Top Result for “Language Learning” = Rosetta Stone

I just put in “language learning” at Google, and discovered that the top result is Rosetta Stone. Seeing it made me curious – what do you folks think of the software? I’ve used it before, and didn’t much like it. Perhaps I didn’t spend enough time with it, though. I’m admittedly turned off a bit by the fact that, unless I’m mistaken, you can go through all of the levels for any language they offer, and never see “hello”, “how are you”, etc. If I’m wrong about that, though, someone please correct me!

By |2008-05-21T12:37:54+00:00May 21st, 2008|Software|14 Comments


  1. Sakaya May 21, 2008 at 12:56 pm - Reply

    I agree. It’s lack of useful content, combined with the fact you have to do it all with pictures which can sometimes be confusing in themselves, made me give up on it.

  2. anka May 21, 2008 at 3:38 pm - Reply

    I didn’t like it either. Mostly because it borders too closely on the idea of no-effort language learning which I find a waste of time. Rosetta leaves you clicking pretty pictures of horses and honestly, I think much more can be done by traditional methods in the same amount of time.

    And besides though it’s not directly connected to Rosetta, in my humble opinion, language learning is about forcing your lazy brain to overstep its’ boundries. No-effort methods make it less fun. Learning in your sleep I find immoral. Now you can call me a full-blown weirdo. 🙂


  3. Josh May 21, 2008 at 5:42 pm - Reply

    Sakaya, Anka: Sounds like you both had similar feelings as me. I felt like the time I spent clicking pictures could be better spent doing another language learning activity. While I understand where they’re coming from, that as a child we learn languages by seeing things and hearing people talk about them, how do you see nobility? Thoughtfulness? A million other abstract ideas, concepts?

    Agreed, also, Anka, specifically on the fact that I’ve yet to find any “no effort” language learning methods that actually work. Assimil has proven fairly painless, but I wouldn’t call it “no effort.” I’m acquiring a decent passive knowledge of French via Assimil, but it’s going to take a lot more effort to get to where I can actually say something.

  4. steph May 22, 2008 at 6:02 pm - Reply

    I have been using a free site called for Spanish! I really like the site as they offer alot of tools for free…flashcards, videos, forums and social networking. They also offer tutoring sessions via video chat (these have a fee associated with the tutor you choose) but it’s VERY affordable when compared to Rosetta Stone and I like that the site is interactive and that really helps me learn much better than just using software! Just my opinion! Check it out

  5. Rebecka May 23, 2008 at 3:41 am - Reply

    I don’t like it at all. I tried it briefly for Arabic and just got annoyed and bored with it. I don’t like the “no effort” approach either, I prefer to feast my eyes on a grammar book.

  6. Josh May 23, 2008 at 11:02 pm - Reply

    Rebecka: Same here. I don’t do well with no grammar explanation at all, having to rely solely on “feeling” the right endings or whatever. I don’t want to have to guess, I want to be able to turn to page 351, examine table b, and see that yes, indeed, the dative plural ending for… well, you get the point. 😉

  7. Josh May 24, 2008 at 9:04 pm - Reply

    Steph: Not to be a grump, but… you work for the company (Education Revolution) that makes, right? At least, that’s what the email address you used tells me (ends in While it’s certainly possible you’re actually using the site for your Spanish, it would’ve been nice if you would have pointed out that you do indeed work for the company that is making the site you’re plugging.

  8. GeoffB May 24, 2008 at 10:17 pm - Reply

    Right now, I’m working through Le Breton sans peine and L’Espagnol sans peine from Assimil. The Breton has a bunch of country folk who hang around the café/tobacco shop. The Spanish has amusing conversations and lots to say about tapas, the food culture, etc. When I did Using French while living in France, not only did the language make more sense; the people did too.

    With Rosetta Stone, it seems like you get a similar batch of pictures, regardless of the language, and they’re all rooted in giving a little vocabulary and illustrating structures. There’s no connection between the language and the culture of the people who speak it. It’s not just that hello and how are you are missing. It’s that the language seems to exist as a way of pointing to things over there, not communicating with another human being.

