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Babbel vs Rosetta Stone

Detailed comparison that breaks down how the language learning programs from Babbel and Rosetta Stone differ, and which is better

Once you’ve decided to learn a new language, the most important step is often determining which language learning program to go with. This decision point is especially difficult when the options you’re considering are Babbel and Rosetta Stone, two of the biggest and most popular language learning software programs in the world. In this guide, we call out the subtle differences between these two programs, provide our thoughts on each, and ultimately, declare a winner.

  • Price
  • Lesson Length
  • Verbal Practice
  • Speech Recognition Software
  • Languages Covered
  • Grammar Instruction
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    • $8-$15/mo
    • 10-15 Minutes
    • Moderate Focus
    • 14
    • Layered Into Lessons
  • Rosetta Stone Sale: 60% OFF Deal Ends Soon
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    • $10-$15/mo
    • 10-30 Minutes
    • Moderate Focus
    • 25
    • Light Focus

Outline: Rosetta Stone vs Babbel

As this is a lengthy comparison, we’ve provided  jump-to links above so you can easily navigate to the section you’d like to read.

Video Review: Which Language App Is Better?

In the video above, team member John summarizes the key differences between Rosetta Stone and Babbel, and advises as to which our team thinks is better. For more detailed analysis, find our full written comparison below.



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Our Score


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  • Babbel's program leverages a wide variety of drills that are fun and engaging
  • Lessons go super fast, taking just 10 to 15 minutes to complete
  • Babbel uses English directions and translations (Rosetta Stone does not)
  • Quick-hit daily review sessions are highly effective for language learning
  • Fast and accurate speech recognition technology
  • Babbel places less emphasis on practicing speaking than Rosetta Stone
  • Limited language covered (only 14)
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What The Babbel Lessons Are Like

Let’s kick this comparison off by covering the format and structure of Babbel’s core lessons. That way you can start to form an idea of what their language courses are like, and whether they will be a good match for your specific learning style (regardless of whether you want to learn Italian, French, or any other popular language).

With Babbel, their core lessons are a little shorter than Rosetta Stone’s. Each one only takes about 10 to 15 minutes to complete, and they go by super fast.

This is largely because each lesson is made up of several quick-hit, interactive drills and exercises.

babbel program
The Babbel program is comprised of fun, quick-hit drills

You’ll generally start with an exercise where you listen to new words or phrases, and then repeat them. Then the lesson will quickly transition into a digital flashcards drill for a few minutes, before moving into a short grammar or conjugation lesson.

From there, you might be asked to reconstruct words or phrases by typing them in on your keyboard, and finally you’ll be asked to complete a fill-in-the-blank exercise by following a mock conversation. Again, each lesson varies but this gives you can idea of the different types of drills that Babbel offers.

It’s just a very fast moving, hybrid approach with a variety of drills and exercises. And as you will find out later in this comparison, this isn’t necessarily the case with Rosetta Stone.

Strengths Of The Babbel Language App

So now that you have a general idea of how the Babbel language programs work, let’s dive into the strengths of their courses, and what types of learners or situations they may be best for.

Variety Of Exercises & Drills

The first major pro has to be the variety of Babbel’s lessons, drills and exercises. I love how they present the same content to you in a variety of different ways, and all within a short time frame.

The lessons force you to interact with the material through several different perspectives including listening, speaking, reading, and writing. And as a result, not only do you get experience with all these mediums, but you also don’t get bored with the lessons.

babbel drill
There is a wide variety of drills and exercises with Babbel

They’re genuinely fun, and Babbel does a great job keeping your attention. And if I’m being totally honest, I can’t necessarily say the same about Rosetta Stone. Sometimes their matching words to pictures exercises can become a little repetitive and boring (especially when trying to learn German).

I wish Rosetta followed Babbel’s lead here and offered a little more variety within their lessons, sort of like how Pimsleur does it as well.

The bottom line is that I just really appreciated the swift, interactive nature of Babbel’s lessons, and I think most folks out there will too.

RELATED: Babbel vs Duolingo Comparison

English Directions And Translations

The second highlight of the Babbel program is that their lessons leverage English directions and translations. Babbel will even give you hints in English if you’re struggling in a drill or exercise.

Now I know Rosetta Stone is a big believer in 100% immersion – meaning no use of English within the lessons. Although I would note that they have recently started adding English translations in their mobile app for select languages and lessons.

But in any event, I’ve found that the use of English for directions and translations can be truly helpful. If we’re being honest, in today’s internet age we’re all used to having the answers to everything in the palm of our hands.

It’s almost become second nature at this point. So not having translations in Rosetta Stone’s program can become annoying and frustrating, especially during the early stages of language acquisition.

