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Rosetta Stone French Review
Determine whether Rosetta Stone French is the right program for you in this detailed review
Whether you want to learn some basic French for an upcoming trip to Paris, or reach an advanced level of fluency in order to better communicate with friends and family, a lot of people turn to Rosetta Stone to help them learn French. After all, Rosetta Stone is one of the biggest names in language learning. In this review, we cover the pros and cons of the Rosetta Stone French course so you can make a final purchase decision.
As this is a detailed review, feel free to use the jump-to links above to quickly navigate this article.
Rosetta French Video Review
In the above video, team member John breaks down our evaluation of the Rosetta Stone French program and whether we think it is a worthwhile tool. Please keep reading for more info.
How The Rosetta Stone French Program Works
From a very high level, the Rosetta Stone French course is broken out into 20 separate learning units, which each cover major thematic topics, such as professions and hobbies, shopping, and more.
Even though each unit is based on a thematic topic, they do get progressively more demanding and build on each other in terms of difficulty, so it’s not just parceled out based on type of content.
In any event, each unit is made up of just four lessons, which doesn’t sound like a lot, but just know that each lesson is pretty detailed and lengthy, with a bunch of underlying assignments.
Each lesson is built around a core learning exercise which takes about a half hour to complete, then a number of auxiliary drills after that core exercise.
One really nice thing is that the core learning exercise in each lesson is now broken up into three separate parts, so you don’t have to do it all at once. When added up, each lesson probably takes about an hour and a half to complete on average.
Some of the lessons are shorter and you can do those in under an hour, but most will take you more than a full hour with all of the different drills.
What The Rosetta Stone French Lessons Are Like
Now, as for what those drills and exercises are actually like, the unique thing about Rosetta Stone is that almost every single individual exercise in the program uses images in some way or another.
Sometimes the program will say something in French and you match what was said to the right picture. Other times, you must match written French phrases to the images, and occasionally it’s on you to speak in French what’s in the image and get graded by the speech software. Or, in some instances, the pictures are used to work on your pronunciation.
Basically, no matter what lesson you’re in or what drill you’re working on, Rosetta Stone focuses on a combination of pictures and immersion to teach you French.
The program cuts English out as a go-between and tries to have you create connections between what you’re learning and imagery (i.e. it’s all about context). This forces you to rely more on intuition and learning organically than on translating in your head, which is different than a lot of other French apps.
Anyway, that’s more or less how the Rosetta Stone French program works. Around the core lesson work, Rosetta Stone does offer some extra tools and resources, like stories, phrasebooks on-demand video lessons, and audio companion lessons, but for your daily lesson work, that’s the general overview.
Rosetta Stone French Cost
In short, Rosetta Stone has three plans to choose from. There’s a 3-month subscription plan that costs $16 per month, a 12-month plan that goes for $14 per month, and finally there’s a lifetime plan, which is a one-time purchase and gets you access for life to all of Rosetta Stone’s languages for $400.
Luckily though, Rosetta Stone frequently offers sales and discounts. For example, you can often find the monthly subscription plans on sale for $8 to $12 per month. Similarly, with the lifetime package, even though it retails for $400, you can almost always find a discount to bring the pricedown to less than $200 total.
Basically, at $8 to $12 per month, their monthly subscription prices land near the middle of the pack. That said, I would just note that their lifetime package is a pretty decent deal if you can catch the sale price of $200.
Pros of Using Rosetta Stone To Learn French
Now that we’ve covered cost, and how the Rosetta Stone French course works, let’s get into the strengths and weaknesses of this program, starting with the positives.
Ideal Program For Visual Learners
As I see it, the first highlight of Rosetta Stone French program is its visual nature. Simply put, if you’re a visual learner, this program will align with your learning style really well.
For the record, about half of people learn visually, meaning they need to see what they’re learning in order to retain it, and for these learners, the image-heavy Rosetta lessons will be an awesome fit.
I generally like the audio-based lessons from companies like Pimsleur and Rocket, but for pure visual learners, these Rosetta Stone image-heavy lessons will be superior.
