Who says being a nerd doesn’t pay off? Or, in my case, a language nerd. I’m not going to lie, if you asked me to name a good website for learning a foreign language, I could name six great (and free) ones right off the top of my head. And I have a registered account on all of them.
So when I found out that Harvard’s Language Resource Center has a partnership with Rosetta Stone and offers discounted subscriptions, of course I flipped! In case you weren’t aware, three levels of any Rosetta Stone language costs $539, for five levels, it’s $699. Not exactly the cheapest thing ever. But, with the Harvard affiliation, you can get it for $160! !! !!
But then, after celebrating my discovery for a few minutes, I realized that Rosetta Stone isn’t even my favorite language learning program. I prefer the free language sites that I already use because they provide me with a community of native speakers who give me feedback. So why does Harvard only have a partnership with Rosetta Stone? Hm.
Don’t worry, I didn’t stop there.
Being the curious person I am, I looked up the generic Language Resource Center e-mail on their site and emailed them from my HSA e-mail address, figuring nothing would come of it but hey, I might as well try:
That was two weeks ago. I didn’t hear back from them…until I got an e-mail from my boss today:
Hey Caroline — I know you reached out to the LRC about options other than Rosetta Stone… was that a personal request, or something for HSA? Stop by when you’re on the second floor and we can talk…
Uh oh, was I in trouble? Well, yes, I did happen to be talking to Busuu (language site) about marketing opportunities, but I was just curious! I wasn’t doing anything under the table! It was just a brainstorming idea. I mean, why don’t they offer other options? Rosetta Stone is pretty expensive, even at $160.
I x-ed out of the e-mail and dragged myself down to the 2nd floor, afraid that I had overstepped my boundaries by reaching out into other Harvard departments. But once I had talked to my boss and confirmed that my e-mail request was purely for personal reasons, he let me go. Phew. (I had mentioned the Harvard-Rosetta deal to Busuu, but not because I was trying to offer them the same partnership, I wouldn’t even know how to orchestrate that. It was simply because I wanted to see if a site like theirs would also be willing to do that type of partnership)
Now that I’m done defending myself, it turns out my random suggestion had made a difference and stirred up some creative thinking over at the Language Resource Center! The reason they hadn’t responded wasn’t because they had ignored me, but because the generic e-mail had been forwarded on to the LRC head, who is also a dean of the college and on HSA’s board of directors. When he saw that I had sent it from my HSA e-mail, he checked with my boss to see what the idea was all about, if it was a new initiative on our part, and it turns out he wants to work with me to make it happen! The LRC had never thought to provide other language-learning resources beyond Rosetta Stone, and now, I get to be the one spearheading it. I will have the opportunity to communicate with these sites (that I already know inside and out) and help set up partnerships between them and Harvard.
I already know Busuu will be willing to do that sort of partnership. Why not, it’s a win-win-win. Harvard provides more resources, the site gets more users, and the students get more language-learning options.
Looks like my random thought set something in motion.
My Favorite Language-Learning Sites: