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Busuu vs Rosetta Stone
See which language learning app wins in this detailed Rosetta Stone vs Busuu comparison
Busuu and Rosetta Stone are two of the most popular language learning platforms in the entire world, and as a result, a lot of people have a difficult time deciding which one to go with. While both programs certainly share a few similarities, they also differ in several distinct (and important) ways. In this comparison, we break down those differences in detail so you can figure out which language app is best for your specific needs and budget.
As this is a detailed and lengthy comparison, please use the jump-to links above to quickly navigate through this article.
Video Review: Busuu or Rosetta Stone?
In the above video, team member John covers how the language learning apps from Rosetta Stone and Busuu stack up. He covers each program’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as where they differ. Please continue reading for more detail.
Let’s start this comparison by taking a look at the key similarities and differences between these apps in terms of lesson format and overall program structure. I’ll begin with Rosetta Stone.
Their language courses and lessons definitely favor visual learners. The majority of your time will be spent listening to a word or phrase, repeating that word or phrase, and then matching it up to the correct image.
The best way to describe the lessons and drills from Rosetta Stone is that they’re like interactive flashcards, mostly without translations or English directions.
You have to rely on visual cues, intuition, and inference as you slowly learn the language principles necessary to move on to the next lesson or unit. That said, it is worth noting that Rosetta Stone did recently add translations to their lessons if you want them (they are hidden by default to preserve the immersion learning element).
Of course, beyond the standard lessons, Rosetta Stone also offers a nice suite of other learning tools and resources such as live coaching, stories, phrasebooks, and more. We’ll discuss these resources in more detail below, as this is one of the best parts about Rosetta Stone.
Then moving over to Busuu, their lessons are much more diverse in terms of drills and exercises (similar to the Babbel lessons). Each lesson takes around 5 to 10 minutes to complete and moves very swiftly across interactive drills.
All of your lessons in the Busuu program are housed under the “Learn” tab at the top, and are ordered in a very neat, path-like manner (similar to how Duolingo does it). It’s very easy to follow and they guide you from lesson to lesson.
And as for the lessons themselves, as noted, they are very fast moving. There is probably 10 to 15 rapid fire drills per lesson. These exercises include fill-in-the-blanks, multiple choice questions, matching pairs, and sentence puzzles, just to name a few.
In some instances, you’ll even record yourself answering a question or replying to a prompt, which then gets submitted to the Busuu community for feedback.
Additionally, every few lessons, you’re urged to review the words and phrases you’ve learned up to that point (more on this later). Overall, it’s just an extremely swift, blended learning approach.
Pricing & Subscription Options
Rosetta Stone offers three different subscription options: 3-month, 12-month and lifetime.
The 3- and 12-month plans include access to just one language and cost around $8 to $12 dollars per month (after discounts), while the lifetime plan grants you access to all the languages Rosetta Stone covers and costs around $200 total (similar to the Babbel German plans).
Busuu is different than Rosetta Stone in that they actually offer a free plan, but as you might expect with anything that is free, this plan does come with some serious limitations.
Accordingly, most folks elect to upgrade to the Busuu premium plan, which costs around $7 to $14 per month, depending on the length of the package you purchase.
All in all, pricing between these companies is very close, especially on a monthly basis.
However, if you are looking for a lifetime membership or access to multiple languages, Rosetta Stone is the way to go. For $200, their lifetime subscription is an absolute bargain.
I should add also that both companies do offer a money back guarantee, so you can always kick the tires before fully committing.
Why Rosetta Stone Is Better Than Busuu
Now that we’ve touched on lesson format and pricing, let’s talk about the strengths of the Rosetta Stone language courses in relation to Busuu.
More Language Options
The first pro in Rosetta Stone’s favor is the simple fact they cover more languages than Busuu (Rosetta has 25 in total). By comparison, Busuu only offers courses for 14 languages.
This means if you’re looking to learn Korean, Swedish, Vietnamese, Dutch, or a number of other languages, then chances are Rosetta Stone is the (only) answer.
Speech Recognition Technology
Another feature I like about Rosetta Stone is their TruAccent speech recognition technology, which is a tool the company has spent years building.
During the Rosetta lessons, when you’re asked to repeat words or phrases, fill in blanks, or interpret what’s happening in the different images you see, the company’s TruAccent technology is listening.
Then, if you mispronounce a word or phrase, the speech tool will prompt you to say it again until you get it right.
To be clear, Busuu does not employ a speech recognition tool like this. Instead, the Busuu verbal exercises rely on the community for pronunciation feedback, which can be an issue for multiple reasons.
First, users do not receive immediate feedback like they do with Rosetta Stone. It can take hours or even days to get your feedback with Busuu.
Second, the feedback you do receive can vary as the Busuu users who are correcting your work are fluent in the target language, but not necessarily English. Therefore, occasionally, the feedback can be difficult to understand.
Also, from time to time, you will receive different corrections from different people. Thus, you have to give Rosetta Stone and their TruAccent technology credit.
It’s definitely nice to receive immediate, consistent feedback on your pronunciation. This could be especially helpful for students studying for the AP Spanish exam.
Great For Visual Learners
Simply put, Rosetta Stone is great for visual learners. That isn’t to say that Busuu is bad for visual people. Not at all. As you learn later in this comparison, Busuu actually leverages video within their lessons.