Immersion Is The Name of The Game
The next aspect of the Rosetta Stone French program that I like, but I don’t necessarily think everyone will, is their immersive framework.
In essence, Rosetta Stone’s teaching style just tosses you right in mix. It’s a sort of sink or swim type approach because there are hardly any English directions or translations inside the program (i.e. they take away English as a crutch). You can’t fall back on your natural first language to learn.
Now, to be fair, you can actually toggle on translations within the program to see the English meanings, but this is generally discouraged by Rosetta Stone. Instead, they want you immersed and learning with a blank slate.
To me, this was frustrating at times, but by cutting English out as a go-between and learning the substantive meaning of words in French, I have to say that it really works.
Extra Tools & Resources
Finally, the last major positive of the Rosetta Stone French app is the bundle of resources they give you with the main lesson work. With all of these cool supplemental tools, it is definitely one of the most complete and comprehensive French programs on the market.
I mean, other apps like Babbel and Pimsleur give you bonus tools too, but not nearly a many. For the record, of all the different bonus features that you get, my favorite are the stories.
These are just what they sound like – short stories in French which you can have read to you, read yourself, and speak aloud with pronunciation grading.
They’re a great way to work on your listening and speaking skills with some context, and they’re also a nice way to break up the typical exercises from time to time.
Cons of Using Rosetta Stone To Learn French
Now that we’ve covered what our team likes about Rosetta Stone, let’s get to the negatives in order to present a balanced view of the program.
Lack of Variety
The first drawback of Rosetta Stone French to me is that the drills can become a little repetitive. Because each individual drill is built on images, they’re all kind of the same after a while.
It’s not as bad as I’ve seen with some other apps, but when you’re working Rosetta Stone exercises, sometimes their lessons can get a little monotonous. Bottom line, there just isn’t a ton of variety within the primary coursework.
Limited Grammar Content
Another drawback with Rosetta Stone is the lack of direct grammar instruction. This is somewhat of a debatable point, because everyone has different feelings about the best way to teach or learn grammar, but essentially, Rosetta Stone teaches grammar the same way they teach everything else in the program – indirectly and through intuition.
In other words, you don’t get a nice, neat explanation in English regarding French grammar. Rather, they teach you grammar subtly and indirectly through the picture-based drills.
This is fine, but personally, I’d rather just have things explained to me in plain English upfront, and then practice with drills and exercises after, rather than trying to sort it out on my own.
The last area where I think Rosetta Stone could improve is adding a some gamification to the learning experience. This is one of the big reasons why Duolingo and Mondly, for example, have become so popular.
They do a really good job of making the learning experience more like a game. There are daily streaks, XP points, leaderboards, and users even compete in leagues and connect socially.
Basically, by making the learning journey feel more like a game, it can really help.
So, is Rosetta Stone an effective program to learn French? Is it worth it?
Well, I would say mostly yes. I’m hedging a little bit because it somewhat depends on your learning style. If you’re a visual learner, then 100% yes, I think Rosetta Stone will work for you.
However, if you’re more of an auditory learner and you want more traditional audio-based lessons, Rosetta Stone might not be the best fit.
In that case, I would check out Rocket French or Pimsleur. They’re both great apps for audio lessons. Apart from that scenario, I do really like Rosetta Stone French and think it would be especially effective for visual learners and those looking for a more active, hands-on language learning program.
Monthly subscription options for Rosetta Stone French range in price from $8 to $12 (after discounts). The company also offers a lifetime plan for around $400, though it can often be found on sale for around $200.
How many levels are there in the Rosetta Stone French program?
The Rosetta Stone French program includes 20 learning units and around 80 lessons in total. Keep in mind though that Rosetta Stone also offers consumers a number of bonus features and content beyond the core lessons.
Is Rosetta Stone good for learning French?
After testing and evaluating the Rosetta Stone program, our team thinks it is an effective option for learning French, especially if you identify as a visual learner. With its immersive learning framework and imagery, it is a comprehensive package.