Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Immerse Yourself in Another Language

Max says he wants to learn how to speak Japanese.  Sounds good to me!  We were at Costco yesterday and found some immersion software and I remembered reading about it on another homeschooling blog.  Rosetta Stone, of course, is the most expensive form of language program out there currently, but their price tag is ridiculous.  $600-700?????  I don't care how great they say their product is - that's too much cash to lay out.  If I was an international business person and needed to learn Dutch for a project and if my company agreed to pay for the Rosetta Stone software, then I might go a long with it.  But maybe not - I think it's wrong to pay those kinds of outlier prices and assist in justifying them.  I like the kind of karma where something is offered out of the idea of it being the right thing to do, not because it will make money.

Besides that, sitting in front of your computer with software is probably not going to increase your fluency all that much; you'd be better off attending classes or going to the country and diving into the culture to pick up the language.  Learning a new language is difficult and it takes a long time, not just a few intensive sit-ins in front of your computer.  Seeing that we're in the fifth grade, though, this software is a good fit. 

This package was $25 yesterday, a cost I could swallow without feeling any bitterness toward the manufacturer.  We played with it last night and Max really enjoyed it, mainly because you can record yourself as you pronounce words and listen to the playback alongside a fluent speaker.  It was fun!  He worked on learning the names of colors, numbers and some basic phrases.  He played with it again today out of his own volition, which is great.  Out of the offerings we found at Costco, Max picked the software to teach him Spanish.  We live in New Mexico, his cousins speak Spanish, he has friends that speak Spanish, so Spanish it is for now.  Japanese can come later if he wishes to have a go at it.

There are interactive games to play, words and phrases to practice, colorful pictures, two helpful fluent speakers who always have the same expressions on their faces, but when you get something right one of them says, "Si!" enthusiastically and her face lights up.  Maybe the Rosetta Stone speakers have faces that change expression more often, maybe that's why they charge $700?

Levels 1, 2 & 3.  Not that we're expecting to be able to speak fluently, but exposure to another language is a very good thing.  I think an introduction to Latin or Greek would be good, too, to help us nail down the origins of our language.  There are several fun ways to learn Latin, one of which I have blogged about in the past: A Mouse's Guide to Latin.  It's over on my old blog on Wordpress.

Instant Immersion has all kinds of languages to choose from.  Lots of homeschooling families really like this format.  So far, so fun!

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