Now that my husband and I are empty nesters (finally!), there's nothing holding us back from taking that trip to France we've always been planning. As a wine, cheese, and pastry lover, it's been a dream for us all of our lives. I wanted to see the Eiffel Tower, swim in the French Riviera, and drink Burgundy, but there was one issue nagging me: we didn't speak any French.
We decided that since this was such a major trip, we had to do it right. To us, that meant learning some French before we left, but I didn't want to be bogged down with guidebooks or order a program with a strict, regimented schedule. We're not retired just yet, so we'd need to squeeze in some lessons waiting in line at the bank or eating lunch. My husband told me his coworker spent two weeks in Tuscany visiting family and said he'd felt completely at ease thanks to Rosetta Stone's new app.
Rosetta Stone has been around for over 25 years, so I knew it was the gold standard of language learning, but I didn't think we had the time for their program. Luckily, the new app combines their incredible language teachings with convenient small chunks of lessons and offline capability, so it can be used anywhere. The short lessons and flexible program were the factors that helped my husband and I take the first step.
Only knowing Bonjour, we dove in. Rosetta Stone asked us to customize our plan, so they could curate coursework more relevant to fun traveling than work traveling. For first impressions, I really liked that every type of lesson was open to me as a beginner. There was no waiting to unlock different programs or games. For my first lesson, I decided to listen to the Stories; they have fun stories in French with audio pronunciation at the same time. It occurred to me that I would not only have to understand French but be able to pronounce all those vowels correctly to avoid making mistakes or being rude.
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You can practice everything out loud with TruAccent; it's an AI-powered speech recognition engine that instantly gauges everything you say and rates you on a 1-100 scale so you can see how well you're doing! It doesn't have to be competitive, but my husband and I are definitely comparing to see who can get higher scores.
We also soon became competitive about how many lessons we could do in a day. They have an amazing Seek & Speak challenge that puts you on a scavenger-style hunt, so I racked up a ton of points doing the grocery shopping.
When it finally came time for the trip, we surprisingly felt ready. After squeezing in as many Audio Companion lessons as we could, we'd built up a pretty strong vocabulary of words and phrases we'd actually use, like "Je suis perdu! Parlez-vous anglais?" When we inevitably got lost in the streets of Paris, we could ask if someone spoke English. Their Phrasebook helped us nail down the basics, and without spending precious dollars on wifi, we could still use it to help us navigate.
France was unimaginably more magical than I'd ever thought. The sights smell and tastes will stay with us for the rest of our lives, but all of my favorite moments revolve around speaking in French. We struck up a conversation about food with a waiter at the oldest restaurant in Paris and asked for directions in Nice led us to a picture-perfect spot off the beaten path. My husband and I now need to start planning another trip since our dream vacation is done, and maybe start all over again in Spanish.
UPDATE: The folks at Rosetta Stone are extending a special offer to our readers:Get 50% off Rosetta Stone Today!