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Is Rosetta Stone Worth Buying to Learn a Language?

Is Rosetta Stone language software worth getting, despite its hefty price tag?

Many people have asked me whether Rosetta Stone is worth buying, and my answer has to be a resounding no! Here are some reasons why I feel Rosetta Stone is certainly not worth the money.

The whole premise is questionable

Supposedly, Rosetta Stone offers a simulated immersion experience, learning as a child would. The problem with this idea is that at the very most, you are going to spend around 2 hours a day on Rosetta Stone. 2 hours a day is not immersion. 2 hours a day clicking on pictures of a cat or a house is certainly not immersion.

Learning is slow and unfocused

I’ve tried several Rosetta Stone products. I have also tried the similarly expensive, but far superior Pimsleur audio learning tapes. After around half an hour of use at complete beginner level, here is the kind of thing I could say:

After using Rosetta Stone: man, woman, boy, girl. Boy and girl. Man and woman.

After using Pimsleur: Excuse me, madam, do you understand English? No, sir, I don’t understand. I speak a little Portuguese. Are you American? I am, madam.

Not only that, but I was already beginning to be able to construct my own sentence rather than parroting -  after half an hour! Whether you use the Pimsleur method or not, Rosetta Stone is almost certain to be slower than if you used another method.

You are paying their advertising costs

Have you ever wondered why Rosetta Stone invariably pops up when the topic of language learning is discussed? Or why people say, “I heard Rosetta Stone is good,” even though they have not used it themselves? This is because the company behind Rosetta Stone plough enormous amounts of cash into their advertising. Ask someone to name a language product – most will mention Rosetta Stone.

Where, then, does this money for advertising come from? Well, you guesed it – the customers! Rosetta Stone Level 1 Portuguese, for example, costs £179.99 direct from the Rosetta Stone website. Most of this goes back into advertising to lure another customer in. You can’t fault their business plan. In my opinion, the product itself is worth – being generous – no more than around £50, taking into account what you get and the price of similar products on the market. Which leads me onto the fact that…

…you can get everything for free!

No, I am not talking about or promoting illegal torrents here. I am talking about a site which includes everything that Rosetta Stone is and more, for the handsome sum of…£0. is a site which, from experience, is far superior to Rosetta Stone. Not only do you get a plethora of different languages to play with, but also a friendly welcoming native-speaker community who can correct your work and offer support. Rosetta Stone’s isolated and self-contained product just can’t compare!

In conclusion, Rosetta Stone is overrated. For those whole feel the method may work for them, there are free alternatives such as LiveMocha. Look around and shop around. Don’t be lured in by a flashy yellow display offering you fluency in a box – because you won’t get it.

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User Comments
  1. Nikita K

    On February 23, 2011 at 12:31 pm

    I know what you mean by saying Rosetta Stone is overrated. It’s overpriced and I’m sorry but learning how a child learns a language really can’t help an adult in the same way. I use LiveMocha myself (I’ve taken a cheeky break now) and it’s so much more stimulating with the interaction with native speakers and stuff.

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