Rosetta Stone Chinese Personal Edition Levels 1 & 2
If you're looking for an interactive, computer-based language-learning tool, Rosetta Stone's software packages may be the next best thing to actually relocating to a foreign country. It's available in 28 languages; for this review, we looked at the Chinese and the Spanish language-learning packages--and both are impressive. Based on the immersion method of language teaching, the Rosetta Stone package confronts you with the target language from the get-go. There are neither translations into English nor grammar explanations, and you'll find no abstract discussions of verb tenses or subordinate clauses. In the very first lesson, you're asked questions in the target language about a group of photos, and it's your job to select the right photo. Soon you begin to pick out words and phrases that match the images, and you build your skills from those rudimentary building blocks. There are also a number of ways to tweak the individual lessons to practice writing, listening comprehension, and speaking and pronunciation skills.
Rosetta Stone's installation is entirely automated: merely insert the CD and click through a few onscreen prompts. The software runs on any flavor of Windows from 95 to XP and on Mac OS 8.6 or later.