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Michel Thomas vs Rosetta Stone
Determine which language learning program is best for you in this comparison of Rosetta Stone vs Michel Thomas
Rosetta Stone and Michel Thomas have both received a lot of attention over the years in the language learning industry. While Rosetta Stone has been around since the early 90’s and is probably the most widely-known language learning program in the entire world, Michel Thomas has also been around for decades, receiving a multitude of celebrity endorsements along the way. After using both programs extensively, we highlight the major features of each and explain why we think one is better.
To begin, let’s quickly cover pricing. Rosetta Stone offers three different subscription plans. Though generally priced a little higher, Rosetta Stone is fairly aggressive with their deals and discounts, and most of the time you can find their products on sale at the price levels below:
3-month subscription for $10-$14 per month
12-month subscription for $8-$12 per month
lifetime subscription (which includes access to all languages) for around $200
Michel Thomas, on the other hand, does things a little differently. They sell courses individually which range from $12 on the cheap end all the way up to $100. For example, the Intermediate Spanish course, which consists of 20 hours of content, costs $90. Alternatively, you can purchase an entire Michel Thomas language bundle for around $275.
All in all, there’s no question that Rosetta Stone is the more affordable option between the two language learning apps. Personally, I think $200 for the Rosetta Stone lifetime plan is a solid value.
Why Rosetta Stone Is Better Than Michel Thomas
Having covered the cost of these programs, let’s next discuss the major reasons to use Rosetta Stone over Michel Thomas. Then we’ll get to Michel Thomas’ wins in the next section.
Ideal For Visual Learners
The first advantage for Rosetta Stone is that it’s the better option for visual learners. In short, the Rosetta Stone lessons are packed with imagery, while the Michel Thomas lessons are purely audio-based. There are no images at all in the Michel Thomas program, while literally every Rosetta drill contains some sort of visual.
If you’re the type of person who learns best by making mental connections between the things you learn and specific images, then Rosetta Stone is going to be a good fit for you. No doubt about it. It’s by far the better program for visual learners.
Program Structure & Flow
One clear highlight of the Rosetta Stone program is the course structure. For one, everything is organized in a very neat and easy-to-follow manner. There are 20 units in the entire program (each based on a thematic topic), and four lessons within each of these units.
But more importantly, I love how the Rosetta Stone lessons build on one another. Not only do individual lessons build on each other within each unit, but even the units build on one another.
As you get further into the course, the units become more advanced and pull in material from earlier units. This gives the Rosetta Stone program a very natural and progressive flow. Not all language learning apps are like this (especially Michel Thomas), and I was a big fan.
TruAccent Speech Recognition Technology
Another reason to go with Rosetta Stone is if you want feedback on your pronunciation during verbal practice exercises. If you want to perfect your pronunciation, Rosetta Stone is the way to go as a result of their TruAccent speech recognition technology.
With Michel Thomas, there is no speech recognition tech. Their program is pretty dated in that respect and it’s basically up to you to figure out whether you’re pronouncing words and phrases correctly. Thus, this is really an easy win for Rosetta Stone. They have a major leg up when it comes to tech.
Stories Feature & Extra Language Resources
The last major advantage for Rosetta Stone that I feel compelled to note is all of the extra resources and tools that they offer. The Stories feature is a particularly good example, and I am personally a huge fan of this tool. Let me explain.
Essentially, for every unit you complete, there are stories, which are sort of like mini-podcasts. Rosetta Stone gives you a short story which you digest in three different ways. You read it, it is read to you, and then you read it aloud (this holds true for the Rosetta Stone Russian course as well).
These short stories drive home what you learned in the corresponding lessons, while also improving your reading, speaking and listening skills. Plus, they’re just a nice change of pace from the standard Rosetta Stone drills.
Moreover, Rosetta Stone also gives you phrasebooks and audio companion lessons. The phrasebooks summarize essential, need-to-know phrases based on topic for you to review, and the audio companion lessons effectively synthesize each lesson down into a single 10-minute audio recording. I was big fan of the audio companion lessons, and thought they had a major impact as a capstone to each core lesson.
Simply put, you won’t find any of these types of tools and resources with Michel Thomas.
Having seen where Rosetta Stone has its advantages, let’s turn the tables now and cover the major reasons to go with Michel Thomas.
Ideal For Auditory Learners
The biggest reason to go with Michel Thomas is if you’re an auditory learner. The Michel Thomas lessons are 100% audio-based, and definitely favor auditory learners.
Unlike the image-heavy Rosetta Stone lessons, the Michel Thomas lessons show precisely zero visuals. There is a lot of benefit to this, and if you’re the type of person that learns best via listening rather than reading, writing or seeing, then Michel Thomas may be a better fit for you.
English Moderator To Reduce Frustration
My second advantage for Michel Thomas is somewhat personal preference. The Rosetta Stone program relies heavily on immersion. In other words, there is very little use of English directions or translations. You have to seek these features out and turn the functionality on. By default, Rosetta Stone gives you very little English.
In contrast, the moderator of the Michel Thomas lessons is constantly speaking in English. Honestly, it’s almost too much talking in my opinion, but the use of English guidance definitely helps to move things along and reduce frustration.
Ultimately, however, it just depends on what you’re looking for.
Some linguists recommend the immersion learning strategy that Rosetta Stone employs, which really forces you pick up the language based on visual cues, repetition, and your own intuition. However, other people like the use of English directions and translations because they get frustrated easily. So it just depends.
Digestible Grammar Instruction
Lastly, I know I just noted that the moderators of the Michel Thomas lessons have a tendency to talk almost too much, but I do have to admit that they do a nice job of breaking down complex grammar principles into short, understandable explanations. They make boring grammar instruction easy to digest, while the Rosetta Stone lessons don’t directly address grammar.
After using and testing out each language program, I think Rosetta Stone is the way to go. Between the visual component of the Rosetta Stone lessons, their TruAccent speech recognition technology, simple program structure, and all of the extra resources that they provide, I just think Rosetta Stone offers the more complete and effective language learning courses. At least, it worked better for me.
To be honest, I wasn’t a big fan of the Michel Thomas Method. If you are more of an auditory learner, you may want to consider Rocket Languages or Pimsleur over Michel Thomas.
What is the difference between Rosetta Stone and Michel Thomas?
Learning framework and format are the biggest differences between Rosetta Stone and Michel Thomas. The Rosetta Stone program relies more on immersion and their lessons favor visual learners, whereas the Michel Thomas Method includes an English-speaking moderator, and their lessons favor auditory learners.
Which language program is better, Michel Thomas or Rosetta Stone?
Although Michel Thomas and Rosetta Stone each have their own unique pros and cons, after testing each program out, our team thinks Rosetta Stone offers the more effective language learning courses.
Is Rosetta Stone more affordable than Michel Thomas?
Yes, the Rosetta Stone lifetime plan costs around $200 and includes access to all languages, whereas one Michel Thomas language set costs around $275.