Does Rosetta Stone Really Work??

Kate Kerns by Kate Kerns

Before answering the question, “Does Rosetta Stone Work?” let’s look briefly at what Rosetta Stone is and the methods it uses to teach you a new language.

Woman uses Rosetta Stone software

Rosetta Stone is computer software. It’s a program you will install and run on your computer or tablet. Some people don’t realize this. You have to actually be on your computer to use Rosetta Stone. Pointing this out may sound silly, but the number of foreign language learning CDs where you simply listen to the audio, means many people don’t realize that Rosetta Stone is a computer program. The latest Rosetta Stone offering includes a companion CD, because so many people did want to be able to learn without being on a computer.

The Rosetta Stone program is broken down into lessons, with each lesson containing a set of questions or tasks. A typical question would show you four pictures and describe the pictures. In early lessons, the description might be one word. In later lessons the description would be full sentences. Your task would be to select the image that corresponds to what you just heard. A lesson contains questions that are grouped by theme, for example, colors or sizes. At the end of the lesson you will see how many questions you got right and whether you advance to the next level. Rosetta Stone follows a similar structure from beginning to quite advanced, using this interactive method to teach listening, written words, and speaking
Rosetta Stone learning is based on the person interacting with the computer program, making selections and taking actions. It is also based on the idea that people learn best visually — seeing the object and hearing the word for it in the new language. Rosetta Stone also does a nice job of tracking your progress through the program, recording scores as you do exercises and more.

Probably the most advanced technology of the Rosetta Stone program is the speech recognition. The Rosetta Stone language program will prompt the user to say a word or phrase and then use speech recognition to score how well you have done. It’s a nice feedback for the user — a bit like throwing the ball by the radar gun or can-you-ring-the-bell at the county fair. Obviously, there are limits to the speech recognition of Rosetta Stone. Some people feel that Rosetta never ‘likes’ their pronunciation and there is no personal tutor to explain why your pronunciation might still need improving. Still it’s a worthwhile concept and an important part of Rosetta Stone.
Rosetta Stone is built around introducing words and then having you work with that vocabulary. Most users rated it high on building a vocabulary, but lower on teaching grammar and verb usage.

Another issue with Rosetta Stone is the user is generally being given a multiple-choice question, essentially you are being asked to match a picture with some words. That is significantly different than being able to think of the right words yourself when you are trying to speak the new language.

Summary: Rosetta Stone works to teach you a new language, but up to a point. Many feel there are more effective ways to learn. See the discussion of Pimsleur Language Learning versus Rosetta Stone.

So Why Does Rosetta Stone Cost So Much

And Can I get a Used Copy of Rosetta Stone Cheap?
So you may still be wondering why Rosetta Stone costs so much and whether it is worth it?

Part of Rosetta Stone costing as much as it does it the advanced speech recognition technology packaged along with it. Each software package contains headset with microphone. In general, speech recognition technology and software is expensive.

And the other part, I believe is simply a company decision. Having established themselves as a premier language learning software, Rosetta Stone is looking for a Cadillac image (my opinion). Rosetta Stone, not only prices their first level of foreign language learning in the hundreds of dollars here is the Amazon discounted Rosetta Stone Spanish for $179 (as of 2/18/2014). But Rosetta Stone also vigilantly restricts customers ability to resell the software to someone else. Amazon reviews include angry comments about Ebay auctions being shutdown. Again, since customers are used to foreign language learning programs being audio CD’s that they are allowed to resell, there is plenty of misunderstanding to go around.

Here was a recent quote on a forum about Rosetta Stone’s reselling policies: I found out that you don’t actually “own” Rosetta Stone. See the terms…you actually only lease the software. You are not allowed to resell it. I also had trouble re-installing after my hard drive crashed because they were so paranoid I was trying to install a used copy. Well, I guess they have to because of all the dishonest people out there…but shouldn’t you be able to resell something you buy. Ok, so you aren’t buying it, that is their point…it just really seems like you are buying it because it is a one-time price, not some monthly payments or anything.

Because of Rosetta Stone’s policing of resales, you are unlikely to find a cheap used copy of Rosetta Stone. For the best prices of both Pimsleur and Rosetta Stone language programs, I would use Rosetta_StoneAmazon.


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Does Rosetta Stone Work and other questions I've asked while learning Spanish. This blog is mostly about learning Spanish, but has some useful information about learning any new languages in general.