Third Time’s a Charm

third times a charmIn the middle of my German language learning travails, Rosetta Stone reached out to me and asked me to blog about my language-learning process in light of being able to try out their new solution, Rosetta Stone TOTALe. So, here I am.

What have I learned in the last couple months using TOTALe?  Well, I have learned quite a bit and it is working.  Seriously.  And I’ll tell you why.

I actually got to meet Duane Sider, Director of Learning at Rosetta Stone, and he pointed out something that now seems so obvious, which is that people don’t learn languages based on charts, irregular verbs, vocab cards, rote memorization.  I didn’t learn English that way when I was a child and Mark didn’t learn German that way either—we learn languages by learning like children, learning phonetically and over time, which phrase works best in which situation.

I guess in the past, what I had been doing is learning what each English word means in German and what each German word means in English. Then I would try to piece each sentence together based on subject, verb, object noun agreement, like a puzzle, that at the end of the day, would convey meaning and secure me a loaf of bread and a bottle of milk.

Here’s the hard truth: you can’t really have a conversation with someone if you’re trying to do real-time translation based on coming up with a sentence such as, “I would like a loaf of bread and a bottle of milk” and then try to sort out that German equivalent, while still trying to be charming at the grocery store.  What you need to be able to do is see bread and milk and automatically think “Brot” and “Milch.” And when you would like something, you had better be nice and say: “Ich möchte Brot und Milch, bitte.”

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Chris Abraham

Thousands of people around the world know exactly what Chris Abraham had for lunch yesterday. With 13,000 followers on Twitter, posts on Digital Next blog and, and two popular blogs of his own, Chris has a wide audience and is generally considered an interesting guy. However, his content is far from the despised what-I-had-for-lunch posts, as Chris frequently imparts his knowledge of social media, salivates over expensive cars, and documents his adventures as an American living in Berlin, Germany. In between his trips across the Atlantic to and from his homes in Washington, D.C. and Berlin, Chris runs a social media marketing agency called Abraham Harrison LLC [AHLLC] with his business partner, Mark Harrison. AHLLC has 35 employees from 12 countries. The diversity of culture and language makes staff meetings less like, well staff meetings, and more like a UN summit. Many employees could conduct meetings in English, Portuguese, French, Spanish, or German, or a combination of all five at once. Not wanting to be one-upped by his staff (again), Chris is remedying his lingual shortcomings by learning German with Rosetta Stone. He also would like to impress his friends in Berlin with fluent, witty, dinner party conversation in German. Rosetta Stone has commissioned Chris to share his German language learning journey and his experience with TOTALe on this blog. Chris’s insights on social media marketing, the BMW, and Berlin dinner parties can be found at and Chris can also be found on Twitter ( and Facebook (
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