Rocket Languages and Rosetta Stone are widely-used language learning resources that teach a number of languages. They start with the basics and work up in difficulty through a variety of speaking, listening, and grammar activities.
Each tool uses different teaching methods to cover a lot of material. The key difference between the resources is:
- Rocket Languages includes lots of English and explanations whereas Rosetta Stone only uses the target language.
Both are fairly expensive, neither is really outstanding, and both tend to get boring more quickly than other courses.
Generally speaking, I’d recommend that language learners check out some alternatives before purchasing either, as there are many that are better and cheaper.
We’ve outlined some of our favorite language-learning resources based on the language you want to learn in the table below.
What I like about each platform:
- Lessons are well structured and use an increasing range of vocabulary as they progress.
- The exercises and review activities provide plenty of practice material.
- The audio lessons and other exercises focus heavily on speaking.
- The content is clearly laid out, and it’s easy to navigate on the interface.
- Lessons build on one another nicely as the course progresses.
- The ‘Extended Learning Pack’ offers additional features for practice.
What I don’t like about each platform:
- The audio lessons are boring.
- While the reinforcement lessons are helpful, they rely too much on rote memorization.
- Some courses are quite bad (Chinese and Arabic especially).
- The repetition throughout the units in the course gets very boring.
- The material provided doesn’t offer enough information, leaving users to infer meaning from the pictures alone.
You can learn a total of 25 languages on Rosetta Stone, while Rocket Languages covers 13 languages.
Rocket Languages offers courses in Spanish, French, Italian, German, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Russian, Arabic, Hindi, Portuguese, ASL, and English.
Rosetta Stone offers courses in commonly-studied languages like Spanish, French, German, Italian, English, Arabic, and Chinese as well as languages like Greek, Hebrew, Irish, and Polish.
Rocket Languages costs $99.95 for Level 1, $249.90 for Levels 1 & 2, and $259.90 for Levels 1, 2 & 3.
The shortest subscription available for Rosetta Stone is three months, which costs $36 and grants access to one language course. Alternatively, you can pay $179 for 12 months or $199 for a lifetime subscription, both of which provide access to all of the language courses on Rosetta Stone.
How languages are taught with Rocket Languages
Most of Rocket Languages’ courses are split into three levels and should allegedly bring your skills up to an intermediate level. Each level consists of 6 to 8 modules, and each module contains 3 types of lessons: Audio, Language and Culture, and Survival Kit. This makes for over 200 lessons in total.
You’ll first work through the interactive audio lessons, which each take around 20 to 30 minutes to complete. They begin by reviewing the previous lesson before outlining what will be covered in the current lesson.
An audio conversation between two native speakers will play which will then be discussed throughout the audio lesson. During the lesson, you’re supposed to speak out loud. There are two hosts in level 1: one who speaks English and another who speaks entirely in the target language. At levels 2 and 3 there are three hosts, two of who speak entirely in the target language.
These lessons are okay but boring. The lighthearted moments feel cheesy, although the native-speaking hosts model their language very clearly, and there are lots of grammar and cultural comments throughout the audio lessons.
After completing these lessons, you’ll review them using Rocket Reinforcement. This combines a number of activities: Flashcards; Hear it! Say it!; Know it!; and Quiz. If you complete all of these activities, you’ll almost undoubtedly be able to easily remember what you’ve learned.
The second type of Rocket Languages lessons is the Language and Culture lesson. In this section, everything is written out textbook-style on the screen, with a focus on important grammatical information. This section is useful, thorough, and easy to understand.
At the end of each Language and Culture lesson you’ll complete a Rocket Reinforcement activity, the same as before.
The Culture section is much shorter, and nowhere near as good. In the Spanish course, the section focused on Latin America but failed to look deeply at one region’s culture at a time. Instead, it felt like they generalized all of Latin America as one culture.
Finally, Rocket Languages’ Survival Kit lessons teach you useful vocabulary and phrases without context. The same features are used, like the recordings of words and the ability to record yourself speaking as well as the Rocket Reinforcement activities at the end. While these lessons are fairly useful, they aren’t so exciting.
Read our full review of Rocket Languages.
How languages are taught with Rosetta Stone
Rosetta Stone’s Spanish course offers a lot of material to get through, with 20 units in total. Units build on one another nicely, providing lots of opportunities to practice a variety of language skills.
Each unit begins with a core lesson that takes around half an hour to complete. In unit 1, level 1’s core lesson, you’re prompted to pair basic words and phrases with pictures. The words are read aloud for clarity.
The purpose of the core lesson seems to be to present and teach new vocabulary, and the exercises use tricks to make sure you’re paying attention, like switching the pictures around and making words disappear.
At the end of each section, you’ll see a pop-up on the screen that lets you know how well you’ve done.
After the core section, you’ll move onto pronunciation practice. Words are broken down into syllables, which you’ll be asked to repeat and will be assessed on. The voice recognition technology is far from perfect but seems to work reasonably well.
Next up is grammar practice, which is fairly useful. Exercises prompt you to select the correct indefinite articles and choose the right sentence to match the photo. You’ll then learn some of the plurals of the phrases and match them to the correct images.
Reading comes next. In this section, a phrase is read out to you which you’ll need to repeat back, testing your pronunciation.
Finally, you’ll finish with writing practice. You’ll be asked to write what you hear and see using the provided keyboard.
Overall, lessons on Rosetta Stone are well structured and well thought out, but incredibly boring. Even as lessons increase in difficulty, the material remains the same.
The courses also rely heavily on photos to help you understand the meaning behind the words and sentences. I found that having to endlessly match pictures to sentences becomes tiresome fairly quickly.
Read our full review of Rosetta Stone.
Both are okay enough, but neither is really exceptional. Given that they’re both fairly expensive and boring, I’d prefer to use another course instead.
The table below shows some of the best language-learning tools based on the language you want to learn.
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