Rosetta Stone vs Duolingo: Which One is Better?

Maria Claudia Alvarado Published on July 18, 2023
Rosetta Stone vs Duolingo

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Rosetta Stone and Duolingo are two well-known names in the language learning industry. If you’ve been looking for a language-learning app, there’s a good chance that you already know a thing or two about these apps. But it’s never too late to learn more about an app before you decide to commit to paying for a subscription. If you’re ready to start learning right away, we’ll go ahead and spoil the surprise. In the match-up between Rosetta Stone and Duolingo, the winner is Rosetta Stone. 

Editor’s Choice

Rosetta Stone Overview

Rosetta Stone immerses you in the language and provides great high-quality tools to help you learn the language like a native speaker. All the material you can find in Rosetta Stone is accurate and the voice recognition tool is well-developed. Completing the exercises and using the tools available on the app regularly can ensure your path to fluency.
rosetta stone logo
Price $11.99/month
Free trial 3 days
Try Rosetta Stone

The best app to help you learn a new language is always the one that adapts to your learning needs and offers accurate, high-quality material. Rosetta Stone does just that. In this article, we will look at the pros and cons of both apps and help you make an informed decision. Everyone learns differently, so it’s important to find a language course that works for you and keeps you motivated along the way.

Rosetta Stone vs Duolingo: A Quick Breakdown

Both apps offer a lot of languages. For the languages Rosetta Stone and Duolingo have in common, Rosetta Stone is a better option because it teaches more practical vocabulary. Rosetta Stone also lets you choose a dialect for major languages, like Latin American Spanish or Spanish from Spain. Duolingo doesn’t have this option. If you’re looking to become conversational, Rosetta Stone is the best value for its price. The table below shows you a direct comparison of Rosetta Stone vs Duolingo based on the languages they have, their price, and their free trial offers.

Rosetta StoneDuolingo
25 Languages39 Languages
3-day free trial14-day free trial

Duolingo vs Rosetta Stone: Cost Comparison

Rosetta Stone has different prices for the web and app version. Access to one language course on the web costs $11.99 per month and the app costs $44.99 for 3 months ($15.00 per month). You have the option to buy an Unlimited Languages subscription for $109.99 per year or lifetime access to all languages for $199.99. Rosetta Stone’s Lifetime Plus subscription sells for $299.99. This plan lets you learn all languages available on the platform, and gives you 12 months of Rosetta Stone Live. You can test out Rosetta Stone with a 3-day free trial.

Duolingo’s language courses are free, but you need to pay if you want to upgrade to Super Duolingo. A single subscription to Super Duolingo costs $12.99 per month and a yearly plan costs $83.99 ($6.99/month). There is an option to buy a Family Plan at a reduced cost. Duolingo offers a 14-day free trial to try out Super Duolingo. 

The prices of both apps are similar to most other apps of comparable quality. The benefit of Duolingo is that you can learn a language completely free. However, you will be interrupted by frequent ads. If you’re planning on learning a language for a long time, or want to learn multiple languages, the lifetime subscription of Rosetta Stone could save you money in the long run. Overall, Rosetta Stone is better if you’re an individual learner, but Duolingo could be the best option if you’re a casual language learner.

If you’re looking for other options, here are some similar alternatives.

Rosetta Stone vs Duolingo: How They Work

Both Rosetta Stone and Duolingo have short and interactive lessons. Each lesson takes 5-10 minutes and takes you through a series of interactive questions. But while Duolingo relies heavily on translating activities, Rosetta Stone uses immersion, not translation, to teach you the language the way a child would.

Take a look below to see how these two apps are rated across the internet:

User ReviewsRosetta StoneDuolingo
Apple Store4.84.7
Google Play Store4.54.6
Trust Pilot3.71.6
Total Average Score4.33.6

How Rosetta Stone Works

Instead of using translations to ease you into the language you are trying to learn, Rosetta Stone uses a mix of images and audio to help you learn the way children do when they start speaking. Each unit has three 10 to 30-minute long lessons that consist of listening, pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar exercises. You can follow Rosetta Stone’s structured plan, or check the modules and jump ahead to the one that best fits your level.

rosetta stone korean course

Rosetta Stone offers audio companions for each unit, phrasebooks, live lessons, and on-demand videos that can help you develop your pronunciation and listening skills. You can also find stories and alphabet boards to practice reading. To learn more about the app, read this complete Rosetta Stone review.

How Duolingo Works

Duolingo is an incredibly popular language learning app. It has the mission to make language learning accessible to everyone worldwide and it offers entire language courses for free. Each unit has 5-8 lessons with brief grammatical explanations and interactive exercises to help you learn the basics of the language. The sessions are quick and include audio and voice recognition tools to help you practice your listening and pronunciation skills.

duolingo reasons to learn a language

If you upgrade to Duolingo’s premium service, Super Duolingo, you will also have access to Duolingo’s short stories and quizzes, and can make unlimited mistakes without having to wait for your “hearts” to refill. Duolingo gives you five hearts for free but, like in a videogame, you lose a heart every time you make a mistake and can’t keep moving forward once you’ve lost them all. You can learn more about how it works in this complete Duolingo review.

