Babbel vs Duolingo vs Rosetta Stone

Babbel vs Duolingo vs Rosetta Stone: Are They All The Same?

Maria Claudia Alvarado Published on January 4, 2024
Babbel vs Duolingo vs Rosetta Stone

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Rosetta Stone, Duolingo, and Babbel are three popular names in the language learning industry. Over the past years, the apps have built a reputation for making learning a new language accessible to learners around the globe. One of them, however, outshines its competitors because of its approach to grammar, useful features, and effectiveness at teaching the language. And that is Babbel.

Editor’s Choice

Babbel Overview
The Babbel app has structured lesson plans that start you with the basics and help develop your vocabulary, grammar, listening, writing, reading, and speaking skills. You can use different tools like flashcards, games, texts, and listening and speaking reviews to work on what you previously learned.
babbel logo
Price $14.95 / month
Free trial 1 Lesson
Try Babbel

Many language learners have difficulty picking just one of these language learning apps because, at first glance, they all seem to have similar content. In reality, there are major differences between Duolingo, Babbel, and Rosetta Stone. In this article, we’ll look at each one and explore their pros and cons so you can make an informed decision about which app is best for you.

Babbel vs Duolingo vs Rosetta Stone: A Quick Breakdown

Babbel, Duolingo, and Rosetta Stone have structured language lesson plans that you can use to learn languages from the complete beginner level. Yet, Duolingo focuses on introducing a lot of vocabulary quickly through game-like exercises. Rosetta Stone has a more immersive approach to make learning effective. Meanwhile, Babbel has short grammar tips to help you practice applying the language. Babbel and Duolingo have quick studio sessions, but Rosetta’s can last up to 30 minutes. You can use Babbel and Rosetta Stone to practice reading and even take lessons with a native speaker, but Duolingo doesn’t have these features.

The table below shows you a direct comparison of Rosetta Stone, Babbel, and Duolingo based on their available languages, subscription prices, and free trial offers.

BabbelRosetta StoneDuolingo
14 languages24 languages39 languages
1 free lesson3-day free trial14-day free trial
Try NowTry NowTry Now

Babbel vs Rosetta Stone vs Duolingo: Cost Comparison

IA Babbel subscription for one language starts at $7.99 per month, but there are also longer subscriptions that can save you some money. You can get 3 months for $35.99 ($11.99 per month), 6 months for $47.94 ($7.99 per month), or a year for $95.88 ($7.99 per month). With a Babbel Lifetime subscription, you can learn all the languages on the platform for a one-time payment of $499. Babbel has a limited trial you can use to try the first lesson of each language before you buy a subscription.

There is a free version of Duolingo, but if you want to be able to make unlimited mistakes and get rid of the ads between lessons, you can upgrade to Super Duolingo (previously called Duolingo Plus). A Super Duolingo subscription costs $12.99 per month, but you can also choose 12 months for $83.99 ($6.99 per month) or buy a Family Plan for $119.99 ($9.99 per month) and share your subscription with friends and family. Duolingo offers a 14-day free trial to let you test its subscription. 

Rosetta Stone has different subscription options, as well. The app lets you learn one language for 3 months for $44.99 ($14.99 per month), but you can also get an Unlimited Languages yearly subscription for $109.99 ($9.16 per month) or buy Lifetime Access to all the languages on the app for $199.99. You can try Rosetta Stone’s Unlimited Languages subscription with a 3-day free trial.

The subscription range for these apps is wide, which is usually a good thing. Yet, I feel that Duolingo’s subscription offers little for the cost of its subscription. Rosetta and Babbel require a subscription to learn a language, but they offer many features that justify the price. Taking into consideration everything they offer, Rosetta Stone is expensive even if you only want to learn one language. Babbel, on the other hand, has the best value for the amount of tools and effectiveness of its lesson plans. Its subscription plan is more affordable and the app has enough similarities with Rosetta Stone to make it a good choice for language students.

If you’re still looking for other options, don’t worry. We have many recommendations for you. Here are some similar alternatives:

Babbel vs Duolingo vs Rosetta Stone: How They Work

Babbel, Duolingo, and Rosetta Stone are popular language apps that focus on vocabulary and grammar. But, each app has a very different learning experience. Rosetta Stone’s content is completely in your target language for an immersive experience. Babbel, on the other hand, has English translations to help you understand, as well as integrated grammar tips to explain how to apply the language. Similarly, Duolingo uses audio and images to introduce new words and phrases, and has a gamified approach.

RatingsBabbelDuolingoRosetta Stone
Apple Store4.74.74.7
Google Play Store4.54.64.6
Total Average Score4.43.64.3

How Babbel Works

Babbel has comprehensive lesson plans that teach you a language from the beginning. If you have experience with the language, you can take the app’s placement test to find the best place to start your language-learning journey, or choose for yourself and jump around to find the content that fits your goals. With Babbel, you can start studying as a complete beginner and develop your vocabulary, grammar, speaking, and listening skills.

