Rosetta Stone Review

Course Overview

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

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Editor Rating

3.7
Rated 3.7 out of 5
5th Place

User Ratings

2.3
Rated 2.3 out of 5
2.3 out of 5 stars (based on 34 reviews)
Excellent15%
Very good12%
Average6%
Poor23%
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

Rated 4 out of 5
December 4

After visiting Spain this summer for some weeks, I was enticed to study the Spanish language. I bought Rosetta Stone version 3 (1 to 3).
The installation and setup for the headset went pretty well.
The program is alright for me, however, I discovered some areas which are not very instinctive on what the application is requesting you to do. Majority of the program functions as what has been advertised. The application consists of repetitive speech with matching of images with words and lets you to repeat the words on your pc to confirm your accent. This attribute is very good as it lets you verify how you are properly pronouncing the French terms.
It is difficult to foresee whether the matching of pictures to words would actually let you speak a second language in the long run, but who knows? As with studying a second language, it takes some time and commitment when you are using an application such as Rosetta Stone.

Roland Koller
Rated 5 out of 5
September 1

I bought Rosetta Stone French for my two kids and I have to say my kids enjoy using it and also make some progress. I hope they will stick to the program, because it was not cheap at all. But I guess it is worth it!

Magreth B.
Rated 1 out of 5
June 20

I have two degrees in education and found RS (Italian Levels 1-3) very helpful as they use a total immersion approach (speak, read, listen).
That being said, I am most disappointed with the company’s policy regarding access. In order to play the DVD’s you need to first download an app from their site using a code unique to your product. I purchased level 2 DVDs at the mall before RS had an online presence (about 12 years ago).
I paid a lot of money for MY DVD’s and cannot play them today. The company says they no longer support the older, Version 2 platform.
In the next paragraph they informed me that I could play MY DVD’s by purchasing a higher platform version. This upgrade includes 3 months of online access to games, tutorials, activities at a “special low, one time offer price.”
I do not want to pay for 3 month online access to activities I won’t use. All I want to do is play MY DVD’s without giving them more money. I have spoken with two RS tech reps about this to no avail.
They use the broken record approach informing me that I need to spend more money to gain access to play MY DVDs. DVDs I already paid for.
Currently RS is selling customers levels 4 and 5 platforms. Therefore customers will have to continue to pay additional money to upgrade over time.
I read through the user booklets that came with my purchase. There is no indication or disclaimer informing customers that they will need to pay more money to upgrade platforms. All I want to do is play MY DVDs. I paid a lot of money to own them and should have the right to play them throughout my lifetime without dishing out more money to RS. Access to MY DVDs should be grandfathered without additional cost.
Disappointed with the company’s ethics and core values.

John Bentley
Rated 1 out of 5
May 1

Lamentavelmente comprei esse programa 2 vezes, por ter gostado do metodo. Da primeira vez comprei por $500.00 com DVDs, e nao conseguia ativar, precisei gastar mais de 1 hora , varias vezes com o agravante que precisa de alguem que falasse Ingles pra me ajudar, Agora desiti do programa que tenho e resolvi comprar outro “online” imaginei que seria mais facil. Diziam que bastava cadastrar seu email, puro engano. Voce precsa de um codigo de ativacao, claro, so que o codigo nao funciona, entao vc precisa de apoio tecnico, que ” so fala Ingles” Se vc esta comprando um programa pra aprender Ingles, como vc consegue reclamar e ativar em Ingles. Portanto fica aqui a minha real frustacao com este programa.

Sonia Ruas
Rated 2 out of 5
April 28

I too tried Rosetta stone ( French ) and found it to be overpriced,and overhyped.
I am looking for a good language software package.
1. Speakers are native but understandable with standerized pronounciation.
2. Teaches everyday grammer and applies grammer as a “short cut” tool to speed up learning.
3. Incorparates a syllabus of material on the CD, a guidebook and exercise book.
4. Not too expensive.
5. User friendly
6. Fun to use
7. CD dictionary with verbs and nouns with at least one spoken phase for each.
I don’t know if such Language Learning Software exists but if any knows please e-mail at mh41571@yahoo.com

Michael
Rated 1 out of 5
March 16

My wife is Japanese, so I figured I’d do some RS to learn some Japanese… What a pain.. Level 1 is not so bad, but when things get tricky RS is impossible without explanation. Case in point: Japanese is spoken differently by men and women, with different words. Men use some words that women do not. If you don’t know this going in then you will be hopelessly confused. Also, the way counting is done in Japanese is confusing even when explained… different words depending on the shapes of objects! RS does absolutely no explaining of this. So you are going along counting and voila! the same numbers that previously were working suddenly are useless and you have no idea why… But to a Japanese person it’s obvious because you were counting balls and now you are counting plates… different numbers for round things and different numbers for flat things… (it gets worse!)
Also, the confusion on the photos that is mentioned above is something I also experienced… Yes, you may see a stupid ball but not realize you are supposed to be seeing that the photo is all about something entirely different…

David
Rated 2 out of 5
January 9

The Spanish course helps to learn many words (nouns verbs,etc) but the course does not offer grammatical “rules” so it is difficult for me to connect what I learned from a specific sentence in the course to another similar sentence or to a real life situation.

Robert
Rated 1 out of 5
December 27

I purchased rosetta stone for spanish because my wife is Colombian and I had heard her speaking spanish daily for a few years and thought I should learn it.Well I got 1 through 3 and its been 6 months and Ive never finished 1 as of yet.I keep reviewing things beause I thought I was supposed to learn spanish,as in speak spanish but I sit and click photos of things and hope for the best.At this point sentances are getting a bit longer and rosetta adds new words that were never mentioned until they are on your screen to a sentance but I dont know what they mean.There is not a way for me to know what they mean unless I ask my spanish speaking wife.In other words if I didnt have her Id never know what the words are.The program I got came with a headphone and mic setup but in 6 months Ive never gotten to use it,its never asked me to plug it in other than setting up the software.6 months into rosetta stone for spanish I speak no spanish at all and Ive never finished lesson 1 of 3.This seems to me to be a horrible way to learn spanish.

Ryan

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