But because nearly every one of Rosetta Stone’s exercises involve images, visual learners will excel with this program.
Unlike most language learning apps, the Rosetta Stone program is extremely light when it comes to the use of English for directions and translations.
Now to be clear, you can turn on translations within the Rosetta Stone app if you want, however, they are hidden by default in order to maintain the immersive experience. And the company obviously does this on purpose.
The idea here is to simulate the natural language learning process, almost as if you are a toddler just starting to learn English for the first time. As such, the format of the Rosetta Stone lessons really forces you pick up the language based on visual cues, repetition, and your own intuition (this holds true for the Rosetta Stone French course as well).
In my opinion, this type of learning framework is extremely effective. Sometimes when there is too much use of English within lessons, it actually curtails the learning process (especially when learning Italian).
Special Stories Feature
One of my favorite aspects about Rosetta Stone is the Stories feature found within the “All Content” or “Extended Learning” sections of the web and mobile apps.
These stories are set up sort of like mini-podcasts, but with transcripts, and they cover all sorts of different topics. And new stories become available as you complete more units and your skill level increases.
Not only do these stories serve as a fun change of pace from the standard Rosetta Stone lessons, they are also a great way to improve your listening and reading skills. Plus, if you want, you can record yourself reading the story after to see how you stack up pronunciation wise to the actual moderator.
Tons of Useful Tools & Resources
Beyond the Stories feature, Rosetta Stone offers a ton of other resources as well. This is really what really sets Rosetta Stone apart from other language learning companies, including Busuu.
It just feels like Rosetta Stone offers a complete suite of learning tools and is really invested in your fluency journey. This includes on-demand videos, phrasebooks, live lessons, coaching, audio companion downloads, and more.
Other than the Stories feature, I’m a big fan of the Live Lessons, which are half-hour livestream sessions led by Rosetta Stone tutors. These sessions cover all sorts of interesting topics, and an easy way to interact with your peers and learn from experienced language teachers.
Plus, the great thing about Busuu’s grammar lessons is that they don’t hit you over the head with long, complex explanations (i.e. no textbook-style lessons).
Instead, Busuu typically just provides a short, straightforward explanation, followed by a couple easy-to-understand examples, and then a few drills and exercises to ensure you comprehend the concept at hand.
All in all, it’s just a very streamlined, simplified way of teaching grammar content.
With that said, it’s important to note that grammar instruction is a sensitive subject within the world of language learning. Many linguists actually believe that immersion (the Rosetta Stone method) is actually more effective than strict grammar instruction during the early stages of language acquisition. It just depends which side of the fence you sit on.
Personalized Review Sessions
Another unique feature about Busuu is the fact they create personalized review sessions for each learner using artificial intelligence. Utilizing data from the drills and quizzes within lessons, the company’s algorithm calculates each person’s strengths and weaknesses.
This way, when you’re reminded to review every few lessons, you know you’re being presented with the words, phrases and grammar principles you need the most help with.
The algorithm also uses a decay metric and spaced repetition system to ensure you’re reviewing the right vocabulary at the right time for the sake of moving vocabulary from your short-term memory to your long-term memory.
The Busuu Community
Lastly, I was impressed with the community Busuu has built among its user base. Not only is it easy to make new friends and connect with other learners, but I also love the feedback system Busuu has integrated into their courses.
As mentioned above, as you complete lessons, some of your verbal and written practice exercises are posted to the Busuu community for feedback.
For example, in one of my Spanish lessons, I was asked to verbally respond to the prompt, “¿De dónde eres?” or in other words, “where are you from?”.
I then recorded myself answering the question and within 90 minutes, two fluent Spanish speakers, Emanuel and Adrian, answered with feedback regarding my answer and pronunciation.
I was stunned at how quickly other users were willing to review my work. I think it’s great how large and supportive the Busuu community is.
However, as I mentioned earlier, this can also become a problem if you rely too heavily on the feedback of other users. After all, the people you are receiving feedback from are not experts, tutors, or teachers. They’re learning the language just like you are, so the feedback can be prone to human error.
Verdict: Rosetta Stone or Busuu For Language Learning?
Knowing what you do now about each program, the question remains: which language app is better? Busuu or Rosetta Stone?
Well, after thoroughly using and evaluating the courses from both companies, I think Rosetta Stone is the winner. Compared to Busuu, I just think they offer the more complete and effective language learning program from top to bottom.
Sure, Busuu scores points in a couple key areas, but ultimately, it’s just tough to beat Rosetta Stone when you consider all the factors, especially their speech recognition technology and all the bonus resources and tools they provide.
All in all, I just think Rosetta Stone is the way to go if you’re serious about learning a new language.
Which language program is better, Busuu or Rosetta Stone?
After testing each language program, our team thinks Rosetta Stone offers the more complete language learning courses. Busuu scores high marks, but in the end, we found Rosetta Stone to be more effective.
Is it possible to try Rosetta Stone or Busuu before buying?
Yes, Rosetta Stone offers a free three-day trial. Busuu, on the other hand, actually offers a free plan for users. Both companies also offer money back guarantees.
What is the difference between Busuu and Rosetta Stone?
The lessons from Rosetta Stone rely on an immersive experience utilizing images and recorded audio, whereas the lessons from Busuu are more diverse in terms of practice drills, and include English directions and translations.