Pimsleur vs Rosetta Stone

Pimsleur vs Rosetta Stone: Which Language App is More Effective?

Maria Claudia Alvarado Published on December 11, 2023
Pimsleur vs Rosetta Stone

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Rosetta Stone and Pimsleur are two well-known language apps, and for good reason. If you’re looking to learn a new language, you might wonder which one is best for you. In this article, we’ll look at the pros and cons of each so you can choose the app that will help you learn best.

Editor’s Choice

Pimsleur Overview

Pimsleur uses podcast-style lessons to help you become conversational quickly. You can start learning a new language from the basics while you train your listening and speaking skills.
pimsleur logo
Price $14.95/month
Free trial 7 days
Try Pimsleur

Pimsleur vs Rosetta Stone: A Quick Breakdown

Both apps have distinct methods and different goals. Rosetta Stone has structured, yet flexible, courses that completely immerse you in your target language. It is supposed to mimic the language learning experience you would have if you were traveling. But the words and phrases used are sometimes too formal. Pimsleur uses audio-based lessons to teach you a language from the basics. Its goal is to help you speak like a native speaker as soon as possible. Even though it’s more expensive than Rosetta Stone, Pimsleur is better for its price. 

The table below shows you a direct comparison of Pimsleur and Rosetta Stone based on the languages they offer, their price, and the availability of free trials.

PimsleurRosetta Stone
51 languages25 languages
$19.95/month$44.99 for 3 months ($11.99 per month)
7-day free trial3-day free trial
Try NowTry Now

Pimsleur vs Rosetta Stone: Cost Comparison

A Pimsleur subscription costs $19.95 per month if you only want to learn one language. However, if you want access to all the languages available, you can get an All Access subscription for $20.95 per month. You can also purchase Lifetime Access to one level of a language for $150 two levels for $300, and five levels for $575. Keep in mind that some language courses have fewer levels than others. Pimsleur also offers a 7-day free trial.

Rosetta Stone has a 3-month subscription for $44.99 for access to one language. If you want to be able to switch between language courses, you will need to purchase an Unlimited Languages subscription. You can get Unlimited Languages for $109.99 per year or get lifetime access to all languages for $199.99. Rosetta Stone also has a Lifetime subscription that includes 12 months of live video lessons and costs $299.99. You can try Rosetta Stone’s Unlimited Languages yearly subscription with a 3-day free trial.

If we break down Rosetta Stone’s 3-month subscription and compare it to Pimsleur’s one-month subscription, Pimsleur is slightly more expensive. However, Pimsleur offers an All Access subscription that is way cheaper than Rosetta’s Unlimited Access subscription. For what they offer, I think Pimsleur has a better value. It costs more than other apps, but its tools and effectiveness to get you to speak a new language are unmatched.

If you are not sure if these two apps are the best tools to fit into your study routine, don’t worry. We have other similar apps that you can explore. Here are three recommendations:

Pimsleur and Rosetta Stone: How They Work

Rosetta Stone offers comprehensive courses that immerse you in the language you want to learn. Pimsleur has audio lessons to help you study on the go and become conversational quickly. While Rosetta has a traditional course structure, its teaching method is different because it doesn’t use translations in your native language. Pimsleur doesn’t have any written practice, but all the audio on its courses is voiced by native speakers and the content is very thorough.

Below, you can see now the two apps rated across the web: 

ReviewsPimsleurRosetta Stone
Langoly4.24.0
Apple Store4.84.8
Google Play Store4.14.5
Trustpilot2.53.7
Average Score3.94.3

How Pimsleur Works

Pimsleur language courses focus on getting you to speak another language through audio-based lessons. In each 30-minute session, you can listen to a conversation between two native speakers. Then, they break down each line and explain the vocabulary and grammar used in the dialogue. They also show you how to enunciate each sound for each word and ask you to repeat after, which is helpful if you are learning a language with lots of linguistic differences.

main features of a pimsleur lesson

The grammar explanations are brief but effective since they tackle sentence structure, conjugation, and common use. The app has other tools like a Speak Easy review, flashcards, and speed rounds that you can use to study what you learned in the lesson. Pimsleur also has cultural notes to introduce you to the cultural aspects of the language you are trying to learn.

You can download Pimsleur’s app and listen on the go or while you are completing other tasks. If you want to learn more about the app, you can read our complete Pimsleur review

How Rosetta Stone Works

Rosetta Stone courses help you learn a new language through complete immersion from the comfort of your home. Unlike other courses, Rosetta Stone doesn’t provide any English translations. Instead, their language courses rely solely on visual cues and audio.

All Rosetta Stone lessons are 10-30 minutes, and you can complete exercises to help you train your vocabulary, grammar, listening, and pronunciation skills. You are presented with a group of images that you can easily associate with actions or objects. Then, you are asked to complete mix-and-match and speaking exercises to ensure that you understand the meaning and pronunciation of each new vocabulary word. 

