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


¡Hola Amigos!

Even though I had the new Dan Brown book, The Missing Symbol, delivered wirelessly to my Kindle DX this week, and even though I have spent every spare moment I could trying to sneak in a few chapters, I still managed to get a good chunk of my TOTALe lesson done. Yay me!

Now I can tell you that “Me llamo Judie,” which will probably not sound as elegant as Julia when pronounced properly, since the J’s in Spanish are essentially H’s. Hoolia verses Hoodie…guess which one wins? 😉

I received another call this week from Sydney, who really wanted to schedule a studio session; she also wanted to figure out why I had had difficulty doing the two live games last week. It took about five minutes with a tech support guy to realize the basis of my problem…less than stellar internet upload speeds from my satellite internet connection. Ah well. Perhaps I’ll get a session in from a location with a proper broadband connection soon.

When I stopped last week, I had just completed the first Lesson in Unit Two. This week I almost made it to the end of Lesson Three. Now I can count to Twelve in Spanish (uno, dos, tres, cuatro, cinco, seis, siete, ocho, nueve, diaz, once, doce), and I can say that zero is cero (seh-drro).

Learning names for household appliances has been surprisingly intuitive: a television is un televisor (tell-ee-vee-sor), a radio is un radio (rah-dee-oh), and a a computer is the non-surprising computadoras (com-pew-ta-door-ahs). Yeah baby, I can not only spot em, I am learning to say them…correctly.


I am still having trouble rolling my R’s, but I am working on it. Un Perro doesn’t sound quite right to me yet, but I don’t think it will be mistaken for anything but “a dog”. On the other hand, I’ve got the “nn-yo” sound in baño down cold.


I am really finding the pronunciation portion helpful, because it makes you sound out the words – usually by syllables – and then say the word complete. I learned that abraza (ah-brah-sa) means hug, besa (bay-sah) means kiss, and abuelo (ah-bway-loh) means grandfather. This earned me bonus points, because my mother’s favorite Mexican food chain is Abuelos, and I was able to tell Kevin what the word actually means; I think we had both just figured that it was a family name. 😛


Can you guess which picture is described by the phrase at the top of the screen? It’s basically saying the little girl and her grandmother are in the dining room. Remember that I’ve had no English words with which to compare (and I am purposely not looking them up); comprehending what these words mean is the culmination of several weeks of learning how various words match certain pictures and not others, and which are the proper combinations of masculine and feminine words. It really does seem like a game at times…


One of the trickier things is writing words and phrases – complete with proper punctuation and at times proper capitalization. I have learned that if a term is a simple description – una puerta, or door for instance, it does not need to be capitalized. If it were a more formal description, for instance “Una puerta es azul” – or, “the door is blue” – I would need to capitalize the first letter or get docked a point. I tried over-compensating by capitalizing even the simple descriptions…and got docked for that. I’m learning…


I think the following goes like this – “Where are you from?” “I am from the United States.” “Where are you from?” “I’m from Egypt.” “Where are you from?” (Note that it’s two women) “We’re from France.” (fran-cee-ah) “Where are you from?” “We’re from China.” (chee-nah)


Crazy stuff…right? Pronouncing other countries is a lot of fun. But even better is knowing what to call and how to say country (un pie-ez), city (cee-oo-dad), street (oona cah-yay), park (oon par-kay) and bridge (oon pwen-tay). I’m not quite ready to ask for directions, but I am getting there.


One exercise that I really liked was doing the encounter between the lady and the young boy, Pedro Morales. I had to fill in each part of the conversation – similar to the way the Milestone I’d had so much trouble went, but it was written and with multiple choice, instead of spoken with verbal prompts. I nailed it.

“Hi” “Hello, what’s your name?” “My name is Pedro Morales.” “It’s nice to meet you.” (or something like that…heh) “Good-bye.”


Once again, I was very pleased with my scores. But I did have two lessons where I didn’t score high enough to get my check mark on the graph, and so I redid the portions of them that I had missed. There’s no shame in the re-do!


¡Adios! 🙂

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About the Author

Judie Lipsett Stanford
Judie is the co-owner and Editor-in-Chief of Gear Diary, which she founded in September 2006. She started in 1999 writing software reviews at the now-defunct smaller.com; from mid-2000 through 2006, she wrote hardware reviews for and co-edited at The Gadgeteer. A recipient of the Sigma Kappa Colby Award for Technology, Judie is best known for her device-agnostic approach, deep-dive reviews, and enjoyment of exploring the latest tech, gadgets, and gear.

7 Comments on "Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks: Week Four into the Rosetta Stone TOTALe Program"

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  5. Judie Lipsett’s progress on Rosetta Stone week 4! http://bit.ly/WYsrY

  6. La espanol de usted es muy bueno! Thanks for the great blog! I’m learning French with RS right now, and I’ve really enjoyed following along on the progress of a fellow learner. My advice for the writing is to capitalize at the beginning only when the phrase is a complete sentence, including a noun and verb (El hombre corre)–there’s no need if it’s just a noun (un hombre). Good luck!

  7. Thanks for the advice – I’m going to try to keep it in mind when I do my lessons. 🙂

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