Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks: Week Two into the Rosetta Stone TOTALe Program


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Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks: Week Two into the Rosetta Stone TOTALe Program Listen to this article


Oh this week was harrrrrrrd. Let’s see…when we last left off my goal was to get through four more lessons this week, and be up to number seven. Well guess what? There is no seven, and it basically took me all week to get through lesson four.

Maybe I should have paid more attention to the way the TOTALe program is set up, but better late than never. Evidently the lessons are broken into Units, and Unit One (at least) is broken into four major sections, each composed of separate lessons. The sections start off easily enough, and I got through the first three relatively painlessly. But section four was a total killer.

It started off well enough. I was using Kev’s MacBook Pro, and I progressed through the lesson as usual. It seemed like it was taking longer than any of the others had, so I had already decided that it wouldn’t be the end of the world if I didn’t meet my entire goal, but then I came to realize how ridiculous I was being.


Here I am learning a new language, and I am behaving like it is no big deal and it should just come to me…like a gift in the middle of the night or something.


And okay, in some ways it does feel like it’s that easy.



Every now and then I would hit a sour note in my learning process, but for every high B, I was making plenty of As.


With every upper 90s or 100% I made, I got a little bit more confident…



Kevin and I went for a bike ride, and for the first time I was calling out colors and names in Spanish: “vacas rojas…vacas negro…” I was ticking off two of the few colors I know (rojo – red, negro – black, blanco – white, amarillo – yellow, verde – green, and azul – blue), and throwing in an animal that hadn’t yet been covered. Look at me go!

The best part was when I started to feel like I was really starting to “get it”. Bear in mind that there is no English written or spoken at any time, so I have had to go along learning words based on pictures or people “talking” to me – pretty much like a child would learn a new language, I guess.

So without any proper translation, and based on the way the pictures play out, I have figured out for myself that the following goes something like this: “I have red flowers, You have red flowers, he has red flowers, she has red flowers, we have red flowers…” and on it goes. 🙂


I was pretty much feeling like a bad-ass. Yeah; I said it!

And then came the milestone before the end of section One.

I got dropped in the woods, wandering around until I found a couple at their campsite.

¡Hola! I said at the proper time…and then all hell broke loose.

I got asked questions that required specific answers, and I needed to ask specific questions based on the picture I was seeing…and I just wasn’t getting it! I just wasn’t ready. I was panicking…

mmmm, did someone say cafe con leche? Si! Si!


Do you like manzanas (apples)?

Oh yeah?

Well how do you like these apples?


I haven’t seen a grade that awful since…never? Thankfully I could take the Milestone again. I did a little bit better, but still failed.


So I did it again, and I did even worse. Hmm.

That was earlier tonight, and that’s when I decided it was time to take a break.


Tomorrow I will redo the milestone, and try to see what’s up with the two boxes in the progress line that don’t have check marks. See how many boxes there are in section four? It wasn’t just my imagination that section four was taking much longer to complete than the others!

I really don’t want to start Unit Two until I can get through the conversational milestone with at least a passing grade. As I told Kevin tonight, flunking the conversational part so badly makes me think I should just start over and do it ALL again…but that makes no sense, and I am not even sure if it is possible.

Hopefully a fresh day and another try will get better results! I’ll let you know how it went next week. 🙂

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About the Author

Judie Lipsett Stanford
Editor in Chief of Gear Diary, Secular Humanist, techie, foodie, hoarder of Kindle eBooks, lover of live music, and collector of passport stamps.