Rosetta Stone: The Good and the Bad

Rosetta Stone’s courses are completely taught in the target language. This is a pro for some but a con for others. The method is clear and easy to follow so you’ll understand what you’re learning, but some people prefer to learn through translations or be gradually eased into the language.

All the audio included in Rosetta Stone’s courses is voiced by native speakers. The voices are clear and the app allows you to repeat the audio as many times as you need. While you will eventually need to practice speaking the language with another person, using the audiovisual material available in the Rosetta Stone app can get you to the level of language proficiency you need to start communicating with native speakers in the real world.  

rosetta stone french course

There is also a good variety of activities to keep things interesting. You can read and listen to native speakers narrate stories, and later compare your own pronunciation to theirs. Phrasebooks also require you to repeat after each word or sound to make sure that you are saying words correctly. While the videos are very short and don’t include subtitles, the speakers explain words and culture in a way that is informative and entertaining. 

The app has a heavy focus on vocabulary, so you start every language course available on the platform by learning the most common words for that language. The pace of the courses could improve. It seems like the more complete sentences and conversations don’t come until later units and lessons. This can be demotivating for people who want to learn quickly.

rosetta stone arabic course

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, and you’ll need to use another app to learn this skill. If Rosetta Stone added some lessons that teach this, it would be a huge improvement.

Duolingo: The Good and the Bad

Duolingo stands out for being one of the few language apps with entire language courses available for free. Many other apps only let you take a couple of lessons or give you access to the first level of a language before you have to pay for a subscription. This can be frustrating if the price is out of your budget and you’re still discovering the language. But, with Duolingo, you can complete all the units available without having to spend money.

In my experience, Duolingo is a useful tool to learn the basics of any language. You can start from zero and learn basic vocabulary, sentence structure, and pronunciation. If you are using the app to learn a language with a different alphabet, like Japanese, Duolingo also has exercises that introduce you to the new writing system. Overall, I recommend Duolingo to casual learners and people who just want to try their hand at learning a language. 

duolingo japanese question

One of the issues I’ve come across while using Duolingo is the accuracy of some sentences and words translated into the target language. While most of the content you’ll find in Duolingo is correct, there are some words and sentences that have been mistranslated, which can be an issue for beginners already confused by the language. Additionally, there are some weirdly worded sentences that are very different from the way native speakers speak.

Duolingo uses spaced repetition to help you retain vocabulary so it makes sense that you will see words repeatedly. However, the frequency in which you can get the exact same sentence seems to be too often. After a while, this can turn into one of the things that make learning with Duolingo less entertaining.

Which is better? Rosetta Stone or Duolingo

After trying both apps and comparing what each has to offer, I would use Duolingo for casual language learning, and Rosetta Stone to reach fluency in the languages that interest me the most. I think that they both are good apps, but fit different purposes. 

On one hand, Duolingo’s gamified language experience and quick sessions are great for people that don’t have much time to learn, only want to learn the basics, or are just occasional language students. I wouldn’t recommend Duolingo to someone who is serious about becoming fluent because many people have reported running into mistranslation issues with the app. If you’re aiming for fluency, you might need to consider other language-learning resources that provide more reliable translations.

On the other hand, Rosetta Stone is more expensive but offers many tools that can help you reach fluency if you are consistent in your study. Its advanced voice recognition tools make it a worthwhile part of your study routine. There isn’t a free version like with Duolingo, but the quality of the material is superior and can help you reach a more advanced level. In my opinion, Rosetta Stone is the clear winner.

Duolingo or Rosetta Stone: FAQ

Is Rosetta Stone better than Duolingo?

Rosetta Stone is better than Duolingo because it offers advanced voice recognition tools, high-quality audiovisual material, and structured yet flexible language courses. Duolingo is still a good app to use to learn the basics of a language for free. But it won’t help you become fluent on its own.

Can you become fluent with Rosetta Stone?

No, you can’t become fluent using only Rosetta Stone. In order to reach proficiency in any language, you need to make sure you are covering all the necessary skills to fully understand the language. Books, podcasts, videos, and online tutors can help you fill in the gaps in your language journey.

Which is better Duolingo, Babbel or Rosetta Stone?

Duolingo, Babbel, and Rosetta Stone are well-known language-learning apps that offer different study methods and tools. Babbel is the most comprehensive of the three, teaching all essential skills to learn a language. Duolingo offers a gamified experience, and quick study sessions to help you learn language basics. Mondly integrates modern technology into its courses, like voice recognition tools and augmented reality. Rosetta Stone gives you an immersive experience because the entire course is in your target language.

Is anything better than Duolingo?

There are apps that are better than Duolingo. Rosetta Stone, Mondly, and Babbel are three options with well-developed language courses to help you learn effectively. These apps also include reliable material and tools you can use to practice your vocabulary, speaking, listening, and reading skills.

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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1 Comment

  • I read this article about language apps and language courses that they have on the apps. I thought that it was really good and it gave me something to help me decide what kind of language course provider I would like to go on to learn languages. I am interested that some of them have the native speaker style in the audio lessons and grammar explanation and the translations are done as a native speaker would actually say it. I like a course that has translation, grammar, the sentences and vocabulary examples along with stories to read and something to watch in a video that teaches me the real language as it sounds. I prefer it when something is translated properly.