Babbel vs Pimsleur vs Rosetta Stone

Pimsleur vs Rosetta Stone vs Babbel: Are These The Right Apps For You?

Maria Claudia Alvarado Published on February 13, 2024

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The first step toward a successful language learning experience is finding the right resources to build a consistent study routine. If you are looking for an app to help you practice in your free time, you might have heard about Rosetta Stone, Pimsleur, and Babbel. These are popular popular language learning apps, and for good reason. However, there is only one app that can develop all the skills you need to become fluent: Babbel.

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Babbel Overview
Babbel has everything you need to become conversational quickly. Its lessons and features cover all areas of language: vocabulary, grammar, speaking, listening, and writing. 
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Price $14.95 / month
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Language learners compare Pimsleur, Rosetta Stone, and Babbel because of how quickly they can help you speak a new language. And while it’s true that each one is effective in their unique teaching style, they have major differences that set them apart. In this article, we will look at their pros and cons so you can choose the best option..

Pimsleur vs Babbel vs Rosetta Stone: A Quick Breakdown

Pimsleur, Rosetta Stone, and Babbel have their own ways of immersing you in a different language. They rely on audio and text to help you become familiar with the language but use their tools in different ways. Pimsleur offers podcast-style lessons that teach you basic vocabulary and phrases with detailed repetition exercises to improve your pronunciation. Rosetta Stone has lessons that are entirely in the language you are studying. Babbel has comprehensive courses that develop all the areas of language you need to become fluent.

The table below directly compares Pimsleur, Rosetta Stone, and Babbel based on the languages they offer, prices, and free trials.

PimsleurRosetta StoneBabbel
51 languages24 languages14 languages
$19.95/month3 months for $44.99$7.99/month
7-day free trial3-day free trial1 free lesson
Try NowTry NowTry Now

Babbel vs Pimsleur vs Rosetta Stone: Cost Comparison

A subscription to Pimsleur costs $19.95 per month if you want to study one language and $20.95 per month to access all the languages available on the app. You can also buy lifetime access to each language course. One level costs $150, two levels cost $300, and five levels cost $575. Pimsleur offers a 7-day free trial that allows you to try its All-Access subscription.

With Rosetta Stone, you can study one language for three months for $44.99 ($14.99 per month). The app also has a yearly subscription available for $109.99 ($9.16 per month) that you can use to access multiple languages. If you want to use Rosetta Stone indefinitely, you can buy lifetime access for $199.99. Rosetta Stone has a 3-day free trial for its Unlimited Languages yearly subscription to help you try all its features.

Babbel subscription options starts at $7.99 per month, but you can buy a longer subscription to save money. You can get a 3-month subscription for $35.99 ($11.99 per month), a 6-month subscription for $47.94 ($7.99 per month), and a 12-month subscription for $95.88 ($7.99 per month). If you want to access all the languages on the platform, you can buy Babbel’s Lifetime subscription for $499. You can take the first lesson of each language course for free to see if you like the app.

If you would like to see more options, we have plenty of useful recommendations for you. Here are some similar alternatives: 

Pimsleur vs Rosetta Stone vs Babbel: How They Work

You can use Pimsleur, Rosetta Stone, and Babbel to learn a language from the basics. These apps have different ways of immersing you in your target language. Pimsleur has podcast-style lessons that get you to speak from the start. Rosetta Stone removes English translations to teach you to think in the new language. Babbel has game-like exercises and all the features you need to practice vocabulary, grammar, listening, and speaking. 

Check out the table below to see how Pimsleur, Rosetta Stone, and Babbel rate across the web.

ReviewsPimsleurRosetta StoneBabbel
Apple Store4.84.84.7
Google Play4.14.54.5
Average Score3.94.34.4

How Babbel Works

The Babbel app has game-like exercises that consist of matching the word to its meaning, filling in the blanks, and building sentences in the correct order. While you practice, Babbel offers you quick grammar tips to help you apply different grammatical rules and use words in the proper context. Babbel also has a high-quality voice recognition tool you can use to improve your pronunciation.

babbel portuguese lesson

Babbel also has features like flashcards, quizzes, games, and a speaking and listening review that allow you to test your knowledge. There are podcasts and 2-minute stories available for some of the most popular languages, like French and Spanish. If you’d like to practice speaking with a native speaker, Babbel offers online group lessons with a tutor available on Babbel Live. All lessons take place through Zoom, with a maximum to 6 people per group.

