The Most Balanced Rosetta Stone Review You'll Ever Read

Despite some faults, Rosetta Stone is a unique course and a very effective tool and after many years.
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Rosetta Stone

Rosetta Stone
Pricing: Starts at $6.99 per month or a $199 one-time payment
Positives
  • Truly innovative and unique approach
  • No explicit grammar
  • TruAccent™ voice recognition
  • Research-based
Negatives
  • Overpriced
  • Inappropriate formality in some languages
  • Culturally irrelevant images
  • Lack of explanations may bother some

Summary

The price for Rosetta Stone is still unjustifiably expensive. However, Rosetta Stone remains after many years one of the most innovative, research-backed products on the language market. The intuition over explicit grammar aspect is still a point of contention for many users.

I decided to write this Rosetta Stone review because one of the most frequently asked questions in language learning discussions is whether or not Rosetta Stone is worth the money.

Does it work or is it just a well-marketed waste of time?

A quick online search for “Rosetta Stone review” yields many pages of reviews, nearly all of which are either extremely negative (directing you to an alternative product) or deceitfully positive (trying to earn a hefty commission on an expensive product).

Because of this it can be a challenge for fence-sitters to find reliable feedback.

Today I’m going to offer you some balanced insight on the method and content of Rosetta Stone, and whether or not it can be regarded as an effective learning tool.

Table of contents:

Although there are some affiliate links here there are no Rosetta Stone commission links in this article and no links to my own product.

I should also add that this review has been updated to cover the latest version (from my original review of Version 3, not including the games, mobile apps and inflexible, teacher-directed lessons). What really matters at the end of the day is whether or not the core product is effective or not (and how much it’s changed over recent years).

As always, you’re welcome to share your thoughts and experience in the comment section below! 🙂


Note: I’ve recommended a far better, more comprehensive (and less expensive) alternative to Rosetta Stone below. Here are the Spanish and French editions. For other language editions, select them here:

Choose a language...

Also be sure to check out the Essential Language Learning Tools page for recommendations on the best resources for getting started learning another language.

For lots of language learning content and helpful advice, make sure to stay “Join the Guild” by signing up below this article.


What gives Rosetta Stone a notorious reputation

A lot of the criticism of Rosetta Stone in online reviews stems from its biblically-proportioned price tag but not enough is actually said about how the software is intended to work.

I’ll attempt to do that here.

I will state from the outset however that I agree with most that the program is indeed outrageously expensive. At the time of this writing, I’ve seen the complete packages of Version 4 (all levels) selling for up around $250 USD through various vendors online like Amazon.

For the average home user this is unjustifiably expensive.


BIG UPDATE: The RS pricing on its website has improved enormously since this review was first written.


With the rise and popularity of subscription payment options for many products and services online, RS has made a move in the same direction.

There are now 4 purchase options (all of which depend on the length of time you subscribe) for Rosetta Stone:

Lifetime: $299 $199

24 months: $249 $167.76

12 months: $179 $119.88

3 months: $35.97

NOTE: I’ve listed the actual prices here you have to pay at checkout (they show a much lower “monthly” amount which is a little confusing/deceptive).

There’s also a CD/Physical package available on Amazon: Price can vary but right now it’s: $244.98

The price remains steep.

Now, I’m sure that their “world’s best” speech recognition technology (TruAccent™), research and expensive marketing campaigns account for most of this cost but for the average home user looking for a foreign language solution that’s well and truly beyond their means.

Just to give you an idea, these are just a few other things this kind of money could get you:

  • Approximately 20 – 30 personalised, student-directed, one-on-one lessons with a native speaker via italki (approx. $10-12 an hour).
  • Roughly 10 in-person, private lessons with a language instructor in your own area (approx. $25-30 an hour)
  • For those living in Europe, several return flights to another European destination on a low-budget airline and a week or two of accommodation in an inner-city hostel to practise the language with the locals.
  • For those in the US or Australia, it’s a large chunk of the cost for a budget trip to Latin America or South East Asia to immerse yourself in the local language.
  • Almost any book or audio course on the market which are usually priced anywhere between $30 to $100 (save the rest or combine it with italki lessons).

I praise italki a lot on this blog (check it out here if you haven’t already).

One extremely good and affordable alternative that’s similar to Rosetta Stone for learning languages is Mondly which sells for less than $15 a month, and is one of the most innovative language products I’ve ever seen.

Or at a slightly higher price (though much lower than Rosetta Stone) the audio component of the Rocket Languages series (mentioned above) is outstanding. I’ve personally used it for several languages and I can’t emphasize enough just how comprehensive and good it is (see my review here).

You can select a language here to sample it and compare the pricing with Rosetta Stone:

Choose a language...

I’ve also listed some other excellent alternatives on my Essential Language Learning Tools page.

There are just so many better alternatives to spend money on!

It’s true that some people have no problem affording Rosetta Stone and there is of course the option of buying an older version or a second-hand copy which is a significantly cheaper option.

For those of you who do have RS or are planning to get it anyway despite the cost, keep reading! 🙂

The Rosetta Stone online subscription has the potential to be a financial trap

I mentioned that Rosetta Stone has gone in the direction of online subscription-based services.

There’s one important thing to consider here:

As I said in my Living Language review, it makes little sense to sign up for a limited online subscription to the exact same content as the physical product.

With the Rosetta Stone online subscription, you’re getting a limited 24 months access to the full software for the same price as you would if you bought the CD’s or downloadable product which would give you lifetime access.

If you buy the CD or downloadable version, you own it for life.

BTW: Contrast this with other programs like Innovative or Rocket which allow you to download the entire course for offline use (in other words, you own it forever even if you cancel).

So don’t make the mistake of buying an online subscription that will lock you out after a period of time is over. It’s just not worth it (UNLESS: it’s important to you to be able to access the content across multiple devices in which case I would argue otherwise).

Now… on to the content review.

Most common Rosetta Stone review complaint: “I don’t know what it means if it’s not explained!”

The major criticism of the RS method is that no explicit explanations or translations are given.

Rosetta Stone prides itself on being an immersion tool that never uses L1 translations or explanations, forcing the user to rely solely on their own intuition while gradually acquiring the language content necessary for the next level.

In order to do this successfully it’s expected that you move through the program in a linear progression, expanding on the initial one or two word building blocks at the beginning of level 1 to some long, grammatically complex sentences in the higher levels.

People who enjoy the convenience of looking up grammatical explanations and always having the answer at their fingertips simply won’t appreciate this approach however.

I recently wrote about how living in the Google era where information is so easy to obtain means we’re no longer training our problem solving skills the way we used to – we’re all becoming increasingly stupider as our technology addiction grows.

Why do I need to figure stuff out when I can just Google it?

People treat information the same way they treat food these days. I**f it can’t be cooked in the microwave or bought in a drive-thru then it’s too much effort!**

There are plenty of Rosetta Stone reviews out there but I wanted to embed one video review here that was put up recently about the Arabic version as the no explanation issue was one of the main criticisms that the reviewer had (and also to share her other points for the sake of balance).

She explains how she drove across town to get a translation for something that she almost certainly would have inferred on her own with a little patience.

I understand this initial frustration because I’ve just sampled a review copy of Rosetta Stone Korean myself and there were times where the images and sentences didn’t make any sense but I just accepted that I didn’t know and moved forward anyway knowing that the answer would eventually come.

Just to give you an example, I can recall one lesson where vocabulary for death, birth and marriage were introduced along with sentence structures to describe how long ago a person was born, got married, died, etc.

