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Rosetta Stone German Review
Detailed review of the Rosetta Stone German program after six months of using the app
Whether you just want to learn a little conversational German before your trip to Oktoberfest, or become fully fluent for work, a lot of people turn to Rosetta Stone to learn German. And it makes sense. After being around for 25+ years, Rosetta Stone should know what they’re doing and offer a spot-on German course, right? Well, we answer just that question and more in this detailed review and breakdown of the Rosetta Stone German app.
As this is a detailed review, please use the jump-to links above to quickly navigate this article.
Video Review: Our Thoughts On Rosetta Stone German
In the video above, team member John quickly breaks down the pros and cons of using Rosetta Stone to learn German. Keep reading for more info.
How The Rosetta Stone German Program Works
Most people know the Rosetta Stone name, but don’t actually know how the program works. So let’s start there. I am going to briefly explain how the course is structured, and then break down what the lessons look like in the next section.
In considering the German program from a high level, there are just 20 learning units in the entire course. From there, each unit is made up of four lessons. This means that there are just 80 total lessons in the entire Rosetta Stone German program.
That might not sound like much, but each lesson is pretty comprehensive. Take it from me. I thought it was going to be cake walk at first. Yet, they all progressively build on each other and take some time to finish.
In terms of how the lessons break down, each one is built around a core learning exercise that takes roughly 30 minutes to complete, then a number of supplemental drills behind that core lesson.
Sometimes it’s just three supplemental drills, and sometimes it’s almost a dozen—it just totally depends. Therefore, in total, you’re looking at around a full hour to complete a lesson. Sometimes it will be more like 90 minutes if it’s one of those monster lessons with a dozen supplemental drills, but most times it took me right around an hour or so.
Also, one nice change that Rosetta Stone has made is breaking the core lessons down into three separate, 10-minute chunks. That makes each core lesson “chunk” (I don’t know what else to call it) about the same length as each of the supplemental drills.
This way, you don’t have to do an entire 30-minute core lesson in one sitting. As such, rather than the core lesson feeling like a massive task, it’s much more bite-sized and manageable, like a lesson from Babbel or Duolingo.
What The Lessons Are Like
Moving past program structure, the thing to know about the actual Rosetta Stone lessons is that they are very image-heavy. Almost every single exercise uses images in some way or another. Here are a few examples of how that works:
the program will verbalize something in German and you match what was said to the correct picture
matching written German phrases to their corresponding images
you say in German what you see in the image and get graded by the speech software
the pictures are used to teach grammar
In short, no matter what the exercise is, Rosetta Stone uses a combination of pictures and immersion to teach you to speak German. The program is clearly built to have you create connections between what you’re learning and imagery.
In this respect, their framework cuts out English as go-between when learning German, and forces you to rely more on your intuition, rather than memorization.
Plus, like most language apps these days, Rosetta Stone will start you with basic one- and two-word building blocks, and then progress to longer, more grammatically complex sentences as you reach the more advanced units.
That’s pretty standard, but one thing that isn’t typical for German apps is that in order to reach those higher levels, you need to score at least 85% in each lesson to move on. You can’t cheat your way through, which I thought was kind of interesting and cool.
Around this core lesson work, Rosetta does give you a bunch of bonus tools and resources, like stories, phrasebooks, on-demand video lessons, audio companion lessons, and even some live lessons, but for your daily exercises, that’s how it works.
Rosetta Stone German Price
Before we dive into the strengths and weaknesses of the Rosetta Stone German course, let’s quickly discuss pricing and how they compare to other German language apps.
Rosetta Stone has three plans to choose from. There’s a 3-month subscription plan which goes for $16 per month. There’s a 12-month plan which goes for $14 per month. Then lastly, there’s a lifetime plan.
The lifetime option is a one-time purchase and gets you access for life to all of Rosetta Stone’s languages for $400.
It’s worth noting that Rosetta Stone almost always offers sales and special promotions. For example, you can often find the company’s monthly subscription plans on sale for around $8 to $12 per month. Similarly, the lifetime package, although it retails $400, it can almost always be found for $200 total.
Comparing this to other German apps, Rosetta Stone is in the middle of the pack in terms of cost. It is more expensive than other German apps like Duolingo and Busuu, but also cheaper than other programs like Pimsleur and Rocket German.
Overall, the Rosetta Stone prices are pretty reasonable in my opinion, especially if you can catch those sale prices.
What We Like About Rosetta Stone German
Having covered pricing and how the Rosetta Stone German program works, let’s dive into what I like and don’t like about this course. Let’s start with the pros.
