What do you like best?
I initially purchased only Level 1 of 5 (of Italian) due to my unfamiliarity with the software but within an hour the quality of instruction and ease of learning was apparent. It became an enjoyable process of adding more and more words and phrases to my vocabulary. The software is intuitive and the learning methodology is straightforward – starting with common situations and progressing to other social and business scenarios. You progress as far as you want when you practice, and you’re prompted to review past lessons each time you come back for more training. The result is not only proficiency gained but high language retention over time. After completing Level 1, was so pleased that I purchased levels 2 through 5.
Having purchased Rosetta Stone for Mandarin as well, I can say that the process is essentially the same for both languages. You’re presented with a picture of an item, a situation a person, etc, and asked a question or given options to indicate what the picture is illustrating. Speaking recognition is fully integrated into the lessons so you practice your pronunciation as you go. The software tracks your answers and progress and you repeat lessons until a passing score is reached. At your next session, you’re prompted to review recently-completed lessons to solidify retention and to point out what you have or haven’t learned. At the end of lesson sets and overall levels, you’re given final tests and full on situations to walk through.
What do you dislike?
After completing the Italian language course lessons, I purchased the Mandarin language courses. Even in the beginning lessons, I would have liked to see more practices and lessons related to writing the characters used in Mandarin - not just recognizing them - which I feel would have helped in my retention.
For the Mandarin pronunciation lessons, I frequently felt that the pronunciation modules - even on a more lenient setting - were sometimes inaccurate. Sometimes I could pronounce things incorrectly and the software would accept it and other times the software would not accept my pronunciation even when fairly accurate.
Recommendations to others considering the product
Consider the cost of actual language classes in an accredited school to the cost of Rosetta Stone. In my opinion (after 4 years of high school Spanish and 3 semesters of college Spanish before one year studying Spanish in Mexico) you can learn just as much through Rosetta Stone, in less time, at your own pace, and for less cost, than you can in a classroom.
If you doubt your ability to learn a language either recreationally or seriously, know that the software and course lessons seem to have been engineered very responsibly because you not only go through each lesson, but review recently-passed lessons to enhance retention prior to starting new lessons. By the time you get to the third of the 5 Levels, you will definitely see evidence of your learning. You should discipline yourself to spend 30 minutes per day learning (more if you have the time and inclination).
If you put in the time regularly, you will learn.
What business problems are you solving with the product? What benefits have you realized?
In my case, my purchases were purely based on an interest in learning languages and being able to understand and communicate with non-English speakers. Based on my experience in learning Spanish (on my own in Mexico during college) vs Italian using Rosetta Stone, my feeling/conclusion was that I wished there had been such software for me during my high school and college years because it gave me a working knowledge and comfort level with the language that I wished I had during my first semester studying in Mexico. Speaking for my Italian studies with Rosetta Stone, even 4 years after completing the courses, I can still properly pronounce Italian words, read and compose basic to intermediate phrases and sentences and can figure out new words and concepts that I didn't see in the lessons. In short: not only the words and phrases but an enhanced awareness.