I was pretty confused here when I was hearing for the first time sentences about a child being already born, the grandparents being married for x amount of years and the grandfather passing away in the 1900’s. The pictures gave a good enough indication of what was going on but there was quite a lot of unfamiliar content too.

However I just put impatience aside and kept moving forward with the lessons, and it didn’t take long for everything to start coming together.

Through repetition and the various images it almost always becomes clear as it’s intended to (I have to say almost because there have been a total of 2 times where I resorted to a dictionary for clarification).

I learned Arabic as a teenager living in an Egyptian village surrounded by people who didn’t speak my language and a lot of my learning came about from essentially the same kind of process – repetition, visual cues and my own intuition.

There was never the option of driving across town for a translation.

Critics call Rosetta Stone’s natural immersion approach unnatural but for a piece of computer software I have to say it does a pretty good job at imitating a lot of the natural acquisition process – if you allow it to.

Inappropriate or unnatural speech styles for some languages

I can’t review every language version of Rosetta Stone but for some of them there’s definitely one area where it performs badly:

Speech styles and honorifics.

Languages like Korean and Japanese use various levels of politeness and honorific vocabulary depending on who you are and who you’re talking to. A child speaking to or about their grandparents would use a respectful style of speech that they would never use to their friends in the playground for example.

The problem with Rosetta Stone Korean (and I suspect the same is true of Japanese) is that it does a poor job at demonstrating this.

It is there but it’s just not clear enough.

There are also images throughout the program of people using honorific styles in a way that simply wouldn’t be seen in reality and there’s no casual speech used in the dialogues at all (e.g. in one lesson there’s a picture of a mother using a polite honorific form to address her daughter which is a little strange).

Korean Rosetta Stone

The Arabic edition also teaches conversational MSA (the dialect used for formal and written occasions) rather than a spoken dialect which would be far more practical and realistic.

Rosetta Stone isn’t alone in doing this though as most of the resources out there are just as guilty.

It’s not to say that you can’t learn polite, formal forms now and pick up the casual stuff later on but in my opinion it should always be the other way round.

If you have experience with another language version, please share whether or not you found similar issues with formality and inappropriate styles of speech when you used it.

Culturally irrelevant images and content

Two other frequent concerns with Rosetta Stone are that the images are culturally irrelevant and that essential language content is introduced too late or not at all.

Now, I have to say that it is a bit annoying to see photos that are set in a North American context when you’re learning a language of East Asia but I don’t think it’s a major problem.

A man is a man and a woman is a woman after all, regardless of what clothes they’re wearing or what context they’re standing in.

What would be nice however is if each language contained units with food, etiquette, cash and cultural expressions that are unique to each specific language.

Korean 1 introduces a lot of food and money content that aren’t really relevant to South Korea.

For example, South Korean currency is in the 10,000’s and it takes quite a bit of getting used to when counting cash amounts but I don’t think that Rosetta Stone adequately prepares learners for this.

Rosetta Stone content

I also believe that it’s essential to have an extra unit in each language package that deals specifically with local cuisine.

Learning how to say words like carrot and juice won’t benefit me much where I’m currently living so a good section on the kinds of meals I’d find in a Korean restaurant would be very handy.

Despite the irrelevance of some of the content, I have to say that you’re still getting good exposure to a whole range of vital sentence structures, vocabulary and numbers so at the end of the day I don’t think it’s that big of an issue.

Speaking units and the speech recognition system

Rosetta Stone prides itself on having “the world’s best speech recognition technology” called TruAccent™.

Speech recognition technology has come a LONG way in recent years but it’s still true that a computer is never going to be a substitute for another human being.

I don’t doubt that an enormous amount of work has gone into developing the TruAccent speech recognition technology behind the Rosetta Stone speaking component but it’s still miles away from complete accuracy.

Numerous times while putting together this Rosetta Stone review, I’ve deliberately spoken incorrectly into the microphone and had the software tell me I’m right.

I’ve also been told I’m wrong when I know I’m speaking accurately.

This would have been a very expensive thing for the company to develop, ultimately driving the cost way up for the consumer and yet it still doesn’t always work the way it should.

However!

What I think is absolutely brilliant about the speaking component is the way in which it forces the user to attempt to accurately recall the language while under pressure.

Output is vital in successful language acquisition and yet many people shy away from it until they’re “ready” which I believe is disastrously neglectful.

The Rosetta Stone speaking component does a decent job at breaking people out of that habit.

While it certainly isn’t the same as talking to a native speaker, the way that it places you under pressure to quickly recall and reproduce accurate sentence structures and vocabulary makes an enormous difference to your ability to do it in a real conversation.

The speech recognition software is far from perfect but the role it plays in forcing you to recall dialogue is really beneficial.

It’s a lot easier to recognize and identify something when you see or hear it but actually reproducing it spontaneously with a time constraint requires lots of practise.

Rosetta Stone deserves credit as it’s still one of the few products on the market that provides a much-needed feature like this.

No explicit grammar!

This is one area where I believe Rosetta Stone is spot on the mark.

As I said above, sentence structures are introduced gradually by the program in a linear progression, beginning with very clear structures (e.g. copula expressions and basic phrases) and working up to complex patterns in the higher levels.

Occasionally the program will highlight the grammar point to make clear what the user should be focused on:

Rosetta Stone grammar

This is where intuition and a bit of common sense make the world of difference.

The pictures above for example introduce a conditional sentence structure or the equivalent of “I wish/hope” in Korean (if it is ____, it would be good / I hope it’s _____).

There are about 3 or 4 other sequences of images that follow this one with a similar scenario – a picture of a person looking expectant followed by them looking either delighted or disappointed. You might be completely baffled the first time round but if you consider for a moment what’s happening in each set of images, you can infer at the very least that the first picture is one of hopefulness or expectation.

As I’ve said many times in the past, research (and experience) prove that you don’t need to study grammar to learn to speak a foreign language.

It often does more harm than good.

The part highlighted in red in that picture (-으면 좋겠어요) is what I and other SLA researchers call a language chunk – it’s a set formula that you learn as a whole and there is no need whatsoever as a new learner to break it down and dissect its grammatical constituents.

Nearly all of the expressions we use every day in our mother tongues are completely unoriginal, recycled language patterns/chunks that we’ve been exposed to constantly since the day we were born – just like the one in that picture.

Rosetta Stone does a very good job at progressively introducing these patterns with images that clearly reflect their meaning.

NEW: Rosetta Stone responses to my review questions

Rosetta Stone kindly took the time to respond in detail to some of my important questions for this review.

It’s always important to me to make sure I give the product creators or publishers a chance to respond to my tough questions.

Here they are:

1. Was the RS “immersion” method ever based on research? Is that research available to be read?

The Rosetta Stone approach to language learning is based on established language-teaching approaches from second-language acquisition and applied linguistics, and proprietary Rosetta Stone research on learners’ experiences with language learning.

Our approach is immersive in the sense that we use the target language as much as possible to encourage an immersive experience for the learner and to maximize input.

We focus on teaching all four skills (reading, writing, listening & speaking), but place an emphasis on listening and speaking. Our focus on production distinguishes us from our competitors, and recent research shows that production is critical to language learning.

Here are some recent examples from research that highlight the importance of production:

Producing a language during learning can improve comprehension (Hopman & MacDonald, 2018).

Production demands more attention than comprehension (Boiteau et al., 2014).

Recalling information from memory and using it leads to information retention, aka the “testing effect” (Roediger & Karpicke, 2006).

