Rosetta Stone is kind of the lumbering dinosaur of online language learning. It’s been around since 1992 and in a lot of ways hasn’t changed much although the interface is a bit clunky, moving slow when comes to language learning, can be effective.
Back To Basics
Rosetta Stone has been used by the US Army, Air Force, State Department, and several universities to provide intensive 16 week language courses. Rosetta Stone covers a number of popular languages and you can sign up for a single language for a 11.99 monthly subscription which is billed once every 3 months, or get access to all of Rosetta Stone’s languages for one lifetime payment of $299.
Once you sign up, Rosetta will ask you your current level – whether you’re a novice, intermediate, or advanced user but one feature I wish were available here is a test to gauge your abilities. We all know what a complete beginner is but maybe you know a few words or phrases, or have had previous exposure, a comprehension test to place you exactly where you need to be would be great.
Language lessons are broken down into 6 week courses, with a planned 30 minutes per day, 5 days a week. Each daily class is broken down further into 5 and 10 minute reading, speaking, and comprehension lessons. And if you don’t have time to do a full 30 minutes, you can take things at a slower pace, maybe just getting in one 10 minute lesson when you’re busier.
Language Lesson Crafting
There is a lot of repetition, which slows the pace but personally I find helps me to remember what I’m learning even though I sometimes want to speed though some of the lessons I feel are a bit easier. For example, you’re read a word, you match the picture, then Rosetta Stone repeats back the correct response. Both the frequent repetition and the images are useful in creating associations in your brain.
Whereas comparing this to Duolingo, those are shorter lessons without visual cues so you really need to maintain a high frequency of lessons to make sure you can remember the vocabulary. With Duolingo you’re exposed to a lot of words in a short time, whereas Rosetta is very focused on making sure you learn the fundamentals before moving on.
There’s also no offline mode although there are some language companions, like simple stories and vocabulary you can download separately, a fully fledged offline mode would be a great feature for long flights or subway commutes. Now, when you finish a lesson, you’re given a score and can go back for shoot for 100% or continue on to the next day’s lesson. There’s no reminders or notifications, Rosetta Stone is like a college class that doesn’t grade on attendance, how much time you decide to dedicate is up to you.
Although Rosetta Stone is not pretty, and the apps aren’t great, and it won’t reminder you to sign on or give you a streak to beat, if you’re a visual learner, it’s a good tool for vocabulary learning and fundamental grammar. Rosetta Stone uses images to guide you through learning a language without using English – which is a good thing – but it requires a lot of self motivation.
Also, being more of a classroom A then B then C structure might not appeal to everyone. I think though if you’re just starting out with a language and want to learn the basics, then Rosetta Stone lays a very good foundation, one that you’ll retain for longer, and can build upon. You’re also forced to speak and evaluated on pronunciation, giving it an interactive edge. A 3 month subscription will give you just enough time to complete two entire lesson plans, which in theory will get you to some intermediate concepts. There’s no doom-scrolling but rather a set goal post you can aim for in your language lessons.