German Software Reviewed

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Software Title:         The Rosetta Stone Language Library 1 & 2
Publisher :   Fairfield Language Technologies
Age Group : 10 - 12
Curriculum Area : German Language Development
Year of Publication : 1998
Mac, PC or other :    PC
Summary

Rosetta Stone is an interactive multimedia program, which teaches German in a very structured and systematic manner.  The material on CD is carefully graded.  On Rosetta Stone 1, eight units of instructional material including ninety two lessons and review lessons.   No prior knowledge of the language is assumed.  In Rosetta Stone 11 intermediate instruction is provided under eleven units which are divided into one hundred and eighteen lessons.  The program boasts over eight thousand words, phrases and dialogues, spoken by native speakers.  It uses authentic real-life images and colourful cartoon-like pictures and includes speech recognition for pronunciation.
A workbook, and a curriculum textbook with an index to the words included as well as a student study guide, student management system, handbook for teachers and illustrated user's guide are integral components of the program.   Some of the content in Rosetta Stone covers the alphabet, pronunciation, verbs, adjectives, singular and plural of nouns, questions and answers, personal pronouns, cases.  In the primary school classroom, this represents a very formal course and is more suited to adult learning styles.

Overview of Teaching with this Title

The software addresses all aspects of language acquisition i.e. listening, reading speaking and writing (dictation mode).  Writing exercises are also included in ancillary material.  The program begins with single nouns and progresses to use of phrases, plurals and sentences, steadily introducing more grammar and vocabulary.
The icons are self-explanatory.  On screen areas to be clicked are quite large.  The teachers can identify exactly what has been covered, learnt and misunderstood as scores are kept of the number of correct and incorrect answers.   With the comprehensive student management system and the careful grading of lessons the special needs student can be catered for.   The teacher can devise a sequence of lessons, set individual proficiency requirements in tests to suit individual pupils.

The strength of this title lies in its structure.  It serves as a self-help language course to the serious student.  The teacher /user can check precisely what vocabulary has been introduced and acquired.
Pupils worked individually at this package.
The program is somewhat tedious for primary school children.  Its linear structure doesn't appeal to their active imagination.  They found it limiting because the us r'@ response is always based on the same format of listening and matching.  More varied interactivity is required.  Pupils found it lacking in stimulation.
The strength of this software lies in its student record management system whereby the teachers can design, control and track student's study and print a report of their progress including the number of attempts, time on task, score achieved at each step.  Teachers can view or control activity by classes or individual students.  This may be of benefit to second level language teachers.

Content

The content is accurate, reliable and up-to date.It is culturally, gender and racially nonbiased.   It actively promotes equality by including images of boys, girls, men, women, ethnic minorities.  It uses both male, female and child voices.
The level of difficulty of the language can be tailored to suit the experience of the students however the product style is not appropriate for pupils of primary school age who prefer a more imaginative and fun approach to learning.
There are multiple levels of difficulty and challenge.   A delay feature can make it more challenging as the program delays presenting one's choices until after the prompt.  This feature can be enabled or disabled.  The program can be set to re-question incorrect answers after a few screens.  Proficiency levels from 0- I 00 can be set by the teacher to be achieved in tests.  The teacher can assign a sequence of modes to a test, or particular chapters to classes or individual students.  The uses can decide to compete against the clock to increase the challenge.
The user can enable the "blindfold" icon, which only allows them to hear the spoken German and not see the corresponding picture or text/
The information is carefully structured in units devised of instructional lessons, review lessons, tutorials and tests.  An index includes every word in alphabetical order, when it has been used and how often it appears in the unit.
As well as promoting listening and reading, the software includes a listen-recordplayback feature, which allows students to record their own voice for comparison with the native speaker.  It also includes a dictation mode, which prompts students to type words, phrases, and sentences drawn from the lessons.  The program checks the work.

Design and Navigation

On-screen help is useful and appropriate and available at all times, while not intrusive.There appears to be no modifications supported for pupils with special needs.   The software doesn't support the use of the keyboard instead of the mouse.
The interface is clear, uncluttered and easy to navigate and consistentllf4ozframe to frame.  The functions of the icons are obvious.  It requires no prior reading of the documentation.There is no introductory sequence other than selecting a lesson level.
The teachers can assign usemames and passwords to pupils in the class and in fact set up multiple classes.  Once logged in, the computer records the pupils' interactivity.  A lesson preview or reference tool allows students to page through lessons to hear/see material freely without responding.  One can log in as a "Guest" and bypass the record management system and thereby use any aspect of the program without keeping a record.
The program displays a score all the time, which can motivate the user.
The record management system records the number of attempts, the time on task, the score at each step.  It allows the teacher to control selection and order of chapters, predefine a sequence or design their own to tailor the use of Rosetta Stone to existing classroom materials.  Teachers can also control the proficiency level to be achieved before a pupil passes a test.  All these reports can be viewed on screen, printed or exported for use in another program.

Installation and Use

Two CD's come with the package, one application CD which is needed to install the product and one language CD which is needed to run the product.Once installed, the product launches quickly.It responds quickly to all input.Rosetta Stone is designed for network use: AppleTalk network, Local Talk, Ethernet and Novell NetWare Systems.The sample was run on one PC only.

Supporting Documentation

The documentation is clearly separated into student materials, teacher materials, and user notes. Loading and operation instructions are clear. Sufficient information is given to enable the user to know what the software does, and how it behaves without having to run the software.
The ancillary exercises are not suitable for the age group in consideration however the teacher notes and pupil activities are relevant to the material on CD.  They contain short, simple exercises based exactly on the lesson content including matching pictures and text, cloze procedure, descriptive and creative writing, true or false exercises, crossword puzzles and word searches.  The material is very well graded and developed and may be useful for second level students, mature students and private use.

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