You already know I am a lover of words. And if you follow me on Instagram, this is evident through my very long captions and quotes I share on stories. Being able to emote, through communication, is one of my favorite things the human body does. A jumble of sounds that come together to have meaning, in so many different languages, is truly one of the most intense, powerful things we as humans do.
But there is so much more to language than just words. You can’t just throw a jumble of words together as a means of communication, well I guess you could but it wouldn’t make sense. There’s specific tenses, subjects, predicates, orders in which the subject and the verb are placed- remind you this is language specific. Not every language follows the same structure as English. And on top of all of that, add in slang, words that have multiple meanings, body language, hand gestures, enunciations and where those are placed within a sentence. A lot goes into what we take for granted every day: spoken and written language.
My relationship with words and language is a constant work in progress. I always seek a challenge (in every aspect of life ;)) so I decided I would learn French. To preface this, I am very familiar with the language. I took 6 years’ worth of French between high school and college. Before committing to learning French through Rosetta Stone, I went back and forth with the option of switching and learning Spanish. It sounded like a good idea, even more of a challenge. But what purpose would this serve as I truly want to be able to speak two languages? And essentially travel deeper in doing so. I’m sure if I chose Spanish I would have had a great experience, but I chose to build on my knowledge and understanding of the romance language, French.
I’ve been out of practice, per se, since 2013. I haven’t necessarily carried on a conversation in French since then. I did a little bit during my trip to Morocco in 2017 and that’s when I realized how beneficial it would be to be fluent in another language. Perhaps a woman wouldn’t have grabbed my hand in the medina and painted (unwanted) henna on my hand and then force me to pay her or maybe I would have been able to barter a little bit better whilst shopping for textiles or chatted with this adorable couple. For many Moroccans, French is the second spoken language, making it the second most widely used form of communication in the country. Don’t get me wrong, I got by fine with English but speaking French would have allowed me to go a little deeper with communication and connect a little more powerfully with locals.
It’s crazy to think after all of my travels, it has taken me this long to dive deeper into learning another language. With no plans of going back to school to learn a language, I remember making it one of my intentions for 2019 to learn a language. I had no idea how that was going to all work out but I knew I wanted to do it. The opportunity to work with Rosetta Stone, quite literally, fell into my lap. It was meant to be, I was meant to finally dive deeper into having more intentional travel experiences.
How to Learn French Online (or any other language)
There are plenty of ways you could learn French but there is only one way I would choose to learn: Rosetta Stone. Like I said, I took 6 years of French and honestly swear I spoke it fluently in a past life. But now, in this life, I am back to square one. I am a beginner.
Now, let me preface all of this by saying, this isn’t your grandma’s way of learning a language. Nope. Rosetta Stone makes learning new languages accessible to anyone, ANYWHERE. There’s an app for that 😉 Which was one of the most appealing things about it. You can create an account on the website and within minutes you’re on to your new adventure. There are 30 different languages to choose from when signing up. Depending on your goals and what you want from this new language, I would recommend choosing a language that you will use or can see yourself using in the future. It takes a lot of work, patience and practice to teach your mouth and voice box to adapt to a new way of ‘thinking’ – so choose wisely.
Having chosen French, I can say the way the program is set up in a way that makes the learning environment convenient and easy to follow. The learning process is divided into 20 units, and includes an Extended Learning portion in the app, which includes fun features such as Seek & Speak, Phrasebook, Stories, and Audio Companion- more on those later.
The ‘My Lessons’ section is where you will do the bulk of your work. It is further divided by units and each unit within the lesson touches upon different overarching topics. You’ll begin Unit 1 with what they call ‘The Basics.’ This provides you with exactly that, the basics. Within the Unit there are 4 different lessons, as you progress each increases with difficulty. Under each lesson within the specific unit you will learn proper pronunciation, vocabulary, grammar, how to read the language and how to write the language. The timing to complete each lesson and furthermore each unit depends on your speed as a learner.
Each unit builds on the previous one so you are always prepared for the next stage of learning. For French, Rosetta Stone uses 20 units in order for the student to achieve a conversational level of the language, both speaking and listening through their Dynamic Immersion method of learning. And those units are further divided by the same outline I described above. You always know what to expect and for me, this sort of habitual style of learning is what works. One of my favorite parts about Rosetta Stone (aside from being able to take it everywhere) is that you can repeat a unit or lesson as many times as you want if you feel you need practice. It’s not like the tests we experienced in school. This interactive method really helped me retain the information more easily compared to those tests I mentioned above!
