary sheets that go along with the lessons?
Maybe that would defeat the entire concept of contextual learning. This process can be frustrating by its very nature and I’m the first to admit that I’ve turned to my little pocket dictionary more than once to figure out a puzzling concept. Nevertheless, even if you can’t include vocabulary sheets, a little bit of reference material--say, a searchable index of Irish-only words with accompanying pictures so that no English sullies the immersion experience--would go a long way. Even just being able to see the list of words covered and click on them to hear the pronunciation would help baffled English speakers figure out why letters we’ve become so used to are suddenly representing different sounds.
The Rosetta Stone interface for learning Irish online is simple to understand. If you fumble for too long--such as trying to drag and drop dialog boxes, which isn’t necessary--a message may pop up to let you know what you’re doing wrong. But for the most part you can intuitively follow the flow of the lesson right out of the starting blocks. Using symbols instead of word-labels to identify menus and other function buttons is savvy, because it helps keep the focus entirely on each lesson.
Portability and Time
Rosetta Stone online is perfect for the professional that wants to dedicate time to studying a new language every single day but can’t always make that time at just one computer. Squeeze your lessons in from the work computer, at the library or with your home computer. But if you’re not prepared to hit the lessons intensely every day--or at least every weekday--learning Irish online won't save you any money. Buy the stand-alone version instead, so you're free to come back to it whenever your interest kindles.
While in most cases I would recommend purchasing and installing the software version of Rosetta Stone, Rosetta Stone online is the next best thing for anyone that doesn’t have regular access to the same computer. For those who are already traveling or so busy that they can’t always use the same computer, learning Irish online with Rosetta Stone is a brilliant bargain, and well worth your money if you use it regularly.