Rosetta Stone language software review – Does it work?

Rosetta Stone | A personal experience –  Rosetta Stone what you need to know

My name is Mark Biernat and I learn and teach languages in Europe. I am creating LearnFast mp3 and LearnFast software programs for learning languages. The reason I created this page is I get many the people who ask me about purchasing a commercial language program because I write them myself. Most people have heard of RS and are tempted to try it. At first, I said ‘sure try Rosetta Stone’. It is expensive, but if you want, try it. However, it did not work for me and people I know who tried Rosetta Stone. All that I write about Rosetta Stone is based on my own personal experience and my opinion. Further, since I am writing language learning material so I am partial towards my program. However, that does not mean what I write about Rosetta Stone is not valid. If anything it gives me a good perspective. I am not currently in competition with Rosetta Stone. Rosetta Stone has like 31 languages, I am focusing on Slavic languages. In fact, I do not have anything even for sale yet. Further, my first product will be learning a language with music and mp3, very different from the Rosetta Stone. What I write about Rosetta Stone is all for your information, and take it for what it is worth.

Rosetta Stone did not work for me because although the idea sounds great as does Rosetta Stone’s marketing, however, the content and the design of their lessons are horrible if you are trying to learn a language. I know people who bought Rosetta Stone, spent a lot of money and more important time and it did not work. It caused them to be frustrated. I would rather be honest and tell my story, so others do not waste so much time on something they will not be happy with. However, ultimately you can spend the money and try Rosetta Stone for yourself. I would be curious to hear your feedback.

Rosetta based the initial program for all languages on an English language structure. This makes it someone clunky when trying to deal with the complexities of other grammar structures.

Learning a language is blood, sweat and tears no matter what approach you take. If you buy Rosetta Stone or if you take classes, I think to learn a language you have to try a lot of things and find what works for you. But with Rosetta Stone, there will be more blood, sweat, and tears than there has to be.

Rosetta Stone did not work for me because:

  • Rosetta Stone’s lesson vocabulary is not useful. Rosetta Stone has, “boys jump” for example instead of “how are you?”.
  • Rosetta Stone pictures are unclear. You spend too much time guessing the meaning of the image than learning the word.
  • Rosetta Stone has no grammar explained. I am not big on grammar, but adults need some understanding of what is going on, why nouns or verbs are changing. You can buy other programs or books but you need the explanation parallel to the lesson material you are learning. Not Rosetta Stone’s lesson in one direction and a grammar book covering other material. Why spend all that money on Rosetta is you are going to have to buy other things.
  • Rosetta Stone’s translations are in PDF. Any translations Rosetta Stone has is in are in a large separate PDF file, so when you scroll through it takes forever to find what you are looking for.
  • Rosetta Stone is more about guessing than learning. Many people can go directly to Rosetta Stone level 3 in Spanish for example, and guess what picture is correct but that does not mean they can speak the language. I tried this for Chinese, I know no Chinese and at a high level, I was guessing the picture. So a correct answer is more dependent on your ability to test or guess than your ability to learn the language.
  • Rosetta Stone has this voice analysis software, that is only for sales. For me, it never worked and I am techy. It is a joke. My friend who is a native speaker in Polish scored badly for the Polish language and I scored good, and I am not a native speaker. It is just a sales point for Rosetta Stone, but it is not real.
  • Rosetta Stone is a very boring program. Nothing going on except the same old same old pictures. Most people get really tired of doing a few lessons and give up. I was bored out of my mind.
  • Pictures are cheesy. The Pcordialos look like they are from the 1990s, almost comical.
  • No ability to put the Rosetta Stone program to an mp3. Therefore, you are chained to your computer, and if you are like me, you want the option at least to have it on mp3 so you can take it with you to the park or other places with easy, not spend more time on your computer.
  • Rosetta Stone installs only on a disk not directly on your computer, so the disk will spin around when you use it and for me, it is mildly irritating. There are many more reasons, but I was frustrated after trying to learn Polish with Rosetta Stone. It was more a waste of time than money.
  • Rosetta Stone is a cookie cutter. Rosetta Stone is manufactured by a large company with every language structured the same. A cookie cutter approach. To fit all languages into one framework as Rosetta Stone does is beyond me. The cookie cutter approach fits well into Rosetta Stone’s marketing model, however, it does not work if you want to learn a language. For example, Polish is very different from English and English is different from Chinese, but for Rosetta, it is all basically the same. I learn and teach languages. I tried Rosetta Stone Polish and it was ridiculous. In the first lesson three noun cases with no explanation. I think with the Rosetta Stone approach you will get confused and frustrated when you try to learn your target language. But try it if that is what you want to do.
  • Rosetta Stone is a marketing company. Rosetta Stone has good ideas and the creator of Rosetta Stone was innovative, but Rosetta Stone’s forte at this juncture is marketing. It is a marketing company with bright shiny yellow web pages and a big sales budget. On the other hand, LearnFast took years of personal work and creativity on my part to create.
  • Rosetta Stone did not work for me. I have never known someone that Rosetta Stone has worked for.

