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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 easily two of the top five 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 ways. In this comparison, we break down those differences in detail so you can figure out which language app/course 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 Guide: Busuu vs 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.
How The Lessons Compare From Both Companies
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. And let’s start with Rosetta Stone.
When you really break it down, the Rosetta Stone lessons are essentially a mix of images and audio. The majority of your time will be spent listening to a word or phrase, repeating the 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 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.
Then moving over to Busuu, their lessons are much more diverse and engaging. Each lesson takes around 3 to 15 minutes to complete and is made up of three to four miniature lessons.
The first miniature lesson establishes the topic and target words, and then the ensuing miniature lessons have you practice what you just learned through a variety of drills, exercises and quizzes that cover reading, writing, speaking and listening. 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, which I found to be quite effective and engaging. To be honest, I prefer Busuu’s lessons over Rosetta Stone’s.
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, while the lifetime plan grants you access to all the languages Rosetta Stone covers and costs around $300 total.
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 either the Busuu premium plan or premium plus plan, which costs around $3 to $14 per month, depending on the length of the package you purchase.
Comparing the two companies, it’s clear that Busuu has the edge in terms of pricing, especially if you sign up for their one year or two year plan. I should add that both companies do offer a money back guarantee, so you can always kick the tires before fully committing.
Why Busuu Is Better Than Rosetta Stone
Now that you know how the two companies compare in terms of pricing and lesson format, let’s talk about the areas in which Busuu beats Rosetta Stone.
Diversity In Lessons With Video
For one, I really like the fact Busuu incorporates videos of native speakers into their lessons. This is a stark contrast to Rosetta Stone’s lessons that simply rely on images. The Rosetta lessons can become quite repetitive, while with Busuu, you actually get to see fluent speakers converse in your target language.
You can see vividly see the person speaking and observe their body language, hand gestures and facial expressions. In my opinion, this is extremely important and adds value.
I think the nonverbal aspects of communication are very telling and can help you pick up the language faster. Thus, I have to give Busuu props for going the extra mile and utilizing video, rather than simply relying on images.
Helpful Grammar Instruction
Busuu excels with integrating grammar instruction and cultural insights into their courses, which is something that Rosetta Stone doesn’t really emphasize that heavily. Every few Busuu lessons, the topic will center around an important grammar principle or rule, such as indefinite articles, demonstrative adjectives, or quantifiers.
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.
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 very 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.
Now that you understand the areas in which Busuu excels, let’s talk about the strengths of the Rosetta Stone language courses.
More Language Options
The first pro in Rosetta Stone’s favor is the simple fact they cover more languages than Busuu (over 20 in total). By comparison, Busuu only offers courses for 12 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
The second 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, and while I am a fan of their feedback system overall, there are two small issues.
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.
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 – recall that they leverage video heavily. But because nearly every one of Rosetta Stone’s exercises involve images, visual learners will excel with this program.
Knowing what you do now about each program, the question remains: which language app is better? Busuu or Rosetta Stone?
Well, after thoroughly testing and evaluating the courses from both companies, I think Busuu is the clear winner. Compared to Rosetta Stone, I simply think they offer the more complete and effective language learning program from top to bottom.
Sure, Rosetta Stone certainly scores points in a couple key areas, but ultimately, it’s just tough to beat Busuu when you consider all the factors. The Busuu lessons are much more diverse and engaging (including videos of native speakers); the grammar instruction Busuu provides is top-notch; the personalized, AI-powered review sessions are super impressive; the Busuu community is extremely helpful; and it also doesn’t hurt that Busuu is the more affordable option.
All in all, I just think Busuu 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 Busuu offers the more complete and engaging language learning course. Rosetta Stone scores high marks, but in the end, we found Busuu 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.
How do the lessons differ between Busuu and Rosetta Stone?
The lessons from Rosetta Stone primarily rely on images and recorded audio, whereas the lessons from Busuu are much more diverse, engaging and comprehensive.