The first Rosetta Stone learning packages came in the form of the CD-ROM. Today, courses are available via web browser, app and downloadable formats. This well-established platform currently offers 24 languages, including popular options such as French, Spanish, German and Hindi – and while it doesn’t have as much variety as Duolingo (30 languages), it still offers a strong range of choices.
The initial three-day complimentary trial is highly recommended to understand how the platform works and the teaching methods used during lessons. Once satisfied that the course suits your style of learning, you will need to subscribe to begin your full language-learning experience. Three-month, 12-month, Lifetime and Lifetime Plus subscriptions are available. The latter three options are particularly useful for anyone who wishes to learn more than one language in-depth, over a longer period of time.
We really rate this particular platform; it earned top spot in our guides to the best learn Spanish online courses (opens in new tab), the best learn French online apps (opens in new tab) and websites, and the best learn English software (opens in new tab) too.
For the purposes of this review, we focused on the Spanish lessons, but the methodology is broadly the same across all languages.
Rosetta Stone review: Teaching method
Each course is divided up into topic-based units, covering everything from ‘Greetings and Introductions’ and ‘Life and World’ to ‘Style and Personal Wellness’ to ‘Emergency Situations’. The Spanish course, in particular, consists of 20 units which are each structured into four lessons. Within each lesson are the key learning elements: Core sessions, pronunciation, vocabulary and grammar. Users are encouraged to complete each section before moving onto the next lesson, however advanced users may wish to skip ahead if some of the lessons are too basic. At the end of each unit, a review stage allows you to revise what you have learnt.
There are no English instructions or translations within the lessons, allowing users to take their time to understand their answers. Beginners might find the idea of complete language immersion intimidating at first, however it doesn’t take long to tune your ear and mind to the words and phrases you are learning. As a result, you are likely to become familiar with the sound of spoken Spanish quicker than with other platforms such as Duolingo (opens in new tab) and Busuu (opens in new tab), that rely on using English commands and translations.
Most lessons work with word and image association. The words and phrases under each topic gradually expand as the lessons go on to make basic sentences. Key words are repeated and reused throughout the lessons, helping the user to refresh and practice their vocabulary and grammar in different contexts.
Rosetta Stone review: Learning tools
The Extended Learning resource, available within every course, covers diverse cultural topics that don’t fall into the key teaching elements. For example, the Spanish course allows users to read and listen to stories or verses written by Spanish writers.
Once complete, you have the option to read the same verse out loud using your device microphone. The platform will pick up on any mistakes, highlighting where your pronunciation can improve – a useful tool for intermediate and advanced users. The Audio Companion is great for immersing into the spoken language.
The Rosetta Stone coaching sessions are useful for those who simply learn better in a classroom situation. Users can choose between on-demand videos, private or group experiences to get the best interactive learning experience. Live-stream lessons (currently being Beta tested), are available through the Lifetime Plus subscription and last for 15 to 20 minutes. Coaches ask questions and set tasks within each unit, using both English and your chosen language, with text boxes available to type in answers.
In comparison, live tutoring sessions (either private or in a group) are conducted with an experienced native speaker in your chosen language. Group lessons tend to include a maximum of four number of students, and chat boxes are available to communicate with the tutor if there are any issues. The tool is especially useful for intermediate and advanced users who wish to focus on their oral skills and is currently available for computers or iPhone users only. Extra sessions can be purchased through the My Account tab if you do not subscribe to the Lifetime Plus package, although prices vary according to region.
Rosetta Stone review: How the app works
The free mobile app follows a similar navigation to the online application. You can create an account using your email address. Much like other platforms, your progress is simultaneously updated on both the website and app – allowing the user to pick up their language-learning journey on either platform.
The app is most useful for those learning on the move. It also has a neat AI tool that lets you point your camera at an object, which will then be recognised and translated 'live' by the app. Useful if you ever forget the word for common objects.
Rosetta Stone review: Cost
As mentioned, there are various subscription packages available. At $11.99 per month for three months or $7.99 per month for the 12-month package, Rosetta Stone’s pricing is considerably more expensive than the Duolingo and Busuu, which both offer complimentary basic courses, as well as premium packages for a lower monthly rate (both $6.99).
Rosetta Stone Lifetime subscriptions are currently available for a one-off fee of $179 (usually $299), which is certainly high-priced for casual learners. However, this option would be handy for anyone keen and committed to learning several languages over a longer course of time. It also includes access to those aforementioned live lessons.
All subscription options give the user full access to lessons either online or in a downloadable format, for learning on the move or when without a Wi-fi connection. However, only the one-year and lifetime packages allow you to learn more than one language.
Lessons are noticeably more intensive and immersive compared to other language learning platforms, so you certainly get what you pay for in terms of the quality of teaching. The 12-month package – which includes the benefit of being able to learn multiple languages – is perhaps the best-priced option for general learning.
Should you try Rosetta Stone?
Rosetta Stone is an in-depth, highly polished online language learning platform – that is particularly valuable for beginners and intermediate users who wish to build a solid foundation of vocabulary and grammar in a chosen language. However, there is no escaping the fact it is significantly more costly than other online platforms.
Whether or not to subscribe to a Rosetta Stone course may depend on your dedication to learning the language – and the depth in which you wish to learn. Is it to understand a few key phrases to get by on holiday or would you like to become an advanced communicator is that language?
If your reason is the former, platforms such as Duolingo or Busuu are potentially better suited for your needs. However, Rosetta Stone’s more detailed lessons will certainly be of benefit to invested users who wish to learn to become advanced speakers and listeners in their chosen language. The courses are well devised for those who wish to one-day become fluent in another language.