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Rosetta Stone Latin, Level I (Homeschool Edition) Review by Carrie Wilbur

Rosetta Stone
135 W. Market St.
Harrisonburg, VA 22801

We love Rosetta Stone. The End.

Kidding! Just kidding! Let's jump right in, shall we?

Rosetta Stone is a comprehensive language instruction program with epic properties. Put out by Rosetta Stone Ltd., the Rosetta Stone brand has developed a reputation among professionals for its thorough, all-encompassing programs covering 30 languages. Its ease of use and dramatic effectiveness have become legendary, thereby increasing its presence in industry, schools, libraries, and non-profit groups.

Rosetta Stone's foray into separate programs to address separate needs has not diluted the product in any way. If you have experience with Rosetta Stone, you know you can expect CD-ROMs, Curriculum Text, and User's Guide. The Homeschool Edition also includes an Installation Guide and a Handbook for Teachers--both labeled specifically for homeschooling. The package arrives in a good quality slide-apart box that can easily be used as the permanent storage solution.

Installing the software is an easy process, with plenty of clear direction provided. Rosetta Stone can run on Windows or a Mac. Technical support is available online or via 800 number, weekdays only by phone. Once installation is complete, a user of nearly any age can begin immediately by just clicking through the pictures as they appear on the screen. The student can move quickly or at a more leisurely pace. In the beginning, a pupil will spend much time listening and reading (with some speaking). More speaking and then writing will come later in the program. This is particularly useful for younger children who may wish to do less writing but more speaking as they acquire a new language.

My kids (ages 5, 7, 10, 12) have really enjoyed the format. It's easy for virtually anyone to use; retention is immediate and good, and there's plenty of material to cover. Even my youngest can click through the beginning lessons. My oldest is using Rosetta Stone as a supplement to another Latin program, and he has experienced gains--particularly in vocabulary. He now notices Latin roots all the time, commenting on them often.

There are two pre-loaded lesson plan tracks: Comprehensive or Accelerated. With either track, the student cannot continue on to the next level until he or she has achieved a pre-determined proficiency level. Activity sets conclude with a test, at which point the proficiency level becomes an issue. Another user-friendly feature--the ability to create a report and then export it for grading or record-keeping--is especially helpful for older students thinking about high-school transcripts.

In poring over the Handbook for Teachers, I noticed in the FAQ section that Rosetta Stone uses the "broadcast standard" accent. This really tickled me--I wonder what the "broadcast standard" is for Latin? More seriously, I didn't notice that either ecclesiastical or classical pronunciation was indicated in the materials.

My only caveats: Latin is rarely spoken these days, as many other languages are. If you're looking to Rosetta Stone as an entire program, you may want to supplement with more reading or writing. Also, some may find the cost prohibitive: $209 for Level 1. (The website shows a new payment plan option.)

With 400 hours of instruction available in Rosetta Stone Latin Homeschool Edition, Level 1 is, in my opinion, the finest example of a Latin language immersion curriculum available on the market today. It is imperative that I be able to turn my kids loose with a curriculum and know that they can learn exactly what it claims to teach while not encountering anything inappropriate. This is what I've found herein. We love Rosetta Stone. The End.

Product review by Carrie Wilbur, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, August 2007

Another review:

Rosetta Stone Latin Level 1 (Homeschool Edition) is a foreign language program for the computer. Included in the box is the software, an audio companion, a cd with supplemental materials, a parent's guide, a user's guide, and a headset with microphone.

Rosetta Stone Latin is an immersion foreign language program. Level 1 covers "basic conversational skills, including greetings and introductions, simple questions and answers, shopping, and much more." There are three units in Level 1, and each unit is broken down into four lessons. Unit 1 covers "Language Basics," Unit 2 covers "Greetings and Introductions," and Unit 3 covers "Work and School." The Homeschool Edition allows for multiple users and allows the parent to track each student's progress through what is called the "Homeschool Dashboard." From there, the parent is able to assign or edit the curriculum for each student and look at, save, or print individual progress reports.

The Homeschool Edition of Rosetta Stone Latin includes various lesson plans to choose from, or you can create your own based on your objectives. It is easy to navigate the software and choose from a full-year program (which is the most extensive path), a standard program (which streamlines the program and is recommended for students who learn languages quickly), a reading and writing focus, or a speaking and listening focus. You can customize a program for each child using the software, and from the "Homeschool Dashboard" you can go in and edit each child's course at any time. Depending on which program you choose, the various activities include listening, reading, speaking, pronunciation, writing, grammar, and vocabulary. Rosetta Stone Latin also includes a speech recognition component. The student speaks words into the included microphone, and the software analyzes the student's pronunciation.

In addition to the software, an "Audio Companion" is also included. This is a set of three CDs (one for each unit), and they are broken down by lesson. Each lesson is further broken down into pronunciation, vocabulary, phrases, speaking, and conversation, except for the first two lessons. (Lesson One doesn't include speaking and conversation, and Lesson Two doesn't include conversation.) The literature says a native speaker is used, but since Latin isn't a spoken language this isn't possible. The speaker on the CDs trills the letter "r" and speaks with what sounds like a Spanish accent.

The "Supplemental Education Materials" CD includes the course contents, which is a script for each lesson, along with an index to all the words in the program. However, this is all in Latin, and there is no English translation.

This is a very user-friendly program. The software is designed very well and is very intuitive. I was able to easily install the program, assign a course to my 9-year-old son, and step away while he worked through the lessons. He really enjoyed Latin using Rosetta Stone, except for trying to speak it with the Spanish-type accent. However, because Latin is a dead language, I think the student misses out on a lot using Rosetta Stone. Conversing fluently isn't the typical goal when one decides to teach or learn Latin. It's often the logic behind the language or learning Latin vocabulary that drives one to study Latin. Because this program focuses on teaching the student to be a fluent speaker of Latin, I don't feel it adequately explains or teaches the logic behind Latin, therefore leaving out one of the huge benefits of studying Latin to begin with.

I think the Rosetta Stone software is fabulous, and I would not hesitate to use it for a living language. However, I would not recommend it for a stand-alone Latin program. And with a price tag of $229, it's quite expensive to suggest as a supplement.

Product review by Courtney Larson, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, December 2009