By Kathy LaPan
(Hudson Falls, NY)
I originally purchased Rosetta Stone for myself, as I planned to teach Spanish to my children myself. The kids wanted to use the computer, so I let them. My son, who was 10 at the time, had no problems with the program. My daughter, 7 and dyslexic, had serious issues with it. The program requires you to spell based on Spanish phonemics, and kids with a learning disability or younger kids will struggle with this (not to mention the Spanish alphabet is different from ours). You can shut this off but it does not remove all reading in Spanish.
We also found the program doesn’t allow for variation in phrasing. The final test from one unit to the next is a simulation where you speak answers to the characters. Spanish sentences aren’t necessarily based on word order like English, and if you don’t guess what exact phrasing it wants, you won’t pass to the next level.
The final problem we had with the program was it does not understand children’s voices, no matter how long they use the program. My son at 10 did not have a very high pitched voice, but the program only understood about 80 percent of his answers.
This is a great program for older students and adults, but I would not recommend it for children under about 13.