The latest Rosetta Stone English (British) is the version 4 Totale. The program has been upgraded to include a number of interactive learning tools accessible via the web. The program is now available in two formats; the traditional CD boxset, and a 12-month online subscription-learning format. The approach remains largely the same as in previous versions, using picture association to learn words at the basic levels, and then dynamic immersion using native conversation and voice recognition software for mastering grammar in later levels. As with all Rosetta Stone versions, the emphasis is on getting you speaking words immediately with perfecting pronunciation later down the line.
There are 5 levels in the program. Level one covers basic English conversational skills, including greetings and introductions, simple questions and answers, shopping and basic need-to-know words. Levels 2 and 3 aim to provide the confidence to talk about your environment such as giving and getting directions, dining out, shopping, and enjoying basic, social interactions. Levels 4 and 5 enable you to fully express your ideas and opinions in English and master the conversational skills required to plan adventures, care for your health, and move abroad.
Both the boxset and the online version cover the same levels. The boxset version also provides online access to live lessons, interactive games and a learners' community. You also get access to the Rosetta Stone mobile apps for learning on the go. The key difference between the two options is price and accessibility. The online version is solely online with no physical product or downloads. It is $299, but remember, this only gives you a 12-month subscription to master the 5 levels. The full boxset version comes in at $299 as well, but you get all the CDs and online access to the interactive learning tools. If you are only looking at learning basic words and phrasing for a trip to an English speaking country, you might consider just purchasing level 1 for $179 USD. The levels 1, 2, and 3 in boxset will set you back for $259. As you can see, it is far more cost effective to go for the full 5-level set.
The online version is a great idea, but there are two obvious shortcomings. You only get 12 months, which is somewhat a mystery. It is unlikely that you will master the English language in 12 months, and for $299 you would expect to buy a product that can be used forever. Secondly, this option requires a reliable internet connection that doesn't experience intermittent cutting out or periodic downtime. You can't download the course levels to a PC or Mac, which presents accessibility issues. That said, if you have a tablet or a large-screened smartphone you can use the Rosetta Stone apps.
This latest Totale version is certainly an improvement on past editions. The publishers have made positive changes to more culture-specific pictures and made navigation and game/test instructions clearer for users. The online lessons and interactive community are also long overdue additions considering the price. Unfortunately, certainly at the basic levels there still feels to be over-reliance on picture-word association, a technique that research has proved to be more effective in children than in adults. Unfortunately, there are still no cultural lessons provided to enhance cultural knowledge and immerse the learner in the traditions and heritage of the country. Perhaps this is something the company will consider for version 5.
Rosetta Stone English is a popular program equipped with all the tools you need to learn English, from the very basics right up to advanced tenses and grammar. But it isn't necessarily the best choice for everyone, particularly people on a budget. Value has been added over previous versions, notably in increasing online interaction through further lessons, games, and community, but at $299 for the 5-level CD boxset and 12 months of online learning the pricing model is outdated when compared with competitors. No English language software is guaranteed to help you master the language; of course this is largely down to your dedication and motivation. In light of this I recommend trying the trial versions of a few different pieces of software before making a decision.