There are a lot of different language learning programs out there, but two of the top ones that get compared quite often are Rocket Languages and Rosetta Stone. In fact, according to Google these are the most compared language programs on the market. These are both very competitive titles, so what are the differences between them? Let’s take a brief look:
The Rocket Language series offers 12 different languages, plus Ingles (English for Spanish speakers). The courses are designed for native English speakers (except the Ingles course).
Rocket Languages offer a very balanced approach to learning a language, similar to what you would find in a classroom setting. It is not a “full” immersion course per se in the way Rosetta Stone tries to be, although there are some elements of immersion (such as the audio portions). However, the approach that Rocket Languages takes is beneficial for adult and more “traditional” learners who may get more out of some of the English explanations of various intricacies of the language they are trying to learn.
The various language courses are all broken down into distinct segments or lessons. Each level of each language has over 100 hours of audio lessons, including language and culture lessons that reinforces the mechanics of the language.
The lessons are broken down into categories such as getting around town, ordering food, etc. These reinforce what you’ve learned with more specific grammar and vocabulary lessons, along with illustrations and audio. Then there’s the survival kit with loads of extras to help you jump right into situations you might experience when traveling or interacting in real life.
The included flash card games help reinforce vocabulary, and the dedicated phone apps help you stick with the program on the go so that its easier to stay consistent!
The Rocket Languages series covers all areas of the language, including reading, writing, listening, and speaking. There’s a ton of content to get through, and it’s organized well into well managed pieces for learners new to the language.
Product Quality / Support:
Rocket Languages is dedicated to constantly improving their product. I’ve been personally familiar with their courses since 2008 and I’ve seen them come a very long way in terms of usability and portability in terms of smartphones and tablets. They have even added more and more features for the 2017 edition.
I really like how they are always improving the interface of the dashboard to make it more modern and streamlined. Recently they have made it much easier to keep track of your progress, with color coded icons that let you know where you need improvement.
- Real world content that’s excellent for someone who wants to use the language quickly
- Traditional style of learning is easily accessible to most people
- Best bang for your buck language learning course
- Interface still a touch old fashioned compared to other modern programs
- Some lessons are rather long and don’t save progress
- Certain lessons such as “Play It!” can be a little hard
Rosetta Stone as a brand offers 31 Languages. The courses can be used by anyone speaking any language as they are based on full immersion learning and do not make use of the user’s native language, instead relying on pictures to teach terms and phrases.
Rosetta Stone has invested a lot of money on professors, linguists, cognitive psychologists, and other experts in order to determine the absolute best ways to present a language for learning. They have taken the approach that one should “learn like a baby would” and jump in without any guidance or contact with a person’s native language. This approach might be good for some who are a fan of this approach, but could end up frustrating others because of it’s so non-conventional. There’s something to be said about a full immersion type course and it can definitely have some advantages. It is not a crash course, and requires dedication. Therefore it’s not an ideal program for those looking for a quick study for travel purposes.
Rosetta Stone relies heavily on picture matching to teach users vocabulary and terminology. After matching some words correctly you’ll be asked to speak or write them. The course varies its approach and requires some thinking outside the box to determine what the images mean and what the gist is that they are going for – and then say it in the language that you’re learning.
After purchase of Rosetta Stone you can sign up for 50 minute long classes that are taught online with an actual instructor that is a native speaker of the language you’re learning. Depending on how many people have signed up for the time slot that you want, you could either be all alone or with a group. The instructors only speak in the language being taught, and the lessons also have a certain amount of structure to them. This could be great or intimidating for some people, so think about whether or not you’d want this feature.
Matching type games help reinforce vocabulary, and mobile apps let you bring your learning on the go.
Product Quality / Support
Rosetta Stone is a very clean and well designed piece of software, and a lot of time has been put into its production. The instructor lessons are a great addition. Customer support is easy to access.
- Excellent user interface
- Largest language learning program in terms of content
- Immersion style of learning (although could be a negative depending on your learning style)
- No help from English
- Immersion style of learning could cause confusion
- Linear course doesn’t allow for skipping around as well
- Not as applicable to real world situations
Major Differences / Pros And Cons
The major difference between Rocket Languages vs Rosetta Stone is in the teaching style. Rosetta Stone offers little to no help from the student’s native language, and this can be a hindrance as many users may find themselves lost or frustrated. Also, this approach is not that great for someone who is trying to learn some phrases for travel as the learning process is quite slow.
Although the producers of Rosetta Stone have clearly put a lot of effort into research (all the cognitive learning research was done by the company itself) on how to learn a language, it is perhaps not the best practical approach for all adult learners.
People can definitely learn a language with Rosetta Stone, and some may enjoy it very much, but many people have reported that actual use of the language (such as using it in a real world situation) is still quite difficult for them after using the program for some time.
It’s a nice idea to have full immersion, but simulating it in a computer program is still rather difficult to do well. The real advantage of full immersion (when it’s experienced by being in a country where it is spoken) is to be using the language yourself in practical situations. This is true no matter what language software you get. Rosetta Stone also doesn’t do as well when it comes to teaching various formal/informal phrases and certain grammatical things.
Real World Application
The Rocket Languages program is a bit less polished both in look and content, but it’s a more traditional style of teaching and learning. The course is much more tight and focused on helping people quickly learn differences in certain grammatical phraseology and also vocabulary for real world situations. For this reason the Rocket Languages series is a clear winner for someone looking to learn the language for travel.
Another positive about the Rocket Languages series is that the traditional teaching methods may be more advantageous for adult learners as most people are going to need a hand understanding the slight nuances between different tenses and even between formal and informal phrases.
Overall in my opinion after using the two courses is that the Rocket Languages series is going to be more value for your money. It’s less expensive and while it may not have the extreme depth of vocabulary and terms that Rosetta Stone does, it’s slightly more applicable and will get you rolling faster.