An alternative to Rosetta Stone

My program is the best alternative to Rosetta Stone. In fact, there is no comparison if you want to learn a language. My program has taken five years of my life to create. I am an American that teaches and learns languages in Krakow, Poland. I used my own creativity and brain to think of a way to help you learn languages. Further, I live in a flat in Krakow (Podgorze), Poland and have had the help of amazing creative talent here in Poland to make something really unique and special. I am not a marketing company. I simply have a love for languages and created something to help others. I can not touch Rosetta in terms of their marketing machine, however, they can not touch my product in terms of effectiveness and my personal creativity. I am using the beta of my program (actually the alpha) to learn Russian.

Rosetta Stone cost

The cost of Rosetta Stone is very high, their idea people like to pay( believe it or not). If you pay a lot, then people will value it more. But there is no correlation between the price and its effectiveness.

Is Rosetta Stone bad?

Rosetta stone is not bad, however, I have used their products personally, spent a lot of money and time using Rosetta Stone, and it did not get me anywhere, except frustrated. I could guess the pictures during Rosetta stone lessons, but It did not help me speak the language. Rosetta Stone looks good and has excellent marketing, but it did not work for me. Rosetta has a very good idea, but it does not work, at least for me, nor anyone I know who bought their product. However, the idea is interesting.  I would recommend it if you have a lot of money, it is on par with a gadget. The company is respected and nothing wrong with it, yet I just do not have the money to be spending on such things. It is a cost-benefit analysis as well as a practical one.

Author: Mark Biernat

I live in with family between two worlds, US and Europe where I create tools for language learning. If you found my site you probability share my passion to be a life long learner. Please explore my site and comment.

8 thoughts on “Rosetta Stone language software review – Does it work?”

  1. I had a friend that took the entire set of Chinese to learn the language well enough to teach English at a school in China. Because of this, I purchased Level One Russian to learn for my employment at a hospital near a Slavic community in California.

    So far, I have loved the program. There are a lot of resources online to speak with other learners and also native speakers.

    They also have an mp3 option now and I use it while driving to and from work. I look forward to learning more of the language

    1. Thank you for the Rosetta Stone review. I think it is a good system, but I got bored using it. But it really is a nice looking package and I do not want to discourage anyone from trying. The mp3 program I will have to take a look at. I am a big believer in audio learning of languages.
      Chinese, I am learning myself, but slowly.

  2. I was always a bright student and advanced in most every class I ever took; however, when it came to languages, I took Spanish from 5th grade through 11th and I was lucky to pass with a D in the class. I am horrible at languages and always have been. I never expected to need to learn a language, but then I went and married a man whose family lives in France. So, learning French is a must.

    Rosetta Stone is a life saver. With learning being so easy for me, I never learned to study or memorize. I just “figure things out”. This is how Rosetta Stone works. Even when I tried books, audio tapes, and my husband’s teaching, I could not get it. But with Rosetta Stone I am picking things up quicker than I could have imagined.

    Re: the vocab being unuseful. The first level, yes it seems as though you won’t use anything you are learning, but before you know it (3 weeks for me doing 1 hour per day) I am absolutely having beginning conversations with people, including how are you.

    Re: the unclear pictures and no grammar. Despite my books, tapes and husbands explanations I could never get the grammar and when to say what etc. With Rosetta Stone it comes naturally and much more quickly I discovered the grammar and can most times remember when to conjugate verbs, change endings, etc. I personally don’t mind the pics, but that is a personal preference I guess.

    Re: mp3. Not only can you put it on mp3, but also it comes with cds to listen to and review all that you have done in the lessons.

    Re: translation, No there is no translation…that’s the point of the software. To learn like you do as a child, without memorizing. Memorizing is only a short-term solution. The pictures help to put the information into your long-term memory by associating it with other things you already know and recognize.

    There are downsides…

    It is incredibly expensive. But I think it is worth it and equivalent to taking a college course.

    The voice analysis software should always be put to the highest level (which it is automatically set very very low) and then if you don’t say the phrase, word, etc. in the same sing song tone, it will mark it wrong. But I’d rather it be more difficult than run into the problem you encountered.