    I’ve never gotten far enough with Rosetta Stone to know the full content, and maybe there’s something there I’ve missed. But for the money, I think there are a lot of better ways to go. You can get the Teach Yourself and the Routledge Colloquial – with audio! – plus a dictionary, a grammar book and one or two music CDs for the language you’re studying and still have money left for a nice dinner, compared to Rosetta Stone. (And, if you’re lucky, you can find a discounted Assimil on Amazon to go with it.)

    You can add me to the list of people who aren’t impressed with Rosetta Stone.

  9. anka May 25, 2008 at 4:02 pm - Reply

    It seems most language geeks aren’t

  10. Johanna June 26, 2008 at 2:08 pm - Reply

    Same for me. I have tested Rosetta Stone for several languages and what I found most troubling was the fact that they use the same pictures for all the languages… Like, you would see exactly the same horse in Arabic than you would see in Spanish. It’s understandable from an economic point of view but what I was missing most is actually picking up each individual culture along with the language as you learn it. Because that is what makes foreign languages so lively and that’s what I’m learning them for!

    GeoffB: for Spanish, I recommend the “Notes in Spanish” podcast. It’s for free and the conversations are really fun to listen to and teach you useful words for everyday use. The company website also offers transcripts and other tools, but I haven’t tried them yet.

  11. Tammi Shoemaker February 9, 2009 at 5:06 pm - Reply

    I have been looking for software that teaches relevant content that also has grammar lessons to back it up. Most everything on the market is half baked at best. However I did come across a new software that seems to be totally unique: PeanutButter language learning software has videos such as “Going to the bus stop” and “About the weekend” that feature closed captioned style text at the bottom in English, the target language and an awesome “word by word” text that really helps pick up sentence structure and vocabulary at the same time. The software is not ready yet, but you can download a free teaser on their website. I found the teaser on youtube too:

    Has anyone ever seen something like this?

  12. Josh February 10, 2009 at 5:56 pm - Reply

    Hi Tammi,

    I checked out the teaser video, and the way they repeat the sentence, along with showing the breakdown of the sentence, reminds me a bit of how Michel Thomas goes about teaching a language.

    Regarding software in general, I’ve never found anything that impressed me much. However, I swear by Anki, but of course, you have to enter your own stuff into that. 🙂

  13. Tamara S November 3, 2010 at 11:24 am - Reply

    I am a Spanish high school teacher. I use lots of different tools to teach my students Spanish. I just recently learned that our new superintendent LOVES Rosetta Stone and is considering turning all of our classrooms into Rosetta Stone only so they can save money by doing away with the teachers. In High School learning there are standards that have to be met. Some of the general standards are Connections (to other curriculcum such as studying the vocabulary to talk about the history of the Inca, etc), Culture, and Community (making connections with the community with your Spanish). I’ve never used Rosetta Stone so I don’t know how it would work. Our superintendent also feels that high school Spanish should be purely conversational and that college is the appropriate place for grammar explanations. We are truly fighting for our students and our jobs. My daughter is a student at this school and I do NOT believe this is in the best interest of the students. I wouldn’t have been able to learn just by a computer. Can you give me any insight?

  14. Derek October 18, 2014 at 1:26 pm - Reply

    I just wanted to take a moment to correct you, that Rosetta Stone _does_ include “Hello” and “How are you?” in the German Level 1. (I’m not sure why no one has pointed this out after six years?) In fact, I feel dopey with the sequence of cells that goes, “Hallo, Mama”, “Hallo, Papa”, “Hallo, Oma”, “Hallo, Opa”, etc. But they certainly are present! As is “Wie geht es dir?”, “Wie geht es Ihnen?” and a variety of responses from “I’m good” to “I’m feeling tired.”

    I agree with some of the criticisms of having the same content for every language, and that there is no grammar instruction. The student is often left having to figure out what Rosetta Stone is trying to teach them on their own, and the changes in sentence order once you get away from S-V-O (which I’ve had plenty of practice with in English) aren’t easily rationalized.

    With practice the responses become almost instinctive. I see this as a negative with the content, since I’ve clearly memorized the prompts/answers which makes Rosetta Stone boring after awhile, However, I see it as positive when conversing in German as I find words roll out without having to go through English-German translation steps in my mind (although I still have to think carefully about my declinations and word order).

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