All lessons are quick so you can complete them during work breaks or while you are on the go. The app uses images and audio to help you understand the meaning of the words, but there are English translations, as well. The lessons consist of fill-in-the-blank and mix-and-match exercises, and Babbel also gives you brief tips to explain how to apply grammar while you practice.

babbel portuguese lesson

There are flashcards, games, quizzes, and speaking and listening reviews that you can use to go over what you previously learned. If you want more guidance or if you’d like to practice speaking with a native speaker, Babbel has group lessons available for an extra fee. Each group lesson takes place through Zoom, lasts around 60 minutes, and has a maximum of 6 people.

You can learn more about the app in this complete Babbel review.

How Duolingo Works

With Duolingo, you can study as many languages as you want to learn for free. The app has structured lesson plans for 39 languages, and you can access its content on its app or website. Duolingo is a popular app because it has a gamified learning experience that makes learning a new language entertaining and engaging. 

Duolingo lesson

For every lesson, you complete short exercises that teach different topics like taking the bus, on the train, or going shopping. Many of its exercises feature audio so you can hear the pronunciation of the words and phrases, and Duolingo also includes a voice recognition tool to work on your pronunciation. With every lesson you complete, you win points and move up on the Leaderboard. Duolingo has weekly and daily challenges that you can use to compete with or against your friends much like in a video game.

Depending on the language you are studying, you can also find stories, podcasts, and alphabet charts. The app only lets you make five mistakes for free but, if you want to have access to unlimited mistakes, you can upgrade to Super Duolingo.

You can learn more about the app in this complete Duolingo review

How Rosetta Stone Works

Rosetta Stone completely immerses you in the language you want to learn from the start. The app doesn’t use translations and relies solely on images and audio to help you understand the vocabulary and words introduced. You can follow Rosetta’s structured lesson plan, or jump around to study the content that most interests you.

In each lesson, you see an image and hear an audio voiced by a native speaker. Then, you use the app’s voice recognition tool to repeat each sound to develop your pronunciation. The lessons include a mix of dynamic and interactive exercises to ensure you retain the knowledge. Each lesson lasts between 10-30 minutes, so you can complete a couple each day.

The app also offers a variety of features like on-demand videos, stories, phrasebooks, and alphabet charts you can use to practice different areas of language. If you’d like to practice with a native speaker, Rosetta Stone has live lessons with tutors free every week, or you can schedule your own classes for a separate fee.

You can learn more about the app in this complete Rosetta Stone review.

Babbel: Pros and Cons

What I like the most about Babbel, is that all its language courses are developed by language experts. All lesson plans were designed individually to teach you how to speak the language in an accurate and natural way. Every exercise includes audio voiced by a native speaker and a voice recognition tool to train your pronunciation and listening skills. Babbel offers live classes with tutors that you can access for a separate price, so you can practice talking with a native speaker.

Babbel’s integrated grammar tips can help you understand the basics of grammatic without interrupting your study sessions. Most apps have separate grammar reviews that require you to read long chunks of text or have summaries that don’t explain grammatical rules thoroughly. Babbel gives grammar tips during its lessons to explain how to apply the language. This way, you learn through practice instead of memorization.

Overall, Babbel is a great tool to study popular languages like Spanish or German. Yet, some of the less popular languages like Dutch or Swedish have fewer units and features available. This can be discouraging if you are looking for a complete app to develop the skills you need to become fluent. Besides, if you consider that you pay the same price for all the languages on Babbel, it doesn’t feel too fair.

Babbel’s free trial is also very limited and won’t allow you to test all its features. You can try the first lesson and review for each language, but this only gives you a small peek at what features you can find in the app. It can also be misleading because you won’t be able to see how many units each lesson plan has unless you pay for the subscription and unlock all the content. My advice is to contact Babbel’s support team to make sure this is the best app for the language you want to learn before you buy anything. Hopefully, Babbel can improve its free trial in the future.

Duolingo: Pros and Cons

Duolingo stands out from other apps for offering complete language courses for free. It has a long list of available languages, which turns it into the perfect exploration tool if you have ever been curious about trying less common languages like Esperanto, Welsh, or Navajo. Duolingo even has options for those who like to immerse in their favorite fictional worlds, which is great if you want to impress your friends with your Klingon or High Valyrian skills.

The app has a gamified approach to learning that can make completing lessons addictive. You win points for every lesson you complete and can participate in challenges with or against your friends. The top levels of the Leaderboard contain some of Duolingo’s most competitive users that are all trying to get the Diamond Tournament Badge (the top of Duolingo’s Leaderboard). It can be a fun and motivating experience if you like some adrenaline in your language-learning journey.

languages available on duolingo

As fun as it is, there are some areas of improvement in Duolingo that can’t be ignored. If you use Duolingo for a while, you can start noticing that some phrases repeat too often. Duolingo uses spaced repetition to make new vocabulary stick to your memory, but the frequency with which some of the words reappear in the lessons is too much. Overall, I think Duolingo is okay if you want to start to learn the basics of a language, but it might not help you much if you are an intermediate or advanced student.