If you want to learn more about the app, check out this Babbel review.

How Pimsleur Works

The Pimsleur program has audio-based lessons that get you to speak from the start. Instead of using the usual written exercises, Pimsleur lessons take 10 to 30-minute  and teach you new vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation. Its structured lesson plan builds on what you previously learned, so you must complete the lessons in order.

In each lesson, you listen to a conversation between two native speakers. Then, the speaker breaks down the dialogue and explains the meaning of what you heard. They ask you to repeat each sound, word, and phrase to practice speaking and improve your pronunciation. All Pimsleur courses are voiced by native speakers, so you can learn to speak and listen to how the language sounds in real life. 

Pimsleur Italian lesson

Pimsleur also has other features you can use to refresh your knowledge, like flashcards, Speak Easy, and speed rounds. There are also cultural notes that teach you more about the culture and history of the language you are studying. If you want to listen to Pimsleur offline, you can download its lessons to your mobile device with a subscription. 

If you want to learn more about the app, you can read our Pimsleur review.

How Rosetta Stone Works

Rosetta Stone offers an immersive approach to help you think in the language you are studying. Instead of learning through memorization, the app removes all English translations and uses images and audio to help you associate words with their meanings. Rosetta has a structured lesson plan, but you can skip lessons and switch levels to find the best spot.

Each lesson lasts 10-30 minutes and uses spaced repetition to help you remember the words in the long run. In each exercise, you see an image and listen to an audio. Then, you use the speech recognition tool to practice pronouncing different words, phrases, and sounds. Rosetta’s voice recognition tool is very advanced and provides immediate feedback to show you which sound you mispronounce in a word.

Rosetta Stone Korean course

There are also additional features like alphabet charts, videos, phrasebooks, and stories you can use to practice the rest of your language skills. Rosetta Stone also has group lessons with a native teacher available each week. If you’d like private lessons, you can schedule a class with a tutor on Rosetta Stone Live.

If you want to learn more about the app, check out this Rosetta Stone review

Babbel: What We Like (and Don’t Like)

Many apps copy and paste content from their language courses, but that’s not the case with Babbel. Professional linguists individually develop all Babbel courses, so all the words and phrases presented in each lesson are the natural language people use in real life. In the past, I’ve used apps that taught wordy, out-of-context, or unnatural-sounding phrases, so I appreciate that Babbel takes the time to ensure you can communicate with native speakers without problems.

The app also has integrated grammar tips that show you how to use the language without interrupting your study. This is my favorite Babbel feature because you don’t have to read long chunks of text to understand what you need to do. Babbel lessons briefly explain what you need to do and gives you exercises to practice applying the grammatical rule. I think this is a much better way to learn because you are not relying on memorization but making sure you truly understand the information before you move on.

Babbel lesson

Babbel may not be the best choice if you want to study one of the less popular languages like Norwegian or Polish. The app has plenty of features and tools to help you practice your skills, but they might not be included in your language course if it isn’t a popular language like Spanish, French, or Italian. It can be disappointing if you are looking for a stand-alone app to add to your study routine, especially because all language subscriptions on Babbel have the same price. 

Another area Babbel could improve is its free trial. I have trouble calling what Babbel offers a trial because of how limited it is at the moment. With Babbel, you can only take the first lesson for each language and use one tool for review. After that, you must subscribe to Babbel to see the rest of the content. Babbel has such valuable features and complete language courses that it doesn’t feel fair to have an incomplete view before making a decision.

Pimsleur: What We Like (and Don’t Like)

I tried Pimsleur’s Japanese course to see how it compared to other apps and was amazed by how much my pronunciation could improve in one single lesson. Pimsleur’s audio tracks offer detailed descriptions that tackle vocabulary, context, and grammar. The speaker explains what the native speakers are saying, why they are using the language that way, and in what kind of scenarios you can use specific phrases or words. By the end of the lesson, I could understand the conversation and repeat after with no problem. Overall, it’s a great way to develop your skills and learn how to use the language. 

main features of a pimsleur lesson

Even though Pimsleur is supposed to be the perfect app to study on the go, it has lessons that can be too long to listen to while driving or cooking. Of course, you can always put Pimsleur on in the background to listen to the language, but you won’t be taking advantage of everything the app has to offer. If you want it to be effective, you must pay attention and repeat after the speaker. 

