Students Test Rosetta Stone

by Sam Rauschenfels, The Dartmouth Staff

28 Jan 2011

 

 

 

Www.Rosettastone.Com

Imag­ine learn­ing a new lan­guage at Dart­mouth with­out going through break-of-dawn drill ses­sions. It’s pos­si­ble, thanks to a col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween the li­brary and the Arts and Hu­man­i­ties Re­source Cen­ter.

Un­be­knownst to many Dart­mouth stu­dents, Col­lege com­mu­nity mem­bers have free ac­cess to Rosetta Stone, which the li­brary’s web­site calls “the world’s lead­ing lan­guage-learn­ing soft­ware.”

The pro­gram went on­line in De­cem­ber 2008, ac­cord­ing to Di­rec­tor of Arts and Hu­man­i­ties Re­sources An­thony Helm, and in­ter­est in the pro­gram has in­creased since then.

“It’s mostly taken off in the last year,” he said.

AHRC and the li­brary cur­rently offer ac­cess to Rosetta Stone’s first-level soft­ware in 14 dif­fer­ent lan­guages, ac­cord­ing to Helm. Com­mu­nity mem­bers wish­ing to use the soft­ware can sub­mit a “re­quest to ac­cess” which, once granted, al­lows the in­di­vid­ual to use the soft­ware on the cam­pus In­ter­net net­work for a 10-week pe­riod, roughly the length of an aca­d­e­mic quar­ter, he said.

“Right now, we have about 65 peo­ple that have an ac­count that’s ac­tive,” he said. “Since we’ve started we’ve had ap­prox­i­mately 175 ac­counts cre­ated.”

AHRC re­ceives three to ten re­quests per week, and can typ­i­cally ac­cept all re­quests, Helm said. Lately, French has been the lan­guage of choice among those re­quest­ing ac­cess.

The sys­tem, which AHRC de­vel­oped after the li­brary came to them with the idea and one copy of Rosetta Stone, “works fairly well” ac­cord­ing to Helm, though it’s not with­out its prob­lems.

Jamie Li ’13, a Rosetta Stone user, called the reg­is­tra­tion process “very, very straight­for­ward.” Li, who has al­ways wanted to learn Span­ish, said she could not re­sist the chance to try it for free.

“[It's] very log­i­cal, very ad­dic­tive and very fun,” she said about the pro­gram.

Some stu­dents, how­ever, have com­plained of dif­fi­cul­ties ac­cess­ing the com­puter pro­gram.

“I got [the pro­gram] and tried using it, and it wasn’t work­ing,” Ellen Irwin ’13 told The Dart­mouth, adding that she e-mailed AHRC for as­sis­tance but was un­able to suc­cess­fully im­ple­ment their sug­ges­tions in time to use Rosetta Stone be­fore her li­cense ex­pired.

“I’m going to try again at some point, when I fig­ure out what went wrong,” she said.

Irwin wanted to use Rosetta Stone to brush up on Span­ish be­fore tak­ing the class Fall term.

Rosetta Stone di­vides each lan­guage into three lev­els, Helm said, but AHRC only of­fers ac­cess to the sec­ond and third lev­els of Span­ish and Ger­man be­cause of the cost of pro­vid­ing ac­cess to higher lev­els of the pro­gram. Cur­rently, only ac­cess to the first level of the other 12 lan­guages is avail­able.

“I wish we could offer more lev­els [of the other lan­guages],” Helm said.

In ad­di­tion, most of the users re­quest­ing ac­cess never ac­tu­ally log into their ac­counts. This could be­come a prob­lem be­cause if enough peo­ple sign up but never ac­cess the soft­ware, there may not be room for new users, Helm said.

“I would hate to pre­vent peo­ple from ac­cess­ing it be­cause too many peo­ple are signed up [and not using the soft­ware],” he said.

Even so, the sys­tem works well and is af­ford­able, Helm said. It al­lows stu­dents to self-study a lan­guage and pro­vides ac­cess to in­struc­tion in a lan­guage the Col­lege may not offer.

“We’ve tried to say ‘let’s find a way and do it’,” he said.




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