Duolingo also has many instances of using unnatural language and mistranslated words in its lessons. This is most noticeable if you have previous knowledge of the language, but it can be equally confusing and frustrating if you are a complete beginner trying to learn how native speakers talk in real life. Duolingo is supposed to help you learn a lot of vocabulary quickly so you can use the language as soon as you step off the plane, but the amount of words used out of context that users have found in its lessons makes the app feel unreliable. 

Rosetta Stone: Pros and Cons

With Rosetta Stone, you can immerse in the language that you want to learn from the comfort of your own home. The app uses zero translations in your native language and fully relies on audio and images to help you associate different vocabulary words and phrases with their meanings. Each lesson has audio voiced by native speakers and uses an advanced speech recognition tool that can give you immediate feedback on your pronunciation (which sounds in the word are off and which are correct). If you can’t travel to a country where they speak your target language, this is a good alternative to start assimilating into the culture.

Rosetta Stone also has lots of additional resources to develop the rest of your language skills. You can use the Phrasebooks to review phrases you studied before or practice reading out loud with the stories. The app has high-quality on-demand videos that introduce multiple cultural aspects of the language you are learning, and explain the origin of some common phrases you might hear.

rosetta stone arabic course

While Rosetta Stone can be a great start if you are up for a challenge and don’t mind the absence of translations, it can be overwhelming for students that are trying to study a new language for the first time. Besides, if the language you want to learn is too different from yours, you might have some trouble remembering the meaning of the words after a couple of lessons. Overall, I think Rosetta’s method is useful, but maybe not the best for complete beginners or people who want a stress-free study routine.

The app has alphabet charts for languages with different writing systems, but it won’t teach you how to write the different letters. This is important if you are studying languages like Chinese, Japanese, or Korean, where knowing the correct order of strokes for each letter can make your message understandable. In this case, I’d say it would be better to look for other resources like textbooks, a tutor, or an app that can actually teach you how to write the alphabet of your target language.

Babbel vs Duolingo vs Rosetta Stone: Which is the best way to learn a new language?

After looking at these three apps individually, it’s clear that they were designed for different types of language students. At first glance, it might seem like they have a similar structure with quick and dynamic lessons and additional materials, but this is far off from the truth. 

The Duolingo app easily teaches you the basic vocabulary and grammar of your target language. You can start as a complete beginner and learn a good amount of phrases that can be useful for basic communication. The emphasis here is on “basic,” because this app won’t help much if you’re serious about learning a language..

Rosetta Stone provides an immersive approach that can work for some people, but not for all. You might be able to enjoy the app more if you are a risk-taker, don’t mind that they don’t use translations, or are an intermediate student. However, if you are looking for a comprehensive app that can start you with the basics and develop your skills from the ground, there are better options out there.

Which brings me to the winner of this match: Babbel. Babbel has familiar features that make its interface and lessons easy to use and follow. All of the language courses were developed individually, so you won’t see copy-pasted content from other language courses. It has many additional resources that can develop your skills, and you can jump around and choose what you want to study and which tools you want to use in whichever order you like. Overall, Babbel is the best choice to start your language-learning journey.

Babbel vs Duolingo vs Rosetta Stone: FAQ

Is Rosetta Stone, Babbel, or Duolingo better?

Rosetta Stone, Babbel, and Duolingo are good apps for different purposes, so one of them might be better for you based on your learning style. If you want an immersive language experience from home and aren’t afraid of learning without English translations, Rosetta Stone is a great choice. Babbel is a more affordable app that has similar features and quick grammar tips. If you are looking to learn a language for free, Duolingo is the way to go.

Is Babbel the same as Rosetta Stone?

Babbel shares some similarities with Rosetta Stone, but they aren’t the same. For example, Rosetta Stone doesn’t have any English translations in its lessons because its goal is to immerse you in the language. Like Rosetta, Babbel uses audio and images to introduce new vocabulary words and phrases, but its exercises do have English translations to make things easier for you.

What is better, Duolingo or Babbel?

Duolingo can teach you a lot of vocabulary quickly, but Babbel is better at introducing you to natural language. All the content you can find in Babbel was developed by professional linguists, so you can be sure that you are learning the language the way it is spoken in real life. Duolingo is a good tool to learn a language for free, but there have been some complaints about unnatural sentences and words used out of context in its lessons.

Is Babbel enough to be fluent?

Babbel has comprehensive language lessons that can improve your language skills, but it probably won’t be enough to become fluent. If you want to reach fluency quickly, you can mix and match multiple resources to make sure that you are improving all language skills. You can also practice listening and speaking with native speakers to learn to apply your target language in the real world.

Can you become fluent with Rosetta Stone?

Rosetta Stone does a good job of immersing you in a new language from the comfort of your home, but you still need to use other resources to become fluent. The app doesn’t teach you how to write the alphabet letters for languages with different writing systems, which is necessary to reach fluency. If you want to practice writing, you can always use a textbook. 

Maria Claudia Alvarado

Maria Alvarado is a content writer and translator from Lima, Peru. She graduated from the Savannah College of Arts and Design in 2017 with a Bachelor’s degree in Writing. She is fluent in Spanish and English, has intermediate knowledge of French and German, and is learning Japanese. She hopes to bring consciousness about the importance of language learning through her articles and aspires to learn as many languages as possible.

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