ACA Blog

Susan Jennifer Polese
Aug 06, 2012

¡Hola, Amigo! ¿Usted tiene una taza? Sí, yo tengo una taza. ¿You have the cup? Yes, I have the cup.

You may have guessed by those rudimentary (and overly formal) first sentences that I am learning Spanish with the Rosetta Stone software program. It is probably painfully obvious that I am presently on Level One, Unit One. Oh yes, it’s basic as basic can be. But we all need to start somewhere, no? (That last word, by the way, is the same in English and Spanish. I find that comforting, somehow).

I’ve always regretted letting go of learning a language as a disgruntled teen and choosing rather to hang out with friends who shared my righteous indignation. Little did I realize that learning a second language would have given me another platform from which to question all things authoritative. These days, I want to expand my horizons and also be of some use to Spanish-speaking clients when I begin my internship in the fall. It’s a daunting task to learn a whole new way of expressing yourself – but the Rosetta Stone program is interesting for many reasons and some of them aren’t linguistic.

Rosetta Stone does not provide the student with any list of words to learn and commit to memory. No vocabulary is provided. In fact, the program is entirely visual and auditory, which is a real treat if you are a visual learner. In other words, you get thrown into the swimming pool and out of need, learn how to float and swim. There are a series of images on the screen and you are taught through repetition. Cat = Gato. Man = Hombre - (with a rolled “r”) etc. The company claims to provide a way to learn a language naturally the way you learned your first language as a child. I have to agree – seeing and putting words and thoughts together is what you do as a child as well as with Rosetta Stone. I think the key of this approach working so well is the challenge of making connections on your own without the help of direction. You figure it out.

Making connections. Learning the way things work (or don’t work) by the context they are in. Trying new things out and making mistakes. Never quite being corrected didactically, but through images and encouragement. Building on what you know and expanding what you can achieve. I can’t help it, but I am a counselor-in-training and this process reminds me of the basic tenets of counseling. Especially my favorite type of counseling which is person-centered and strength-focused. As counselors we work with our clients and we mostly listen, sometimes we present them with information or on their own they make connections. In a good session the client is almost entirely self-directed and we are there as witness and secret facilitator. I adore the whole process. I would declare my adoration in Spanish, but I don’t know how to yet. I’m hoping to at least a few of those words by Level Three. ¡Adios!

Susan Jennifer Polese is a counselor in training, a personal coach and a freelance writer. Her areas of interest are mindfulness, divergent thinking, and creativity in counseling.

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