About a month ago I came across a couple of posts from Graham Glass on learning Russian. He talks
about using a product called Rosetta Stone . It seemed like an interesting way to learn new languages.
I had a trip planned for Italy,so I decided to give Rosetta Stone a shot in learning some Italian for a month. I can say that for the first week it was quite interesting and I felt I learned quite a bit. No dictionaries or translations. They simply have scenes with someone describing one of them and you pick which one. The scenes were simple at first and then would have new terms that built on previous words so that you could apply some associative memory to the problem. It seems similar to the way kids learn languages when very young.
However, after the first week, other things started filling up my time. Now, that I am preparing for my trip, I realize I never got back into it. Was I just too busy? Did I feel that it was not worth while? Did it require too much time to get immersed back in? Was I not learning enough of what I needed? Hmmm. Perhaps a bit of all of these, but I think mostly because I have been too busy. I do think it is the best tool out there. However, I think they could take the immersive bit one step further.
While we are at it, it seems like it would have been great to give me a larger problem/goal to solve (kind of like a quest). Could have been a simple real life type goal like find a specific location. I might have to interact with my environment to read signs, talk to people, listen, understand, and apply what I have learned. Perhaps, I would only need a certain percentage of the information to solve the problem. Very similar to what I would experience if I were really in a foriegn country - of course it would need to be a bit more interesting to keep me immersed.
I have a lot of fascination in how people learn. The education system has been getting worse for a good while now. And, the teachers are poorly equipped - my wife is a teacher and she reminds me of this all the time. Schools now are so geared towards tests with memorization that they do nothing to teach the kids how to learn. Graham's latest venture is geared towards addressing education. He has done some interesting software in the past and I would love to see him make any improvements in the education arena.
Well, maybe I will spend a couple more days getting back with Rosseta Stone before my trip.