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Rosetta Stone Spanish Review
Our expert team reviews the Spanish language learning course from Rosetta Stone
Whether you just need to brush up on some basic Spanish for your honeymoon to Cabo San Lucas, or want to become fully fluent to impress your new in-laws, most folks turn to Rosetta Stone to learn Spanish. After all, Rosetta Stone has been around for 25+ years and is even used by the US State Department. But the question still remains: does Rosetta Stone work to learn Spanish? We answer just that question and more in this detailed review and breakdown of the Rosetta Stone Spanish app.
Above please find helpful jump-to links to make navigating this post a little easier.
Video Review: Is Rosetta Stone Good For Learning Spanish?
In the video above, team member John breaks down the key highlights and lowlights of the Rosetta Stone Spanish program. For more detail, be sure to continue reading our full written review below.
Rosetta Stone Spanish Price & Options
To set the stage for our evaluation of the Rosetta Stone Spanish program, let’s quickly talk about Rosetta Stone’s cost so that you have an idea of how this course compares to others. Rosetta Stone offers three different subscription plans: a 3-month plan, a 12-month plan, and a lifetime plan.
The 3-month subscription costs approximately $36 (or $12 per month), the 12-month subscription costs around $96 (or $8 per month), and the lifetime subscription costs around $299, though it can often be found on sale for $180.
Plus, a quick note here—if you do opt for the lifetime subscription, it includes access to all languages, not just Spanish, so do keep that in mind.
But bottom line, you’re looking at around $8 to $12 per month for Rosetta Stone, unless you go whole hog and purchase the lifetime subscription. If you stack this pricing up against competitors, Rosetta Stone comes out looking pretty favorably.
For reference, the 3-month subscription plan from Babbel costs around $10 per month, and the monthly fee charged by Pimsleur is around $20. So from a cost perspective, Rosetta Stone is on the affordable end of the market.
In addition, Rosetta Stone does come with a 3-day free trial period, as well as a 30-day money back guarantee, so you can always test the program out before fully committing.
How The Rosetta Stone Spanish Program Works
One of the big ticket items we need to discuss before we dive into my personal thoughts on this program is how Rosetta Stone’s course is structured.
From a high-level point of view, the entire Rosetta Stone course is made up of 20 learning units. Each unit covers a different thematic topic or category, such as greetings and introductions, or professions and hobbies. Then within each unit, there are 4 primary lessons.
The lessons are the backbone of this course framework, and you should aim to complete at least a few per week.
Breaking this down further, each lesson contains a core 30-minute learning module, and then anywhere from 3 to 12 supplemental drills, which are typically 5 to 10 minutes in length. These supplemental exercises cover pronunciation, listening, grammar, and writing (a.k.a. the basics of most every language learning program).
If you sat down to complete an entire lesson end-to-end, it will likely take you right around an hour or so. It could be longer or shorter depending on the particular lesson, but it’s generally in the ballpark of an hour.
And that’s really it for the program from a high-level. You have 20 units, 4 lessons per unit, and each lesson is comprised of a variety of exercises and drills that take about an hour to complete in total.
What Are The Lessons Like?
Now that you have context around program structure, you’re probably wondering what the actual lessons like. Well, when you really boil it down, all of the Rosetta Stone lessons are essentially a mashup of drills based on images and/or recorded audio.
You’ll spend most of your time listening to a word or phrase, repeating that word or phrase, and then matching it up to a corresponding image. In a way, you can think of the lessons and drills as quasi interactive flashcards.
For example, you’ll listen to a voice that says “el niño lee,” and then you’ll click an image of a little boy reading a book to match the two up.
The whole idea here is that you have to rely on visual cues, intuition and inference as you gradually acquire the Spanish language content necessary to move onto the next lesson or unit.
You start with one- or two-word building blocks and then progress to longer, more grammatically complex sentences as you reach the higher levels. Not to mention, in order to reach those higher levels, it’s recommend you score at least 85% in each lesson before moving on.
The other major point worth noting around the lessons is Rosetta Stone’s TruAccent voice recognition technology. This software is something the company has spent years developing (and is actually patented).
As I noted above, the Rosetta Stone lessons require you to actively participate in the lesson. You do this by not only by matching up images with phrases, but also by speaking yourself.
You’ll be asked to repeat phrases, fill in blanks, and describe what’s happening in the various images. And each time you speak, the company’s TruAccent voice technology will be listening. If you mispronounce a word or phrase, it will prompt you to say it again until you get it right.
Now, to be clear, it is definitely not a perfect system. There were times when it would make me repeat a word or phrase that I knew I was pronouncing correctly, and there were times when I knew I was wrong, but the tech would tell me I’m right. 🤷
That being said, compared to other voice recognition software systems that I’ve tested, Rosetta Stone’s is definitely one of the best.
Beyond the technology itself though, I love that Rosetta Stone integrates a speaking component into their lessons, as not all language learning programs do this. I firmly believe that verbalization (i.e. actually speaking) is crucial for successful language acquisition.
The people that shy away from it and wait to start conversing until they’re “ready” are really stunting their progress.
I like the way that Rosetta Stone puts you under pressure to swiftly recall phrases and speak sentences. This makes a huge difference in terms of your ability to do so in an actual conversation, so I have to give Rosetta Stone props for that.
What We Like About Rosetta Stone Spanish
So now that we’ve covered cost and you know what the Rosetta Stone Spanish program is all about, let’s get into what our team likes about Rosetta Stone. And the first thing piggybacks off of where we just left off.
TruAccent Voice Recognition Technology
As noted immediately above, we are big fans of Rosetta Stone’s voice recognition technology. Sure, the computer is never going to be a substitute for an actual human being and carrying on a real conversation, but Rosetta Stone comes about as close as you can get with technology.
