Rosetta Stone Review (2021): Is It Worth All The Hype?
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From the moment you start using Rosetta Stone, you’re completely immersed in another language. The app uses audio and images to teach you words and phrases, as well as high-quality speech recognition technology to check your pronunciation. While it’s not a perfect language app by any means, Rosetta Stone’s method is effective and backed by science. The courses cover quite a few topics and the app is easy to use, too.
- Mimics complete immersion in a new language
- The app is very easy to use
- Courses are flexible and you can choose your lessons
- Additional features help you practice all skills
- No writing practice
- The progression of the course is a bit slow
- You learn more formal language and not conversational
Languages Available on Rosetta Stone
The following 22 languages are available on Rosetta Stone:
Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin), Dutch, Filipino (Tagalog), French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Irish, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Latin, Persian (Farsi), Polish, Portuguese (Brazilian), Russian, Spanish (Latin America), Spanish (Spain), Swedish, and Turkish.
Rosetta Stone also offers English (American and British) courses and endangered language materials for Chikashshanompa’, Kanien’kéha (Mohawk), Sitimaxa (Chitimacha), Iñupiaq (Coastal) and Iñupiaq (Kobuk/Selawik), Iñupiaq (North Slope), Diné Bizaad (Navajo), and Inuttitut.
Rosetta Stone Ratings and Reviews (2021)
|Apple App Store||9.6/10|
|Google Play Store||9.2/10|
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Table of Contents
I’ve tried a lot of different language apps, and it’s always interesting to see which ones can actually help you learn a language vs those that are just hype and high marketing budgets. That’s why I was excited to write this Rosetta Stone review. There is a lot of hype around this language learning program, and it also has a huge group of devoted users (and also quite a few who think it’s a waste).
That’s why I decided to take a closer look at the latest version (Version 5) of the Rosetta Stone language learning suite. I wanted to see for myself if it was worth all the hype.
And honestly, I have a mixed opinion.
The Rosetta Stone company has been around since 1992, making it one of the most established language learning companies in the world. Older doesn’t necessarily mean better though. I do actually think Rosetta Stone is a really solid app though.
Its teaching method is best for complete beginners, but the way it completely throws you into the language with no instruction or guidance may be offputting for some.
The best way to see if it’s a good fit for you is to sign up for a free trial and test it yourself.
Like a lot of other language learning apps, Rosetta Stone guides you through a complete language course to help you learn. These courses are obviously Rosetta Stone’s core feature, but the language app also has some other features that add value to its main courses.
And no Rosetta Stone app review would be complete without telling you about them! So here’s a quick overview of what you’ll find in the Rosetta Stone app.
The Rosetta Stone language courses are the main part of the language learning app. Some languages have more units and lessons than others, but they all cover similar topics. Ranging from the basics of the language to more conversational topics like shopping and family, the units teach you words and phrases you may encounter in everyday life.
Rosetta Stone courses are completely different than most other language apps though. They immerse you in the language right away. You listen to the words and phrases and look at a picture to figure out what the words mean, which is similar to how children learn a language. This approach makes you think a lot more actively about what you’re learning instead of passively memorizing words and translations.
The complete immersion aspect of the Rosetta Stone courses can be somewhat intimidating (and even frustrating) for language learners though. While some people love it, others completely hate it. And Rosetta Stone understands this. To make the lessons more accomodating for everyone, the courses now have embedded translations.
They aren’t readily accessible because Rosetta Stone still wants you to try and figure out the words and phrases on your own. If you’re really stuck though, you can press and hold the image to reveal its translation. This is available in the latest versions of Rosetta Stone, and I think it’s definitely an improvement.
Seek & Speak exercises are an additional way to practice your target language outside of the main course. With Seek & Speak, you choose a topic like packing a bag or going to the grocery store.
Then you use your phone camera to take pictures of items around your house. With these pictures, Rosetta Stone creates a conversation and you practice discussing the items. This is a more interactive way to practice and it can help you remember words more effectively.
The Phrasebook is another feature of Rosetta Stone, and it’s pretty straightforward. It shows you common words and phrases and lets you listen to a native speaker pronounce them.
It’s helpful for reviewing vocabulary and practicing your pronunciation but it’s honestly pretty limited. I think the other features are much more helpful for learning vocabulary and practicing it. A much better app for quickly learning words and phrases is MosaLingua.
The Stories feature is probably the most useful feature in the app. It has short stories in your target language that you can read, listen to, and even record yourself reading. I really liked using this feature because reading to yourself and aloud is one of the best ways to improve your fluency. The stories start really simple and become more complex as you work through your course.
