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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