As an active participant in Irish American cultural activities, I’ve always wanted to learn how to speak Irish (also known as Gaeilge or Irish Gaelic) for years. At one time banned by the English, the Irish language became popular amongst Irish nationalists wishing to preserve their heritage.
According to the Rosetta Stone Web site, about half of the people living in the Republic of Ireland speak Irish as a primary or secondary language.
I own Irish Level 1, 2 & 3 Home School Edition. My husband and I decided to order the home school edition to supplement the education of our children (once we start a family) because our heritage is important to us. While I am not using the home school edition for myself, it comes with a complete lesson plan and teacher guide.
It took me a few hours to install and run the software onto my HP Pavilion Entertainment PC. My PC currently operates on the Windows Vista system. The installation itself (for all three levels) took less than thirty minutes. There was an additional update that only took a few minutes to download and install.
There was an error the first time I ran the program. Rosetta Stone allowed me to set up the software but not test the microphone. I set up my lesson and hoped to begin, but I received error 1117. Eventually I Googled the error and found the fix on Rosetta Stone’s site. I performed the fix and the software functioned properly. Rosetta Stone’s site explains that Windows Defender is the cause of the error.
I am currently still working through the first unit of the first level of language. I was intimidated by the different nature of Irish, but have found that the Rosetta Stone software is incredibly intuitive in its training. The software relies heavily on recognition and associating pictures with words. In less than two hours of lessons, I have focused on reading, writing, recognition and grammar.
The course breaks words apart to help with pronunciation, but it does not intentionally slow down words-it asks you to repeat them and match after hearing the native speaker. There is a tool to slow down the person speaking if you run into trouble. I’ve had to use it a few times. The software works to teach Irish the same way that a baby learns his or her native language.
I definitely feel as though I’m making progress with the software. I can work at my own pace and I am aware of when the software is trying to simply teach me versus make me think on my own to understand complete sentences. After less than two hours with the software, I have grasped the linguistic differences between plurals and pronouns. I can pick out words and common phrases in a conversation between two native speakers. Within the program, I can understand complete conversations using the instructed vocabulary.
The course is very instinctive and user-friendly (once it is adequately installed). The home school edition goes at a slower pace (as it is meant to be used as a language study course for children). I recommend the home school edition for enthusiasts requiring structure and discipline with their studies.
My husband requires this type of structure. While he isn’t using the home school elements, he is using it as a model to schedule study time in a more intensive course. I am self-motivated to use the software on most days. Since we are studying the language together, it provides an element of discussion about the software and discussion in the language itself.
This software would also help someone who is shy speaking in class but comfortable working in the privacy of his or her home.
I would find the lack of in-person discussion to be a major drawback of the software were another person in my household not learning Irish as well. The Rosetta Stone software allows multiple log-ins and encourages multiple users to participate.
The other negative to learning with the software comes when I am pronouncing something wrong but can’t figure out the precise problem. Sometimes I have to have a second person listen to what I am saying in comparison to the computer and this makes me miss having an in-person teacher as I did when I learned basic German. That said, my Irish skills after two hours are equivalent to two weeks (six one-hour classes) in undergraduate basic German class (consider also that German is more like English than Irish is like English).
Recommendation of Rosetta Stone Irish
Overall, I would recommend this software to anyone. I imagine children would pick up on a language using Rosetta Stone incredibly fast. I am amazed at how quickly and confidently I have been able to advance.