    Without practice, the language will eventually be forgotten. But this is the case with any language. If you aren’t using it, you will lose it. This won’t make you fluent, but if you will have the opportunity to continue using the language it will get you well on your way!

  3. I got the Rosetta stone six months ago for my birthday. It worked for about a week and then I got into endless error messages. Stayed on hold all day at tech support. Maybe I should have tried whatever language the tech support people speak first and maybe I could understand them but after hours wasted I tried conversing by email But after several of those I still can’t use the program. They told me it was my computer so I bought a new one and it still gives me the same error messages. They don’t have a clue how to fix it and the worst part is that my wife feels terrible because she gave it to me as a present and It’s been useless. I would really like to learn Spanish but I’m so disgusted with the process now that I don’t have the patience for it.

    1. I do think the learning style is good. It works for me just to go through the pictures and wonder why the words change until I finally recognize the cause. Then I know the word and I remember the cause.

      Unfortunately, the software is insanely buggy. They prioritize security over ease of use and I frequently get locked out of the program, usually when I had planned hours of study like on a long flight.

  4. I can not believe how difficult it is to learn Spanish using this software.The only thing I can think is RS believes most people know something about each language they are teaching and other than hearing my wife for the last 5 and half years speak it daily,Ive got no background in it at all.You think me hearing her speak it every single day would make me pick it up? No chance at all,I know its a language but it simply sounds like sounds,it might as well be someone banging on a metal garbage can or something.Its sounds that mean nothing to me what so ever,not more than a bird singing in a tree,its totally meaningless.Because she’s Spanish I thought it would be a great idea to learn Spanish,her family only speaks Spanish and Id like to talk with them without her translating for me before I DIE.1 year later studying several hours at a time 4 or 5 days a week I cant say a single sentence in Spanish and if someone like my wife is speaking Spanish I have no idea what she’s saying.Frustration is the understatement here.RS gives me a word over and over and I will learn it but they throw a sentence fragment at me and never tell me what the new words are at all.Its mind numbingly terrible, RS does not work for me.I see the TV ads for this system and someone speaking into their mic on the TV ad and smiling,that’s nice but the voice recognition doesn’t work at all.It says Im not saying even part of a word correctly and its only two letters.I think Ive been had and that voice recognition is some sort of selling ploy for these products and nothing else.When my sister n law who only speaks spanish tries the voice recognition and it doesnt understand her at all then its useless as useless gets.I think Im going to remove this from my computer,its been a year and I dont speak a sentance of what I paid to learn,I need to fold and try something new.

  5. I speak five languages and I took a look at Rosetta Stone when a friend of mine purchased it. I found it to be incredibly boring and insulting my intelligence. Of course I am not the target audience for this type of software by any stretch of imagination, but every person who has even basic grasp of how a language works has a base that should be built on, not ignored… though from what I have heard, many US schools do such piss-poor job of teaching English, that Americans really don’t have such a base and have to start from complete scratch, literally like one year olds. Then Rosetta Stone would probably be a right approach.

  6. I don’t agree with you that these phrases are not useful. Every part of vocabulary is useful if you wish to understand and communicate. You can’t just ask the holiday phrases all the time. I always found packages that taught the holiday phrases boring and non effective. Rosetta stone teaches real language, the things that make up the language, and it does work. I’d like to know what people are saying, not only be able to say ‘how are you’.
    I get annoyed at these obviously biased ‘reviews’ that claim it’s incompetent and that ‘mine is the best’. Actually Rosetta stone, in my experience, is the best and the easiest and fastest.
    My only grievance with this compnay is the fact that you need a code to unlock half of the lessons. This is profiteering extreme and it’s difficult to get around.
    The pictures reflect life. When a child is learning to speak and you talk to them about what’s happening, it isn’t always exactly clear what you’re looking at and misunderstandings do happen.
    The grammar is usually the problem with traditional language teaching styles – it chokes people. Rosetta stone uses grammar naturally – like in speech – so you pick it up naturally without frying your brain. Of course people will make mistakes and practise is necessary. That happens in life too.
    It isn’t about guessing any more than life is about guessing. When a child learns how to put together phrases, they are doing the same thing – and will make mistakes often. That’s how people learn language.
    Lastly, Rosetta stone is the least boring language programme I’ve used. I’ve used a lot and most of them are mind numbing. Those games that are fun don’t teach much. Rosetta stone does and isn’t boring.
    Yours is a very biased review, and wrong.

Leave a ReplyCancel reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.