- Immersive experience
- Teaches writing, listening, reading, and speaking
- Synchronization between desktop and mobile
- Optional live sessions
- Intuitive user experience
- Lack of cultural context
- Can become repetitive
Created in 1992, Rosetta Stone has been on the language learning scene for quite a while, offering one of the most thorough language learning programs in the industry. With an immersive learning experience and a portfolio of 24 languages, it tackles reading, writing, listening, and speaking in such an intuitive way that you may find yourself learning new vocabulary without even realizing it. Though it can be pricey, for as little as $10.38 per month you get access to a program containing 12 units, each one divided into four lessons with various exercises having an average duration of 15 minutes. Better yet, Rosetta Stone includes live sessions with native-speaker teachers, a platform for speaking with other learners, and fun games to further improve your learning.
Rosetta Stone offers courses for 24 different languages. It includes programs for the most popular ones, such as Spanish (Castilian and Latin American), French, German, Japanese, Italian, Chinese (Mandarin), and Portuguese (Brazilian).
An Immersive Approach
Rosetta Stone applies the same method regardless of the language you want to learn. Instead of giving you English translations to help, Rosetta Stone uses an immersive approach where everything is in the language you are studying. This way, you learn the language and acquire new vocabulary by association, which in our experience speeds memorization.
What’s also helpful is that through its in-depth research, Rosetta Stone came up with the best way for students to learn new vocabulary in a hassle-free and uncomplicated way. The software jumps through reading, writing, listening, and speaking exercises that improve your overall language usage while practicing all the essential points.
Repetition is key with Rosetta Stone, and the process may feel a bit tedious after a while. Nevertheless, it's this repetition that makes you progress solidly, boosting your confidence throughout the course. Unfortunately, there is almost no cultural context, and all programs follow more or less the same routine and present the same pictures.
Extended Learning to Practice Even Further
Users of the online version have access to Rosetta Stone's extended learning platform. Here you can find games and a chat where you can connect with other users learning the same language. It's also possible to use the audio companion, which lets you download all classes in MP3 format to listen to offline – perfect for commuters or exercise buffs. Last but not least, Rosetta Stone has a stories section where you can listen to small pieces read by native speakers and even test your own speaking ability.
Sometimes you really need a teacher to help you. With Rosetta Stone, you can schedule 25-minute live lessons with a native speaker. These classes are always integrated with what you’re learning, meaning that the teaching will always be at just the right level. The immersion technique continues here as well, and the teachers are all native speakers. The classes can be solo or in a group, and although the teachers will be using their webcams, the only thing you share is your audio – nothing more.
Rosetta Stone is exceptionally well structured, and you are given an established route to follow. Users looking for a refresher or to continue their studies will be happy to know that Rosetta Stone offers a placement test. When subscribing to one of the courses, you'll receive an email to set up your account. There, you'll be prompted to do a placement test that takes about 45 minutes where you'll be tested on all four foundations of a language: speaking, writing, listening, and reading.
The program is divided into 12 units covering specific topics like “work and school”, “friends and family”, “travel”, etc. Each unit has four different sections, with lessons averaging 15 minutes in length.
Rosetta Stone uses deduction to teach. For example, if you see the same labeled picture several times, you start to memorize that word. The software then starts building phrases with those words, teaching you other parts of the language. For example, right at the start of the Japanese course you learn how to say ‘man', ‘woman', ‘boy', and ‘girl'. Afterward, you'll start getting phrases like ‘the man is cooking'. Since you already know the word ‘man', it gets pretty easy to identify which part of the sentence is ‘cooking'. Throughout the course, the exercises get more and more complicated, and by the end of it you'll grasp the basics of speaking the language with confidence.
It's possible to access Rosetta Stone through its browser version or desktop and mobile apps. The desktop software works for Windows (from 7 and later) as well as macOS (10.9 or higher), while the mobile app is available for both Android and iOS. The language learning software has a useful synchronization function that lets you jump between devices and continue studying where you left off.
Both mobile and desktop versions look great and have an intuitive design. It's easy to scroll through the various exercises and understand what to do in each one. Of course, you'll need to have a microphone for the speaking part, and you can change the level of difficulty for the speaking exercises. We recommend having a good microphone, though. While on the laptop, there were times where Rosetta Stone was not able to recognize some words we were saying correctly – a problem we didn’t have with the mobile version.
Compared to other language learning software, Rosetta Stone is a little pricey. It's not possible to pay a monthly fee since the shortest billing cycle is three months for the price of $79. However, you can go for more extended subscriptions and get it as low as $10.38 per month if you choose the two-year plan – saving yourself around 60%. Furthermore, you can test the product with the 3-day free trial or take advantage of the 30-day money-back guarantee.
If you homeschool your kids, you'll be happy to know that you can get further discounts by purchasing the homeschool package. This is especially attractive if you have multiple children. You can get three licenses for the price of two by going with the two-year billing cycle. There is special pricing for schools and businesses as well.
It's also possible to purchase a full program in the form of CDs or downloadable apps instead of paying for a monthly subscription. We advise you to go with the online subscription, though: it's cheaper, and you only pay for the time it takes you to finish the course.
Rosetta Stone offers 24/7 customer service through its live chat. It's also possible to contact the customer support team via email, phone, or social media (though in this last case Twitter is the best bet, as Rosetta Stone hasn’t made a Facebook update for over a year). Of course, you can also find a FAQ section as well as a resource center on the company’s website. There are indeed many channels for your queries, but we feel there is space for improvement. For example, the live chat should be popping up throughout the site instead of hidden on the support page. Still, once we found the live chat, the agent was quick to pick up, knew what he was talking about, and was polite enough.
Rosetta Stone is indeed a thorough language learning program. Although each person has their own perfect method of learning, we found the immersive and intuitive system to be effective. It may have felt a bit tiresome at times, but this was compensated for when we finished the last exercise of the unit, confident in our answers, and making no errors. We would love to have seen a little more cultural context. But regardless, it teaches the four foundations of a language, the mobile app works wonders, and the synchronization was perfect. Having the option to download the exercises via the mobile app to do them offline is excellent, especially if you spend a lot of time on your commute and don't want to use your mobile data. Prices are a little high, but you can counter that by going for a longer billing cycle. However, we do recommend using the 3-day free trial before purchasing to make sure the process works for you.