Boiteau, T. W., Malone, P. S., Peters, S. A., & Almor, A. (2014). Interference between conversation and a concurrent visuomotor task. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 143 (1), 295–311. doi: 10.1037/a0031858.

Hopman, E. W. M. & MacDonald, M. C. (2018). Production practice during language learning improves comprehension. Psychological Science, 29(6): 961-971. Available at:10.1177/0956797618754486.

Roediger, H. L., III, & Karpicke, J. D. (2006). Test-enhanced learning: Taking memory tests improves long-term retention. Psychological Science, 17, 249–255.

2. The RS software is now an online, subscription-based web app rather than boxed software. Has the Rosetta Stone method itself been changed, improved or updated in any way since my first review? Or is the lesson content *identical* to the original boxed software?

We have added translation to English glosses for the earliest course content in our most popular languages and are continuing to expand translation availability across learning and languages.

These translations can be accessed at-will during study as a way for learners to confirm what they’re learning as they progress through the course. By design, translations are not available in the Grammar or Review activities.

Also, tutoring content was modified to support shorter and more frequent sessions so learners can have more regular exposure to a live native speaker.

3. If so, what specifically has changed in the online subscription edition vs. the old boxed versions?

Our mobile app features:

Seek & Speak — Using object-recognition technology that leverages augmented reality, Seek & Speak turns everyday objects into conversation practice with scavenger hunt-style challenges. Seek & Speak enables users to point their phone’s camera at an object and receive a translation in their language of choice, and then practice conversation using the newly obtained vocabulary with TrueAccent. The feature is now in beta for English, French, Spanish, Italian and German and will expand to include more scavenger hunt challenges and languages throughout 2019 & 2020.

Embedded Translations — In response to user feedback, Rosetta Stone has added embedded translations. At any point in the immersive experience, customers seeking clarity on vocabulary can “long-press” on a word to reveal its translation.

Phrasebook — Rosetta Stone’s Phrasebook teaches language learners how to say useful phrases, with over 164 phrases across 8 categories. Perfect for travelers, Phrasebook features native speakers saying everyday phrases that are useful in common situations, such as meeting people, dining out, and staying in a hotel. Phrasebook uses translation to provide meaning and speech recognition to provide speaking practice, in order to provide a quick-start for learners looking to engage in some real world situations quickly before devoting time to more extended study. Phrasebook works offline, so users don’t need an international data plan to speak confidently while traveling abroad.

Additionally, the online application makes it easier to schedule tutoring sessions (on web, with mobile to follow soon) and to access the longer form texts in Stories.

4. What sets TruAccent apart from, say, Google Web Speech API or Babbel’s speech recognition in terms of pronunciation accuracy? It’s a patented technology – what makes it superior?

Rosetta Stone gives feedback on a user’s pronunciation and cadence, which most others do not.

For example, Rosetta Stone teaches normalized business English for U.S. English, which TruAccent can measure, and TruAccent can distinguish Spanish from Spain vs. South America.

The regionalisms are even more pronounced for some indigenous languages.

5. One of the main problems I experienced writing my review is that Rosetta Stone uses very formal speech samples (unnatural). Are there any informal patterns used now in any of the languages?

In all of our language solutions, we try to teach conversational language that real people use in real situations.

We choose to teach the formal register first and primarily, believing that this will provide our learners with a foundation that will serve them well over their language-learning journey. We know that there’s even more we can teach, in every language, and we’re always considering ways to improve and expand on what we already offer.

As we continue to add new, situational content, we are focusing on practical language using whatever register is appropriate for those interactions.

Rosetta Stone review summary: is it worth the investment?

As I’ve already written above in my review, the price for a brand new copy of the latest version of Rosetta Stone is unjustifiably expensive.

For nearly all of the languages that Rosetta Stone provides, there are excellent free and inexpensive alternative materials available online. I’ve also given you some ideas on what you could otherwise afford if you have that kind of money at your disposal, including inexpensive quality options like italki and Mondly.

However…

I would have no hesitation recommending an older or second-hand version to supplement a person’s learning.

The key word here though is supplement.

I always say that variety is key and you should never rely solely on any program or book. Even though Rosetta Stone is designed to work on its own, I suggest using it in conjunction with other listening and reading material, and most importantly regular practise with native speakers.

Despite its faults, it can be a very effective piece of software.

One thing that has caught my attention recently is the Rosetta Stone Endangered Language Program which according to the website currently covers 6 Native American languages.

I know from my experience back home that the Australian aboriginal communities in particular would benefit from a project like this given the lack of resources available for most of them.

Sadly, as I mentioned a while back, the software still has its astronomical price tag even for the endangered language programs which is just going to create another deterrent for indigenous people wanting to help their own language. It’s a challenge getting newer generations of indigenous people to take an interest in keeping their languages alive and most of them would probably struggle to afford such an expensive piece of software.

It’d be great if there was some attempt to subsidise this in future!

I hope you’ve found this review useful.

Please share your thoughts and experience (positive or negative) about Rosetta Stone in the comment section below and make sure to visit my Essential Language Learning Tools page for more useful resources.

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Pricing: Starts at $6.99 per month or a $199 one-time payment
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Donovan Nagel - B. Th, MA AppLing
I'm an Applied Linguistics graduate, teacher and translator with a passion for language learning (especially Arabic).
Currently learning: Icelandic

COMMENTS

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hawaiigavin

It's interesting to hear how Rosetta Stone is being used to revitalize endangered languages, I'm curious to see how this works out... I have tried Rosetta Stone (for Japanese) but I think it suffers from many of its problems you mentioned for Korean as well. Just not my thing I'm afraid, and the fact that it costs so much is another reason to deter people from using it. I also know that they recently lost their contract with the U.S. government, perhaps because of a lack of good results? Anyways, great (and balanced) review, it's nice to get a clear analysis of a somewhat controversial program like this so thanks for taking the time to review it in such detail.

ThatGuy

It is my understanding that the contract was lost with the US Government (at least in terms of the DoD) is based upon the fact that they just stopped paying the bill (I never found out why).

Andoni Gibb

Ahh, yea thats because the soldiers and government officials have not been exploiting the program enough. Things come and go real quick because of that. Government drops programs if they see they not being used much. The finance lady whom recently spoke to us brought this up. infact using rosetta stone specifically as an example to implore us to take advantage of the government programs, as they could be gone the next day (figuratively!)

Bobby Viera

When I was in the Air Force, I used Rosetta Stone for free through the base library (remotely from home). We had access to all the main 24 languages they offered at the time, so in that way the program really was like the Rosetta Stone--if you didn't understand something, you could go to the same unit and lesson in the English version and see how it translated. That helped me more than once. Sadly, I stopped using it after a while due to various reasons, chief among them being that my schedule didn't allow me much extra time for using it, especially for several languages at once. I thoroughly enjoyed it, though, and even though it doesn't explicitly explain how the grammar works, it was still pretty much effortless to pick up on the grammatical rules in passing. They frequently have sales via their website where they'll offer Level 1-5 sets for around $180, so it doesn't have to be super expensive. I would definitely supplement with a combination of mnemonics and flashcards for vocabulary accumulation (you'll almost certainly want to know the words for more foods, professions, animals, etc. than are given), but when it comes time to learn to build sentences properly in the target language, Rosetta Stone is fun, smooth, easy, and effective.

Kevin Post

So far the best Rosetta Stone review I've seen.