At the end of the day, I can see the merit in Rosetta’s Stone argument – of course you’re probably going to learn quicker if your feet are held to the fire – but I also think that might lead to some frustration for some learners.

Ultimately, I appreciate Babbel’s limited use of English to help keep the lessons moving and keep users from pulling their hair out if they get stuck on a particular drill or exercise.

Integration Of Grammar Into Lessons

The last pro in favor of Babbel is that they incorporate grammar content into their lessons, which is something that Rosetta Stone doesn’t really emphasize that heavily. I really like that Babbel doesn’t bog you down with dense, boring grammatical principles.

Some linguists are huge believers in heavy grammar teachings from an early start, but sometimes I actually think that can do more harm than good when you’re first learning a new language.

babbel grammar
We love the way Babbel incorporates grammar into their lessons

Babbel integrates grammar instruction into their lessons in a very subtle and efficient way.

For example, one grammar exercise might include just a quick one- to two-sentence explanation in English regarding adjectives vs adverbs, and then you participate by filling in blanks in example sentences.

Then as you get to more complex exercises, you’ll be asked to draft complete translations. But as I referenced a moment ago, Babbel is always right there to provide hints and translations to ensure you understand.

Rosetta Stone

Rosetta Stone

  • 25 Languages
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  • 25 Languages
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Our Score


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  • Lessons place a heavy emphasis on speaking & pronunciation (more so than Babbel)
  • Rosetta Stone’s voice recognition technology is great
  • Grammar developed intuitively through drills and assigned work
  • We love the supplemental resources (phrasebooks, on-demand videos, and stories)
  • Lots of graphics and images throughout lessons (great for visual learners)
  • Lesson exercises can be boring and repetitive (matching phrases to pictures)
  • Limited use of English explanations and translations can be frustrating
  • Wish there was more conversational practice incorporated into coursework
Rosetta Stone
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What The Rosetta Stone Lessons Are Like

Let’s switch gears now and talk about Rosetta Stone’s lessons. Contrasting with Babbel’s lessons, Rosetta Stone’s take right around an hour or so to complete from start to finish.

Each lesson contains one core, 30-minute learning module and 3 to 5 supplemental drills that are typically 5 to 10 minutes in length.

These follow-on drills cover pronunciation, listening, reading and writing. But when you really boil it down, the Rosetta Stone lessons and drills are essentially a combination of images and audio.

rosetta stone flashcards
The Rosetta Stone lessons lean heavily on imagery

You’ll spend most of your time listening to a word or phrase, repeating the word or phrase, and matching it up to a corresponding image. Think of the lessons and drills as variations of interactive flashcards if you will.

For example, let’s say you’re learning Portuguese. You’ll listen to a native speaker who says “menino come” and then you’ll click an image of a little boy eating a sandwich to match the two up.

The whole idea is that you have to rely on visual cues, intuition and inference as you slowly acquire the language content necessary to move on to the next lesson or unit.

You’ll start with one- or two-word building blocks, and then advance to longer, more grammatically complex sentences as you reach the higher levels.

So taking a step back, that’s how the two companies’ lessons compare. The key takeaway here to remember is that with Babbel, their lessons are much shorter, incorporate a larger variety of drills and exercises, and frequently leverage English translations and directions to ensure you understand what’s going on.

By contrast, the Rosetta Stone lessons are longer, include little to no English translations, and place a greater emphasis on imagery. You need to rely more on visual cues and inference.

Strengths Of The Rosetta Stone Program

Having covered what the Rosetta Stone lessons are actually like, let’s jump into our thoughts of the Rosetta Stone program.

Voice Recognition Technology

The first strength of this program is that during lessons, Rosetta Stone utilizes what they call their TruAccent voice recognition technology. This is something the company has spent years developing, and it is very good.

When you’re asked to repeat words or phrases, fill in blanks, or otherwise describe what’s happening in the various images you see during the lessons, Rosetta’s TruAccent technology listens to you speak. If you mispronounce a word or phrase, it will prompt you to say it again until you get it right.

rosetta stone exercise
The Rosetta Stone voice recognition tech is awesome

To be clear, it’s definitely not a perfect system, or a substitute for speaking with another human being. But all things considered, it’s actually pretty accurate (being right up there with Rocket Spanish for best in the space).

To be fair to Babbel here, they also employ their own voice recognition technology during verbal drills, which is fairly good as well. So this is not to give the impression that this is an overwhelming win for Rosetta Stone.

Still, I have to hand it to their voice recognition technology – it’s about as close as you can come to getting pronunciation feedback from a real person.

Better For Visual Learners

The second advantage of Rosetta Stone’s program is that their lessons favor visual learners a little more than Babbel. The Babbel lessons do make use of images and graphics; however, it seems like it’s more of a priority in the Rosetta Stone lessons.

rosetta stone speaking
With their heavy use of images, Rosetta Stone is good for visual learners

As mentioned, Rosetta is big on making you learn through visual cues, intuition and inference. In my eyes, this really this boils down to personal preference. For some, this might not be a big deal, but for others who learn best through imagery, Rosetta Stone has the leg up on Babbel.

