When I first got Rosetta Stone, a couple people asked me if the fact that I already know German fairly well somehow gives me an upper-hand in using this software. I didn’t have a really good answer for any of them at the time, since I had only just started using it and thus couldn’t tell. I have been thinking about it, though, and I’ve wanted to do a small post about it since benefits of other languages and is the program easy are the main questions I get asked.

First of all, I’m not fluent in German. English is my native language and the only one I’m fluent in. So I don’t have the advantage that bilingual/multilingual kids have, where their brain actually adapts through knowing extra languages and makes it much easier for them to learn new ones.

Second of all, although I love learning new languages, I don’t have any kind of gift for it like some people. I’ve known a couple people who can just hear a few phrases in another language and immediately have them down, or can mimic an accent almost fluently. I am not one of them. Well, except for maybe with the accent thing. I have a pretty good ear, which does help me, but it’s not good enough to offer me a great advantuage.

So those things said, I don’t really have a natural advantage that can work with Rosetta Stone and somehow let me excel at it better than other people. But I will say that studying German (and French and Polish) has definitely given me two tools that have really come in handy for focusing one what Rosetta Stone presents.

Tool # 1: I’m fairly sure this comes from studying other languages. I can pretty easily pick up a word if it’s said to me once or twice. I might not (and probably won’t) remember it in the long run if I don’t continue to use it. But I can repeat it and use it almost immediately. It’s from all those years of basically repeating what the French/German/Polish teacher just said, except with a different subject/verb/object. This comes in handy with Rosetta Stone because when they ask me to repeat something they just said, or to match a word that was just used with a picture, I can do with that pretty easily without fully knowing what’s being said. And then I’m able to master the meaning by using the word correctly enough times.

Tool # 2: Grammar. This is entirely thanks to studying German. If you are a native English speaker, you probably don’t have a great grasp of English grammar (unless maybe you went to a really good school… or are British. I feel like they might understand their grammar a little better than the rest of us.) If you study German for more than a year (for me, five years), you WILL and MUST learn grammar. The rules of German grammar are very clear cut and there are several aspects of grammar that you need to be familiar with in German that don’t matter as much (or at all) in English, like direct/indirect objects, verb placement, separation of phrases. I could go on. And although I definitely make mistakes, my German grammar is very good (and now my English grammar is too). Thanks to that, it was very easy for me to figure out how Korean sentences are set up (Where’s the verb? Where the subject? Do they use articles?) and that REALLY helps me learn new words. I don’t get stumped when they throw a new element in. I just pause, figure out what the rest of the elements are and I can pretty easily figure out the new one.

Those are the main advantages I think I have. But I still have to drill for hours like everyone else.