Rosetta Stone Language Software

Subliminal learning?

Here's an idea whose time has come. And, just possibly, passed. The premise is a good one, the research in the introductions sounds good and the claimed results are impressive.

Here's the way it works. With old programs, you listened, then repeated, and your brain was supposed to assemble the mishmash of sounds sequentially and link them up. With Aaron's subliminal learning, on the other hand, you mix foreign words with suggestion. That is, you hear the foreign word in one ear, while the English word is just barely audible in the other. The idea is that if something in the back of your mind indicates "potatoes" while you're hearing, loud and clear, "papas," that will do more for you than trying to consciously associate the Spanish word with the English word you just heard, but which proceeded it in time for a reason that doesn't make any sense unless you're in on the game.

Having tinkered with the Japanese version, here's what I found. On the one hand, I think my results were better than with, for example, Vocabulearn. On the other hand, if this is such a space age idea, you'd think they could do better than to try to transfer 1970s analog audio to 21st century CDs. If the English is barely audible, that's good. If it's garbled, that's not so good. If the Japanese word has changed, it needs to be fixed on the tape, not just in the accompanying booklet. And as for track division, there are things that could be done to make it feel more intuitive, starting with better differentiation of reviews from new sections and including a renumbering so that the section you were studying was the same as the track number on the CD. Bottom line, if you're looking for a relatively cheap way to pick up a fair share of Japanese or Spanish vocabulary, this isn't bad, but it isn't great. For Spanish, I'd more likely recommend the By Association books. For Japanese, though, this may - unfortunately - be the best audio vocabulary program out there.