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Rosetta Stone Russian Review
Determine whether Rosetta Stone Russian is the right choice for you in this detailed review
When it comes to learning the Russian language, there are plenty of options to help you reach an intermediate level of fluency, such as tutors, language apps, and immersion trips. In this article, however, we take a look at one of the most popular choices among learners—Rosetta Stone. We analyze the major pros and cons of this Russian language course so you can decide whether it is a good match for your budget and learning style.
To help make navigating this detailed review a little easier, we have included jump-to links above for your convenience.
How The Rosetta Stone Russian Program Is Organized
When you first sign up with Rosetta Stone, you’ll be asked a few questions that gauge your baseline Russian fluency level and why you want to learn Russian, among other things. Then, based on your answers, Rosetta Stone will create a weekly study plan for you.
However, if you take a step back and look past the semi-personalized plan, the Rosetta Stone Russian course really consists of 20 different learning units that cover various topics (e.g. work and school, places and events, etc.).
Furthermore, within each unit, there are generally four lessons. Then drilling down further, within each lesson there are several different sections to complete, covering topics such as pronunciation, vocabulary, reading, writing, etc.
That is essentially the Rosetta Stone program organization in a nutshell. There are overarching, thematic units that each consist of four lessons, and each lesson is made up of several sections.
Now, as far as what the individual sections are like, each one takes anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes to complete, and they all more or less utilize the same types of drills and exercises which revolve around images.
We will discuss the benefits and potential downsides to Rosetta Stone’s lesson format in more detail later in this review, but for now, just note that in order to complete all the sections that make up a singular Rosetta Stone lesson, you’re looking at around 50 to 60 minutes in total.
Rosetta Stone Russian Learning Method
Unlike most other apps, the Rosetta Stone Russian program is built around immersion. This means there is limited use of English throughout lessons (i.e., there is no one there to hold your hand).
Instead, Rosetta Stone believes that all communication should be conducted in the learner’s target language (in this case Russian), in order to develop understanding naturally through context and reasoning.
In short, unlike Babbel and Duolingo, Rosetta Stone immerses you in the language and forces you to learn via inference and context. It can be frustrating, but it is effective.
Rosetta Stone Russian Price
Luckily, the Rosetta Stone subscription plans are pretty affordable overall. The company offers three different plans to choose from: two monthly subscription options and one lifetime package.
The monthly subscription options range from $10 to $15 per month, and the lifetime option costs around $400 (thought note the lifetime plan includes access to all Rosetta Stone languages, not just Russian).
With that being said, the prices listed above really don’t mean much because Rosetta Stone regularly offers sales and special promotions. In most cases, expect to receive at least 50% off, if not more (similar to the discounts that Busuu offers as well).
Our team usually sees the monthly subscriptions go for around $8 to $12 after discounts, and the lifetime package slashed all the way down to $150-$200, which would make Rosetta Stone cheaper than the likes of Pimsleur and Rocket Languages.
Strengths of The Rosetta Stone Russian Course
Now that we’ve discussed pricing and how the Rosetta Russian program works, let’s cover the pros and cons that our team discovered as we used this course.
Good Fit For Visual Learners
Rosetta Stone is an excellent fit for visual learners. Plain and simple. As I alluded to earlier, essentially every drill and exercise within the lessons contains some sort of image or graphic.
In fact, it’s the most image-heavy language program our team has tested to date. Thus, if you absorb information best through visual means, as opposed to learning audibly or through experience, then Rosetta Stone should be a good match for your learning style (the opposite of the Rocket Russian course).
However, if you prefer video-based lessons (rather than Rosetta’s image-based lessons), you may want to check out Memrise or LingoPie.
I was also a big fan of the immersive learning framework that the Rosetta Stone Russian program is built around.
Yes, it can be difficult at first and a little frustrating, but in the long run, I think language immersion helps you learn the language faster and with a deeper understanding.
Compared to just being spoon fed information in English and memorizing it, this is a more effective option.
After all, think about how children learn. They pick up language up gradually, learning from an environment that is 100% immersive. In fact, our brains are built to recognize patterns, identify clues, and extract meaning from context, which is exactly what the Rosetta Stone curriculum is based on.
As such, although it can be annoying (especially for beginners), our team has to give Rosetta Stone credit. We think their learning method is highly effective over the long haul.
Accurate Speech Software
Next, I want to give a shoutout to Rosetta Stone’s TruAccent technology, which is the company’s speech recognition software that they have spent years developing and refining.
