Pros / Rosetta Stone uses an immersive teaching method to help you learn concepts quickly.
Cons / The live tutoring feature costs extra.
Verdict / This is the most effective French learning software we tested.
Rosetta Stone delivers French lessons through an easy-to-use online application and the best language-learning mobile app we reviewed. Rosetta Stone recently made its French lessons available for cheaper with a subscription-based fee, instead of costly one-time-purchase software. Some of the programs we reviewed, like Fluenz and Ouino, offer lifetime licenses that allow to you use the program at your own pace and have an application permanently installed on your computer. However, we prefer online subscription services because you can take lessons on any Wi-Fi device and pay for a customized amount of time, be it a month or three months. If you need to brush up on French before a vacation, you can subscribe to Rosetta Stone for less than $60 for three months, compared to $350 for a perpetual license to Fluenz.
Once you purchase a subscription to this language program, you can access the beautifully designed mobile app in addition to the desktop version. The mobile app has all the same learning content and allows you to download lessons on your Android or iOS devices for when you’re outside the reach of cellular data and Wi-Fi. The lessons on the mobile app are fully functional and interactive, and the app is updated more frequently than the online application. If you are interested in learning French on the go, the Rosetta Stone mobile app is the best we tested.
The teaching method Rosetta Stone uses is different than most programs we tested because instead of associating new vocabulary terms with their English equivalent, Rosetta Stone totally immerses you in the language by associating words and phrases with images and popular conversation topics. The immersive-style learning is designed to teach you French the same way you learned your native language as a young child, which we found the be the most effective method among the programs we tested.
There are four core lessons in each unit of this software that use flashcards to teach image-word associations. In these exercises, you match images to their corresponding words and phrases. The first few lessons are easy enough, teaching you basic words like "boy," "girl," "eat" and "drink." Then, you use the words and phrases from the core lessons in the grammar, reading, writing and pronunciation modules. This linear learning path creates a solid foundation to build on with more complex concepts in later units.
Rosetta Stone tracks your progress through the prescribed lesson plan. It breaks down your performance in each core lesson by pronunciation, grammar, vocabulary, reading writing and speaking. Comprehensive progress tracking can help you identify the concepts that you are struggling with.
If you are having trouble with some of the concepts, Rosetta Stone offers live tutoring. You have to finish the beginning lessons to be eligible for tutoring sessions, and there is an additional fee, but a short lesson with a native French speaker is a quick way to get answers to questions that can make the intermediate and advanced topics easier to digest.
Rosetta Stone’s TruAccent speech recognition algorithm compares your voice recordings to a pool of thousands of native speakers and gives you instant feedback about pronunciation in the form of an accuracy meter. The recordings of native speakers are among the most accurate and natural-sounding we reviewed. You repeat the speaking exercise until you get reasonably close to the native speakers, which helps you prepare for normal conversation in French speaking countries.
If you learn well by listening, we suggest checking out the phrasebook. These downloadable, audio-only lessons are a supplementary learning tool found in addition to the prescribed learning path. They reinforce common phrases you would use to speak with a waiter, find the grocery store or navigate the airport. You can either listen and memorize the important vocabulary terms, or interact with the lesson by recording your voice and comparing it to the recording of a native speaker. You don’t need access to Wi-Fi or cellular data to take advantage of the phrasebook lessons.
Rosetta Stone is the best learn French software we tested. The mobile app allows you to learn anywhere because you can download lessons, or stream them using Wi-Fi or cellular data. A subscription-based fee may seem expensive if you plan on taking years to learn French, but because you can activate and cancel your subscription whenever you need to, we prefer it to the potentially more expensive programs that offer a lifetime license.