Rosetta Stone doesn’t teach you to write these languages or read them at all in its course either, which was a bit of a disappointment. Using an app like Drops or Skritter along with Rosetta Stone can help you with this though.
A newer feature offered by Rosetta Stone is live tutoring. The Rosetta Stone live tutoring and group coaching sessions let you practice with expert language coaches. There are free lessons every week that cover conversations, grammar, and pronunciation. You can also take group classes or private classes with a Rosetta Stone online tutor.
All Rosetta Stone live classes follow a curriculum the company developed, and the tutors are all experienced professionals. I tried a few of the live classes in different languages and I really enjoyed them. The lesson plans were easy to follow and all of the tutors were really engaging and fun! Similar to the app though, the topics are somewhat basic.
These are the languages offered by Rosetta Stone: Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin), Dutch, Filipino (Tagalog), French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Irish, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Latin, Persian (Farsi), Polish, Portuguese (Brazilian), Russian, Spanish (Latin America and Spain), Swedish, and Turkish. Rosetta Stone has English (American and British) courses too, as well as endangered language materials for Chikashshanompa’, Kanien’kéha (Mohawk), Sitimaxa (Chitimacha), Iñupiaq (Coastal) and Iñupiaq (Kobuk/Selawik), Iñupiaq (North Slope), Diné Bizaad (Navajo), and Inuttitut.
When you subscribe to Rosetta Stone, you get access to one language course. If you want to learn multiple languages with the app, you can either subscribe to each language individually or get the unlimited languages subscription.
While all courses follow the same general structure, there are some key differences between them. Some language courses are longer than others and some offer more features. To help you decide if the app is a good option for your unique language learning goals, I looked at some popular Rosetta Stone languages to give you a more specific review.
The Rosetta Stone Spanish course is one of the app’s most comprehensive courses. In addition to the core lessons that teach you the basics, the Spanish course includes all additional features, like Seek & Speak, Stories, Audio Companion, and the Phrasebook.
Unlike most other language apps, the Rosetta Stone Spanish lessons force you to actively use the language. This helps you learn it more quickly and efficiently. Overall, the Rosetta Stone Spanish course is an excellent resource to build a strong foundation in the language.
You can also check out this list of Spanish learning apps.
The Rosetta Stone French course helps you learn how to navigate everyday situations in French. The lessons cover the basics of the language and the additional features help you practice what you’ve learned. The speech recognition technology can help improve your pronunciation, but the most useful feature for this is Stories.
Rosetta Stone lets you follow along as a native speaker reads a story, then lets you record yourself reading it. This feature alone makes Rosetta Stone stand out from other French learning apps.
You can also compare Rosetta Stone to other apps to learn French.
Using Rosetta Stone to learn Japanese will help you understand the language a little more, but the Japanese course has quite a few limitations. More popular languages like Spanish and French have 20 units of content, but Rosetta Stone Japanese only has 12. You also don’t learn to read or write in Japanese with Rosetta Stone.
The additional features like Seek & Speak and Audio Companion can help improve your conversational Japanese. If you want to learn how to read and write though, you’ll need to use another app like Rocket Languages or Drops.
You can also read about other apps to learn Japanese.
The Rosetta Stone Korean course has 12 units and includes the Stories and Audio Companion features. Compared to other Rosetta Stone language courses, the Korean course is pretty basic. It also doesn’t teach you to read or write in Korean.
The course can help you learn some of the basics of Korean, but if you want to become conversational, it’s best to use an app like Rocket Languages.
You can also check out other Korean learning apps.
The Rosetta Stone Arabic course has 12 units that help you learn some general vocabulary and grammar. It only teaches Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) though, which isn’t really useful for talking to native speakers. Other apps like Pimsleur offer more common dialects like Egyptian and Eastern Arabic.
You also don’t learn how to read or write in Arabic with Rosetta Stone. Overall, it’s good for learning some basics, but won’t help you reach an intermediate Arabic level and also teaches Modern Standard Arabic, which isn’t super useful. You can find other apps to learn Arabic if that’s your goal.
The Rosetta Stone Mandarin course has 20 units that can help you build a decent foundation in the language. While you’ll improve your Mandarin speaking and listening skills with Rosetta Stone, you won’t learn to read or write Mandarin.
