Rosetta Stone Native Tutors – Everything you need to know

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Interview with Aliona Dameron, Senior Manager of live tutoring at Rosetta Stone

Aliona Dameron works at Rosetta Stone Head Quarters, Washington DC as Senior Manager of the live tutoring department. Overseeing all Rosetta Stone’s tutoring products, managing a team of several hundred tutors and organising the hiring and training of new members of the team, Aliona has a busy schedule. Despite this, she was good enough to take the time to tell us more about how virtual live tutoring works, and how it contributes to the unique Rosetta Stone learning system.

How does live tutoring fit into the Rosetta Stone programme?

Rosetta Stone Live Tutoring sessions are based around what you are studying on the course. The tutor can see where you are in your progress through the learning programme. They know which Unit you are studying and will ask you questions and prompt you into conversations that are all about the vocabulary and phrases from within that Unit.  It’s a conversational class, but it takes place within the framework of a Unit’s content, so you know what you’re going to be talking about and get the chance to use your new knowledge in real life, with a native speaker.

The training sessions are really all about gaining the confidence to communicate and use your language knowledge. Immersing yourself in a language means having conversations right from the start, just as if you were living in the country. Because our tutors only communicate in the language being taught, learners have to find ways of saying what they want using the vocabulary they have, rather than asking for a translation. If you don’t know exactly the right word, you use what you do know to work around the problem and get the point across. It’s better to use the little you know, than to learn a lot and be too scared to use it.

How do your sessions differ from a ‘standard’ classroom or virtual learning environment?

The Live Tutoring sessions are a lot less stressful than being in a classroom. When you start your session with one of our tutors, you’ve already learnt the vocabulary and language points and you’ve had the chance to practise your pronunciation. Our tutors are not so much checking on your progress as giving you the chance to practise what you’ve learnt. The chance to use your learnings in a real live conversation, have fun and enjoy your successes, before you move onto your next lesson.

Our sessions are uniquely structured and aim to efficiently work participants through their key learning points. In more traditional classroom environments, it’s a lot harder to predict what a lesson’s content will be or to be sure that you will be covering material that is relevant to your level of learning and need at that moment. Our live tutoring sessions pick you up at exactly the point you’ve got to in your private study and progress you from there.

Sounds great. So when can I book my first tutorial session?

The Rosetta Stone learning programme is divided up into Levels, Units and Lessons. Typically it takes between 1 and 2 hours to complete a lesson. Once you’ve completed two lessons you’re ready for your first live tutoring session. You can book this for a time that suites you, but I always recommend students book their sessions in advance. It’s very motivating if you have to get through your lessons in time for class! But don’t leave it all till the last minute. The most effective way to learn is to do a little every day. Half an hour on Rosetta Stone every evening and you will quickly see results.

Tell me about your tutors. Who are they?

Our trainers come from a wide variety of backgrounds, but it’s important that they are lively and engaging personalities. We have a lot of actors and people from customer-facing backgrounds, but also a lot of stay at home mums who are often delighted with the flexible hours we offer. We value people who bring personality to the training sessions, make them their own and make them fun. In addition to this, we do insist that all our trainers are university educated and are quite choosy about getting the right accents. We don’t believe that strong regional accents are very helpful for our learners and although it varies from language to language, we tend to prefer ‘standard’ or non-accented voices.

All our tutors go through a training process that includes thorough use of the Rosetta Stone tool, so that they know what it’s like to be a student, as well as regular evaluations. They are taught multiple techniques for eliciting answers from learners and prompting good conversations. The learning philosophy is all about being as encouraging as possible. Our sessions are not tests, they’re opportunities to learn.

How long does it take to learn a new language with Rosetta Stone?

Think weeks not months. If you’re totally new to the language, then with routine use of Rosetta Stone, taking up all the tutorial sessions on offer, we would expect to see real conversational abilities within 20 to 40 hours of learning.  

Do people make friends in your sessions?

Sure! Our sessions are with up to a maximum of 4 learners and they’re very interactive. When people get along with each other, they can connect through the Rosetta Stone Community and chat to each other at any time. Practising the language with another learner is a great way to turbo boost your learning.

As a linguistics specialist, do you have any tips for learners of a new language?

The key to language learning is to develop active knowledge. The words, grammar and phrases you learn need to exit in speech; the brain needs to successfully retrieve and use them, before you know you’ve achieved something. It’s when you speak the words in a real conversation that you get that rush of pleasure and say to yourself “Wow, I really do have these words in my brain and ready to use.” So don’t hesitate to start practising and speaking what you know, however meagre this may be in the early stages. Speaking a language is the only way to learn.

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About the Author Simon Goodall

Language learner, teacher and contributing author to the Rosetta Stone magazine

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