As you may have heard, Penrose Library and the Center for World Languages and Cultures (CWLC) are evaluating the computer-assisted language-learning (CALL) programs, including Rosetta Stone, that we offer to the campus community. Currently, we offer Rosetta Stone and Tell Me More, but there are several other programs available, including Live Mocha, Mango, Pimsleur, and Transparent Languages. Together, this broader suite of tools would provide our students and faculty with a wider variety of languages and would serve a broader range of learning styles. Adrienne Gonzales, from the CWLC, has summarized the current research on commercial CALL programs [below], information that will help inform our decisions.
Though we think expansion of language-learning options will be a positive change for DU, this evaluation has been brought about by a change in the Rosetta Stone pricing model, which would increase our cost dramatically if we were to continue with the same level of access. After negotiations, Rosetta Stone has agreed to continue our service at the current level for one more year to allow us to develop a plan for the transition to a limited use model. We will pay the same price as we did this year for unlimited language access for 2012. Though this is good news, this only postpones the necessary transition away from Rosetta Stone, which will occur in January 2013 when the new pricing model will go into effect. We will not get a second extension since this one was granted specifically to allow us to manage this transition. This allows us to think carefully about the best means of adding new language programs and developing a plan for managing access to fewer user licenses for Rosetta Stone.
We will add an additional CALL program in the winter quarter and will work with the Center for World Languages and Cultures to evaluate its effectiveness relative to Rosetta Stone and Tell Me More, our two existing CALL programs. We will add additional programs after July 1, 2012 when the new fiscal year begins. Starting in January 2013 we hope to provide limited access to Rosetta Stone. At this point we do not know what that limitation would look like, but it would likely involve access to a single language per user at a time, with passwords issued only after consultation with the library and/or CWLC. We will be able to offer unlimited access to all languages offered through the other programs. Being able to offer multiple programs, with more languages, will allow us to serve a wider range of language learning needs.
We have trials to three language tools, and will soon have access to a fourth (Pimsleur) and look forward to getting your feedback.
Please contact Michael Levine-Clark, Collections Librarian (firstname.lastname@example.org) with questions or comments.
Computer-assisted Language Learning (CALL) Programs Information and Summary
While there is very little empirical research on commercial, stand-alone CALL materials, drawing from recent theories and research from the field of Second Language Acquisition can help inform decisions regarding the choice and application of the various programs available. While considering options for CALL materials, it is important to keep in mind the following:
- Learner autonomy – Effective autonomous language learning is achieved with the help of interpersonal interaction.
- Distance and online learning – Effective online and distance language courses should incorporate opportunities for output, interaction, and feedback.
- Contextualized learning – Effective language learning requires contextualized exposure and instruction of the target language.
As more and more governmental and private organizations begin to recognize the need for and support the study of foreign language learning, more studies will be conducted on the effectiveness of CALL programs for various purposes. For now, here is what the current research tells us:
In a comparative study of student performance and attitudes using Rosetta Stone and Transparent Language for Arabic, German, and Spanish courses at the United States Military Academy at West Point, researchers found no statistical difference between the achievement and perceptions of users of either program. The institution determined Rosetta Stone’s one-size-fits-all approach was insufficient for their needs, and West Point continues to use Transparent Language and other CALL programs for their language curriculum.
Another study regarding the use of Tell Me More and Rosetta Stone by United States Government Employees found that neither of these programs was an appropriate solution for language learning due to attrition and users’ lack of commitment to the programs. This same study concluded that Rosetta Stone does not work equally well with Arabic, Chinese, and Spanish, since the instructional materials for these languages are all translations of one another and do not consider contextually appropriate target language discourse.
More information about these programs can be found in these reviews and articles from computer-assisted language learning journals:
Jee, Min Jung and Min Jung Park. 2009. Livemocha as an online language-learning community. CALICO Journal, 26 (2), p-p 448-456.
Lafford, Barbara A. 2004. Review of Tell Me More Spanish. Language Learning & Technology (3): 21-34. Link.
Liaw, Meei-Ling. 2011. Review of Livemocha. Language, Learning & Technology 15 (1): 36. Link.
Nielson, Katharine B. 2011. Self-study with language learning software in the workplace: What happens? Language, Learning & Technology. 15 (3): 110. Link
Recorded Books. 2011. Language learning made easy: West Point case study concludes Transparent Language measures up with Rosetta Stone. http://www.thebookjam.com/files/west-point-transparent-language.pdf
Rodríguez, Julio C. 2010. Transparent Language System Complete Edition (English). CALICO Journal, 28(1), p-p 216-228.
Santos, Victor D. O. 2011. Rosetta Stone Portuguese (Brazil) levels 1, 2, & 3 Personal Edition Version 4 (TOTALe). CALICO Journal, 29 (1), p-p 177-194.
Wood, Peter. 2010. Transparent Language System Complete Edition (German). CALICO Journal, 28 (1): 229-237.