Scott

I recently used Rosetta Stone to dabble with Japanese before I felt like I was spreading myself too thin and decided to just focus on Mandarin. I think it is outrageously expensive but yet what most reviews fail to mention is that the core product is essentially quite good. It gives you several similar sentences save for one bit of different vocabulary and also allows you to listen to the sentences ad nauseum with the click of a button. Essentially it is just allowing you to drill yourself on the fundamental building blocks of the language. If you know how to do that. I found that in order to really get the language to sink in I would have to read the example sentences and click the listen button a lot more than I think most people are doing. I did find the lack of explanation annoying sometimes but if its important its quite easy just to google it. After all you are already sitting at a computer.

So yeah, not worth the money but still a good product.

kittyonakeyboard

I find myself doing that as well, however I took the complete opposite viewpoint, that of it being a bad habit. I find myself actively trying not to get hung up on any one point and just keep moving, whether I understand it completely or not.
The whole strength of the program is supposedly its natural immersion, simulating a more authentic, or organic, learning process than standard rote method.
A relevant lesson I remember from my high-school music teacher, which I've found valuable in many areas, was never to stop playing a song you're practicing when you miss a note, just move on. If you stop and repeat the section over and over until you get it right, you end up with a fragmented, lopsided understanding and experience of the song as a whole, as well as a mental block of anxiety for that specific space.

So, the whole benefit to having this more organic system is the fact that it does allow you to keep going, whether you necessarily understand it completely or not. The idea being that with many concepts overlapping, if you miss something here, it should get filled in over there. The important thing isn't so much building concrete steps to walk up one at a time, but rather to slowly and unevenly shake off a thick layer of dust covering the final picture of familiarity.

If you're going to be stopping at every sentence to repeat it a million times until you feel you have 100% retention, you're using a broom stick to hammer in a nail. Why not just use a different (cheaper also, jesus) system based in rote. Or heck, get a Korean (or whatever) dictionary for thirty cents.

It just seems to be going against the grain here. If we do have to resort to using rote anyways, then where is this products value compared against its many competitors which focus on rote methods.

Andrew

The way I like to put it is this:

If you've got a lot of money and very little time to spend trying to find out what works for you (researching, trying different things, etc.) then Rosetta Stone might be a good choice for you. Otherwise, no.

It's good for people who are really busy and who can easily afford it, that's about it. That's a very specific, relatively small, niche.

Good review, good work.

Cheers,
Andrew

Adalberto da Silva

Nice article. I say The best time/age to learn a langues Is Now! The 2 most important things: To start and To keep going. Any method is good. No method is near enough. I agrre with you on using different alternatives. Live in that language. You can live in different languages. Rosetta Stone exagerates its importance, is all. All them do. But usually for a lot less $,€,£,etc. $€££. The best. Beto (who lives in 4 languages (+ un pò d'italiano) und möchte deutsch lernen. Tchau.

Marek

I'm glad I found your review on Rosetta. I have heard so many commercials for it and wondered if it's all it's portrayed to be. Your suggestions of using it as a supplemental resource and getting it second-hand rather than buying it new are good ones.

Zirien

Thanks for a nice review, it is always refreshing to read something other than an obvious marketing attack :-).

I have only tried their demo and disliked the no explanation approach. I am the kind of learner who benefits from a good explanation much more than from trying to reinvent the wheel. Of course I use lots of examples and input but the explanation is the core. I am learning my fourth foreign language now so I don't need (or want) to be handhold for that long before things finally start to make sense.

So from my point of view, RS is just an overpriced SRS with audio. Sure, getting a list of sentences with audio is a great thing, especially when learning a smaller language with few resources. But for much lower price. And that endangered language program for the same prices, that is just part of their marketing and perhaps an attempt to give the US governement more reasons to pay.

Have you noticed that RS spends six times more money on marketing than development every year? There is certainly a lot of space either for catching the bugs or for lowering the price.

Another thing I find disturbing is the lack of information on what to expect from the course on the official website:
1.They don't use the CEFR scale to describe their levels even though they are clearly interested in the european market as well. Every serious course published in the EU after a certain year does have a note with the desired end level on its cover. And many courses published elsewhere and sold here have it too. The RS doesn't.
2.The content description is too vague. I'd expect to be told much more about a product I am asked to pay over 500 dollars for.
3.No true success stories. None of those excited people in the promotional video is shown speaking the language. And they are very vague when describing their results.

Vladimir B

Thanks for your very detailed review :)

Edwin

Great review Donovan. I've tried Rosetta Stone myself and wrote a review on it myself and I found that there were definitely advantages and disadvantages to the Rosetta Stone system. Unfortunately the lack of choice (in chosing relevant content) and reading made me move to other systems.

I did however like the voice recognition technology and they are doing a lot of new things like introducing 1-on-1 conversation practice and the ability to study on a mobile device. It'll be great to see how Rosetta Stone progresses given all the new competition out there - maybe a drop in prices?

Simon

He said - I cannot understand when it is word or sentence, just all kinds of shch, sch, czch, ...
After month - I can diferenciate words. I do not understand things at all but suddenly I hear language
After two months - I can sometimes understand the topic "what is going on" and probably meaning of some words.
Than with little practice on alphabet and pronounciation i told him to keep going + I joined him with Czech lady practicing English the same way (once a week). At the beginning thay barely understood each other :).

After a year - the guy was reading / understadning everyting necessary for daily life. He could nicely order meal in restaurant answering confirmation questions etc. All with near to perfect gramary - some folks will know that Czech gram is very tough to learn

After two years he speaks very good - and this is the point when I would recommend him to go and learn how to write by looking a bit to grammar. Not vice versa like many other classes, softwares, books, etc.

And this is what I think RS is aiming at. Just let it flow into your head and it will come.

Simon

I will probably belong to the group of those who like the RS style. I enjoy the fact that without learning grammar you somehow start understand what and how to use it. Like my 2 years old son who is now correctly using past, conditional and future without knowing the "math" behind. When my american friend started learning Czech I told him - " forgot books and grammar". Just start watching TV whith repetitive content (news, forecast, stupig tivoli games, things for kids, etc.)

David

Hi Donovan,

I wanted to reach out to you from Rosetta Stone. We appreciate the enthusiasm about our product. The current price for TOTALe Version 4 currently ranges from $179-$499, depending on which level set you are interested in. We also have a free traveler app, offered in several languages, which we'd like you to try, review, and incorporate into your post. This mobile app includes the option to include translation if you would like. We appreciate your time and look forward to hearing from you. Listening to bloggers and customers is important to us. If you're interested in reaching out to me, I can be contacted directly at dlaplante@rosettastone.com.

Dawn

I am going to be getting German for my 17 yr old grandson. I am far from rich and I will probably call to see what there is to offer. Thanks for the reply

Thirdpower

I've been using RS Russian for about 3 months now. One thing is that I've tried several times in the past to learn a language (Spanish/German) and failed miserably. So far, I've done better w/ the RS process than going through traditional classes although it is still tough. Most of the time I can figure out what the pictures mean and have mostly have had good luck w/ the language recognition. Bicycle and one of the speakers' accents being the only two negatives on that. I also like the shorter, step by step sections.

My biggest issue is w/ Grammar. I've had to use numerous outside sources to figure it out. The cost I balanced out by going in on it w/ a friend since the license offers multiple users.

Marcos

Thank you very much for this review Donovan!

I was curious about the Rosetta Stone process but wouldn't dare to buy it mainly because of the price. I have heard that they use images and speech recognition system to correct the learner pronunciation, - just like a little child would learn their first language. So, I thought the focus was on the spoken language only leaving the reading and writing part out of the learning process. But based on the images you posted I can see now that reading and writing are also part of their method.

