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Rocket Languages vs. Rosetta Stone -- Which is Better?

written by: R. H. • edited by: Tricia Goss • updated: 1/5/2012

Which is the best investment and the most effective product for language learning--Rosetta Stone or Rocket Languages? Read on for a comparison of the price, the approaches, the strengths and the weaknesses of these two language instructional software programs.

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    Rosetta Stone - the Approach

    Rosetta Stone offers language-learning software for thirty-one languages: Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin), Danish, Dutch, English (American), English (British), Filipino (Tagalog), French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Indonesian, Irish, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Latin, Pashto, Persian (Farsi), Polish, Portuguese (Brazil), Russian, Spanish (Latin America), Spanish (Spain), Swahili, Swedish, Thai, Turkish, Vietnamese and Welsh.

    Rosetta Stone uses a natural learning approach. What exactly does this mean? Rosetta Stone aims to teach the learner in a way that mimics a baby's first language-learning experience (as much as possible). Rather than using flashcards, translations, drills, or dictionaries, Rosetta Stone starts the learners off with a series of simple images that are accompanied by spoken language.

    When using Rosetta Stone, you are encouraged to hear words, repeat them, write them and learn what words are associated with which picture. This is all done in the target language, to avoid interference from your native language.

    Rosetta Stone Spanish, like many of the Rosetta Stone language learning software sets, offer three levels. A student who goes through all three levels of software can expect to learn the following with Rosetta Stone Spanish (and comparable things with Rosetta Stone for other languages):

    • Greetings and leave takings
    • Polite phrases and common social interactions
    • Formulating simple questions and answers
    • Shopping and asking for things you want and need
    • Getting and giving directions
    • Dining out, ordering food and beverages
    • Telling time
    • Accomplishing basic social interactions
    • Expressing feelings and wishes
    • Accomplishing more complex social interactions
    • Sharing ideas, plans and expectations
    • Sharing opinions, likes and dislikes
    • Coping with emergency situations

    Rosetta Stone offers the ease and naturalness of learning by clicking through photo "flashcards" that are accompanied by spoken language. It allows the learner to progress at a comfortable rate and pick up grammar as a byproduct while learning how to cope in various language situations.

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    Rocket Languages - the Approach

    Rocket Languages offers language-learning software for several major world languages, including Arabic, Hindi, Korean Spanish, Japanese, French, German, Italian, Mandarin Chinese and American Sign language.

    Most Rocket Languages programs (for example, Rocket French Premium, Rocket Spanish Premium) include similar elements to aid you in increasing your fluency in understanding and speaking the language. A closer look at the Rocket Spanish Premium components gives a good idea of what Rocket Languages software has to offer to users.

    Rocket Spanish Premium includes these basic components to help you learn to read, write, understand and speak the Spanish language:

    1. Interactive Audio Course - Rocket Spanish Premium approaches language learning using an interactive, audio-intensive approach. It offers 32 lessons that are on average 25 minutes each, totalling about 12 hours of Spanish language input.
    2. Grammar Lessons - 31 illustrated grammar lessons, beginning with the most basic grammar concepts, build on one another. There are an estimated 100 hours of grammar work, broken down into small, understandable chunks.
    3. MegaVocab Software Game - With more than 1,000 words covering around 20 topics, the MegaVocab Software Game allows you to learn and review vocabulary words through a medium more interesting than plain old vocabulary cards. Additionally, the program includes the MegaVocab Creator, which allows you to add your own vocabulary words and pictures.
    4. MegaAudio Software Game - This game drills you on your listening skills, testing your comprehension of over 1,000 vocabulary items.
    5. MegaVerbs Software Learning Game - This element of the Premium Spanish program is fun, but serious. It helps the learner practice conjugating Spanish verbs and deciphering the differences between the various verb tenses and their usages.

    The approach of Rocket Languages is well-rounded, giving the learner exposure to plenty of spoken language input, and focusing on different aspects of language learning including vocabulary, grammar and comprehension. The games make learning less stressful and the plentiful audio files assure that the learner will have a good comprehension of the language when he hears it spoken.

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    Rosetta Stone - the Drawbacks

    Although you can certainly learn plenty of words, phrases and sentences in a foreign language using Rosetta Stone, you may not get as thorough an approach to the language as you had hoped for. Here are a few drawbacks of Rosetta Stone:

    • Rosetta Stone aims to help you learn like a child, not like an adult. If you prefer a structured and ordered approach to grammar, vocabulary and language concepts, you could learn more quickly with another program.
    • Rosetta Stone uses generic picture sets that do not vary from language to language, which means that the program is not particularly culturally sensitive.
    • Along similar lines, Rosetta Stone often teaches more formal language rather than the more common forms of the language, as you would hear it spoken.
    • Rosetta Stone is good at teaching vocabulary words, but lacking in the grammar department. Grammar and syntax are vital to learning a language thoroughly, and Rosetta Stone has no structure for teaching these important concepts. Some grammar will be picked up throughout the program, but it is not taught systematically.
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    Rocket Languages - the Drawbacks

    Rocket Languages' programs are not designed to give you a complete knowledge of a foreign language (no software program can claim that, actually), but it does do an excellent job of quickly equipping you to get around by knowing the basic vocabulary, grammar structures and conversational basics in a foreign language.

    At the same time, the Rocket Languages' software programs do have a couple of drawbacks:

    • Rocket Languages do not offer any way to track your progress as you go along. You need to keep track of your progress independently of the program.
    • At times, the images in the program do not seem to correspond well to the vocabulary being taught, making the vocabulary guessing game a bit of a challenge.
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    Rosetta Stone - the Price

    Here are the official prices of Rosetta Stone Spanish on the company's website:

    • Level 1 - $179
    • Levels 1 & 2 Set - $299
    • Levels 1, 2 & 3 Set - $369
    • Levels 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5 Set - $449
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    Rocket Languages - the Price

    Here is the official price of Rocket Spanish Premium as listed on the company's website:

    • Instant download of Rocket Spanish Premium Package: $99.95
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    Final Verdict - Buy Rocket Languages, not Rosetta Stone

    In the final verdict, Rocket Languages software will take you much further than Rosetta Stone. Rocket Languages contains many real-life conversational clips, ranging from simple to complex. It teaches you hundreds of vocabulary items, but also helps you build a vital understanding of the structure of the grammar of the language you wish to learn.

    The prices alone help make the decision easy: Rocket Languages are a better choice for your money.

    For example, will you learn more from the entire Rocket Spanish Premium Package than from the entire set of 5 levels of Rosetta Stone Spanish? Perhaps not.

    But will you learn more from the entire Rocket Spanish Premium Package priced at only $99.95 than you will learn from Rosetta Stone Spanish Level 1 priced at $206.10? Without a doubt.

    If you wish to build a good collection of vocabulary words, complimented by excellent grammar structures and real-life conversations and audio input--without breaking your bank account--choose a product from Rocket Languages, not Rosetta Stone.

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