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August 25, 2009


Aurore Leigh Barrett

First let me say how much I appreciate all of the Well-Read e-mails. They delight my day when I receive one. Secondly, my husband is learning Spanish through Rosetta Stone and loves it - I will soon be trying to learn Irish (I am a Celtic Scholar) in the same program. I have an I-Pod but am still a novice at using it, but your article has encouraged me to press on.


Steve, I learned a lot from this article. You've given me some great ideas on how to move on my dream to learn Italian. I always found popular music a great way to hear a language and get familiar with it. That's what I used to reinforce my French.

E. Melvin

I am a teacher and use Rosetta Stone for not only teaching Spanish, but my Special Ed and English Language Learners as well. We watch DVDs in Spanish, and, being in Texas, we play games, read news, and magazines in Spanish. We are still debating whether novelas should extend beyond a season or our shows be limited to one season. One of my favorite activities is to compare the Castillian Spanish to Latin American Spanish-I had to; some of my students tried to convince non-Spanish speakers that vosotros was not a real word. Oy.


Another great mmersion device is a part-time job in an ethnic neighborhood's business, if you can score one.

I was disappointed (but not in you!) to hear that you are having trouble with dialogue on Spanish-speaking stations. This is my weak point, too, and I am despairing of ever training my slow Southern ear to their speedy speech!


You forgot the old standby, television. Watching anime has done more for my study of Japanese than anything else. Unfortunately, this can lead to an odd mastery. I can say "Kinsei no akuma wa kagaka ninja tai to tatakai toki ni, zettai makenai" (When the devil of Venus fights the science ninja team, he definitely can't lose) but getting directions to the bathroom is still a bit problematic.



This is a great post, with some good tips on how to add a bit of immersion into daily life.

Like Ivy, anime has led me and my son, Ian, to a study of Japanese language. In addition to his "odd mastery" from the anime, Ian and I are using Rosetta Stone to learn Japanese. It is nice learning it together because it gives us someone else to practice on. There is also a local Japanese Language Meet Up group here in St. Louis that we are planning to join once we are a bit more comfortable with the basics.

Right now we are using the "phonetic" setting for the written part to help us learn the words and pronunciation. Once we've got a bit more proficiency, we'll go back and learn the Kanji.


Sometimes I feel, learning language including my mother tongue is equal to learning life. It is difficult to me as much.

janice dunn lee

I was inspired by your article, as I have been trying to learn French since I moved to France two years ago. I have tried many of the methods you suggested, and a few more such as language immersion school, group lessons, in addition to a private tutor. I listen to French radio in the car, watch French news in the morning while on the treadmill, and listen to Learn French by IPOD while cooking and taking long walks. I've tried Rosetta Stone which was entertaining for a while, and have many tapes and books. It still is one of the most frustrating and difficult experiences of my life, and I have developed many excuses for not learning French in France. In fact, I think I have enough material to write a book someday. My work enviroment is English speaking, my husband is not interested in learning (he says why bother and go through the aggravation especially if I learn), and you would be amazed with how many people speak English here. My motivation level comes and goes, as studying a language is really hard work and takes time. Your best advice to me is to enjoy the journey. Thanks.



Well written article with some great ideas. I tried an alternative approach...I married a French teacher. She's been especially useful during trips to France: translation on demand,help with menu selections and a friendly intermediary with locals. Not very effective in that I haven't learned much French...but as you said it's the journey that counts. And it's been a great journey!


I only wish that Rosetta Stone could expand and include Albanian. I really would love to brush up on the language and impress my relatives when I get a chance to visit!


Very Nice Article, Steve(by the way, I am Steve as well) . I am studying the Tagalog Language (from The Philippines). I use the iPod all day long at work. I have even begun to make a nuisance of myself by speaking the language to all my Peers at work.
I Love the fact that I can now say full sentences in Tagalog.I never thought I'd be able to learn(have memory problems).But, if you're motivated enough,you can learn anything.


I love Pimsleur, too. I'm halfway through the second set and am amazed at how much I've learned. Try the Memorize Words in Spanish app on the iPhone. I own pretty much every Spanish-learning iPhone app, and it's the best. Uses spaced repetition to teach up to 6,000 words. Elegant design as well. There are also a lot of Spanish-learning podcasts out there. Coffee Break Spanish and Notes in Spanish with Ben & Marina are two of my faves.

Thanks to you and other commenters for the tips.


This is so very true. As we grow older we find it difficult to learn new things, language being one of them. It is therefore especially important that people who are determined to learn a new language immerse themselves in the culture and language in order to get the best results.

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