I just wanted to make this quick second post to address language programs for the PC. Learning a second language has been made a lot simplier than in my days when I first started to learn Japanese. Now with PC language programs, the price of studying a language will probably continue to fall. Yet, only 1 out of 5 Americans speak a second language. And the ones that do are usually sons or daughters from a immgrated family. However the rest of the world does not share that sentiment: Mandarian is spoken by over 890 million people, Japanese is spoken by about 170 million and Spanish is one of the most widely used languages next to English.So why not learn one of these languages to compete with the international job market? (Note: the rarer the language; the harder it is to get materials for it.)
When I think of language programs 3 come to mind: Berlitz, Rosetta Stone, and Instant Immersion. Those are the main ones that many will have access to. When looking for a foreign language program you need to actually to some personal accessments. How far are you willing to go in the language? How much time can you spend on it. What do you want out of the language? If you cannot justify a reason to study something, then the efforts behind it will be for naught.
Pricewise: Rosetta Stone will run about $230 per level. It will be about $560 for a level 1-3 compilation and $1200 for a 1-5 combination set! My advise is do not believe the hype behind Rosetta Stone. You can learn a language way cheaper by going with Instant Immersion or Berlitz. Berlitz Language Primer Series will run you about $40 and Instant Immersion will run you about $50. Depending on the language, I would actualy suggest that you pick up supplementary writinig material due to the complexity of the various language scripts. For the Japanese and Chinese Premier by Berlitz for example you should probably find either a website (http://www.zhongwen.com/ ) or writing instruction books 250 Essential Kanji.
If you want to get technical with a language, there are plenty of online language websites that can accomodates your needs. For Japanese I know there is http://www.japonin.com/ and for reading in various languages there is http://www.lingq.com/. Note that the best way to become fluent in a language is to reach an intermediate level in a language and go visit the target language's home country. And there is no subsitute for becoming great at a language other than constant pratice. When I am studying, I probably study about 8 hours a week. I would study more if I had a set schedule, but my hours change all the time. Without pratice, all the language material that you have would just be expensive coasters for your drinks--so use them!