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Rosetta Stone vs Living Language

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ROSETTA STONE

If you've ever thought of learning a new language, you've probably come across Rosetta Stone. Aiming to teach students a new language in the same way they learned their native tongue - namely, through a process they call "Dynamic Immersion" - Rosetta Stone gives you new vocabulary, phrases, and sentences without constant translation between English and Russian.

You can get a small taste of how this works by clicking on the "Try a Free Demo" button near the top of the main Russian product page. You'll be shown several pictures, which will be labeled in Russian and accompanied by the matching pronunciation of the word. You match the sound and the written word with the correct image, which will then be paired with two verbs (boy, girl, the boy eats, the girl drinks). Unfortunately, that's the extent of the free demo for Russian; you can get a free 3-day trial for Spanish, English, French, German, or Italian, but that isn't as helpful as it would be to see how Rosetta Stone approaches teaching a completely different alphabet like Cyrillic, for example. But, you may find it useful to try out Rosetta Stone's overall approach to teaching languages, to see if it's a good fit for your learning style.

One plus is that Rosetta Stone's newer pricing makes them much more competitive with other providers of Russian lessons in the past, their programs cost $400 or more, putting them out of reach for many learners on a budget. But, at the time of our review, Rosetta Stone's Russian program was selling for $199 for a two-year online subscription and $179 for access via CD-ROM or download.

Similarly, their satisfaction guarantee/return policy has gotten an upgrade - 30-day, no risk, money back guarantee on all products, not just their CD-ROMs as the policy had previously stated.

Student reviews of Rosetta Stone are mixed. Some learners felt that the program didn't deliver a truly immersive language experience, and that their resulting level of fluency was lower than they had expected. Of course, no language program can be truly immersive; the only way to get that experience is to spend time in Russia or another Russian-speaking nation (or community). On the other hand, there are hundreds of reviews from satisfied language-learners who appreciate Rosetta Stone's attempts to teach languages in a more natural way and have used the skills they gained in a variety of settings, from school to work and travel.

Although we'd love to see a more complete free trial specifically of the Russian program Rosetta Stone offers, we appreciate their new and improved pricing and satisfaction guarantee, and we're confident that many students will enjoy learning Russian using their immersion-style approach.

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LIVING LANGUAGE

Living Language's uses a four-step approach to studying Russian: Build a Foundation, Progress with Confidence, Retain What You've Learned, and Achieve Your Goals. For almost seven decades, the techniques that Living Language initially developed for the US State Department have allowed students to create a strong foundation of core words and phrases, moving easily to complete sentences and conversations, and eventually conversing comfortably in Russian in a number of real-world situations.

The Russian lessons offered by Living Language are delivered in two basic formats: Russian Essential and Complete, which are presented through books and audio CDs, and the Russian Online Course:

  • Russian Essential Components - 10 Russian language lessons in two books, with additional review exercises and dialogues; an extensive Russian glossary; a guide to reading and writing Russian; and, 3 audio CDs with example phrases, vocabulary, dialogues, and more. This sells for $22.95.
  • Russian Complete Components - 46 Russian language lessons in four books, 9 audio CDs, and the guide to reading and writing Russian. This is priced at $49.95.
  • Russian Online Course - based on the content included in the course books described above, the online course adds interactive activities such as games and quizzes to help strengthen your skills. It also includes access to an online community of language experts and other students, and e-Tutoring with native speakers of Russian is also available. The program includes all three available levels of instruction, from beginner to advanced. Prices start at $39 for one month of access and go up to $150 for a full year; the 12-month package also includes two e-Tutoring credits, and additional credits can be purchased by students at any subscription level.

If you'd like to get an idea of Living Language's approach to teaching Russian, be sure to take a look at their free Language Lab. You can access it directly from the website, without having to enter your email address or any other personal information. We suggest going directly to Lesson 1: Essential Expressions and trying the vocabulary flashcard game. You may want to set the transliteration feature to "on", which will allow you to see the approximate English pronunciation of the Cyrillic words. You will also be able to see which topics are covered in the Russian program; for example, the 10 lessons in the Essential level cover basic expressions and other everyday topics, while the Intermediate level helps you talk about health and food (among many other subjects).

