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April 2014

Education Review: Rosetta Stone

Rosetta Stone is one of the most popular foreign language learning platforms in the world. A substitute for studying in a classroom, the program offers an intuitive learning method that mirrors the way young children pick up languages for the first time. Utilizing image association and offering no mundane grammatical rules, users of this software learn without the need for textbooks or note taking.

Rosetta Stone offers language learning software for over 30 languages, from Arabic to Vietnamese. Founded by Allen Stoltzfus, with help from his brother-in-law, Dr. John Fairfield (a PhD in computer science), their company released the first version of the Rosetta Stone software in 2003. Rosetta Stone has grown quickly ever since, due to the ever-growing popularity of the software. In 2009, the company went public. Today it grosses $252.3 million in revenue and employs over 1700 people.

According to the company, millions around the world (including 8000 corporations, 9000 public and non-profit agencies, and 20,000 educational institutions) have already benefitted from using Rosetta Stone. Recent versions also include the implementation of Rosetta Stone STUDIO, where live coaches are on hand to converse in their native languages. A smartphone app is also available to keep track of user progress.

Language learning begins immediately once you start Rosetta Stone. Users are presented with nouns and simple phrases like “cat” and “the boy walks.” Colors and numbers are slowly introduced while past material is repeated so users won’t have to force memorisation. As the user progresses, the concepts and lessons get more complex. The gradual increase in difficulty makes the software very easy to follow, so long as one uses it on a daily basis. The software is easy to use and follow, and, for many students, it provides a platform that’s more enjoyable than traditional textbook learning.

One big downside of Rosetta Stone is its high price (options of $499 for the complete set, $399 for the first three levels or $299 for a 12-month online subscription). And while the software is cheaper and more convenient than attending an actual class, results and speed-of-learning will vary depending on the student. Traditional courses still provide the strong grammatical and linguistic foundation required to truly master a language, so, if you’re seeking true fluency, Rosetta Stone may not be the most ideal method. For those looking for a quick, working grasp of a foreign language (for travel or business), Rosetta Stone may be ideal.

Of course, there are cheaper alternatives to Rosetta Stone if learning at home is the path for you. Other popular language learning methods include the Pimsleur Method and the Michel Thomas Method. Both of these learning systems utilize listening and eschew the visuals. Which works best for you really depends on your preference in learning style.

Have you learned a foreign language with Rosetta Stone? What did you think of it? Let us know on our Facebook page and be sure to “like” TELC English for more reviews of language learning programs!