Tom Givon tgivon at
Sat Jan 22 04:33:35 UTC 2011

I am forwarding a letter from Katharine Nielson from the U. of Maryland 
(<knielson at>). It speaks for itself. Y'all have fun y'hear.  TG


On 1/21/2011 6:49 PM, Katharine Nielson wrote:
> Ah, my old friend Rosetta Stone.  I tried to conduct an empirical study with 150 volunteers who agreed to use RS according to manufacturer's recommendations for about 6 months.  These were all highly motivated adult learners who were granted free access to the software in their workplace.  I say "tried" because our overwhelming finding was of severe participant attrition.  32 volunteers persisted with the software for more than 10 hours and only 21 made it through to the first scheduled assessment.  After the first test, which was designed to be given 1/4 of the way through the study, the drop-our rate became even more dramatic, and just one participant finished the complete study protocol.
> This crazy attrition is probably mostly a product of the uselessness of these computer-mediated, self-study programs that tout themselves as "language learning solutions."  We found similar results with a similar study of Auralog TELL ME MORE.
> The other work I did with RS was to "critically evaluate" the software in light of the questionable claims put forth by the company's marketing department.  We basically said that there was no way that using Rosetta Stone alone could possibly result in much successful language acquisition given the lack of genuine input, the exposure to a handful of scripted, unrealistic dialogues, and the lack of opportunities for output and interaction.  Another PhD student and I spent many, many hours going through all of the Arabic and Spanish lessons in Version 2 and Version 3 of Rosetta Stone in order to write the comparative review.
> I read through the thread you forwarded, and it might be worth noting that in my experience, RS is very trigger-happy with the lawyers.  They hired Skadden Arps (one of the biggest law firms in DC) to come after the University of Maryland after they got hold of the technical reports I wrote, and the end result is that CASL is not permitted to distribute them and I am not supposed to talk about them. I believe these Rosetta Stone technical reports are actually available through the CASL website, but I have been told not to distribute the link.
> Feel free to forward this response to the list if you think it would be helpful to anyone.
> Thanks for getting in touch with me!
> Katie

More information about the Funknet mailing list