Learning German: Week 2 Update
I‘ve been studying diligently for one week. When I started last Monday, I told you that stage one of my learning was going to be the level 1 German V.4 Rosetta Stone program. That’s what I’ve done; in 7 days I’ve done 8 lessons, and that means I’m halfway through level one. I feel like I’m making good progress, but I have to say, I either know more than I thought I knew or Rosetta Stone is patronizing me. I wasn’t sure which was the case so I went to the mall and talked to the guy selling Rosetta Stone at the little kiosk outside Nordstrom. I said, “I have Version 3, levels 1, 2, and 3 in English, Japanese and Spanish. I have Version 4 German, and it’s a huge improvement as it adds an online element whereby we can interact with other learners and play games and such. But, I have to ask. I feel like the level 1 programs in all these languages are a bit patronizing. Even the first level of Japanese seemed easier than I expected. What gives?” And that’s when I heard an admission that I never thought I’d hear. He said, “Rosetta Stone wants people to feel comfortable and confident in a language. Level 1 is easy relative to the other levels because people would quit if too much was thrown at them at once. Around the middle of level 2 is when you’ll start growing quickly in the language.”
I’m impressed that the guy told the truth. In fact, just because of that, I’m likely to go buy level 2 from him rather than getting it online. He’s right. I made it all the way through 2 levels of Japanese, and I could tell that it started to pick up the pace about the midway point of that second level. I thought it was just me, but apparently the dramatic change in pace is by design. He didn’t say it outright, but it’s obvious that a large part of Rosetta Stone’s success has come from allowing people to see dynamic immersion for themselves through hands on experience and demonstrations at the retail kiosks. Rosetta Stone wants people to say to themselves, “Hey! I can do that!” The cynic in me says it’s just dirty marketing hype to sell product to people who will probably quit the program anyway after they realize it’s not all sunshine and roses. But, the realist in me says that Rosetta Stone is giving people what they want because those who stick with it will still learn the language, but what would be the point of a language learning company if the company goes out of business because people get scared off? In other words, Rosetta Stone has to achieve both profit and real results. It’s a reasonable balancing act I think. Besides, the more people who are being exposed to languages the better, even if they eventually quit.
And That’s Why I’m Supplementing my Education:
I’m one of those strange people who always has to know why I’m doing something. Thus, when I started reciting pronouns that all seemed to have confusing variations, I was compelled to make a trip to the book store. I picked up a beginning German grammar workbook. I’ve been using it to supplement the Rosetta Stone for this first weeks so I can understand more of the language from the start instead of simply clicking mindlessly in the hope that it’ll all become clear in another month or two. Next week I hope to be able to record myself speaking. Maybe real Germans ridiculing my accent will be motivational! Here are some scans of my thus far meager attempt to understand noun genders (pronouns start next week): I made a few mistakes so don’t hold it against me.