Martini730

I learned German the old fashioned way, immersion in Germany, with a state sponsored class, 5 days a week, 9-2pm everyday. For 2.5 years I worked my way up becoming almost fluent at TELC B2-C1 level.

The foundation of my course was GRAMMAR. Drills EVERYDAY. As an adult learner, you are fighting your mother tongue - the intuitive understanding of grammar, we saw and heard this day after day in our class. Learning about the process and how our brain translates provides a very valuable insight into how a fluent mother-tongue speaker absorbs a new language. I cannot understand how you can pick up a foreign language without the cornerstone of grammar. Understanding the fundamentals, (UNLESS you are a small child say 2?) is essential, and this is where I see this product failing to fill an important gap, you see images, but you are never shown anything at all about the nuts and bolts of grammatical underpinnings. Therefore I have a mixed opinion about Rosetta Stone's methodology.

Les Churchman

Thanks for a very interesting article - you are right in your analysis of the strengths of RS and, as a languages teacher, I agree with your recommendation to use a variety of resources.
Personally, I use Skype with native speaker friends, originally contacted through the excellent old LiveMocha.
I'd be very interested to read your comments on the "new" LiveMocha which is encountering widespread hostility from LM users because of its limited options, design, instability, quality of lessons and pay-to-learn model. There appears to be an exodus from the site.
I think your balanced approach is just what's needed on this new product. I'd be interested in discussing some of the features which caused me to leave after 3 great, productive years.

Lynette Smith

I found the review open and considered. I am personally studying to teach ESL, and thought that the least I could do was attempt to learn a second language myself. Let me say that I chose Spanish, since it is prevalent in my area, and I found that those years of high school Latin I took so long ago helped make the program more relevant to me. The grammar and conjugations of the verbs started to fall into place, clearly displaying their reliance on Latin roots. Sometimes I have to think more than others to understand the meaning of the sentence or conversation, but that actually seems fair to me. I believe that there is probably a place for learning some vocabulary in addition to the program, to be able to get more out of the training in a shorter amount of time, but that doesn't diminish the fact that this form of immersion is very like going to a country without learning the language, and trying to pick up the key vocabulary based on need. My only criticism of Rosetta Stone is that there is not way to prioritize the vocabulary that YOU feel is important. I consider that a mild aggravation, not a condemnation of the program.

As for the cost, I took the first year for a modest $120 through a local university online, which got me through all of level one, and about half of the way through level two. Not too bad. I am now looking at a seller of software that would be very similar to the university offering, but without the time limit, all for about $100. At that price, I can play around with it for quite a while and get my money's worth. I am hoping to get good enough to be able to converse with the students I tutor, sharing the difficulties of learning a second language and creating a rapport - it is no easier for me than for them. I just have the advantage of not being totally dependent on learning the second language to function in every day life.

Nice review.

denizejordan

Well I am one of those learners that has done really great with Rosetta Stone. I do know that learning a new language takes commitment of time and practice practice practice. The other thing learning a language takes is some responsibility to do some extra activities in conjunction with the primary program. I purchased a grammar book to hone in on the rules for example. I joined a chat program where I speak with native speakers at least once a week. I utilize all the perks of Rosetta Stone Totale, the group Studio lessons, the games, the reading exercises and private Studio sessions. I am 53 years old and I can carry on a decent conversation in Italian which is my new second language and only after using Rosetta Stone for one year. My speaking is considered an A2, which is pretty good having no prior experience in Italian. This is the one thing that I know. There are many types of learning styles and everyone has a unique style. If you are visual and enjoy figuring things out then Rosetta Stone is a great choice. If you are lazy and don't want to commit to speaking, practicing, doing exercises then yeah, Rosetta Stone is not a good investment for you. For me, it is the best program and I have tried many.....

denizejordan

Rosetta Stone also offers sales and the program has become much more affordable, one of the last deals I saw was 200.00 off the regular price. I had levels 1-3 and picked up 1-5 with a total exchange/refund because it was in the 6 month window and got the whole enchilada for 299.00. I have taken several 8 week classes at private schools for only one level for 335.00.

Dan

I found RS to be rather poor in learning Japanese. I actually got up to level 3 before moving to Japan but once I came here, I realized that it was almost completely useless. It definitely does not explain the differences in politeness as mentioned in the article. As I found out, most people do not speak in the way RS teaches you. Also, grammatical intricacies like habitual action versus non-habitual is not explained and is a very important part of Japanese. All in all, RS falls short in my opinion.

Kittyonakeyboard

I think that's similar to the problem I'm having now, which led me here.
I have four pictures of people drinking various things, but there is a strange modifier I'm supplying at the end of each of the drinks. There are two different sounds which sound very similar, but subtly different. There is absolutely no intuitive (based on an Latin grammatical background) distinction between how or by whom these drinks are being consumed that would necessitate... what seems to be of noun conjugation (weird enough in the first place). So irritating.

They should really produce each language package from the point of view of every language. Leaning Korean for native English speakers, for example. That exponential increase in work-load, along with justifying the price, would undoubtedly improve quality.
How can they claim to appeal to intuition when they're completely ignoring their user's perspective. Definite room for improvement there.

Arturo

In your opinion, what will be the best way to learn Japanese,

Mara

I have tried my friend's Rosetta Stone to review my French and Spanish. The Rosetta Stone language programs lack verb conjucations. Had I not studied French and Spanish before, I would not learn much with RS. There are pluses with Rosetta Stone, but I would NEVER spend that much money for any language program.

Paul

Thanks Donovan. Your review came across as both unbiased and comprehensive. The few hours I spent looking into reviews for a quality language learning program for my wife & I brought me to a clearer sound decision--glad to see your dedication to your passion seems to write through you. Like mentioned, being that we have limited time (both in doctorate & medical programs) the Rosetta program seems to make sense w/ its convenient learning methods & its recent price drop as mentioned (below $300).

Thanks,
Paul G., PhD-class of 2018

Wes Fung

Hi folks and thank you Donovan for your unbiased assessment of the Rosetta Stone program.

My problem with RS is it's games policy. After 3 months the games are deactivated and you have to pay for reactivation. The games enhance the learning experience and should be a permanent fixture to a very expensive program especially if one has paid full price for all 5 levels. I've sent in my concerns to RS a few times but have yet to receive a reply though it's stated on website that someone would contact me within 72 hours.....it's been weeks.....Wes.

TedC

To me rote memorization is the hardest learning, and the slowest. Avoiding teaching grammar makes things tedious. I guess if they give you enough sentences to memorize, eventually you MAY figure out that the pattern is "<subject> -nun <object> -o <verb>-ida". Then again, if it is only vocal and not written input, you might not even figure out where words start and end and that -o and -nun were endings.

But if you first teach me the above structure (in 1 minute) then have me memorize 15 nouns and 10 verbs, I will know how to make thousands of sentences. And when I hear sentences, I'll be looking for "nun, o, ida" which will help me separate out the other words, both ones I know and new ones.

Learning vocabulary require memorization, so is a great place for interactive repetitive games like selecting pictures to match. Just now I tried RE's free demo of the learning process. I always got the answer right (I picked which student is drinking tea) but had no clue what part of each 13-syllable phrase I was picking was "tea", "drink" so couldn't memorize individual words, and had no interest in memorizing whole sentences that meant vaguely "child drinking tea" without knowing which words are what. But the intro claimed that after each lesson I'd be practicing the things I'd learned with live other folks online. Huh?

