Rosetta Stone Vietnamese Level 1-3 Set
I have Rosetta Stone V4 TOTALe: French Level 1-3 Set, so I bought Rosetta Stone Vietnamese Level 1-3 Set with some expectations. I was a little disappointed in the Vietnamese program, because it has so much potential. Below are some of my observations.
SOME THINGS TO KNOW
Before purchasing Vietnamese TOTALe, there are a few things you might like to know:
* Vietnamese TOTALe teaches in the Northern accent
* Vietnamese TOTALe only goes up to level 3 (other languages may go up to level 5)
* TOTALe may only be installed on one computer
* Up to five learners may be added (those learners may use Rosetta Course freely but must pay for access to Rosetta World and Studio)
* 6 month guarantee only available if purchased directly from Rosetta Stone (must be CD-ROM version)
* Children under thirteen may not access Rosetta World and Studio.
I actually found the flash cards to be much more difficult in Vietnamese than in French. Of course, Vietnamese is a more difficult language for a Westerner to learn. They don’t start out with simple words — it’s partial sentences.
Basically, words flash on the screen and the learners match them with the cards. Later, we type them or we say them. Word association comes slowly but surely. My kids picked up rather quickly.
The word recognition is weaker in Vietnamses than in French. I could say things completely wrong and Vietnamese TOTALe takes it. There is an option to set the sensitivity. I just haven’t gotten around to it. The default gives lots of leeway.
On the software, there are a lot fewer speakers in Vietnamese than in French. I find that a drawback, because it’s good to hear the same words and phrases from many people.
In Rosetta Studio, learners meet with a native speaking coach where they go over some cards and the coach quizzes the learners on the vocabulary and phrases they’ve learned in the Rosetta Course.
My experience in Vietnamese Studio hasn’t been the most fantastic. I guess I compare it to the French Studio sessions and there are so many limitations that I’ve run into.
For one, the hours are very limited compared to French Studio sessions. At one point, no sessions were available for a few weeks during December. Admittedly, someone must have been on vacation, but there was no replacement until I emailed to complain. Now, there are about two slots per day from which to choose. It varies week to week. Sometimes, only three days a week are available. Compare that to French, where I can pretty much schedule any time of the day, even during December.
Secondly, I seem to have audio problems with the Vietnamese coach, whereas there are no problems with the myriad of French coaches I’ve had. It’s just the Vietnamese coach. I think maybe she has a bad connection, but they say it’s a problem on my end.
Finally, the coach (speaking with a Northern accent) has a problem with me using any phrase or word other than what’s in the “book.” Although I may respond correctly, she will correct me until I say it exactly as it says on her phrasebook. Okay, I’m not great at Vietnamese, which is why I’m taking it, so I ask native speakers for help, and they agree that I’m speaking correctly, it’s just not what’s in her phrasebook. French coaches will go on, as long as I’m communicating correctly. Also, this same coach has me repeating phrases I’ve already said. She does not emphasize that I’m pronouncing anything incorrectly as the French coaches do. I just repeat exactly as before and then we move on. Very frustrating. These have to be quirks of this particular coach. I mention it because it is a problem for me, as I have gotten the same coach each time I’ve signed on.
Hours are very limited (1 PM to 5 PM Pacific Time). One may play solo games or read and listen to stories at any time.
Games involving two players can be played outside of Rosetta World hours, but no one is ever around outside those hours. Even within those hours, there are very few players, maybe one or two at the most.
Duo mode involves playing with other Vietnamese learners. In Simbio mode, players play against English learners who are native Vietnamese speakers. Games may be played on keyboard or via mic. I find keyboarding in Vietnamese very difficult because of the accent marks on the letters so I only use the mic. Other players are only comfortable on keyboard, but it’s mic vs. mic or keyboard vs. keyboard.
I have never ever seen any Simbio (native Vietnamese speakers learning English) players. In French TOTALe, it is rare. In Vietnamese TOTALe, it is non-existent.
One shortfall of the games is a lack of Chatonium, where the players freely chat for a short, timed session. This is a great way to improve conversational skills and I wonder why it is not available. I have it in French Rosetta World and it is invaluable.
SOUTHERN VIETNAMESE VS. NORTHERN VIETNAMESE
Rosetta Stone TOTALe focuses on teaching Northern Vietnamese. Apart from accent, basic vocabulary is often different. While native born Southern Vietnamese seem to understand those of either accent, it can be confusing to new learners to deal with the difference in vocabulary, which can be completely different. Tonal accent differences are less of a problem. Although they are markedly different to native speakers, the tones are so similar to Western ears that Westerners don’t seem to distinguish them well. Therefore, it doesn’t confuse them. I cite my children as an example of that. Pronunciation differences can be a problem, but just a few corrections are needed and they move on just fine.
Most Vietnamese expatriates are South Vietnamese, although there are also plenty of Northerners.
If you already own Rosetta Stone TOTALe in another language, it would be better to buy Rosetta Stone Homeschool Vietnamese Level 1-3 Set including Audio Companion. That way, you could install the language CD’s for Vietnamese into your Rosetta Stone TOTALe. This will give you Vietnamese TOTALe on that computer. Then, you can install Rosetta Stone Homeschool on another computer.
Homeschool is basically like getting TOTALe with just the Rosetta Course. It has its own advantages, like the ability to track progress for up to five students per computer and the ability to install in up to three computers. It does not have Rosetta World. You cannot install Homeschool and TOTALe on the same computer.
Actually, because Vietnamese Rosetta World is not developed as fully as some other languages, I suggest buying directly from the manufacturer to get the six month guarantee. If you don’t like it, you can always get your money back. I don’t think this works if you buy it anywhere else. It also doesn’t work if you buy the online subscription only, which I accidentally did once, so be sure you do buy the CD-ROM version of TOTALe.
If you are looking for purely Southern Vietnamese, then TOTALe Vietnamese will not be for you.