Live Coaching

The final strength that I would like to note here is that Rosetta Stone offers live coaching to its customers. To be clear, you do have to pay extra for coaching – this isn’t included in their standard subscription packages.

However, there’s often no better way to learn a new language than through 1-on-1 coaching or tutoring. And the nice thing about going through Rosetta Stone is that their coaches work in tandem with the core lessons and know what level you’re currently at.

In that respect, you’re sort of getting customized coaching sessionsThe coaches help you perfect your pronunciation, provide clarity around grammar rules, and perhaps most importantly, offer encouragement to keep you motivated.

Overall, it’s just a very valuable service that you should consider taking advantage of, if you have the funds in your budget.

Cost Comparison

Finally, before we jump into our verdict, let’s compare pricing and affordability as that’s always an important decision factor for learners.

In short, both companies offer multiple subscription options. Starting with Babbel, they offer four different subscription plans in total, all of which include access to one selected language (of their 14 languages to choose from). Here are their plans:

  • The 3-month plan ($12-15 per month)
  • The 6-month plan ($10-13 per month)
  • The 12-month plan ($8-10 per month)
  • The Lifetime plan costs $350 and includes access to all Babbel languages

Rosetta Stone, on the other hand, offers three different options: a 3-month, 12-month and lifetime subscription. The 3- and 12-month plans only include access to one language, whereas the lifetime plan grants you access to all 25 Rosetta Stone languages. Here is the price breakdown on those:

  • The 3-month plan ($16 per month)
  • The 12-month plan ($14 per month)
  • The lifetime plan (costs around $200)

To be clear, Rosetta Stone and Babbel both frequently offers sales so the prices listed above are often discounted by 40%, if not more.

Overall, you can see pricing between the two companies is very close here. In fact, it’s almost a tie. But if we want to get technical, Babbel does edge out Rosetta Stone as the winner. Their monthly plans are about $2 to $4 cheaper on average per month (after discounts and promo codes).

I would also note though that companies give consumers the chance to test their programs before fully committing. Rosetta Stone offers a free 3-day trial period and a 30-day money back guarantee, while Babbel has a 20-day money back guarantee if you’re not satisfied.

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Verdict: Babbel Or Rosetta Stone To Learn A New Language?

Now that we’ve covered all the important matters in detail in this comparison, let’s get to the final verdict. Should you choose Babbel or Rosetta Stone?

Well, after testing each program, I have to give the edge to Babbel. In my opinion, they offer the more effective language learning course.

Rosetta Stone certainly has their strengths, but ultimately, a few things push Babbel over the top for me. I love that Babbel’s lessons are much shorter on average – not everyone has a spare 45 minutes to an hour to give each day. I also love that they offer a greater variety of drills and exercises, which makes their lessons more engaging and fun.

The Rosetta Stone lessons can just be a little monotonous at times. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that Babbel is the slightly more affordable option on a monthly basis as well.

All in all, our team found Babbel to be the better overall program from top to bottom. If your goal is to obtain an elementary to intermediate understanding of a new language, I’d select Babbel as my preferred language learning app.

READ NEXT: Babbel vs Busuu Comparison


What is the difference between Babbel and Rosetta Stone?

The primary difference between Babbel and Rosetta Stone is lesson format. The lessons from Babbel are more comprehensive and engaging than the repetitive, image-heavy lessons from Rosetta Stone.

How do Babbel and Rosetta Stone compare?

Although Babbel and Rosetta Stone are similar in terms of popularity among consumers, the two companies employ different learning frameworks. Rosetta Stone takes an immersive approach to teaching foreign languages that relies on visual cues and intuition, whereas Babbel offers more balanced lessons that touch on reading, writing, speaking, and listening.

Which is better, Babbel or Rosetta Stone?

After a thorough review of the language learning courses from both Babbel and Rosetta Stone, we have to give the edge to Babbel as the better language program (albeit a narrow victory). Their language courses overall are just more engaging and effective than Rosetta Stone’s.

Which language app is cheaper, Rosetta Stone or Babbel?

Though basically a tie, Babbel offers slightly more affordable subscriptions plans than Rosetta Stone. On average, Babbel is about $2 to $4 cheaper per month than Rosetta Stone.

Babbel or Rosetta Stone for learning Spanish?

Having closely reviewed the Spanish courses from both Babbel and Rosetta Stone, we believe Babbel holds an advantage over Rosetta Stone for the better Spanish language learning program. Their Spanish course is more diverse and well-rounded than Rosetta Stone’s.