Since Pimsleur only has audio lessons, it can only help you develop some language skills. You won’t find any sort of writing or reading practice in Pimsleur. In my opinion, this is the biggest flaw. I couldn’t help but wonder how someone entirely new to a language like German or Hindi would navigate real-life scenarios if they don’t know the alphabet.

Rosetta Stone: What We Like (and Don’t Like)

With Rosetta Stone’s immersive language courses, you can study completely in the language you are learning. Unlike other apps, Rosetta doesn’t include translations to help you understand the content. Instead, the app uses a series of images and audio to cue the meaning of each vocabulary word. If you don’t mind the challenge, I think Rosetta’s approach to language learning is the perfect way to become fully engaged in the learning process.

There are many apps with speech recognition tools, but only a few can do what Rosetta does. Its advanced voice recognition tool can immediately tell you exactly what sound you mispronounce in a word. This way, you can repeat and easily modify the pronunciation. If hiring a tutor isn’t in your budget, this is a great way to practice speaking on your own.

rosetta stone speak

While Rosetta Stone does what it promises, there might be better tools for complete beginners to start learning a new language. Studying a language from zero can be challenging, and not having English translations to ease the process can cause first-time language students to feel overwhelmed. Even when the app uses images and audio to help you understand, there are languages with words with similar meanings that could be easier to understand if you know the equivalent in your native tongue.

Additionally, if you are studying a language with a different writing system, Rosetta can’t teach you to write the characters. The platform includes reading and writing practice, but they mainly consist of reading out loud and building sentences in order. If you are studying a language like Japanese, Chinese, or Russian, knowing how to draw letters is very important for communication. I don’t think learning one of these languages in the Roman alphabet can do much for you if you plan to use the language on your next trip. It’d be nice to see an immersive app like Rosetta Stone include writing practice in the future, though. 

Rosetta Stone, Pimsleur, or Babbel: Which Language Learning App is Best?

Pimsleur presents an innovative way of studying, but its audio lessons can’t provide visual and written material to aid your learning process. It’s convenient for learners who want to study on the go but requires a level of engagement that rules out the idea of listening to it casually. Pimsleur is also somewhat expensive if we consider that it can only develop your listening, speaking, and pronunciation skills. You need to look for other resources to become fluent, so I’d only recommend Pimsleur to people interested in improving their pronunciation.

Rosetta Stone’s immersive language lessons make it a tempting option for intermediate and advanced students. It has almost everything you need minus the writing practice. However, Rosetta is on the higher end of the price range and might not be the best for complete beginners and first-time language students. It’s a great app, but you must use it consistently to justify buying its subscription.

Babbel can do everything Rosetta Stone does for a lower price. With Babbel, you can learn natural-sounding vocabulary and phrases. All of its language courses are developed by linguists, which ensures you won’t sound weird or like a robot. It also includes English translations so everyone can use it regardless of their level. You can also skip ahead in the lessons if you already have some knowledge of the language. For all the value that it provides, Babbel is the clear winner. 

Rosetta Stone, Babbel, and Pimsleur: FAQ

What’s better, Rosetta Stone or Pimsleur?

Rosetta Stone and Pimsleur are good language learning platforms to start your learning journey, but one might be better depending on your language goals. While Pimsleur’s only audio method has proven effective, it might not be the best for visual learners. Rosetta Stone has immersive language courses to teach you to think in the language, but it can be too overwhelming for complete beginners. 

How effective is Pimsleur?

Pimsleur is an effective resource to practice listening and speaking from the comfort of your own home. The app has audio-based lessons that break down a dialogue between two native speakers to help you listen and learn how to use the language. Using Pimsleur consistently can get you to speak comfortably and naturally in no time. 

Can you become fluent using Rosetta Stone?

Rosetta Stone can help you practice your vocabulary, grammar, listening, and speaking skills, but it won’t be enough to become fluent. To become fluent, you need to speak the language with a native speaker. You can use Rosetta Stone’s speech recognition tool to improve your pronunciation, but it won’t replace holding a conversation in real life.

Is Babbel enough to be fluent?

Babbel has comprehensive language courses that help you develop all your language skills, but you might need other resources to become fluent. Babbel has reading and writing exercises, but it can’t teach you how to write the alphabet letters for languages with different writing systems. To become fluent, you can use Babbel with other resources like textbooks.

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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