Rosetta Stone Review

Course Overview

  • Uses the total immersion approach
  • Digital Download (Subscription)
  • Available languages: more than 30 languages

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Editor Rating5th Place

3 1/2 stars

User Ratings

2.4
2.4 rating
2.4 out of 5 stars (based on 34 reviews)
Excellent15%
Very good15%
Average6%
Poor20%
Terrible44%

 

Review

Rosetta Stone courses are some of the most talked about within the field and it’s really not hard to see why. Many other language courses have tried to emulate the innovative methods that they use, and have failed. The practical fact of the matter is that Rosetta Stone programs are in their own league, using what they call the “total immersion” approach. Unlike other courses and programs that attempt to re-create this with a sea of indistinguishable phrases and confusing layouts, this program relies primarily on using the connections that your brain makes between pictures and words to its advantage.

Content

As you might expect, the Rosetta Stone packages come with a lot of additional extras. Well, for that price, they’d better! As well as the accompanying audio CDs, there is also a USB headset with a microphone. The best language courses use vocal recognition software, so to have the package come complete with a headset is really just very useful. The headset itself comes with a fancy array of settings, so you can set the sound and reception to however you speak.

Similarly good, the vocal recognition is not bad, and picks up on subtle mistakes that other pieces of software might have missed. Still, again considering the cost, one would really expect absolutely flawless equipment and software, and while everything is very intuitive and easy to use, certain parts of the vocal recognition software just aren’t as precise as they might be.
There are three Levels to each language taught by Rosetta Stone, and each Level contains four lessons. Within these lessons there are several units. The layout of the course is so tightly structured that it really helps you to keep on task with what could be the difficult job of trying to learn a language without a real teacher. And yet, despite the layout being so strict, because of the style of teaching there really is a strong interconnectedness to the whole method of learning.

Usability

Because Rosetta Stone really is geared up to utilize the way we learn as children, it is no surprise that this is a very effective study aid for those who are younger. A bit of an expensive study aid, perhaps, but if you want your child to become fluent in more than one language, then this is certainly the program to choose. However, as an adult, it is much more difficult to say whether this program will be of any use to you or not.


There is the argument that Rosetta Stone programs are just glorified flashcards, and to an extent that is absolutely true. That is not to say that it doesn’t work, however. You look at the pictures and through your logical. It certainly is hard to jump into, but has the added bonus of the fact that the more lessons you do, the more you feel you are picking up and not just in an informational sense, but in the sense of really beginning to understand how the language works. However, if you are one of those people who needs to know the science behind something, then this isn’t the course for you. Written words are avoided at all costs, with Rosetta Stone programs relying on a series of games, flashcards and exercises that all follow the same theme: match up the picture with the spoken words. Grammar is not given any importance whatsoever, beyond you figuring it out for yourself. You are supposed to be able to learn to associate what you say with what is in front of you, linking the image in your mind with the correct pronunciation of the object.
This has some obvious drawbacks, such as it not always being clear what the pictures are trying to show. You can be looking at a picture of a red ball for ages, and not realize that what you’re supposed to be focusing on are the children, or the kind of game that they’re playing. A simple solution to this is to have a dictionary with you while you are learning, so you can run through the possible answers, but for the amount you’re paying for this course, it’s the sort of thing you really shouldn’t have to do. There are no explanations for the pictures themselves, and no external information that helps you to understand any of the potentially more complex grammar aspects of learning a language.
Still, overall, the pace of the lessons is excellent, with a lot of re-capping previous points and making sure that you understand the right lessons that have been taught. It’s pretty focused on vocabulary as well, and you can really start to feel that having an effect on the way that you think about the language, even if you won’t be able to form complex sentences yourself by the end of the course. It certainly isn’t the kind of course that you pick up for a few weeks before you go on holiday; it is definitely the kind of program that you buy if you want to really immerse yourself in a language, and plan on using it in the long term.

Cost

And here is the major flaw with Rosetta Stone. Yes, you can find countless positive (and negative) testimonies for this program, but the fact of the matter is that this is probably going to be a way of studying that you simply haven’t encountered before. It is not particularly familiar, and it certainly isn’t something that you can just dive right into.

You need to shift around the way that that you think about language in order to even get the concept of the way this course is presented into your head, and as such, it may be a colossal waste of money. It is the most expensive at-home course that one can purchase for this kind of language learning, and costs hundreds of dollars, even with sale prices.
While it is absolutely worth it if you are the sort of person for whom this kind of learning can work, I definitely advise trying it out before you buy. Their website sometimes offers trial periods to use the software, or perhaps you know a friend who has purchased from them. Either way, by hook or by crook, you should trial run the software first, because if it turns out that you have difficulty in receiving information in this way, then there still isn’t an alternative in the programming. You learn it with pictures or you can’t learn at all. Amazon often knock a couple of hundred off this course, and you can get a very reasonable discount if you buy second hand. The good thing about a love it/hate it course is that there are plenty of high quality second hand packages to buy, because some people really don’t get on with it and just want to sell it on.
An additional point to make about cost is that you can buy the levels of tuition together or separately. It’s a very good idea to figure out how far you want to take the language before you buy, perhaps with a much cheaper course to start with, because you could end up paying up to $350.00 extra for all three levels of the course if you buy them separately. You don’t want to start learning after paying for all three levels, then realize you don’t want to learn this language, and likewise, you don’t want to end up paying for Level One and wish you’d opted for the full package. For the cost, I really feel it should be working for the majority of cases, which considering other feedback, I’m not sure it does.

