Discussion in 'Product Reviews' started by Lance Manion, Sep 29, 2014.
How about a thread regarding the dominance of Rosetta Stone?
For a moment I thought I was back on the thread about horrifying technologies that shouldn't be allowed to exist....
Of course we have a review forum, but few/any here are likely to shell out for RS to be able to review it. Those who review it elsewhere tend to be first-time language learners who really are not knowledgeable enough to be able to judge its shortcomings. RS is a triumph of marketing, and it is a well-known depressing fact that inferior products marketed very well can drive out superior products that are marketed relatively poorly. Assimil with its francophone focus and seeming disdain for English base products is really missing the boat commercially in not catering to English speaking businesses and tourists, which includes those with smaller native langs who learned English first.
t123's suggestions above are very good, and what he is discussing are both common language learning searches as well as long-tail searches. But that mostly requires members here to start and discuss such topics, thus to create content. That just takes time. What is certain though is that content alone does not suffice, as witness HTLAL's poor SEO ranking, a large part of which undoubtedly is due to frequent slow server times. So we need to just continue discussing the stuff we are already and attract more members and hopefully that will have a snowball effect content-wise. Then it will be up to the admins to insure good server/software response which already seems likely, plus other traditional SEO/marketing stuff like FB and twitter posts and encouraging blog posts linking to PD (i.e. the posts themselves and not replies which often have no-follow links automatically inserted into them). Google rewards natural slow growth and penalizes concentrated efforts to generate links.
I think Assimil have done their research.
If there was sufficient interest in the English-base courses they currently offer, they would translate more from the French.
The Assimil blurb may have all the trendy buzzwords about exposure and absorbtion, but open the book and you see translations, which English speakers have been trained to view as anathema.
Also, I'm not sure how much use it is to non-native speakers of the base language -- there was a lot I couldn't follow when I did the French-base Catalan course.
And yet RS's research has presumably led them to a different conclusion with good success. Unless the mode of instruction is the primary factor, i.e. the Assimil way vs. the RS computer learning way. Aspiring new learners are influenced by advertising/marketing. I see lots of RS ads (hard to ignore actually even with minimal telly watching), while I have yet to see an Assimil advert in American media. Alphonse Chérel's progeny are only moderately competent, and they get moderate results, from both lack of trying to the English speaking market, and lack of quality control in English base translations (it requires a native speaker of English who is also highly competent in the L2 and the Assimil way, plus proofreading by native and L2 speakers).
RS and Assimil are fundamentally different. RS is an easy sell, because it's "new", "fresh" and "exciting" (apparently, but in reality it's 22 years old) whereas Assimil immediately looks... well, book-like. The creator of RS wasn't a teacher, and he wasn't a linguist. He was a computer programmer and an average member of the public. He created what he thought language software should be, and that's more or less what an average member of the public thinks language learning software should be. RS offers something people think they want, and pushes the advertising hard -- they get a high return on their investment. Assimil would have to convince people that they don't really know what they want, and that the Assimil way is more effective than they would otherwise expect, which isn't as easy and would mean a much lower return on investment.
I know there's a computer version of a few Assimil courses, but it's still very much Assimil, and to make it more appealing to the English-speaking masses would probably result in simply recreating Transparent Language (whatever happened to them...?)
I agree that the products are very different, and Assimil is in some ways a harder sell. But I think the reason it doesn't sell as well is inferior advertising. I don't know any of the facts, to be honest, but I suspect they don't do much more advertising in French than in English. Also, it might be getting a higher ROI for it's owners than Rosetta Stone does…we may never know.
Re RS vs Assimil (how did we get off track with this in a suggestions thread, oh wait, . . . nevermind ), I think intended audience and price points are the most important factors. Assimil markets to individual learners and has a relatively low and reasonable (for the results), price point. RS targets corporate and well-healed professional customers with a much higher price point, and results no better than Assimil's, and probably much less. A lot of that price differential pays for advertising.
The question to which I don't know the answer, is does the download version of Assimil with mp3 files also contain a pdf of the book? If so it can easily be done solely on the computer. If not shame on them. I realize they are concerned with file sharing, but there applications (lock lizard, etc.) that are reasonably good but not foolproof for digital text protection.
I think it would be cool if someone made a fake ad for fsi and had a line in there that says, "for the low low price off.... NOTHING!"
Lol - I didn't want to be Mr. Domination.
Chinese and Rosetta stone. Hmmmmmmmmmmm.
Think about the combination! I'm from Colorado, so I think it would be a popular program here, because a lot of people are legally stoned. But it's a great program because the marketing says so, and I want you to stop translating, you twits.
What does Assimil do for you? Give you 100 lessons of the language you are learning and some recordings. How can that help you, or how can it help more than just watching a movie with subtitles? I'd like to know the answer.
How many movies with subtitles would it take for you to learn 1500-2000 words of vocabulary, a variety of primary sentence patterns and other grammar, and reasonably good pronunciation? And would you be able/willing to break a movie or movies into digestible 5-10 minute chunks to listen to over and over? Plus there is the aspect of how accurate the subtitles are, which is not a concern with Assimil or other courses.
If you could get a transcript of the movie in the L2 to compare with the subtitles, and used a grammar book along with it to really work out all you could, then perhaps movies (or better soap operas) would be an effective primary method. Why not instead complete an Assimil or other beginning course (TY/LivLang/FSI/etc.) and then use movies/TV with subtitles to reinforce and build on that base?
There's a programmed progression in the audio, with language features being introduced gradually, then repeated. My feeling is that the introduction is not gradual enough, and many features aren't repeated enough. This is due to the limitation of the (physical) medium. More lessons means more paper, and also more vinyl/tape/optical media.
If it was an online-only product, they could have much material without the problems of media size, but no-one's ever attempted something similar, AFAIK. (There was a guy on this forum talking about such a project for Far Eastern languages, but his website hasn't launched yet.)
Comparable methods at the moment are
Transparent Language: they have traditionally had less material and less repetition than Assimil, because they put all their time into translations, word lookups etc.
LingQ: has no real concept of language features beyond vocabulary, so suggests progression based entirely on numbers of words. No evidence of much planned progression in a lot of the "lessons".
Large-scale "Podcasts": typically have lots of audio, but again very little evidence of planned progression. Often have a pick-n-mix approach where the listener chooses what to listen to next, so there's very little continuity of language.
I currently rate Assimil as a far better compromise of volume of material vs planned progression than anything comparable.
I have used both RS and Assimil for Spanish. For Christmas 2012, my office staff gave me RS. I worked through a good bit of it. I must admit that I was initially impressed. The interface is very good and attractive. However, it was not until I started researching other resources that I realized that RS, despite it's awesome appearance, is not worth the money, in my opinion. I think that Assimil is much better. However, I would not recommend Assimil for a complete newbie trying to learn Spanish. If I were advising someone, I would recommend starting out with Pimsleur 1 (30 lessons). I am a pretty big fan of Teach Yourself, and I think working through it and Assimil simultaneously would be a good thing to do. You can get all three (Pimsleur 1 $119 at Pimsleur website , Assimil $51.19 at Amazon, and Teach Yourself $34.49 at Amazon) for much less that RS (around $350). With the money you saved, you could get several private tutoring sessions on italki. In the end you would come away knowing alot more Spanish. As we say in the South, this is just "alittle extra sugar for a dime"!
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