The Extended Learning section is divided into four different sections in the app: Seek & Speak, Phrasebook, Stories, and Audio Companion. Seek & Speak turns a photograph into a conversation. My challenge was ‘fruit for dessert.’ I had to take a picture of five of my favorite fruits and the Rosetta Stone technology turned it into a unique conversation based on those five fruits. Phrasebook is a compilation of widely used phrases making it the perfect tool to reference when traveling to a French speaking country if you’re in a pinch. The Stories section is for pronunciation. A story is read to you and after, you record yourself reading it. I loved this because it allows you to hear how close (or not so close) your pronunciation is to a native French speaker by using their TruAccent Technology. The last piece of the Extended Learning section is Audio Companion. This was perhaps my favorite part of the Extended Learning section. It allows you to download units while you’re on WiFi so that you can use them when you might not have service or access to WiFi. This feature will come in handy for the next few months of travel and handful of long haul flights I am about to embark on!
What Does Learning French Look Like on Rosetta Stone?
Now that I covered the basics of what the platform looks like and what to expect in the units, let’s dive into the Rosetta style of teaching. Each lesson has a different purpose which means the teaching technique is a little different. When using Rosetta Stone to learn French, you can expect a few different teaching styles. Some are as basic as writing a description of a photo they show you, matching a word or phrase with a photo, or repeating back what you hear a native French speaker saying. And when you repeat it back, the Rosetta Stone TruAccent technology can gauge how accurate your pronunciation was.
Learning French using Rosetta Stone also means you get to create your own learning schedule with lessons as short as 10 minutes! More on learning French in a minute.
What Was the Hardest Part of the Process?
For me, the hardest part of learning a language has always been pronunciation. Something about training my throat and my tongue all over again has always been a challenge. I didn’t find the process of learning the language hard because of the format Rosetta Stone uses. Think of it as if the grandmother you love so much is teaching you her beloved language. The process is gentle which keeps you at ease making your mind more susceptible to retaining all of the new information!
How Important is Learning Another Language?
Well, that is up to the student. For me, it is extremely important. You know I travel a lot so having French in my back pocket, even if I’m not in a French speaking country, is important. The odds of running into a situation where French or English is spoken is greater than finding yourself in a situation abroad where just English is spoken. The odds of you being able to communicate are much greater if you speak two languages.
I’m not just speaking for haggling at a market or ordering food at a restaurant. I’m more so talking about those situations that you want to ask a question in, or there’s someone you feel drawn to talk to that might not understand English (my native language), or there is someone in your hotel bar or hostel kitchen that you really want to strike up a conversation with but again, they might not speak English or whatever your native language is. Those deeper, more intentional moments you might have missed if you didn’t speak another language. That’s why learning a language is important.
I guess what I’m getting at is being able to speak to languages is a sneaky little weapon, a sneaky weapon that you never know when you’ll need.
Where Can I Take Rosetta Stone?
Everywhere. Quite literally. If you have a smartphone or laptop you can take Rosetta Stone to the ends of the earth. Even when you’re in the sky flying to your next destination. Sitting on that hour-long subway ride. Your commute, whatever that looks like. On the beaches of the Seychelles, if you fancy that. I bet you could even take the saved units to space if you wanted. Permitted phones can still turn on up there.
Is Learning French Easy?
Well that’s hard for me to answer because learning French now using Rosetta Stoneis much easier than learning it when I was in high school. I am more familiar with the language and certain things came rushing back for me. I will say, the most beneficial style of learning a language is to immerse yourself in it daily. Whether it’s practicing for 15 minutes, an hour or three hours. That sort of routine and repetition of listening and speaking is key to ‘muscle memory’ of the voice box.
For me, outside of French class and now Rosetta Stone, I’m not exposed to any French speaking people unless I’m traveling. This has forced me to look for alternative ways to practice outside of the app. I’ve found French movies and music with French lyrics to be the most beneficial. Especially when I have subtitles. Most of the time I have no idea what the musician is singing about but the occasional ‘amour’ is thrown in there and you’d think I’d won the lottery with how giddy I get for recognizing a word or phrase.
Learn to Speak Anytime, Anywhere
Learning a language might not be the easiest thing you do but Rosetta Stone has created a space that makes it accessible. Learning another language is an investment in yourself and the experiences you want to create. Rosetta Stone offers subscriptions starting at 3, 6, 12, and 24 months. I will note, cost wise, the longer you commit to learning a new language the less expensive the packages become! So, opt out of the $7 coffee and instead make an investment in yourself. Here’s to more fulfilling and intentional experiences, at home, on the road and everywhere you go.
This post is written in partnership with Rosetta Stone. However, as always, my opinions are my own.