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Third Time’s a Charm

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In the middle of my German language learning travails, Rosetta Stone reached out to me and asked me to blog about my language-learning process in light of being able to try out their new solution, Rosetta Stone TOTALe. So, here I am.

Third Time’s a Charm

Ich möchte Brot, bitte.

What have I learned in the last couple months using TOTALe?  Well, I have learned quite a bit and it is working.  Seriously.  And I’ll tell you why.

I actually got to meet Duane Sider, Director of Learning at Rosetta Stone, and he pointed out something that now seems so obvious, which is that people don’t learn languages based on charts, irregular verbs, vocab cards, rote memorization. 

I didn’t learn English that way when I was a child and Mark didn’t learn German that way either—we learn languages by learning like children, learning phonetically and over time, which phrase works best in which situation.

I guess in the past, what I had been doing is learning what each English word means in German and what each German word means in English.

Then I would try to piece each sentence together based on subject, verb, object noun agreement, like a puzzle, that at the end of the day, would convey meaning and secure me a loaf of bread and a bottle of milk.

Here’s the hard truth: you can’t really have a conversation with someone if you’re trying to do real-time translation based on coming up with a sentence such as, “I would like a loaf of bread and a bottle of milk” and then try to sort out that German equivalent, while still trying to be charming at the grocery store.  What you need to be able to do is see bread and milk and automatically think “Brot” and “Milch.”

And when you would like something, you had better be nice and say: “Ich möchte Brot und Milch, bitte.”

(Originally published on the Rosetta Stone blog)

May 24, 2010 12:00 AM