Rosetta Stone TOTALe Review – A Tale of Two Travelers

Traveler #1: Harry T. Reynolds, III
Harry has just received a fabulous, well-deserved promotion to a highly placed position in Italy. He will to need comprehensive, sophisticated, complete, polished communications skills to hit the ground running. Speaking Italian at the typical pace with an unobtrusive accent will, of course, be basic. Understanding the language when spoken at both a normal and fast pace could be critical.

Immerse yourself wherever and whenever you want--it's all in the box.

Writing a cogent business letter with a command of spelling, idiomatic expressions and a clear grasp of the use of subtleties such as subjunctive case and familiar and formal terms of address can either seal or kill a deal. And reading is a must to put him in touch with his surroundings.  What did that newspaper say about our company yesterday?  What does that sign mean?

This is a tall order. Here’s how TOTALe meets it.

This is the Welcome Screen.

Learning a language the Rosetta Stone TOTALe way is probably the closest thing there is to being there because TOTALe is on-line and, therefore, accessible to you 24/7, wherever you are.

Harry will have complete flexibility over the time, place, and frequency of his Italian lessons without sacrificing conversation skills practice. He can study at home, after the children have gone to bed, get into the office early and log on before the hubbub begins.

He can even practice off-line on a plane. Harry will create his own tailor-made immersion program including live, interactive conversations with native speakers, ingenious group games and even a language learning exchange with a native speaker who wants to learn English.

There's a wealth of beautiful, helpful, evocative screens.

When he arrives in Italy, he’ll be ready.  Bravo!

Traveler #2: Patricia Simms

That, of course, is me.  My reasons for taking Italian were far lower key than Harry’s.  Unlike our high-power businessman above, my career success did not hang in the balance if I didn’t master Italian.  My reasons could hardly have been more different (I’ll get to them in a minute) but TOTALe is flexible enough so that I could create my own tailor-made immersion program, too, even though my goals and drive were entirely different.

For starters, we were planning a vacation to Florence, Italy, the birthplace of the Renaissance, soon. I speak French and assumed that the better I could speak Italian, the more it would enhance our trip.  (Wow, was I ever right!) And since  I already speak French, I thought it would be easy. (Wow, was I ever wrong!) We arrived in Italy just in time to experience the confusion created by the volcanic ash storm from Iceland. Speaking Italian was invaluable! 

When we returned from that wonderful trip, I was still drawn to continue my Italian lessons.  The methodology is so charming, elegant and ingenious, I wanted to continue.  Why? I am an instructional designer and was absolutely fascinated by the methodology.  Even though I found it much more difficult than I expected, when I concentrated and really worked at it, I learned plenty. 

This lesson is about the family. Obviously!

I also learned more about myself.  I really was not and would not become the serious, all encompassing student of Italian that Harry needed to be. I really just wanted to learn some conversational Italian.

This is a picture of a Studio Coach, the native speaker who make conversation possible.

And Rosetta Stone had a provision for that, too.  I just turned off reading and writing and writing and moved on.

What did I move on to? Learning Italian was a rich cultural experience that has opened many doors for me in little and big ways.  One big way is my understanding and appreciation of Renaissance art and the natural beauty of Italy. One little way is intellectual curiosity about all things Italian. For example, Chicago’s Art Institute just added a magnificent Modern Wing designed by the Italian architect Renzo Piano.  The new restaurant on the third floor of the Modern Wing is called Terzo Piano. Before I studied Italian I thought it had something to do with Renzo’s last name. Now I’m in on the little linguist joke: Terzo Piano means “third floor.”

I saved the biggest, best, most surprising and possibly most important for last. I hope you’ve read this far.  I’m a baby boomer with a new-fangled profession, a Brain Fitness Coach. I help seniors with a fascinating, scientifically-proven computer program from Posit Science. In addition, I encourage my student/friends (we’re ALL in this together), to make life style changes that will complement and enhance their efforts.  Because it requires such concentration, the study of a foreign language is nearly universally considered to be an excellent brain exercise.  I’m proof.  I took the program before I took Italian.  When I went back for maintenance, I was much better than I had been. I was astonished and so grateful.  Thank you, Rosetta Stone!

What kind of traveler are you? I say even if you’re an armchair traveler, the satisfaction and benefits make it a worthy investment of your time.  Not incidentally, it would make a terrific, unique holiday gift to yourself or someone else.

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