There were a few times I caught the tech messing up, but by and large, it worked just fine. And the fact that you can actually practice speaking to your computer any time you want and without fear of embarrassment takes your learning to the next level.
Bottom line, their TruAccent voice technology is about the best in the industry (with maybe Rocket Languages a close second).
Emphasis On Speaking
In the same vein, I also really like that the Rosetta Stone lessons place a heavy emphasis on speaking. I think verbal practice starting at an early stage is key for language acquisition.
Some programs focus on strictly listening and reading, saving speaking for much later on, and this is a fatal flaw in my opinion. So a big thumbs up for Rosetta Stone there.
Different Approach To Learning Grammar
Since Rosetta Stone is so big on imagery, you’re forced to rely on intuition and common sense to pick up grammar, which I think can actually be a good thing.
Some may disagree with me, but in my opinion, you do not need to intensely study grammar to pick up a new language. In fact, there are studies that have found dedicating the majority of your time to grammar as you learn to speak a new language can often do more harm than good.
Instead, some linguists believe it’s better to learn and absorb language chunksrather than dissecting grammatical rules.
Let’s face it, the majority of expressions we use everyday in our native tongues are unoriginal, recycled language chunks that we’ve become accustomed to over time.
So from that perspective, some might appreciate how Rosetta Stone subtly highlights the grammar point being taught and uses images to clearly reflect the meaning, rather than making you studying dense, boring grammar principles.
Lastly, I have to give a shout out to Rosetta Stone for all the extra resources they provide beyond the core units and lessons.
This list includes (1) on-demand videos so you can dive deeper into concepts and become more familiar with local culture, (2) short stories so can you improve your reading and listening skills as you workout or clean the house, and (3) phrasebooks to help you master your pronunciation using Rosetta Stone’s voice recognition technology.
That covers the majors strengths of the Rosetta Stone Spanish app and the things we really like. But it can’t all be sunshine and rainbows. There were definitely some issues with this program. So let’s switch gears and run through the things we didn’t care for.
Repetitive Lesson Work
I’ll come right out with the biggest downside our team found. The matching phrases to pictures exercises can become a little repetitive and boring at times. It’s essentially just some variation of the same drill over and over. This program just doesn’t have the same engagement level as other apps, like Rocket and Duolingo.
I just wish there was a little more variety within the lessons, perhaps like the Babbel and Pimsleur drills. Don’t get me wrong, I think the Rosetta Stone lessons and drills are highly effective, but they can just become monotonous at times.
Culturally Irrelevant Images
My next bone to pick is that the lessons sometimes use culturally irrelevant images. For example, you’ll see an image of a Japanese geisha to demonstrate the word mujer in Spanish (i.e. woman).
I mean, it’s not a big deal, but it can be a little odd at times, especially when you’re trying to learn a specific language like Spanish. I could totally understand that image being used for the Rosetta Stone Japanese program, but Spanish?
It just made me do a double take sometimes and messed up my flow (sort of like Duolingo with their bizarre sentences). Not a huge deal, but a bit strange.
Not Much English Translation
There are very few (and sometimes no) explanations or translations provided in English within the lessons. While I personally like this approach because it forces you to learn quickly, this could be an issue for some people out there.
I want to note this because I know a lot of folks like the convenience of looking up translations and always having the answer right at their fingertips. Most other language learning apps offer this, but not Rosetta Stone. They’re much more on the side of full immersion.
Rosetta Stone forces you to rely on visual cues, intuition and inference. They believe immersing yourself in the language and working off of common sense and intuition will help you to learn Spanish faster.
Now, to be fair, recently Rosetta Stone did add the ability turn on translations within the app, but it’s turned off by default. You have to seek out this function and affirmatively turn it on to get English directions and translations.
Rosetta Stone offers live classes and live coaching, but you have to pay extra. The live coaching is especially helpful considering that the Rosetta Stone coaches are in-sync with the core lessons and know what stage you’re currently at, but it’s just a little expensive.
I guess I wish it was included as part of the base subscription. Or at least a little less pricey. With that said, there are other companies (like iTalki for example), where you can get live tutoring or coaching for cheaper. These types of services could be a nice supplement to the Rosetta Stone core curriculum if you’re on a budget.
Verdict: Learning Spanish With Rosetta Stone
Let’s get to the final verdict. Should you use Rosetta Stone to learn Spanish? Well, I think the answer to this question largely depends on your goals and learning style.
If you’re looking for a more formalized language class or in-depth audio lessons, then no, Rosetta Stone Spanish is not going to be a great fit for you. Rosetta Stone is focused largely on an immersive learning framework, with image-based exercises.
As such, I think it really favors active, visual leaners. For my learning style, this means it worked really well. I loved the interactive, hands-on drills, the immersive environment that forced me to think critically, and all of the extra resources were money. I used the heck out of those.
Rosetta Stone Spanish might not be for everyone, but I think for most people looking to achieve an intermediate level of fluency, it will work really well.
When broken down on a monthly basis, the Rosetta Stone subscription packages cost somewhere between $8 and $12 per month. However, if you opt for their lifetime package, that costs $300 full retail, but can often be found for less.
How long does it take to learn Spanish with Rosetta Stone?
With Rosetta Stone, you will likely be able to hold down very basic conversations in Spanish after just 100 hours of study time, but expect closer to 6 months of regular lesson work and practice to become more fluent.
Is Rosetta Stone good for Spanish?
Our team found Rosetta Stone to be a very effective program for learning Spanish. Their immersive learning framework and image-based lessons are great for visual and active learners.