However, we felt that the free Language Lab activities didn't really help us understand how Living Language structures its teaching of Russian. We were left wondering if there is any direct instruction regarding the Cyrillic alphabet or pronunciation, or how the famously tricky grammar of Russian is addressed. We would have liked to see, at a minimum, a video or screenshots of the lessons themselves, or a description of the progression within the lessons. Most competitors allow prospective students to see the dashboard, syllabus, or other detailed information, so that they know exactly what they're getting with their program. Living Language felt like something of a mystery with respect to how, exactly, they teach their Russian lessons. Especially because there is no return policy or satisfaction guarantee - again, unlike most of their competitors - students may find it best to try one of their lower-priced options, such as the one-month online course, before committing to a more expensive package or subscription.

On a positive note, Living Language's e-Tutoring has many positive reviews from students who feel that it's well worth the investment. Pricing varies, but Living Language includes two e-Tutoring credits with their full-year package, and students can purchase further credits if they wish. For many of their language programs, Living Language offers a Platinum package that combines the full-year online course and all of the print/audio materials, along with twelve e-Tutoring credits; unfortunately, Russian is not one of the languages that currently offers access to that Platinum package. We suggest contacting Living Language to inquire regarding their e-Tutoring prices if you feel that you would benefit from working one-on-one with a native speaker.

On the whole. Living Language's Russian lessons have positive reviews, especially for their tutoring options, but their lack of a satisfaction policy and scant details about the structure of their program make it difficult to give them a higher rating at this time.

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Russian Lessons

To help you find the Best Russian Lessons, TopConsumerReviews.com provides you with an in-depth comparison of Rosetta Stone and Living Language.

Why learn to speak Russian? More than 270 million people speak Russian worldwide, from native speakers living in the nations of the former Soviet Union to students who have learned it as a second language. In fact, many federal agencies - from the US Department of Agriculture to the Department of Defense, as well as the FBI, CIA, NSA and State Department - have identified Russian as a priority language of national need.

It's no wonder, therefore, that speaking Russian can be a distinct advantage in one's career goals, international travels, or post-graduate studies. Modern technology makes it possible to learn Russian from the comfort of your home - or anywhere you choose to go with your mobile device and headphones - rather than trying to find a local class and fit it into your busy lifestyle.

From audio lessons to interactive multimedia programs on your laptop, beginning and experienced students alike can easily access the information needed to take their skills to the next level.

When deciding on a program for studying Russian, you should determine your overall goals and focus on a program that will help you meet your objectives while being a good fit for your learning style, available time for studying, and your budget.

If you learn best by listening, you may want to focus on lessons that are provided primarily in audio format, making it easy to learn on-the-go, during your commute, and so on.

On the other hand, if you're a more visual learner, you will want to choose a program with Russian lessons that are delivered through videos, images, and reading materials, whether that's delivered via CD/DVD or through an online download or subscription.

One aspect of learning Russian to keep in mind is its use of a non-Roman alphabet. Russian is written using the Cyrillic alphabet, which can take some time to recognize, understand, and master.

Is it important for you to learn how to read and write in Russian, or is conversational ability sufficient? If your reasons for learning the language include reading and writing, make sure to select Russian lessons that will give you experience with Cyrillic.

There are a few key components to evaluate as you consider which Russian lessons will be a good fit. These include:

  • Instructional Methods. Many language programs offer a free trial. Did the sample lesson or activity leave you feeling interested and educated, or frustrated? Is the structure of the program a match with your preferred way of learning (for example, auditory, visual, and so on)?
  • Skill Level. Does the program expect that you've already had experience with Russian or with learning languages in general? How much instruction is provided in the program package? Will you have full access to all levels for one price, or will you have to spend more to purchase more advanced levels as you progress?
  • Value. Have other people gained or improved their fluency in Russian with this program? Is it worth the price you will pay to purchase the download, CDs, or subscription?

TopConsumerReviews.com has reviewed and ranked the best Russian lessons available today. We hope these reviews will help you to find the perfect Russian program to get you on the road to fluency in no time!



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