Turn a New Phrase

Learning a foreign language is a snap with Rosetta Stone software.

Turn a New PhraseTake your business worldwide by learning to speak your clients’ language   By Ashley Kahn 

It is a small world after all. In a global economy that becomes more connected by the hour, businesses must take steps to stay in stride. Keeping up with current affairs and following the stock market have long been de rigueur, but it may be advantageous to buff up on a second — or sixth — language.

If your foreign language experience dates back to freshman year, you may doubt your ability to take on a new tongue. But innovations in the learning process have changed the game, transforming an experience that once was enraging into a practice that’s positively engaging.

It all starts with a little yellow box.

New language a stone’s throw away

Born of founder Allen Stoltzfus’ frustration with traditional language instruction and named for the cipher that decoded ancient hieroglyphics, Rosetta Stone software emerged on the scene in the mid-1990s, when CD-ROMs forever changed the nature of personal computing.

Stoltzfus teamed up with his brother Eugene and brother-in-law John Fairfield, a doctor of computer science, to create a program unlike any other modern-language course. So confident were the men in their product that it remains 100 percent guaranteed to this day.

The idea behind the program is simple. Instead of falling asleep in a classroom, you learn the language naturally through total immersion. Stimulating images, sounds, words and speech all are integrated into the curriculum, and the results will render you speechless … and bilingual.

Rosetta Stone offers online or CD-ROM courses in 31 languages, from Hindi to Welsh, Pashto to French. Company spokesman Michael Phelps used the program to learn Mandarin Chinese before taking home the gold at the Beijing Olympics.

For business leaders in Northwest Florida, the most common language barrier is Spanish. Intimidated by the aspirated "s" of the Castilian dialect, I set out to learn Latin American Spanish using the award-winning software.

Now you’re talking

After selecting a language, you install the software to your hard drive from a disk or the Web site, rosettastone.com. Once installed, the software automatically scans your computer to ensure that your JavaScript and microphone are compatible and functioning.

Though you have the option of proceeding without downloading the speech recognition feature, this tool allows the software to approve (or improve) your pronunciation in later lessons.

You won’t realize how swiftly you are learning ­— or that you are studying at all — because there are no tedious translations or awkward oral exams. Instead, a mélange of photographic images, printed words and audible phrases fuse to brand the new language in your mind. You’ll instinctively know what you are seeing and saying without the hassle of rote memorization.

Perfect for business travelers, the time you spend at the computer screen is like living among native speakers while continuing your daily working life. The interactive software engages you in every aspect of the natural language progression, just as small children absorb the world and words around them.

You begin by becoming acquainted with simple subjects such as boy and girl, cup and bowl, apple and bread, sky and moon. Then the people, places and things begin to interact.

A woman reads. A horse runs. A cat sleeps.

Each lesson includes a reading, writing, listening and speaking component. You might be shown a picture of a ballpoint pen, to which you would say aloud in Spanish "un boligrafo."

Next you may be required to type in a word you hear spoken by the prompter. Spelling counts, and it will serve you in the long run. In business, it is equally important to be able to express your thoughts in writing as it is to converse with your overseas partners.

Redefining the ‘power lunch’

Most sessions last between five and 30 minutes, the longest being the core lesson that begins every section. Spanish Level 1 covers four units: Language Basics, Greetings & Introductions, Work & School and Shopping.

From there, the content and vocabulary become more challenging. You will learn destinations, emotions, time telling, past and future tenses, celebrations, opinions, currency exchange, business, media, political and religious terms. (It’s probably best to stay away from the latter two in any language.)

Every time you answer a question correctly, your achievement is reinforced by the encouraging sound of a harp. Think of it as empowerment on your path to personal development and career advancement. An incorrect response elicits a descending tone that sounds like the musical equivalent of "uh-oh." Call it constructive criticism.

Make your words work for you

For executives, it pays to stick with Rosetta Stone lessons through Level 3, when business terms that may serve you in your field are introduced. Professionals in hospitality, tourism, telecommunications, health care, manufacturing and other industries benefit from improved language skills. While the software is not comprehensive, expect to develop conversational ease and a command of significant vocabulary.

Rosetta Stone makes it easy to fit language learning into your busy schedule by providing online and audio lessons for your laptop or MP3 player in addition to the CD-ROM that started it all. With these convenient options, you can learn a few new phrases in your downtime — at the gym, during a flight or even in a doctor’s waiting room.

It can be easy to become consumed with the program and spend hours chatting with the voice behind the screen. Though you will learn quickly in this manner, a more steady pace will yield long-term retention.

Specifically for businesses, Rosetta Stone created "Enterprise" solutions — self-paced programs designed to increase one’s competitive edge and improve communication for tomorrow’s market. Business owners can register an entire team or individual learners, create role-based responsibilities with administrator tools, utilize course templates, and track progress with reports confirming a return on their language investment.

With Rosetta Stone, you will learn how to interact with clients, customers and employees around the globe. Impress your colleagues by ordering lunch, asking for directions or negotiating a deal in another language.

Communication is essential in any profession. The original Rosetta Stone unlocked centuries of history. In an emerging world economy, today’s version could unlock your company’s potential.

Getting Started
Rosetta Stone Enterprise for Business
rosettastone.com/organizations/solutions/business or (800) 811-2755


Cost for Personal Use
Varies by Language

$149.95 for three-month online subscription (Levels 1, 2 and 3)
$499 for CD-ROM (Levels 1, 2 and 3; individual levels sold separately)
$50 for Audio Companion add-on (MP3 or stereo-compatible)