Ethan

Really liked this review, I felt like a lot of reviews online are unfairly against it and as someone who started Rosetta Stone Mandarin a month ago but had previous experience with the language (studied abroad in college for a semester and ended up taking 15 hours of Mandarin by graduation), I find a lot of the complaints laughable, particularly the "no explanation" complaints. As someone who has used Rocket French and Pimsleur Mandarin, I was SO relieved to not be hearing so much stinkin English banter the whole time. There have been a few times where a word seems unclear to me, and yes, if you wanted to you could probably get through the whole course without learning much (for example, not understand why you're clicking a picture except you heard the word for "man" and there is only one picture with a man.) However, if you're going to spend the money on Rosetta Stone (I bought all 5 levels of Totale Mandarin for 264 as part of their Christmas special), I would assume you would WANT to know what was actually being said and it wouldn't take too much inquisitiveness on your own part to either use google or a chinese dictionary app to clear up any confusion. The Totale components are a bit gimmicky, particularly the online games because nobody is ever online available to compete against, but the live tutoring sessions are pretty useful in my opinion even though they are a bit too-structured (I've found that if I'm the only one in the session, the teacher will go off script pretty often which is nice). If nothing else, you are being forced to comprehend a native speaker and produce a response on your own. There is no substitute for that besides living in the country of the language you are learning. I've also felt a bit of a boost in motivation after finishing a session, regardless of how useful the session might have been. Not too be a Rosetta Stone ad, I do find some things rather annoying. For example, the order at which they decide to teach you some of the words or phrases doesn't make a lot of sense sometimes. This is definitely a program aimed at someone who is in it for the long haul and has a lot of time to devote to the language, not for someone wanting to quickly learn some useful phrases for a vacation (you may never get too them!). I also think the speech recognition is quite faulty, particularly on Chinese where tones are so important. All in all, Rosetta Stone is my favorite purchase so far (Rocket French, Pimsleur Mandarin) if nothing else because it is fun and makes me want to come back and keep "playing" if you will, because it does feel a bit like a game. And after all, if you aren't motivated or sticking with it, it doesn't matter how scientifically effective your program is.

Katie

Have you reviewed other online language learning systems - or just RS? What about Mango Languages?

Judith Nixon

I tend to disagree as to whether informal or formal language should be taught first (Japanese/Korean). I learned formal Japanese first and, when I went to Japan and stayed with a family, I was told my Japanese was very "polite". I quickly picked up casual speech from listening to the family but I would not have wanted to wander around on my own, speaking rudely to clerks and train personnel. I would rather be too polite than not polite enough. If I were teaching very young children (up through 6th grade), I would concentrate on casual speech but anyone above that age should be speaking at the average level of speech which is what you speak with people outside your 'in-group' in Japan.

Foreigner in Japan

I also think it is important to learn polite Japanese first because you're not going to arrive in Japan and instantly be friends with someone to the degree that you can speak casually with them. Japanese people themselves do not do this--they speak politely to anyone they don't know or don't know well, and with people who are their superiors/out of respect. So if you, a foreigner, go to Japan and speak casual Japanese to everyone, they will think you are rude. Speaking casually, considering honne/tatemae, IS considered rude. Also, if you know the polite forms it makes learning the casual forms much quicker and easier.

Judith

Nice review! So hard to find any that aren't motivated by money.

I agree with Ethan on a major factor that is: it is fun. It makes me want to come back day after day and learn more. Not to say RS doesn't have its pitfalls, but it keeps me motivated to keep learning.

Mike

It is a very good review. However, the price issue is over emphasized. I bought at least 2 RS languages Version 3, and 2 of Version 4, all brand new 1-5 levels, and never paid more than $280-$300 depending on the language and current discount. The RS program is not ideal, but it is the best of all similar products.

Greg

I liked this review. I just spent a couple of intensive weeks trying RS French and thought I'd add to the review with my opinion of RS. Currently I looking for alternative French teaching tools.
Firstly, the price I paid was discounted, but still high. However, if it taught me French, then it's worth every penny. In any case, when I indicated to RS that the software was not suitable for me, they quickly and efficiently returned the money as per their 30 day policy. I though the software was good at teaching reading/ writing and some basics of grammar. The part of determining the exact meaning of a word can almost be determined after a few pictures. In my case, being inpatient or if I had doubts, I looked it up on an online dictionary. I'm using it to learn, so I don't mind using supplemental material. Overall the style and way RS reinforces words I think is good.
The reason I eventually returned it, was the pronunciation and to a lesser extent the speech recognition. The pronunciation is performed by native french speakers, pronounced very fast, with accents and the habit of missing or running words together. Two of the speakers were intelligible, the third barely Repeating the sentence as I heard it was a complete miss on the speech recognition software, but speaking as it was written was more successful, but not always. While this is probably good for understanding local speakers, I don't believe its good for teaching beginners..bad habits can take a lot more effort to correct once engrained.After 2 weeks of heavy use, this frustration grew to the point of returning the software.
So, in my opinion its worth trying for yourself, if its a style that works for you great, if not, return it. I think many of the very negative reviews are written by people that think it (or other software) will magically teach them French. All of these tools will require lots of work, patience and probably some boredom. Regrettably, I am not one of those people that appear to be a natural at languages.

bishor86

I feel completely BETRAYED by this company. I saved up my measly minimum wage paychecks so I could try to learn Russian for someone I love very much. 500$ isn't just chump change! The sales person said that was all I'd ever have to pay so very reluctantly I purchased it. So why are asking me for MORE money to access things I've ALREADY BOUGHT!?
This seems so sleazy and intentionally malicious and after putting such a high price on your product it seems completely unreasonable. I now view it as almost a personal goal or vendetta to make sure as many potential buyers of your product are aware of this as possible because there is no logical economic explanation for this greed after such a high initial product price.
Rosetta stone and affiliates, you have lost all of my respect.

Renee

You're not explaining what exactly they wanted more money for?

@originalslicey

Does anyone know how useful Rosetta Stone is if you've already studied the language?

I took 6 years of Spanish in high school and college, so the vocabulary, grammar, and sentence structure are already familiar with me. I just need high level refreshers and conversation practice since I have forgotten a lot of it and will be traveling in South America.

Do you know if levels 4-5 are worthwhile for someone who already has a decent base in a language, but hasn't really spoken it in 10+ years?

Foreigner in Japan

Yes. I've found it useful as a refresher for Japanese, especially if you're living outside of Japan and don't have anyone to practice with. It gives you the opportunity to reaffirm what you already know, and to practice speaking, etc.

At least in my experience.

Steffen

Very good review, thank you very much! I just wanted to add that right now the complete Rosetta Stone core course sells at 249 € here in Germany. The online subscription sells for 275 € a year. As for the online sessions, apart from the included live group sessions, you can also buy additional one-on-one sessions. If you purchase these in a bundle, they will charge you in the 10-15 € range. The online subscription also includes Rosetta World, which encompasses culturally relevant stories. I hope this is is helpful information.

Baker

Its almost comical to read all the focus on the cost of the program. Even the reviewer is guilty of this - "$550 could get you roughly 20 in-person, private lessons with a language instructor in your own area (approx. $25-30 an hour)". What does this statement mean, I can learn the same amount of language skill from 20 hours of in-person as I would from owning and practicing with Rosetta Stone??? Since I don't own RS I can't verify, but my intuition has me doubting that. Once your 20 hours are over, they are over. Owning something gives you the option to go back and repeat, reference and share. Enough of the pricing banter, not everyone looking to learn a language is a $20/day backpacker.

