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They should be converted by the sword

I finally tried out the Rosetta Stone program last night and I'm a little pissy about it. I figured that a comprehensive language program would start with the basics, namely the alphabet and some information about general sentence structure with some basic vocab to follow. If I were teaching English, it would be the ABC's, followed by the idea of (subject) (verb) (object) and then maybe something simple like I see Spot.

Instead, Rosetta stone seems to jump right into the middle of vocab, which makes no sense to me. It starts saying things like 'A Girl' in japanese and then gives you two pictures to choose from, one of a girl and one of a boy. I can't help but think that's pretty insane when I don't recognize anything about the word in either of the 3 alphabets. I actually searched around online trying to figure out if my version of it was bugged or something since it was cracked, but it seems like that's how all of their language learning programs start. I've picked up a small amount of japanese vocab from anime, but I have no clue how the phrases they're using break down into actually words. Half the time, I'm just listening to the one 'catch syllable' I recognize to distinguish between the phrases and that can't be right.

I dunno. Part of me thinks I should just put the entire Rosetta Stone thing on hold, make myself 50 flash cards and give some real effort to learning Hiragana, one of the three phonetic alphabets. Until I know those like the back of my hand, it seems insane to believe I can learn anything about the language, other than the most basic 'repeat after me' sort of way. Another part of me says I'm just being stupid and that supposedly thousands if not millions of people have learned using this program. The people who made it can't be complete morons and must know what they're doing. I should just continue through with the lessons no matter what and ignore the fact that I can't read a fucking thing.

I'm torn between the two quite frankly. Maybe I should pick a third options which entails grabbing a book on learning japanese and see how well it meshes my other two possibilities. It just seems insane to me you don't learn the god damn alphabet first. Imagine if you didn't speak a lick of English and your teacher, at your first lesson, scribbles what looks like gibberish on a chalkboard, says a series of words you don't understand, and then holds up two pictures, one of an apple and one of a banana. Wouldn't you think that was a spastic way to teach you English by simply randomly guessing which picture matched until you got it right?

Anyone have any experience at all with learning new languages?


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 10th, 2010 01:39 pm (UTC)
I've studied a few different languages and at the moment I'm taking a course on how to be an English as a Second Language teacher, and the best practice methods right now are agreed to be throwing learners right into the language rather than start from learning the alphabet and sentence structure. Apparently it's supposed to work because it's similar to how you learned your first language - you listen, say a few words here and there that you've picked up on, eventually learn an alphabet, then work on your sentence structure later.

It's an annoying method if you're the kind of person who likes to take things step by step and get a background understanding of something, but seems to work. But it can't hurt to try different approaches and gather bits of the language from everywhere.
Jan. 11th, 2010 06:36 am (UTC)
It just seems like an insane way to learn a language when you don't have a foundation. Kids can do it mostly because they have 24-7 immersion over the course of _years_. Not to mention adults around them will constantly correct them when they make mistakes. Without that auto-correction feature, it seems kinda pointless to just shoot examples at a person.
Jan. 10th, 2010 04:05 pm (UTC)
if you try hard enough, any method of language learning will work. learning languages sucks and is many hours of pure arbitrary memorization.

your real best bet is to couple this stuff with hanging out with japanese people who speak only in japanese and will confuse the shit out of you. That's what works.
Jan. 11th, 2010 06:37 am (UTC)
I don't know any Japanese people. Well, my next door neighbor is japanese. I've never so much as seen her or said word one to her though. It might be sort of odd if I just rang her doorbell one day and asked if we can hang out.
(Deleted comment)
Jan. 11th, 2010 06:38 am (UTC)
I don't understand why katakana is used so often to begin with. All the descriptions I've read said the same thing you did, that it's used for foreign words. Bullcrap. I've been manually looking up any non-kanji characters I run across lately and they're katakana a good chunk of the time for no good reason.
(Deleted comment)
Jan. 13th, 2010 10:43 am (UTC)
It just seems to be that an alphabet is something you're never going to learn by passive absorption. The amount of brainpower that would be needed to associate letters to sounds in a language you don't even understand without actively trying to do so would be extreme.

As for rosetta stone itself, it does seem to mostly focus on speaking though it claims its program also teaches reading/writing at the same time. Maybe that's just further along the path or they could just be blowing smoke.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )


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