All of the activities use Pinyin, which uses the Latin alphabet to show each word’s pronunciation. This is the main drawback of the Rosetta Stone Mandarin course. If your goal is to learn basic Mandarin Chinese though, Rosetta Stone could be a good start. These Chinese apps can help you become more fluent though.
In addition to its individual language courses, Rosetta Stone offers an unlimited languages subscription. This gives you access to all of its language courses for one price. If you enjoy Rosetta Stone’s teaching method, the unlimited languages subscription is definitely worth it.
This is especially true if you want to learn more popular languages like Spanish and French. The Rosetta Stone unlimited languages subscription is perfect for casual language learners who want to learn the basics of multiple languages, but don’t necessarily want to become fluent in all of them.
Overall Learning Experience
While testing the app to write this Rosetta Stone review, I’d have to say my overall learning experience was positive. I actually really enjoyed the immersive lessons, and this is what made Rosetta Stone stand out most from other language apps in my opinion.
It has become a common trend for language learning apps to show you new words and phrases and teach you to translate them. This really slows down the learning process in my opinion. Rosetta Stone takes a completely different approach though. It forces you to figure out what news words mean by looking at pictures.
This more “active” form of language learning helps you build your communication skills a lot faster than the most “passive” method of translating.
Rosetta Stone won’t help you achieve complete fluency in any language, but it will help you build a decent foundation in the basics. The lessons are easy to follow and the fact that you can access the courses online or on different devices makes it a convenient choice.
Areas of Improvement
Rosetta Stone is a solid app in some ways, but it definitely also has a few areas of improvement. And it’s only fair to include them as part of my Rosetta Stone language learning review.
What the app does really well is simulate situations that force you to speak on the spot. The actual conversations could be improved though. Rosetta Stone tends to use more formal language as opposed to teaching you how people speak in daily life. This has value for some, but I personally prefer to learn more casual ways to speak.
The pace of the courses could also improve. It seems like the more complete sentences and conversations don’t come until later units and lessons. This could be a little unmotivating for people who want to learn quickly.
The final area of improvement I want to mention is how Rosetta Stone teaches languages with different writing systems. For languages like Japanese, Korean, Arabic, and Mandarin Chinese, you don’t learn how to read or write at all. Adding some lessons that teach this would be a huge improvement.
When it comes to price, Rosetta Stone has a few different choices and choosing the right one can be a little confusing. In general, the cost of Rosetta Stone tends to be a little more expensive than other major language learning apps like Babbel and Mondly. It’s still cheaper than some others like FluentU and Pimsleur though.
The table below shows the different Rosetta Stone price options you can choose from on the website or in the app.
|Subscription Length||Web Price||App Price|
|3 months||$35.97 (1 language)||$44.99 (1 language)|
|12 months||$143.88 (1 language)||$109.99 (all languages)|
|Lifetime||$299.00 (all languages)||$199.99 (all languages)|
*The Lifetime Plus subscription includes 12 months of unlimited access to Rosetta Stone Live.
If you want a clearer idea of how much you actually pay for a Rosetta Stone subscription, it’s a good idea to break down the Rosetta Stone cost per month.
The table below shows you the monthly Rosetta Stone price for web and app subscriptions.
|Subscription Length||Cost Per Month (Web)||Cost Per Month (App)|
|3 months||$11.99 ($35.97 total)||$15.00 ($44.99 total)|
|12 months||$11.99 ($143.88 total)||$9.17 ($109.99 total)|
You can try Rosetta Stone free for 3 days if you sign up online. If you sign up in the Rosetta Stone app, you can try the first lesson of each language course for free.
There is no free version of the Rosetta Stone program. A paid Rosetta Stone Subscription starts at $11.99 per month. It’s definitely worth trying it for free before you pay for a subscription.
If you plan to use Rosetta Stone long-term or want to study multiple languages with the app, you should consider an upgrade to lifetime unlimited access.
The Rosetta Stone unlimited price is $299.99 if you purchase on the web or $199.99 in the app.
You can also purchase an unlimited Lifetime Plus subscription in the app for $299.99, which includes total access to Rosetta Stone Live for the first 12 months.
Rosetta Stone has some sales and deals throughout the year, usually around major shopping days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday. These promos are the best way to get cheap access to Rosetta Stone, so keep an eye on the Rosetta Stone website throughout the year.
There are also some other websites that offer coupons for Rosetta Stone, like Groupon. These aren’t always reliable though. Usually these sites are just Rosetta Stone affiliates that get a commission if you click their link and buy a subscription. They don’t actually offer any deals, so don’t waste too much time searching on these sites.