Some good points in the post to consider before purchasing. Thanks for the time it took to put it together.

Nancy

I think Ethan's comment is a good one -- in the end, the best language learning method is the one that you actually use. I took classroom Russian for four years in college and did NOT become fluent. The teachers were almost all American grad students who spent a huge amount of time speaking in English about Russian grammar. As a result, I know a lot of Russian grammar and not a lot of Russian. :) In my fourth year we had a "Russian" Russian teacher (an older guy) and he would come in and just start speaking to us in (what seemed to us like) rapid-fire Russian and nobody could understand him! I remember him yelling at us that it was disgraceful that we were in fourth year Russian and couldn't understand what he was saying, but it was true! With Rosetta Stone, I automatically know when they're sneaking in a grammatical point ("ah! Now they're showing us that nouns being used as objects have to be converted to the accusative case") which gives me an advantage,, but the fact is you can go out and buy the Penguin Russian language book and all the rules are right there and you could look them up as you went along. But it would be darn hard to sit with the Penguin book by yourself and learn to actually speak Russian!

Lily

I've used Rosetta Stone while taking Italian 101 (introductory level course in a college campus). It's useful, but I see why some people may become "frustrated" when they believe everything should be spoon fed to them when learning a language. When you start from ground zero, you want to learn the very basics. And when people don't hear a translated version of English first, they frequently forget and can't match a "vague" picture to what they learn. So...I believe in order to succeed using RS you should be very alert and active while studying vocabulary and should also try having a basic Spanish, Italian or whatever language book handy in order to look up conjugations of present form, preterit form, etc etc if needed. Another thing that would help is if you have general basic knowledge of a language. Vocab knowledge would be a biggie!

Eddy

Hello! I've finished all levels of Rosetta Stone and posted a video of me speaking (or trying to speak) my new language.

Lucy

I purchased Chinese (Mandarin) one year prior to my travel to China.
I found that this is/was a very difficult way to learn Mandarin.
This site is right on time regarding the difficulty and expense of Rosetta Stone.
Had I read this review prior to my purchase, I would have had $500 more to spend in China.

Guest

Pretty fair review. As a former employee at Rosetta Stone I can safely say that the system is stagnant and just doesn't work. The strongest aspect of the system was the ability to schedule studio time with a native speaker when you complete a unit, but last year they cut the studio time from an hour to 30 minutes, and you are only allowed to attend a handful of sessions a month. Their Reflex program, released in South Korea and Japan, focuses on teaching by rout and basically making the students memorize role play scenarios and not natural speech. The CEO has even stated that Rosetta Stone continually is non profitable despite their name brand recognition, and the fact that the system hasn't updated in years is very telling.

HelloWorld

Hi there

Thanks for your review. I thought I would put my 2 cents into the ring. For the record, I am learning Swedish and have been using Rosetta Stone on and off for a few months. Sometimes I forget, other times I have mad sessions lasting 4+ hours.

I found RS great for an absolute beginner because it gave me simple sentences to guess and helped with building up my vocabulary from zero (we can debate the merit of learning ´the man is running´as first thing you learn in RS another time). It is fun, interactive and plays like a game. Of course not everyone learns the same way, but I think some people are too caught up on being perfectionists. Some people need to understand every single word in a sentence and can´t allow themselves to move on if they don´t. In this case RS is not suitable, since there will be a lot of times where you won´t really know what is going on but have trust that you will, soon. RS has its own schedule. I´ve read comments where some say RS doesn´t spoonfeed you because it doesn´t give you words and sentences in English, but in many ways, I think RS does baby you once you get past that point. You can fight it and think this program is crap, or accept it and get over the fact that you will be asked the same questions many, many times over, hidden in different units. I get impatient but then I realise, yes actually I REALLY know that word or phrase now.

What I found really hard is trying to decipher the grammar using pictures. It may well be, that eventually I would pick up the grammar but I RS does try to actively teach you grammar (as per pictures in review) but I simply didn´t find it an effective method. This was when I started flailing (prior to that, I was a super enthusiastic student). After starting Swedish classes where the bulk of the lesson is about grammar and syntax, I went back to RS and found that I finally understood, and could see in hindsight what it was TRYING to teach me, grammar-wise. Immersion techniques to teach grammar is definitely possible, I am not sold that RS´s method is the most time effective one.

Of course a software program no matter how advanced and expensive will ever replace the value of human interaction. But it is a good place to start and as the reviewer said, a good companion to your language learning. No one who ever learnt a language from a textbook can go to a country and expect to be fluent. Language is a living thing and there will always be a divide between ´Street Language´and textbook language. I want to be taught the correct way of saying something, not the slang. That can come later when I have mastered the basics.

In all, I would say RS is great for a beginner, great for building vocabulary (flash card style), practicing your listening but not great for grammar, reading or writing extended text.

Mireya

I have been practicing French using rosetta stone ..and at first I thought hmm I wonder if this actually works? so I checked out the Spanish, and English courses..and I can honestly say they do a pretty great job. My native language is Spanish. When I came to the United States when I was 6yrs old I couldn't understand anything most of the teachers, students, at school would say...I would just hear people speak and see...I would watch pokemon..about a year later I can honestly say I could speak English pretty good.. I could easily understand other people and with the little things I did know I learned more :) and well I think Rosetta Stone does just that..they don't go telling you girl in french is fille boy in french is garçon with the c that has a little thing on the bottom NO you just learn it :D is amazing what the human mind can do.. I think the people that do not like this program are just ..kind of lazy and give up too fast. If you are a visual learner..Rosetta stone takes care of that..if you are an auditory learner..then it does so too..and what is even better is that you won't pass until you pronounce it correctly :) so when you say it right after many times its engraved onto your memory...and if you have trouble with it you can put an option that says the word/phrase slowly..and well if you keep failing your mind will remember is not the right way to say it..and when you get it right ta-da (most classes or reading books can't do that) most people I find nowadays however are just lazy and expect everything to just be handed to them..they expect with just some few classes they will be fluent -_- but as some people mention here it takes dedication and patience!:) I'm barely in level one in french and there is this part where the person just says something and they put me a picture...and I have to type what the person said :D and I actually knew without hesitation I would write..they passed me a horse and the person said un cheval...i typed it and I was right:) then it would go telling me Le garçon ne conduit pas. Not only did I understand what the person was saying but I could type it just by listening :D and the first week of trying the french course I could not say cafe right i would say it over and over until i finally got it right T_T i would struggle so much with that one word but now I can do it on the first try du cafe :) sorry for rambling on but if you are a person with dedication and really want to learn the language (whichever one u want) then I recommend Rosetta Stone...now if you are the type that just gives up on the first try, or get easily irritated right away...and can't figure stuff out and needs someone else to solve issues for you..then yea Rosetta Stone is not for you...

Cindi

Mireya: I completely agree with everything you said. I'm learning French in college (had French 101 & 102). I've learned the grammar, conjugations, direct & indirect object pronouns, etc. But, we don't really do much "conversation" in the college classes. My husband bought the downloadable RS for French, with 5 levels and several units within each level. So, we can log on when we want to & spend as much time as we want. I am learning a lot with RS! It is great practice & I'm not self-conscious when I muddle a pronunciation with RS...as I am in class in front of other people. I'm moving on the Intermediate French in the fall at school but in the meantime, I'm getting the practice I need and enjoy with RS. I think the cost was between $200-250, but we own it. Also, we can add learners - I have my own sessions and my husband has his. I'm further ahead than he is because I started earlier. One of the best things is that both of us are getting the pronunciations and accents down. Thank you, Mireya!

hey

"뭐 생각하세요?" sounds very stupid. If you are older than 5, you don't talk like that.
They should develop the curricula separately according to the languages.

hey

The correct expression is "무슨 생각하세요?" by the way.