Perfect For Visual Learners
The first major positive of the Rosetta Stone program is the imagery. There are just so many images and pictures in this course. If you’re a visual learner (which about half the population is), this app is going to align very well with your learning style.
For a lot of people, they need to see what they’re learning in order to retain it. For this group of people, audio lessons just won’t cut it. And that’s where Rosetta Stone has a leg up on audio-only programs in my opinion.
Just about every single drill in this program leverages imagery in one way or another, and as such, it will be very effective for those types of visual learners.
Immersive Learning Environment Works
Another aspect of the Rosetta Stone German program that I don’t think everyone will necessarily like, but that I did find to be effective, is its use of immersion.
Basically, once you’re in the program, there is hardly any use of English. They don’t directly give you English directions for drills, and by default, phrases and sentences are not translated for you.
You can actually toggle on translations within the program to see the English meanings, but this is generally discouraged by Rosetta Stone. They want you learning intuitively by being immersed in German for the period of time that you’re working your lesson.
In this way, you cut English out as a go-between and learn the direct, raw meaning of words and phrases. In all honesty, this can be a little frustrating at times because you will get hung up and stuck, but if you don’t mind struggling at certain points, it can be really effective.
To be fair, other apps do you give you bonus tools, but not to the same extent. Once again, you get phrasebooks, short on-demand video lessons, stories, audio companion lessons, and even live classes.
It is just a really well-rounded bundle of tools they give you outside of the core lesson work. If you’re serious about dedicating some significant time to learning German, or you’re under the gun to learn the language in just a few months, Rosetta Stone is one of the best for loading on the resources.
What We Don’t Like About Rosetta Stone German
Now that we’ve listed out what we like about Rosetta Stone, let’s get to the negatives. Luckily, the list was pretty short.
Limited Grammar Instruction
The first negative of the Rosetta Stone German program as I see it is the lack of direct grammar instruction.
In essence, Rosetta Stone teaches grammar the same way they teach everything else in the program: organically and through intuition. Rosetta Stone doesn’t just present you with a lesson about how to use modal verbs or how to talk in the past tense.
Instead, they teach you these things more indirectly through the picture-based drills discussed above. Yet, while there is some merit to doing things this way, I personally prefer more direct instruction when it comes to German grammar.
I would rather just have things explained to me in plain English upfront about sentence structures and verb conjugations, and then practice with speaking exercises. To me, this is better than trying to discover it for myself. I just think learning grammar that way can get frustrating.
Can Be A Bit Monotonous
My second negative for Rosetta Stone German is that the drills can become a little monotonous at times. Because every exercise includes images, they’re all somewhat derivative of each other.
It’s not nearly as bad as I’ve seen with some other apps like Mango or LingoDeer, but with Rosetta Stone, sometimes it does feel a little repetitive. Their lessons just don’t have the variety you’d get with a Babbel or Memrise.
No Community With Other Users
The final drawback of this program and where I think Rosetta Stone could improve is creating more of a community among its users. One of the reasons that Duolingo has become so popular is that they’ve done a great job of building a competitive and collaborative environment among its userbase.
Users compete in leagues, connect socially, do friend quests, and generally, learn together. If Rosetta Stone just incorporated a little bit of this, or even simply offered a family account, I think it could go a long way towards upping user engagement.
Verdict: Is Rosetta Stone German Worth It?
In my opinion, Rosetta Stone German really works—especially if you’re a visual learner. If you’re more of an auditory learner, or you’re looking for more traditional audio-based lessons, Rosetta Stone might not be the best fit. They do have stories and audio companion lessons, but that’s definitely not the main focus of this German course.
Rosetta Stone is much more geared towards visual learners, and teaches through an immersive, organic learning framework. That all being said, on the whole, I do like Rosetta Stone and think it is effective for learning German. If you’re a visual learner like me, and you’re looking for a more active, hands-on program, you’ll be very happy with it.
Is Rosetta Stone German good?
Yes, Rosetta Stone German is an effective app, especially if you’re a visual learner. The program might not work particularly well for auditory learners, but for those needing hands-on, active drills with a visual element, it worked really well for me.
How are the Rosetta Stone German prices compared to other apps?
When it comes to cost, Rosetta Stone German is sort of in the middle of the pack among language apps. It is more expensive than some apps, like Busuu and Duolingo, but also cheaper than some others, like Pimsleur and Rocket German.
Can you buy Rosetta Stone German on eBay?
Yes, you can buy older versions of Rosetta Stone German on eBay, but those versions are dated (and usually based on CDs). With improvements made to their mobile app and platform, it is a better deal these days to simply subscribe online.