Roseta Stone: Redux

john at john at
Tue Feb 8 08:16:04 UTC 2011

I would be amazed if a single person actually learns to speak Navajo
using Rosetta Stone. This is not a language for amateurs.

Quoting "s.t. bischoff" < at>:

> Hi all,
> Over the last week I was involved with an event at the American Indian
> Language Development Institute and the folks that created the Navajo Rosetta
> Stone gave a short talk about the software. What follows is my understanding
> of how it came to be.
> The Navajo Rosetta Stones was created in collaboration with Rosetta Stone
> and the non-profit Navajo Language Renaissance (NLR). NLR is a non-profit
> organization that is NOT affiliated with the tribal council or government in
> any way, for obvious reasons I think (e.g. getting council approval for the
> project). However, it has been endorsed by the school leadership and NLR is
> actively trying to get the school district to adopt the software. You can
> view the NLR website here A
> non-community member started NLR after using Rosetta Stone to learn Russian.
> She thought it would be good if Rosetta Stone created a Navajo version. She
> contacted Rosetta Stone (RS), and they told her they would provide here with
> the software to develop the lessons,  a photographer, and technical
> assistants (limited on the ground, mostly by phone) to develop the program
> for $300,000. Another option would be for her to apply for a grant from RS
> to cover most of the costs. So the NLR was created, a partnership between
> community members and one non-community member,  as a non-profit
> organization and applied. RS gave two grants the year they applied, one went
> to NLR. The grant covered all but $27,000 of the $300,000. So NLR had to pay
> RS $27,000 to have access to the software to create the Navajo Rosetta
> Stone. This means they had to create the lessons and pay speakers and
> informants themselves. RS provided the software, a photographer, and
> technical support for the $27,000. NLR now is the only group that can sell
> Navajo Rosetta Stone, which they do for $150 per license and $200 for a
> personal box set. It is not clear if they have to pay RS a percentage of
> those revenues or not. When I asked a clear answer wasn't given. NLR also
> has a "training" session for administrators and teachers which costs $1500 a
> day and $400 per 3 hours. Needless to say, it is not un-controversial in the
> community for many of the usual reasons. Ironically, the speaker after the
> Rosetta Stone folks gave a talk that demonstrated how to create nearly
> identical language lessons as Rosetta Stone's simply using power point. I
> was encouraged to let folks know that they should contact the NLR if they
> have any questions at mbittinger at You can try a free
> introductory lesson here The folks
> at NLR praised RS for their efforts and felt they had really done them a
> service. In short, they were very happy with the arrangement and how it was
> working out. They were also upset by the controversies surrounding the
> Navajo Rosetta Stone and felt they were really the result of a
> misunderstanding and misguided assumptions. One finally thing, they did seem
> to think that it was not a pancea, but rather another useful tool in
> language revitalization efforts.
> Cheers,
> Shannon

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