Rosetta Stone Korean course

There are short stories with reading, listening, and voice recognition exercises and an alphabet chart to help you learn the sound of each letter. You can use phrasebooks to learn vocabulary relevant to daily-life topics like shopping, going to school, traveling, etc. Rosetta Stone also includes cultural videos and live online lessons. There are courses for complete beginners, intermediate and advanced-level students.

You can learn more about Rosetta Stone in this review.

Pimsleur: Our Thoughts

The goal of the Pimsleur method is to get you to become conversational as quickly as possible. Each Pimsleur lesson in each language course is voiced by a native speaker, and the conversations you hear are regular, day-to-day conversations. This way, you can accurately learn the language the way you would if you were to stand in a room with real native speakers.

Even though the lessons are completely audio-based, Pimsleur’s courses are easy to follow. Pimsleur has an easy-to-navigate interface and will only let you move forward once you have completed the previous lesson. This can feel somewhat restrictive, but since you are learning grammatical rules and word use through audio only, taking the lessons in order can be a good way of making sure you understand why each dialogue sentence is structured the way it is. 

speak easy feature on pimsleur

The Pimsleur course doesn’t provide any written practice, which can be disappointing if you’re looking to train more than a couple of language skills. This can cause some major confusion if you are using this app to begin your language-learning journey. Not every language is completely phonetic, which is why learning the pronunciation first and the spelling later can be frustrating.

Because Pimsleur doesn’t provide written material, referencing what you previously heard can be hard. While its grammatical explanations are concise and easy to understand, it’s hard to say that they are sufficient to deal with complicated topics. You can always use Pimsleur’s flashcards or Quick Match to help you review vocabulary, but finding the exact minute when you heard the native speaker explain a grammatical rule can be a hassle. 

Rosetta Stone: Our Thoughts

Rosetta Stone has immersive courses that use audio and images to teach you a new language. Unlike other apps, they don’t include English translations to help you learn the meaning of each word. If you can’t travel, this is a great alternative to start developing your language skills.

The language courses have high-quality voice tools that can provide immediate feedback on the accuracy of your pronunciation. In each exercise, you are asked to repeat after the speaker and then you can see exactly which sound in the word needs to be corrected. Rosetta Stone also includes many other materials like videos, phrasebooks, and stories that can teach you more about culture while you practice. 

If you are looking to learn a less-common language like Icelandic, Danish, or Finnish, you might be surprised that Rosetta Stone doesn’t have a course for you yet. Since Rosetta Stone is a big name in the language learning industry, I would expect them to have more languages available. There are many apps out there that you can use to learn less-studied languages, but it would be interesting to see Rosetta Stone’s take on Thai, Latin, or even Swiss German.

Before buying a subscription – especially one as expensive as Rosetta Stone’s – you need to be sure that the method they offer is right for you. Most people try the Rosetta Stone program for a couple of hours each day, which might only be enough to help you get a general idea of what the rest of the course is going to be like. With that said, I think that 3 days might be too little time to decide if you like Rosetta Stone or not. It would be helpful if they offered a longer trial.

Rosetta Stone vs Pimsleur: Which Language Learning App is Better?

I think that Rosetta Stone and Pimsleur are both great options to help you speak a new language, but they serve different purposes. On one hand, Rosetta Stone has language courses to help you train the language skills necessary to reach fluency. Its immersive method is very effective, but it might not be the best for complete beginners. On the other hand, Pimsleur’s podcast-style lessons teach you how to pronounce each sound in a word. The courses are voiced by native speakers, so you are constantly learning to use the language the way people do in the real world. 

Based on how effective it is at teaching you the basics of the language, I think Pimsleur is better than Rosetta Stone. You can learn on the go, download the lessons to your device, and practice when you are offline. Pimsleur also has a more extensive variety of language courses, which makes the All Access subscription very tempting. 

Pimsleur vs Rosetta Stone: FAQ

Can you become fluent with Pimsleur?

Pimsleur can help you become conversational quickly, but you will need to use more resources to become fluent since its courses don’t include any written practice. You can use textbooks or other authentic written materials to help you fill the gaps in your study.

What is better than Pimsleur?

Pimsleur is a useful app if you want to work on your listening and speaking skills, but there may be better options depending on your language goal. Apps like Babbel and Mondly have comprehensive courses that target vocabulary and grammar and can teach you the basics of communication.

Can you become fluent with Rosetta Stone?

Rosetta Stone is a great app to help you study a new language. But, if your goal is to become fluent, you will need to use more language-learning resources. While the platform has comprehensive and immersive language courses, nothing can replace practicing conversation with a native speaker in real life. If you want to become proficient in a foreign language but don’t know anybody that speaks that particular language, you can always find an online tutor on platforms like italki or Preply.

Is Pimsleur worth it for Spanish?

Pimsleur’s Spanish course is worth it if you are looking to become conversational quickly. You can choose to learn Spanish (Latin American) or Spanish (Spanish Castilian). The audio lessons have brief grammatical explanations that can help you understand word use and verb conjugation better. There are also flashcards and games to make your study sessions more interactive.

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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