As you complete verbal practice exercises throughout lessons, Rosetta Stone’s TruAccent technology is able to provide you immediate, accurate feedback on your pronunciation.
Our team has tested well over a dozen different language programs at this point and of all the different voice software tools, we vote Rosetta Stone’s TruAccent speech software as one of the best.
It integrates seamlessly into lessons, it’s easy to use, and overall, we found it be fairly accurate, which is something you can’t say about other the speech software tools that other language learning companies use.
All in all, Rosetta Stone deserves two thumbs up when it comes to pronunciation development and feedback.
Bonus Learning Resources
Rosetta Stone provides a multitude of learning tools in addition to their standard curriculum. This includes live lessons with Russian instructors, short stories, audio companions, and a nifty alphabet tool, among others.
However, of all these resources, I really like the short stories. They are an excellent way to take a break from the standard Rosetta Stone lessons and switch things up from time to time.
You read along as a Russian host narrates a story to you (sort of like a parent reading to a child). Then after, you can practice by reading the story out loud yourself to practice and perfect your pronunciation.
Overall, I just think the stories are an excellent way to improve both your receptive language skills (reading and listening) as well as your productive language skills (speaking).
Weaknesses of The Rosetta Stone Russian Course
Now that we’ve covered the major pros of using Rosetta Stone to learn Russian, let’s turn the tables and discuss the negatives.
Repetitive Lesson Format
There’s just no getting around that the Rosetta Stone lessons can get somewhat monotonous at times.
As I’ve noted, it’s essentially the same picture-based drills over and over. The Rosetta Stone lessons do not offer the same type of variety or diversity that the Rocket or Babbel courses offer, for example.
Needless to say, if you are the type of person who has trouble focusing or you get bored easily, then Rosetta Stone may not be the best fit for you. Just remember though, you can always break up the standard Rosetta Stone lessons with the supplemental resources we covered earlier.
No Clear-Cut Grammar Instruction
Next, Rosetta Stone does not offer clear-cut grammar explanations or definitions. Instead, staying true to their learning method, Rosetta Stone believes in teaching you grammar intuitively.
In other words, you won’t be asked to memorize grammatical rules or to complete conjugation tables like you do with other language apps out there (e.g. Duolingo and Pimsleur).
This may or may not be an issue for some folks. There’s definitely a portion of the population that would rather be spoon-fed short, simple grammar rules and tables to help them quickly grasp key concepts.
Rosetta Stone, on the other hand, immerses you in the Russian language until you begin to notice patterns and correct syntax naturally. Therefore, it just depends on which side of the grammar fence you sit as to whether this is a negative or positive.
Basic Speaking Exercises
While our team certainly appreciates Rosetta Stone’s TruAccent speech software, we just wish the verbal practice exercises themselves were more robust.
You’re really just asked to listen to and repeat phrases in a vacuum, which is great for practicing your pronunciation, but not so great for learning to use the language in a spontaneous manner (similar to the Babbel Russian app).
We just wish there was more opportunity for you to think on your feet, and use the language under pressure, sort of like how Rocket Languages structures their course with simulated, mock conversations. Ultimately, we think this type of verbal practice would prepare to you start holding basic conversations faster.
Verdict: Is Rosetta Stone Good For Learning Russian?
Time to answer the big question—is Rosetta Stone a good app for learning Russian?
Well, after using and testing the program, the answer is largely yes. Not only are the Rosetta Stone subscription options affordable, but we also like the company’s immersive, image-based approach to learning. It’s a perfect fit for visual learners, and all of the extra learning resources add value.
Honestly, the only circumstances in which I’d steer you away from Rosetta Stone is if you are either an auditory learner or tactile learner. Otherwise, we think Rosetta Stone is an excellent choice for learning Russian.
If you opt for one of the Rosetta Stone subscriptions, it will likely cost you around $10 to $15 per month. If you opt for the Rosetta Stone lifetime plan, it will cost you around $400. However, keep in mind that Rosetta Stone regularly offers sales and discounts in the 40%-50% off range.
How many levels of Rosetta Stone Russian are there?
The Rosetta Stone Russian program is made up of 20 learning units in total. Within each of these learning units, there are several lessons, which are further made up of various sections and exercises.
How long does it take to learn Russian with Rosetta Stone?
If you complete the entire Rosetta Stone Russian course (around 120 to 150 hours), you will likely reach an intermediate level of understanding and fluency.
How good is Rosetta Stone Russian?
After using and reviewing this course, our team found the Rosetta Stone program to be very effective for learning Russian. This is especially true for visual learners given the format of the Rosetta Stone lessons.