Summary

Make no mistake; if Rosetta Stone works for you, it’s going to work absolutely fantastically. The problem lies in the fact that this sort of learning just doesn’t appeal to everyone, and not everyone can use this method of learning to their advantage. It relies solely on the way that we learn language as children, so it’s not hard to see that the obvious drawback to the program as a whole is that most of the people purchasing this are not going to be children.
The way we learn as children is completely different to the way we learn as adults, and for most of us, that’s simply because we cannot process information in the same open-minded absorbent way that we do as children. We have already learned a language, and to most of us it will make no sense to start from the beginning without putting some of the already learned skill of a first language like English to better use by using it to help us learn a second.
This is why I would not necessarily recommend this package to everyone; it is so very specific in design that if you even feel a little like this is not going to work for you, then it probably won’t. And it’s a heck of a lot of money to spend on seeing whether it’s for you or not. Still, if you can get your head around the concept of learning in this manner, then Rosetta Stone courses will be fantastic for you.

Pro & Contra

very playful no explanations on grammar – you have to guess
good to learn vocabularymostly good to learn vocabulary
can be used at the age of 6at the end you won’t be able to build complex sentences
easy to usemeaning of a picture is  not always clear
 voice recognition isn’t precise

Screenshots

 

User Reviews

1.0 rating
November 25

I found this totally worthless. It’s incredibly slow-paced and the Turkish version includes mistakes.

Charles
2.0 rating
September 13

I am quite disappointed. Since I am trying to learn this language, I of course do not know its vocabulary. How, then, can I be expected to understand what a new sentence means? I click on the correct answer because it is a he, a she, or a they, but I sure do not understand what I just got correctly. There is no grammar either.
No vocabulary and no grammar, does it mean we are expected to learn from other sources? For the price, I was expecting a solid tool. RS is not.

Halim Daerji
2.0 rating
September 1

To be fair, I really haven’t spent much time with Rosetta Stone. But to be equally fair, part of the reason is that it really didn’t appeal to me.
I didn’t like being stuck in front of a computer, preferring all-audio systems (like Pimsleur) that you can use in the car, supermarket, walking the dog, and so forth.
Even more to the point, I found that Rosetta Stone’s key flaw was in the material that gets selected if you insist upon linking up all words and sentences to pictures. The result is an unintentional focus on descriptive present-progressive tense things like “The boy is under table,” or “The dog is chasing the ball,” when what a traveler really to find the words for is “Turn right at the church and then continue straight ahead” and “This wine first, please, and then we’ll order our dinner.”
I do have a friend has learned a lot of vocabulary from Rosetta Stone, however, so I’m sure he’s not the only one who has found it useful.

Mark
2.0 rating
August 19

With this language program, you will only acquire the fundamental proficiency and I anticipated more for its cost. If the cost were half of what it is marketed for then I would suggest that it is value for money. I find that there are no English explanations about how the grammar is constructed. Even as I have completed the 3 levels, still I was not able to make a good conversation.

Mark K.
1.0 rating
August 7

I find Rosetta Stone very disappointing due to the following reasons:
-It is build to also fit the needs of little kids…its not optimal for grown ups.
-Slow paced and has numerous repetitions. I shouldn’t have bought the Rosetta Stone.
-The technique is not effective as what is being advertised. For instance, the sentence and grammar structure stays vague after you have finished the course.
-Software contains several bugs particularly in the voice recognition, which would definitely drive you crazy.

Sedrov Amal
5.0 rating
June 30

I’m not sure what to make of some of these user reviews. It seems like people expect to spend two weeks studying and be fluent. Sorry folks, it doesn’t work that way. Rosetta Stone works best as a 5 level course. They expect students to spend around 50 hours of study per level or 250 hours for a complete set (levels 1-5). I even heard a close friend bemoan the fact that Rosetta Stone could have easily added a few more levels. (he completed all 5 levels then went to live abroad for several years)
I don’t claim to be an expert learner or language theorist, but I do understand the cost of acquiring new languages. I grew up bilingual, learned two foreign languages while living abroad for several years as an adult, returned to the USA and learned another language using Rosetta Stone 1-5, and am currently mid-way through the 2nd Rosetta Stone language (my 6th language). After 3 months of studying this 6th language, I’m more comfortable in it than I was in language #4, which I learned while living in that foreign country. I’ll just say this, that Rosetta Stone is the best way to study apart from actually living abroad. (in some cases it might be better than living abroad)
After completing Level 5 in Rosetta Stone, I travelled to a country that spoke this language for a two week vacation. Since I was visiting friends who lived there, I wasn’t forced to speak very much. Whenever I listened to conversation, I could very easily follow along and practiced forming my own response even when someone else was doing the talking. I got the most practice at the market because our guides couldn’t be with all of us at once. Don’t get me wrong, there were many words that I couldn’t understand. At the same time, I seldom got stuck trying to say something. I think of it as having built a good foundation upon which to begin to REALLY LEARN.
Although Rosetta Stone’s teaching program seems random in Levels 1 and 2, things really start taking off in Levels 4 and 5. When you’re done with Level 5, you’ll be able to understand things that weren’t even taught in the course. That’s because Rosetta Stone doesn’t just teach language, they teach you how to learn a language.
Again, Rosetta Stone is the best thing you can do before living abroad. I give it 10 stars!

Benjamin
1.0 rating
June 26

I hate Rosetta stone. For instance rosetta shows a picture of a man on a horse and says caballo…. doese that mean horse, man, rider, rancher or what?
It means horse, but it would take me a long time learning that way. It would be good for someone who didn’t know english as there are no explanations for anything.

Tanja
2.0 rating
June 21

customer service was awful,course material was ok .System crash and bugs what a waste of money

David

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