In addition to different sales and deals throughout the year, Rosetta Stone discounts are available all the time for different groups. Here’s a list of Rosetta Stone discounts you can access anytime:
- Rosetta Stone Student Discount: Active college students in the US and Canada can get 10% off of a Rosetta Stone membership once they verify their status through the Rosetta Stone website.
- Rosetta Stone Military/Veteran Discount: Rosetta Stone also offers 10% off of all subscriptions to active and veteran military members. You can verify your status through the Rosetta Stone website.
- Rosetta Stone Discount for Nurses and Healthcare Workers: In the past, Rosetta Stone has offered discounts for nurses and other healthcare workers. However, the official Rosetta Stone website doesn’t show this anymore.
The language learning industry has exploded in the last decade (and continues to grow). As more people learn languages, a lot of Rosetta Stone alternatives and competitors have been created. Some of them are better than Rosetta Stone and some of them are much worse. Some of the best Rosetta Stone alternatives are Babbel, Pimsleur, Mondly, and Memrise.
Rosetta Stone and Babbel are two of the most popular language learning apps available. Rosetta Stone completely immerses you in another language from the first lesson and doesn’t use your native language at all. Babbel, on the other hand, uses quite a bit of English to explain new concepts (similar to LinguaLift).
Overall, Babbel’s courses help you practice all communication skills while Rosetta Stone focuses on listening and reading. Babbel is also a little cheaper than Rosetta Stone. Both apps offer a free trial, so it’s worth trying them both to see which you prefer.
Or read more in this Babbel review
Pimsleur and Rosetta Stone both focus on developing your listening and speaking skills. Pimsleur teaches you to have conversations starting in your first lesson though, and its main goal is to help you become conversational quickly. Rosetta Stone has a slower pace and teaches basic phrases in a more formal context.
Between the two, Pimsleur is the stronger app and will help you become conversational more quickly. Rosetta Stone offers a free 3-day trial and Pimsleur offers a 7-day free trial, so go ahead and give both a try to see which is best for you.
Or read more in this Pimsleur review
Mondly and Rosetta Stone are both good language apps for beginners, but their structure and features are different. Rosetta Stone lessons should be completed in order while Mondly gives you more flexibility to complete the lessons in the order you want.
Mondly also offers grammar explanations, chatbot conversations, and even augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). In terms of price, Mondly is also cheaper than Rosetta Stone. You can try both for free to see which app you prefer.
Or read more in this Mondly review
Memrise vs Rosetta Stone
Memrise is mainly a flashcard app, but it does offer courses for some languages. For this reason, it’s worth comparing Memrise to Rosetta Stone. In general, Memrise teaches you more useful vocabulary and also includes videos with native speakers.
However, both apps really only teach you the basics and it’s difficult to become conversational using either one. They both also have somewhat confusing price structures. A much better option is MosaLingua.
Or read more in this Memrise review
Rosetta Stone is worth it if you’re a beginner and want to immerse yourself in a new language. Rosetta Stone teaches you vocabulary using audio and images and it helps you actively practice the language. It’s not really a good option for more intermediate or advanced learners though.
The best way to use Rosetta Stone is to study consistently and complete the lessons in order. Completing the additional practice activities, like Stories and Seek & Speak, can help reinforce what you learn in the lessons, too. Because Rosetta Stone focuses on speaking skills, it’s best to enable your microphone and use the speech recognition technology to improve your pronunciation.
No, you will not become fluent by studying a language with Rosetta Stone. This is especially true if you’re studying a less popular language like Japanese, Korean, or Arabic. However, you can learn the basics of a language and start to have simple conversations.
Overall, Babbel is better than Rosetta Stone. Babbel offers more comprehensive courses and teaches you a more natural way to speak your target language. While Rosetta Stone is better at teaching you to think in another language, Babbel’s courses cover more content and can help you become an intermediate speaker.
Duolingo is definitely not as good as Rosetta Stone. In addition to advertisements that interrupt your Duolingo lessons, the app doesn’t teach you any natural language. The sentences are random and the lessons are very basic and more like a game. Rosetta Stone’s approach is backed by scientific research and the courses help you actually absorb a new language over time.
This Rosetta Stone review is completely independent and all of the opinions are mine. I’m not affiliated with Rosetta Stone in any way and I didn’t receive any compensation to write this review. In addition to testing the app myself, I also read reviews online to see what other language learners liked and didn’t like about the Rosetta Stone courses.