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 1 out of 5
December 6

I have tried Rosetta Stone on 2 different occasions and both times experienced the same dismal result!!! It might be effective for young children but for adults its a waste of time and for sure, money! The fact that grammar isn’t stressed is a major problem. How can you understand a language if you don’t comprehend the grammar or the foundation? Sentence structure is also lacking in this program which is also disappointing. I am trying to learn German and both grammar and sentence structure are essential to mastering German. I find Fluenz much better because of its emphasis on these 2 concepts and its emphasis on tailoring the instruction from an English perspective with a tutor and many exercises included including flash cards.

Alan Fisk
Rated 3 out of 5
November 6

quiero estudiar el ingles para mejorar mi futuro y la de mis hijos

Graciela Sierra
Rated 5 out of 5
October 20

So far so good, yo estoy usando Rosetta stone y estoy en nivel dos de esta software.
Ellos(Empleados) dicen que primero tengo que completir todos los nivels de Rosetta stone(Tengo todos nivels de rosetta stone)
No es fácile pero yo creo en Rosetta stone y espero que después de completir nivel cinco.
Voy a aprender mucho por lo menos algo.
First finish all five levels and then give your opinions(I believe most of those who buy rosetta stone they do not read clearly level one is for basic vocabulory only and so same goes with other levels as well, read carefully and make sure before buying it that how can you be dedicated and loyal to it.
Otherwise you won’t learn anything, it’s just better to buy pimsleur if you want to learn some frases.
It’s all about dynamic immersion.
Atleast you need to give one hour everyday and should use it regularly for 5days in a week.
People they don’t complete it and just start commenting y a mi no me gusta cuándo esa persona no sabe nada y quiere dar su adviso.
note:- atleast buy 3levels and if available buy all 5levels(not less than 3levels otherwise it’s not gonna be useful)
All five levels are of 250hours.
Which is good enough to make you learn something(Best is it’ll improve your listening skills.)
In one day no one can learn anything.
And most important do not supplement yourself with workwooks or other methods of learning language.(You can listen to music or watch movies but no other methods of learning language or otherwise it’ll effect the whole idea of rosetta stone.)
Polyglot:- I speak Hindi,English,Nepalese, Urdu and Un poquito español(Yo estoy tratando de aprender).
Espero que entiendes.
muchos gracias

bharat thapa
Rated 4 out of 5
October 3

I don’t know about other languages,but for spanish it works fine.
Well..i have a little help from my spanish friend:).But anyway i think that RS is a good program.It isn’t that easy to learn a second language,so even for a bacics RS is worth of trying,buying or whatever..When i finish with this course,if it shows that it wasn’t enough,what?I will take another one.buy other program or i don’t know..

cili
Rated 1 out of 5
September 22

To be fair, I haven’t used the most recent version with on-line connection to real people. I have used Rosetta Stone and Pimsleur for Spanish. I have also taken Spanish at language schools in Latin America, read Spanish literature, and taken college courses. I am currently taking Spanish lessons via Skype with an instructor in Guatemala. Of all these methods, Rosetta Stone was the least efficient, meaning that I learned the least per amount of time spent. Yes, I ‘m sure it works for some people, but we’re all busy, and the trick is to find a method that gives the biggest bang for the buck. For getting a working knowledge, Pimsleur is by far the best for a beginner. It has a huge advantage over Rosetta Stone, even ignoring Rosetta Stone’s other failings, which is that it is aural only, so you can do it in the car and don’t need to be tied to a computer or other device. Even though I’m now an advanced student, I still use the Pimsleur series to brush up and improve my fluency regularly when I’m commuting to work. But much better than any canned program, that must be one-size-fits-all, is a private one-on-one tutor. When I was in various language schools in Latin America, I quickly learned that small group lessons were not cost effective. You can learn that way, but you learn less per dollar than you do with private lessons that fits your needs. I am now taking lessons via Skype with a great tutor in Guatemala that costs only $12 per hour — much more cost effective than any canned program. That’s 40 hours of private tutoring for the cost of Rosetta Stone.

Robert Peters
Rated 1 out of 5
August 16

I bought it to learn Russian. There are not nearly enough examples to allow me to figure out and learn the grammar. The lessons are too repetitive, simplistic and boring. I found I had completed the whole of level 1 and level 2 and was able to get good marks in RS but I felt I had learned nothing.
I continued learning Russian using other methods and recently returned to using RS, believing it might be useful as a revision tool. However the program runs slowly, taking ages to go from one set of questions to the next, the voice recognition software is half-deaf and it frequently crashes.
In summary it’s pretty much useless.

Iain Rodgers
Rated 2 out of 5
June 4

I settled on buying the Rosetta Stone due to the convincing ads on TV. The decision was speed up because of the 120 day return guarantee.
I started the program to simply learn small words like bike and apple. After completing the first level, I gained very small knowledge of the chosen language. Alright, I have learned to utter red apple, but not the way to request for a red apple when I’m at the restaurant. There is no explanation for any part, particularly the grammar. Possibly you have watched the commercials where you will match the words to the images and those are the content of the 3 levels. You will simply choose the word that is equivalent to the image. Soon you will jump to the phrases, however, the words inside the phrase are not explained and no translation is obtained.

Agapi
Rated 1 out of 5
March 10

This is a good method for beginners who have almost zero Spanish knowledge.
Personally, I find this package very elementary and ended up giving the Spanish counterpart for the oral English words as well as phrases prior to the lecturer on the CD could. In addition, this is a formal Castillian Spanish and not the same Spanish that is most spoken by those who are residing in US.
I also did not heed the personal structure of “you” which is “tu”. I see that the subjects of conversations focuses mostly on asking for money and being particular about it, and this is a little offensive for me.

Scott S.

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