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Rosetta Stone Review: Our Honest Review

Thinking about using Rosetta Stone to learn a new language? Don't do anytthing until you read this honest review.

In this comparison guide, we’ll share how Rosetta Stone works, who it’s for, and how Rype is different. We’ll cover topics like Rosetta Stone’s core learning method, effectiveness, personalization, accountability, and much more. Enjoy!

What is Rosetta Stone?

Rosetta Stone has been around for several decades, and is a mainstream product for language learners today. It started by offering CD programs and has now transitioned into mobile and desktop applications, and online language instructions.


Today it offers over 28 different languages and it’s often compared to similar solutions like Duolingo, Berlitz, Pimsleur and several others. The claim to have put in deep scientific research and development into their language curriculum, which they use to justify the high price of their program.

The core premise of Rosetta Stone states that it’s about “learning a new language the way you learned your first.” But the problem is that as adults, we learn differently than the way we would have as a child growing up, and our brains have certainly changed as well.

In short, learning through a software app has not only been proven to be ineffective, but it doesn’t have the immersive accountability factor you need to maintain your progress.

Rosetta Stone Online Reviews

Rosetta Stone reviews have been very mixed over the past decade. While they seem to have reached mainstream scale given the number of years they have been around, their biggest criticism is the price to value ratio.

Using a combination of games, algorithmic speech recognition, and photographs, Rosetta Stone is simply a software program that incurs very little cost to create and operate.

We don’t want to sound bias by expressing our sole opinion, which is why we’ve found Rosetta Stone reviews from popular polyglots:

“While there are aspects of Rosetta Stone I do like… I simply can’t recommend the system to people. The one-size-fits-all content you cover is everywhere (audio, games, courses, what guides live spoken lessons) and what the whole system rests upon.” -Benny Lewis, Fluentin3months.com

“The software still has its astronomical price tag even for the endangered language programs which is just going to create another deterrent for indigenous people wanting to help their own language.” -Donovan Nagel, MezzoGuild.com

“Rosetta Stone doesn’t work for most people.” -Brent Van Arsdell, Language101.com

To further explore the reviews that Rosetta Stone has received over the years, we’ll need to dig into how Rosetta Stone works.

How Rosetta Stone Works

Similar to Duolingo, Babbel, and similar language instruction courses, Rosetta Stone uses visual illustrations to teach you a language. The specific formattings include direct translations, fill in the blanks, and multiple choice questions.

rosetta reviews

What’s distinctively unique about Rosetta Stone’s method is that they don’t use your native language to teach you. It’s the only language solution out there that we’ve found to use this type of method.

While there’s no research-backed data to show whether or not this method is useful, it certainly puts a barrier for new beginners who don’t know the target language. All they’ve done is use images, text, and audio in the target language you’re using.

Another learning philosophy that Rosetta Stone claims to use is the Input Hypothesis that Stephen Krashen popularized in the 20th century. In short, it emphasizes easing into the language instead of diving into it, which is the appeal for most learners.

In the words of Benny Lewis, “If you compare it to easing yourself into cold water, I consider the amount you would learn in [Rosetta Stone] of 3 levels equivalent to dipping a toe in, rather than slowly easing your whole body or at least your legs in.”

The program has also developed or leverages technology like speech recognition to help you receive feedback on your accents and speaking skills. However, it’s incomparable to a real human being, and the accuracy of the technology is questionable according to several polyglots and students.


Now that we’ve gone over the basics of how Rosetta Stone works, and its learning philosophies, let’s review Rosetta Stone’s pros and cons.

Pros of Rosetta Stone

1. Reinforce classifiers

For languages like Mandarin, where classifiers is key, Rosetta Stone does a good job reinforcing them in the beginning of their sessions. This is the underlying philosophy of the Input Hypothesis at work.

2. They offer live language lessons

The best feature that Rosetta Stone does offer is their live 1-on-1 language lessons that come with their program. According to Benny Lewis, the availabilities appear to be limited especially if you live in the East Coast region. But at least they’ve incorporated a learning method that’s probably the most powerful out of all the solutions, human-based interactions.

Cons of Rosetta Stone

1. Overpriced

As we previously mentioned, for what you get in the program, it is still an overpriced solution. They used to charge over $700 for their software courses, and have recently brought it down to the few hundreds given the backlash.

Nevertheless Rosetta Stone reviews online have been critically acclaimed to be an overpriced solution.

Update May 2019: Rosetta Stone has recently changed their pricing towards a cloud-based subscription model to match similar competitive offers out there.

2. No use of native language

While some argue this could be a benefit, it does make it much harder for new beginners to get comfortable. Momentum is critical when you’re learning any new skill for the first time.

3. Lack of cultural relevance and personalization

Given the generality of their instructional course, Rosetta Stone struggles with the same problem that other language instructional programs face. Lack of personalization and cultural relevancy.

There are many parts within the application that use cliche and political translations of different cultures. When you’re learning a language, you want to feel like you’re immersed in the culture of the language you’re learning. With standard stock photos being used, it gives you an experience that feels more traditional rather than modern.

In any language, there’s much more than meets the eye. For example, there’s a massive difference between Australian English and American English in terms of accents, slang words, and vocabulary. Same thing applies for Spanish, French, German, and just about every language.

In a one-size-fits-all software solution, it’s impossible to deliver the content you need for your specific situation. If you’re learning a language to speak with other native speakers, distinguishing the subtleties of political correct terminology, informal slang, and cultural relevancy is everything. And it can only be mastered with another native speaker.

Is Rosetta Stone worth the cost?

So this begs the question, is Rosetta Stone worth the cost?

While we may be more bias, we’ve researched the opinions and reviews of students and polyglots online. Many suggesting that it’s not worth the price. There are many cheaper alternatives, and even free applications that offer similar, if not faster outcomes.

Rosetta Stone can be a useful tool if you use it regularly, but it’s not a stand-alone solution. We advise you to look at other reviews online beforehand. More importantly, reflect on the opportunity costs that come with spending time and money on a solution that may or may not work for you.


A Better Alternative to Rosetta Stone

We hope this Rosetta Stone review guide was useful for you in making the right decision.

In addition, we wanted to introduce you to Rype as an alternative solution to explore.

At Rype, we’ve taken what many believe is the most powerful benefit that Rosetta Stone offers (live 1-on-1 lessons), and built our core experience around it. More importantly, we’ve significantly reinvented the experience to fulfill your core needs.

We’ve primarily decided to focus on solving the 3 core issues that every language learner faces. Lack of…

  • Time
  • Quality teachers
  • Money

Members of Rype can book live 1-on-1 language lessons with a handpicked professional teacher at anytime of the day, any day of the week. Lessons at Rype are as little as 30 minutes and it takes 3 simple taps to book your lesson. Teachers are available on the same day, and you can reserve lessons whenever you’re free.


We’ve also done the hard work upfront by pre-vetting and handpicking every teacher on Rype. All teachers are required to go through a rigorous hiring process, including a live 1-on-1 video interview. This allows us to filter teachers not just around experience, but also professionality and personality.

Best of all, Rype is free to try today. We have a risk-free trial that allows you to experience different teachers we have, to choose the right one for you. Every teacher has the ability to personalize a language program that’s catered to your specific needs, goals, and proficiency level.

We encourage you to try Rype for free today, and join tens of thousands of students that have learned a language using our solution.

If you still have questions, email us at anytime: help@rypeapp.com.

We can’t wait to have you inside our family.

How Rype compares to Rosetta Stone and other language solutions

Other language reviews you may like

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