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Interview with Sylke Riester, Managing Director for Europe, Rosetta Stone - 23/11/10

Sylke Riester is Managing Director for Europe at leading language-learning software company Rosetta Stone.

Sylke, can you tell us a bit about your background before joining Rosetta Stone?

Sylke Riester, Managing Director for Europe at Rosetta Stone
Sylke Riester, Managing Director for Europe at Rosetta Stone

Before joining Rosetta Stone in 2009 I worked in telecommunications – so you could say I am very enthusiastic about getting people talking. I worked for a company called Tele2, a leading Swedish telecommunications company active in 11 European countries, for six years. In my time there, I worked in different roles, including Marketing and Sales Director, based in Holland, Chief Executive, based in the UK, and Director of Sales for the Tele2 Group, based in the 30 million-customer company’s home country of Sweden.

What services does Rosetta Stone offer?

Rosetta Stone® provides interactive language-learning solutions. The company was founded on the belief that technology can replicate the way we all learnt our first language as children and we still work to that founding principle, evolving as technology allows.

Rosetta Stone is unique. It uses a systematic sequence of images and words, without translation, to help you rediscover your natural learning ability. A unique speech recognition tool compares the pronunciation of the learner to that of a native speaker so they get precise feedback, too.

This intuitive and innovative approach to language learning is what draws learners to us. More than 5 million people use Rosetta Stone globally, from individuals learning from home to pupils in school and employees in international organisations.

What is a typical day in the office like?

Expansion means we are always busy and there probably isn’t a typical day! For example, we are relocating our UK office to a larger, more central London location this week. Any given week will involve interviewing new candidates and flying between our offices in London and Munich, or meeting with colleagues in the USA, Japan or Korea. At the very least, we communicate with colleagues via video conference on a daily basis.

Why do you feel it is so important for expats to learn a new language?

There is no better way to immerse yourself in your new home than to immerse yourself in the language. It is the ultimate way to feel like a part of your new work team or local community. Learning before you move means you can hit the ground running but it’s also never too late. Locals will always appreciate the effort shown by learning their language.

What is the biggest challenge customers face when learning a new language?

The biggest challenge is the typical belief they can’t do it, or that it will be difficult. People seem to forget that they have learnt a language before and as soon as they start using Rosetta Stone they see what is meant when we say our methodology teaches you language in the same way you learnt your first language. It’s natural.

Of course, it takes time to learn a new language and keeping motivated can be a challenge but using a language-learning tool that taps into your innate ability is a sure-fire way to see progress and stay enthusiastic.

Which languages are the most popular?

English, Spanish, Italian, French and German are always popular, which is why these languages were first to be released in levels four and five. We see a lot of interest in Chinese, Russian and Arabic, too.

If you had to give some advice to our members to help them with learning a new language what would it be?

Find a language-learning tool that really suits you and your lifestyle. The more you make your learning journey as personal to you as you can, the more likely you are to stick at it.

What are your plans for the future?

Rosetta Stone will continue with European expansion plans, will continue to recruit team members who are passionate about languages and will continue to develop language-learning solutions to bring success to millions.

What do you do to relax?

I quite simply love to spend time with my two children. I am Dutch and they are bi-lingual, so I am never far away from language learning.

About Rosetta Stone (UK) Ltd

Acclaimed for the speed, power and effectiveness of its Dynamic ImmersionTM method, Rosetta Stone is a revolutionary language learning software program.

Rosetta Stone was founded in 1992 on two core beliefs: that the natural way people learn languages as children remains the most successful method for learning new languages; and that interactive CD-ROM and online technology can recreate the immersion method powerfully for learners of any age. Rosetta Stone (UK) Limited, a subsidiary of Rosetta Stone Inc., is based in London.

Website: www.rosettastone.co.uk
Telephone: 0800 2800 927

Expat Health Insurance Partners

Bupa Global

At Bupa we have been helping individuals and families live longer, healthier, happier lives for over 60 years. We are trusted by expats in 190 different countries and have links with healthcare organisations throughout the world. So whether you're moving abroad for a change of career or a change of scene, with our international private health insurance you will always be in safe hands.


Cigna has worked in international health insurance for more than 30 years. Today, Cigna has over 71 million customer relationships around the world. Looking after them is an international workforce of 31,000 people, plus a network of over 1 million hospitals, physicians, clinics and health and wellness specialists worldwide, meaning you have easy access to treatment.