Time, however, avoids joining the cheerleading squad.
Time begins with Rosetta Stone's impressive IPO performance:
On the evening of April 15, the company was able to price its IPO at $18 per share, above the estimated range of $15-17. It was the first IPO to price above its range in nearly a year. The next day, shares shot up 40%, the best one-day IPO rise in the last year (on April 23, the stock closed at $25.60 per share, 42% above the IPO price).As of today, the stock last closed at $27.84, 55% above the IPO price. In fact, the lowest to date was $22.10, still 23% above the IPO price. Clearly the market has picked Rosetta Stone as a winner, and Time goes on to show the strong financials and other factors ("relentless marketing") behind this undeniably outstanding performance in a down economy.
They then go on to echo the doubts expressed by many language bloggers:
The most crucial question facing the company, however, is quite basic: does Rosetta Stone actually work?They then explain Rosetta Stone's inductive learning system, and highlight Rosetta Stone's claim that their system lets you "learn like a child" (an earlier post of mine sheds some light on some ways that that description doesn't really fit). Then even roll out Tim Ferriss for some comments.
The article cites data resulting from a study commissioned by Rosetta Stone:
55 hours of Rosetta Stone Spanish instruction should enable a student to pass the first semester course of a six-semester college Spanish program.Let's pause on that one for a moment. A typical three-credit college Spanish course is three hours per week for the fifteen weeks of a typical semester. I'm not sure I'd be bragging that 55 hours of Rosetta Stone will let you pass a 45-hour class.
"After 55 hours of study with Rosetta Stone students will significantly improve their Spanish language skills," writes Roumen Vesselinov, a statistical economist at Queens College.Yeah... you could say the same after 55 hours of just about any method.
According to Rosetta Stone, a February 2009 survey showed that 92% of respondents expressed satisfaction with the product.That's a suspiciously high statistic. I'd bet that their respondents weren't exactly an average pool of users, included a self-selection bias, etc. Without more info on the study, this stat is pretty worthless.
So I commend Time for producing a more balanced article on Rosetta Stone, but questions remain unanswered. I'd still love to hear about any data comparing the effectiveness of Rosetta Stone to other methods in a study not funded by Rosetta Stone.
And is there any language blogger out there who's a die-hard fan of Rosetta Stone? If you know of or are one, drop a line in the comments below. Given that I can't think of any among the language blogs I'm most familiar with, I'm beginning to worry that I might be dealing with my own self-selection bias.