Duolingo or Rosetta Stone
Hi, I'm just stared to learn French and would have to say that Duolingo is one of the most useful free learning sites for learning a language (and I've looked at many). So my question is, shall I continue to use this Duolingo or should I purchase lets say, Rosetta Stone and use the combination of both. Ideally, I would like to reach a standard where I can look at a menu, have a simple conversation in french .. whats your thoughts..
I wouldn't buy Rosetta Stone as an addition to Duolingo. I recommend adding podcasts (Learn French by Podcast is great and free if you can do without pdf transcripts, Coffee Break French is somewhat slower but also fun), grammar resources (http://www.laits.utexas.edu/tex/gr/index.html is rather good) and later books. If you can afford to spend some money, better buy a really good textbook or grammar book.
I agree. Before I had heard of Duolingo I used to listen to Coffee Break French, and they're fantastic. If you pay the $40 you can get the PDF files with all the words and bonus vocab that go along with the pod casts. They have an interesting way of approaching things though, and I found it very VERY difficult to write anything down when first learning french purely from listening because I had no idea how to spell anything (and if you've done even a little french, almost nothing sounds like it is spelled!).
My primary means of learning French is Duolingo. I am also watching French In Action, which you can find on You Tube. This series goes about the same pace as I learn from duolingo, This TV series presents a beginning-intermediate course in French in 52 half-hour programs. I do Duolingo each day, at least 1/2 hour, (wish I could do more!) and listen to one or two FIA programs two or three times each, during a week if I can.
Got to agree with the others here. Rosetta Stone, especially for it's price is just trash. I tried using it and got through a couple of weeks at a time before my interest in it would wane. The lessons aren't necessarily bad but and I found it was quite helpful for developing pronunciation if you go through it slowly. However, with some of the lessons taking 45 minutes, it's more like taking a class and going through a 45 minute lesson slowly you will surely die of boredom.
I won't try recommend anything specific as you've already had some great suggestions. Just stay away from the price inflated junk-ware that is Rosetta Stone at all odds.
I have done Rocket Spanish as well - and somewhat concur with what you say - there is the culture and the clearer pronunciation, sure, as well as some explanation of basic grammar - which Duolingo does not give. But the weakness is that there is no sentence drill. Its all copying what someone else says and offers little progression with conversation. After two years of Rocket Spanish I still could not hold a fairly basic discussion. Duolingo, on the other hand has you constructing sentences from the word go, tells you when you are wrong and drills you mercilessly! And it is fun! I have progressed more with Duolingo in two months than I have with all my Rocket Spanish. I cant do without Duo - that's for sure.
DL is one part of my language-learning exercises. I also study by listening and responding to French Pimsleur audio lessons. They are affordable (~$120 for 16 hours of audio) when purchased online and downloaded as MP3 files. I play them with my iPod while commuting. http://www.pimsleur.com/