Shirley

I'm in Unit 2 of Level 1 of Rosetta Stone, Spanish (Latin America) and I purchased it on Amazon for $299.40, brand new. The set has all five levels. Having grown up in Texas, I'm familiar with Spanish already - pronunciation and some basic words and sentence structure. I've always been mystified at how to conjugate verbs (I eat, they are eating) - it makes perfect sense to me now.

What you say about the program forcing you to quickly and accurately speak a response is spot on. What I find most helpful and fun are the stories I can read using what I've learned. Much like a first grader discovers the joy of reading "See Dick. See Jane. Run, Jane, run" - it's a thrill to read and comprehend something entirely in Spanish without even pictures to put it in context.

This was $299.40 very well invested. At night in my dreams, I am reviewing what I learned. I can only imagine how fluent I'll be by level 5. It's not perfect by any means, but it is a very, very good program.

SR Mateo

One point is clear; there is no magic bullet or shortcut to learning language. One must practice frequently for a long time and ideally start at a young age. Unfortunately, there is not enough second language instruction in place in elementary/primary schools. Some schools rely on video or software only thus shortchanging the children. The children instructed through video or software miss out on the natural interactions of interpersonal communication between real humans.
Use technology as a tool or supplement, but not as a replacement for the teacher.

Karl

Hello. I just finished all 5 levels of French and I can say I agree with most points of the review. I had good success with RS, but I do think it depends on your circumstances and learning style. In my case, I started about a month before being relocated to Lyon for a work assignment. The company covered the cost, so that wasn't an issue. I also had studied Spanish in school and lived in Madrid for a semester of college. So I had a lot of the foundations of romance language grammar such that I could recognize it when it showed up in French. I also began living in France when I was early in the program, so it's hard to say how much French I learned on RS and how much in real life. I have examples of seeing things on RS after I ran into them in the real-world and the other way around. I would also say that I am a visual learner, and matching what I'm reading and hearing to the pictures worked well for me. Finally, I also worked at it. I did lessons almost every day, did the live chat sessions as I qualified for them and spent some time with the games and such. LIke anything you're learning you have to do the work.

On the point of other aides, on occasion I did refer to french.about.com to supplement the lessons: usually when I really needed verb conjugations or was confused on a topic.

I wish everyone all the best in their language learning efforts!

annette brown

I bought my R.S (Portuguese) in 2012 at the cost of £256. I didn't download it until 6 months
ago and had no problems until 2 days ago when I was suddenly unable to access it. I telephoned the help-line and was informed that my version of the R.S was out of date and that I would not be able to use it unless I downloaded the up-dated version. They sent me a link to up-date my version but after 5 hours of following their very confusing instructions
and getting nowhere, I gave up. I am 62yrs old and a computer 'newbe' but I don't understand how I can be refused access to a product I have bought because it has been
up-dated by the retailer.

lil-mike

hi, folks anyone knows if the rosetta stone for learn english american is good, i'm doing the first lesson and the problem with voice recognition maybe you should try expand decibel levels for better recognition, thats all i want to say , i hope more people share their experience with this.

pd; sorry for write terrible LOL

Tas

Hi, Thanks for the review. It was one of the most indepth one I have read regarding Rosetta Stone. I am currently learning Korean, having started on and off about 2 weeks ago. To put it into perspective, I already speak 4 languages fluently, some French and very little Welsh and can understand some Spanish. I can pronounce some Korean having learnt it 2 Sundays ago when I was in bed for a day with a bad cold but have no idea what it says. ( I did it using a free phone apps). I borrowed a copy of Rosetta Stone about 2 days ago and am on lesson 2. I find it quite tedious and am getting quite sick of having to guess all the time. I had a week of Welsh lessons where I was the only non native speaker with zero knowledge and ended the week by being near the top of the class. The Welsh teacher thought that it was due to my already being able to speak a few languages. I do not think that there is any great secret to learning languages. I think there is some truth in that children learnt by guessing a lot of the time and that it pays not to question too much at first, just memorise what you are taught.
However, you do need to understand and remember what things mean which I find irritatingly missing in Rosetta Stone. You have to guess a lot of time which would be fine for a child but not for an adult. Thus far, I have not learnt anything useful after the first short lesson except that it has become tedious. I have already learnt most of the words taught thus far by watching Korean dramas with mandarin subtitles. I had to do it by guessing and so do not expect lessons to be further guesswork.
I have seen the French version which I thought was quite good. It might be that not all languages can be learnt this way or that it will be most helpful when you are already familiar with the language and is using it to brush up your knowledge.
I think that Rosetta Stone will be vastly improved by having at least a 5 minute lesson where the meanings of the words are explained at the end of every lesson, As it is, it is a hefty sum for learning a language which I feel could be put to better use. There is no substitute for putting time into studying a language and those who think that they can get away with that by spending this amount on RS will be sadly disappointed.

Don

Rosetta Stone is a swamp!! Had started with a purchase of a 4CD set two years ago. Am able to get back into it, now, and tried to access it on my Android. Silly me. When you call "customer service" they are of little help. Their "chat" is worthless. Found myself with their "created" e-mail address for me and a different password ...Yes it was as crazy as it sounds. I stopped the on-line service (at $10/month) , and then found that my laptop application - the CDs I had paid for in the beginning - didn't work. So, yet another confused phone-call with someone who struggles with the English language. What was a very good company and product has gone downhill very quickly!!!!! I don't get paid for fixing their broken service. Will go with a competitor...

Nic

I think this is a really decent, thorough review. One counterpoint I would mention, though, is that in East Asian languages where there are levels of honorific language used, it is *generally* much more socially acceptable to speak to others in a higher-than-necessary honorific level than it is a lower one, which is probably why both Rosetta Stone and language classes start with the polite forms.

Thanks for all of your insight and research! Very useful information here.

Steve Landon

Thank you for a great review. I was given a Spanish edition of RS and could not use it. I gave up after 1 hour. I tried other learning material but nothing really worked but using Spanish tutoring books helped more. Because I at least have near perfect pronunciation for Spanish and Italian, it was more of an exercise in building vocabulary. Native speakers I meet have always told me that my Spanish pronunciation is perfect. Why don't some of these courses work? Because many of us learn material in different ways and I found that not having a translation at the bottom of the Spanish material in RS ruined it for me. I have to see the words in the new language, hear it and see the translation. I then write the new language on paper as I use it. That combination works for me. I am also now in an environment where I work with 30 Spanish speaking people. I look up words and phrases on line. I am one that never shied away from trying to create a sentence the way I think it should be. I had 4+ years of Latin in high school and college. That helps. I read and write Spanish better than I speak because I can figure out the words in context in a sentence. I had lived in Spain for a year, 30 years ago and became fairly fluent but lost it when I did not use it. Immersion with native speakers is a great add on to using structured material. Being personally tutored by a native speaker that knows how to teach is great in addition to using structured material. I realized this year that I started thinking in Spanish with no mental translation. I would be in the warehouse speaking Spanish and the next English I heard, I automatically answered in Spanish. To make learning a language work for you, you must be determined and keep at it and try to have fun with it. Never be afraid to try it.