Glean the Best Benefits From the Rosetta Stone Software
Set a Schedule
Rosetta Stone programs--both online and installed--cost a lot, with Level I in most languages coming in at over $200. Buying multiple levels will get you a discount, but this price still packs a big punch. And while the program provides you with a worthwhile immersion experience, it isn't instant. You get the most out of Rosetta Stone when you put in the time required to absorb, a bit at a time, the nuances of a new language.
This isn't meant to dissuade you but, instead, to put the project you're about to undertake into perspective. You're putting out a lot of time and money to achieve what is, for some, a very difficult goal. So doesn't it make sense to plan ahead and maybe even reorganize your daily schedule, just a bit, to make the most of the already sizable investment you're making?
If you've purchased any version of the subscription-based online Rosetta Stone programs, the clock is already ticking: You've got limited time in which to make your investment pay off. Even if you're dealing with the installed version of the software, which isn't time sensitive in and of itself, you purchased it for a reason. Don't you have a language learning goal to meet?
If that's the case, get out your day planner and get ready to make a few commitments for the sake of your new project.
Repetition, Repetition, Repetition
The one thing you absolutely, positively can't succeed at Rosetta Stone language courses without is repetition. The entire program is built around getting you to connect images with phrases in a new language through--you guessed it--repetition. So before you go any further, decide how much time you're willing to schedule for Rosetta Stone, then set it up as a part of your daily routine. You may need to fiddle with this schedule as you learn, through trial and error, what works best for you.
I recommend starting with three sessions of about an hour, spaced out through the course of a week. This gives you enough time to do the longest of the lesson units in one sitting or multiple short sections together, as well as providing a break in between to let the occasional frustration that comes naturally with learning a new language subside. The longest of Rosetta Stone's lesson units are estimated to take about half an hour, so you can always section this out into five daily half-hour sessions over your lunch break if a whole hour is just too much time.
This may seem a bit ambitious, but remember--you're learning by the immersion method. Also, since you'll be completing entire lessons in the space of a week or two, if you have to take one or two days off it won't be a major disaster. But don't make excuses for yourself in advance; instead, recognize language learning as the priority it obviously is--you bought the software, didn't you?--and schedule yourself for "Language Tutoring" just as you'd schedule yourself for any other business meeting. Then stick to that schedule.
If you remember only one tip for getting the most out of Rosetta Stone, remember this: Repetition.
Learning via immersion can be frustrating, so you may need to take occasion breaks to let that ire subside. And there are times when you just have to take a call from your spouse or check on your children just to make sure they're okay. But you can still set yourself up for language learning success by eliminating any non-urgent interruptions. The first step is making sure that others know this is a priority; ask your secretary to hold your calls for the next hour while you work on your lessons, or turn off your cell phone. Also turn off any extra distractions--television, radio, Internet chat programs, and so on. You can always rev these up again during break time if need be.
Buy a Dictionary. Later.
Rosetta Stone software doesn't provide you with English-language translations of the words you're learning. Instead, it illustrates the concept for you. Sometimes, as with simple words like "boy", "girl", "dog", "drink" and "eat", the meaning of the word is patently obvious. But as you progress in the program, it may take a little more figuring to understand exactly what the new words you're introduced to mean. In order for the immersion process to work at its most efficient, it's vital that you not refer to a dictionary during your initial use of the program. If you want to benefit from using Rosetta Stone you've got to give your brain time to start connecting words with images, even if you're not entirely sure what the translation of those words is, before you mix English translations into the mix. Do too much poking around in the dictionary and you're likely to force yourself into learning by rote memorization, which is exactly the opposite of what you just paid hundreds of dollars to do.
So, don't buy a dictionary for your new language...until you're comfortable learning via the immersion method, at which point you should go ahead and purchase a dictionary.
That is to say, giving yourself time to figure things out by context is critically important for getting the most out of your Rosetta Stone software. But once you've learned the patience necessary to do this, having a dictionary on hand to help untangle the occasional snafu, confirm your suppositions or supplement your vocabulary can save you precious time and frustration. You just have to give yourself enough time to adapt to the immersion method before supplying the dictionary as an extra wrinkle. My suggestion: Don't purchase a dictionary until you've completed Level I.
Use Language Learning Tricks
Many of the same tricks used for out-of-classroom language learning practice will help you reinforce what you've learned through Rosetta Stone. Flash cards, putting sticky notes on household items with their names in your new language and holding regular chat sessions with native speakers or even other learners all help. Just remember to toe the immersion line by putting pictures on the backsides of your flash cards, not the English translations of words. The more you continue to associate images and concepts with new language words, as opposed to connecting the English translations with those words, the faster and better you'll learn.