Every language teacher I know hates Rosetta Stone. Some hate the drill-and-kill methodology. Some hate the marketing. Others see it as a threat to their jobs. As for the marketing and methodology, I say let’s pile it on.
Claiming that language learning is “guaranteed” and implying that a Kansas farm boy can score a date with an Italian supermodel if he just purchases that yellow box is simply false advertising. And stating that language learning is easy is an insult to those of us who have worked hard our whole lives to actually learn a language. That same statement, not coincidentally, makes Rosetta Stone users who don’t progress feel too ashamed to call in and demand their guaranteed money back.
But let’s be honest with ourselves. Can we really act shocked – shocked! – that Rosetta Stone does not back up its claims with actual performance data when so few of us do so ourselves? Do we really know that sitting in a class with twenty-five other students doing worksheets is more effective than a distance education program, an online class or – perish the thought – Rosetta Stone?
Rosetta Stone is marketing itself to districts, not just airline passengers, and districts are falling for its claims. We can get the union to stand up for our jobs, but where is the proof that Rosetta Stone is really less effective than we are? Is the idea that a teacher in a face-to-face classroom is always more effective supported by better evidence than Rosetta Stone has?