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Rosetta Stone French Review: Good For Vocab. That’s About It

Rosetta Stone Review French

Rosetta Stone French

Rating 3.0

Summary

A Rosetta Stone French course could be most suitable for learners that don’t mind repetitive exercises and prefer to learn from pictures and context rather than translations and explanations. It’s probably not a good option for anyone wanting to significantly improve their speaking or writing skills, or those looking for an engaging course.


Quality 3.0

The platform is a bit clunky on desktop, but the material is accurate and presented clearly; lesson mechanics are fairly intuitive.

Thoroughness 3.0

Without much opportunity to build your own sentences, I don’t think you’ll reach a conversational level with any notable speed.

Value 3.0

Lifetime access could be a great value for learners who like Rosetta Stone methodology.

I Like
  • The audio quality is very good.
  • Lessons progress naturally and logically.
I Don’t Like
  • It’s repetitive and boring.
  • You don’t get to generate your own sentences.
  • Speech recognition doesn’t work very well.
  • No grammar explanations in core material.
Price

A three-month subscription to one language is $35.97, which works out to be $11.99/month.
A year-long subscription to one course is $95.88, which is $7.99/month. Both of these subscriptions are automatically recurring.
Lifetime access to all Rosetta Stone language courses is available for $199.

ALR Readers Exclusive Holiday Deal!! Get the Lifetime Subscription for 25 languages for $179 (everywhere else it’s $199 right now!). See details on the website.

Introduction

Learning fluent French will help you communicate anywhere in the world, as this beautiful language has native speakers on every continent! Rosetta Stone promises to deliver an immersive French program that focuses on everyday vocabulary and pronunciation practice. Will completing the course make you fluent in French? 

In this review, you will find out the pros and cons of how Rosetta Stone French works. 

Pros of Rosetta Stone French:

  • TruAccent software provides pronunciation practice for newbies
  • Great for visual learners
  • Solid introduction to beginner vocabulary

Cons of Rosetta Stone French:

  • Immersive, no-English program does not provide grammar explanations
  • Limited vocabulary beyond beginner basics
  • Lack of real-life conversation skills

Things to Consider When Buying Rosetta Stone French

Like every language, French presents unique challenges for a native English speaker including pronunciation, verb conjugations, and gendered nouns. 

  • French uses silent letters as well as sounds you don’t use in English, which can make mastering authentic pronunciation an uphill battle. 
  • French grammar features verb tenses and conjugations that English grammar does not use. 
  • Finally, one of the hardest parts of learning French for a beginner is understanding that nouns and adjectives use gendered articles. 

To help you overcome these language-specific challenges, the best French course will offer both pronunciation practice and clear grammar instruction. You should look for features like audio lessons with native French speakers conversing about day-to-day matters to help you master pronunciation and key vocabulary. 

Features and Benefits of Rosetta Stone French

Rosetta Stone offers an easy way to learn basic French vocabulary. Its immersive program helps you master basic French grammar because French is a Romance language with many similarities to English. 

That said, the no-English model of immersive language learning falls flat when it comes to providing intermediate-level grammar and vocabulary instruction.

In recent years, Rosetta Stone shifted its program entirely online instead of selling it on CDs. Today, you have the option to try a free trial of the French course online. You can also purchase three months of access for $37.97, a year for $95.88, or a lifetime subscription for $299.

The program uses a multiple-choice matching system: you hear a word in French and then select the matching image. In some lessons, the program uses its TruAccent software to allow you to practice speaking.

The full French course contains 20 units, and each unit includes four brief lessons. You could complete the course, doing one short lesson a day, in just 80 days. But would you know how to converse in French? Probably not.

Pronunciation

One of the hardest parts of learning French for an English speaker is learning to pronounce nasal sounds and mastering the silent letters in many French words. Rosetta Stone does not do a great job teaching this.

