Thanks, Mandy. I'm going to check out those sites.
I'm actually just looking to brush up on French, which I spoke as a kid in Canada. If I were starting from scratch, I'd have to agree that a software program wouldn't be the way to go. I can practice my conversation with my grandmother and our in-house French teacher.
It is interesting what's happening with language learning, isn't it? I've taught German, and wonder if some of the software features (like voice recognition) is effective -- albeit in a Hal 2001 kind of a way. Could it supplement instruction, or give students a new way to do homework?
Since languages have a lot of nuance, I do not recommend learning them on line. However, you are in a unique situation. I would recommend an on-line tutorial like live mocha. This is the summer assignment that I give my upper level students over the summer. Language acquisition requires a lot of practice-- I view this site as one of many avenues for practicing the language.
I teacher and we bought the Rosetta Stone program to supplement our curriculum. We rarely used it and now it's collecting dust. The problem was that their lessons didn't match up with ours.
That said, I only know 2 adults who have used Rosetta Stone, liked it, and stuck with it. Both were highly motivated and needed to learn the language for business travel. Most people peter out with the program after a few lessons. It gets monotonous. Plus there are some pictures that are ambiguous and learners aren't sure what concept is being described (i.e. the person, the emotion, the object, the action).
One of the adults mentioned above does Rosetta Stone online. His wife is a Spanish teacher but unfortunately their schedules don't line up so that she can teach him. Every know and then they talk Spanish and she is impressed with what her husband is learning. However, he is highly motivated and he can always ask her if he gets confused on what Rosetta Stone is asking.
One other adult has told me that she though the Pimsleur method worked well. I don't have any personal experience with this program.