There’s an App for That, but I Still Need People

I just came across an interesting story in the Chronicle of Higher Education about a report that found that Rosetta Stone is not an adequate replacement for language teachers and courses. Apparently some Rosetta marketers were claiming that Rosetta Stone could substitute for the first two years of a language instruction.  What world are they living in?!

I’m a proponent for technology helping an individual to learn language. But there are real and important limits that only a real teacher can help students cross when it comes to learning a new language.

I’m currently learning some Mandarin Chinese through the Living Languages Chinese app on my ipad.  I really enjoy it and it has enabled me to start learning to read a few words in Chinese and to engage in a basic conversation. I try to run through an exercise each night right before bed so my brain can process it during sleep. I have currently worked through the first five lessons on the app.


That being said, I realize that there is alot that I am missing. I am only learning vocabulary right now. Learning grammar through an app rather than through hearing and speaking with another person is almost impossible. When learning the characters, I see similarities between certain words and wonder what those similarities mean. There are cultural cues that one must learn from a person; a computer would never be a good simulation for that.

Because I realize the importance of a quality, in-person learning experience when learning a new language, I am excited to start Chinese 101 in the Fall at the college where I’m a librarian. I’m fortunate that employees such as myself are allowed to take one class per semester for free so that I can take this course. If that weren’t an option, I would look into classes at our local Chinese cultural center.

I figured I should get started learning a language this summer. My 41 year old brain is no match for the 18 year olds in the Fall! But I’m also really looking forward to Dr Ye providing important contexts and cues that I’m missing now with my app.

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3 Responses to There’s an App for That, but I Still Need People

  1. Pingback: Embedded Audio: Counting to Ten in Chinese | TechieLibrarian

  2. Pingback: Embedded Audio: Counting in Mandarin | Beth Transue: EdTech Learning Log

  3. Pingback: Dreaming of Downton Abbey, Espionage, and speaking in Chinese | Heading East

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