While you can practice speaking in some lessons, the TruAccent software does not give you feedback to help you improve. You just get a pass/fail for your spoken words.

The supplementary materials include a French alphabet, but you don’t get an explanation of how to pronounce unique phonemes like the nasal sounds French uses. 

Verb Conjugation

French uses more verb tenses than English, especially in written French. English has only about 200 verbs that pretty much all use the same regular conjugation, so English speakers can find the variety of ways to conjugate French verbs overwhelming.

Rosetta Stone does a decent job introducing basic conversational tenses for French. But it does not provide instruction in English to explain the difference between English and French verb conjugations.

Gender

In English, gender words like he and she apply to people and animals, not inanimate objects. But in French, every noun pairs with a gendered article, including buildings, trees, food, and furniture!

This means that you need to learn French grammar at the same time as you learn vocabulary. Does a table need a male article or a female article? If you just memorize the word for table, you will never know how to actually use the word in a conversation.

Rosetta Stone can help with this to a certain point, by blind memorization as you listen to phrases and click on the matching image. But it does not teach you the grammar or provide translation to help you understand the differences in nouns and their articles.

Alternatives to Rosetta Stone French

These days, you can choose from a wide range of French language-learning tools.

StoryLearning French

StoryLearning uses an immersive language-learning approach featuring stories told by native speakers. This allows you to soak in everyday phrases and adopt a natural accent. 

Each level of the program focuses on different skills starting with basic vocabulary and leveling up to units on conversation and grammar.

Plus, StoryLearning gives you a year-long guarantee allowing you to ask for your money back if you don’t learn French. That said, each level costs $297 individually with full access to all seven levels for $997. Good thing StoryLearning has a 30-day money-back guarantee.  

  • Higher price point than Rosetta Stone. 
  • Includes lessons on all aspects of language learning like grammar.
  • Its immersive style provides context through storytelling, instead of isolated words and images.

Do you learn better in a real-life, contextual setting? If so, you may want to check out the StoryLearning French course!

Pimsleur French

The Pimsleur method focuses on listening comprehension to teach French sounds and pronunciation. Every lesson uses an audio dialogue followed by a lesson that breaks down the vocabulary and grammar and a spoken element where you repeat the phrases you heard. The full Pimsleur French course includes five levels, each level featuring thirty lessons.

You can access the Pimsleur app for the French course for a monthly subscription of $19.95. It also offers a free seven-day trial.

  • Similar costs for access to the app, and a similar number of lessons
  • Both programs include spoken elements to help you learn pronunciation.
  • Pimsleur includes reading and grammar instruction in English.

Pimsleur may be the right fit for you if your goal is to master authentic French pronunciation. You can check out the Pimsleur French app here!

FrenchPod101

FrenchPod101 features podcast lessons you listen to via the app. Every lesson includes supplements like the English transcript, flashcards and quizzes, and a voice recording component. You can choose your own “learning path” rather than following lessons in a set order.

You can purchase Basic access for $8/month, Premium access for $25/month, or Premium Plus for $45/month.

  • FrenchPod101 can cost significantly less or a lot more than Rosetta Stone.
  • FrenchPod101 has less structure but a much wider pool of resources.
  • It features vocabulary,  listening comprehension, and reading and grammar skills.

If you consider yourself a self-motivated learner, you will find FrenchPod101 a rich resource. You can access the FrenchPod101 app here!

Conclusion

Despite the beauty of the French language, it presents unique challenges like mastering the silent letters in French words. Though French grammar has lots of similarities to English grammar, the complex verb conjugations used in French will prove challenging as well.

Unfortunately, Rosetta Stone’s immersive no-English approach does not help you master these challenges. It gives you an introduction to basic vocabulary but does not help with verb conjugations or complex grammar.

You will find a richer variety of learning skills in a program like Pimsleur, which includes both pronunciation and grammar instruction. Or many other programs we have reviewed. Check out the below “Related Articles” for more ideas.

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