Rosetta Stone is one of the most well-known brands in the language learning world with millions of licenses sold since its initial release in 1992. Rosetta Stone’s entirely immersive environment teaches learners to speak foreign languages through the use of vibrant imagery, native-speaker audio and voice-recognition activities.
In this article we highlight three Rosetta Stone “Units” that are specifically designed to teach users travel-related words and phrases.
Table of Contents
- What is Rosetta Stone?
- How many languages does Rosetta Stone have?
- Rosetta Stone lessons for travelers: study these 3 Units
- Rosetta Stone’s unrivaled voice recognition engine
- Build your vocabulary and be ready for any situation
- How much does Rosetta Stone cost?
- How to get started with Rosetta Stone today
What is Rosetta Stone?
Rosetta Stone, once known for its big yellow boxes sold in bookstores and airports, is now available as a browser application as well as smartphone app.
The program teaches users foreign languages through an approach called Dynamic Immersion, meaning you won’t be stuck trying to figure out vague grammatical explanations or complex linguistic terminology – Rosetta Stone teaches you through audio, imagery and pronunciation practice.
How many languages does Rosetta Stone have?
Rosetta Stone offers 25 different language options, including most major European languages as well as a number of interesting non-Indo-European languages such as Vietnamese and Japanese:
Spanish (Latin America)
Rosetta Stone lessons for travelers: study these 3 Units
Rosetta Stone is primarily intended to be used as a study resource for users learning a language over la long time with the goal of achieving advanced-level proficiency. As such, the default curriculum progression includes a broad spectrum of vocabulary, grammatical concepts and structures structured by “Unit” (the more commonly-studied languages have 20 Units).
If you’re just interested in learning enough to “get by” in a foreign country, however, we recommend focusing on only the Units most relevant to your needs.
Each Unit focuses on a specific topic, such as “Travel” or “Dining and Vacation.” Within every Unit there are four “Lessons,” that cover different areas within the Unit Topic.
If you’re studying a language with the goal of visiting a country for a short period of time and you just want to learn “enough to get by,” we recommend you skip the default course progression and focus your energy on Units 5 (Travel), 8 (Dining and Vacation) and 13 (Tourism and Recreation).
1. Unit 5: Travel
This Unit has a lot of helpful vocabulary you’ll want to know if you’re visiting a foreign country, especially in remote areas where the locals’ English proficiency may be more limited.
The four Lessons included are:
- Lesson 1: Destinations
- Lesson 2: Directions and location
- Lesson 3: Time, arrivals and departures
- Lesson 4: Weather today and tomorrow
You might find this unit especially useful if you’ve previously studied a language but haven’t reviewed it in ages (high school Spanish, anyone?). For example, Lesson 3 (Time, arrivals and departures) will teach you vocabulary words such as “train station,” “airport,” “ticket,” and “passport,” all of which you’ll want to know when adventuring overseas.
2. Unit 8: Dining and Vacation
The second Rosetta Stone Lesson for Travelers we recommend is Unit 8, which focuses on travel, though more emphasis is placed on asking questions and interacting with people:
- Lesson 1: Dining in and dining out
- Lesson 2: Landmarks and the arts
- Lesson 3: Emotions
- Lesson 4: Vacation activities
If you’re planning to visit lots of restaurants on an overseas trip (duh!) you should definitely include this Unit in your prep course. We’ve found that when we travel, the majority of interactions with locals occur at cafes and restaurants, so you’ll want to dedicate some time to learning how to politely order and ask questions. Plus, you never know if a restaurant will have an English-language menu so, it helps to be able to identify some of the key ingredients like “chicken,” “fish,” or “bread.”
Also, if you’re a messy eater, it definitely helps to know how to ask for another napkin:
Often, the best way to get good restaurant service in a foreign country is to make an attempt at speaking to the staff in their native language. This is especially true for countries such as France, where people are famously proud of their language and culinary culture. You don’t need to be an expert in the language by any means – often you can win the locals over simply by trying.
French waiters are notoriously rude to tourists, however we’ve never had bad service at a restaurant in France. Why? Most likely because we make a point to smile and offer a hearty, “bonjour, monsieur/madame!” every time we enter a restaurant or cafe. Even if we don’t know how to say something, or when we need our server to explain a dish to us, they never seem to mind – they’re just happy we’re not another rude foreigner walking into their restaurant loudly making demands in English.
3. Unit 13: Tourism and Recreation
You’ll find Unit 13 very useful if you’re planning to do a lot of sightseeing on your trip.
The Unit’s four Lessons are:
- Lesson 1: Cultural tourism
- Lesson 2: Outdoor recreation
- Lesson 3: At an art museum
- Lesson 4: Fine dining
In this Unit you’ll learn all sorts of vocab and phrases related to sightseeing, traveling with a guide, perusing museums, eating at fancy restaurants and much more
In addition to the lesson vocabulary, you’ll also cover some important grammatical structures, such as how to ask the price of something and pay at the register.
Rosetta Stone’s unrivaled voice recognition engine
Rosetta Stone has the most advanced speech recognition system in any language app. Called “TruAccent,” Rosetta Stone’s voice lessons prompt you to say various words or phrases, then you’re graded on the accuracy of your pronunciation. The program is able to tell which words were pronounced incorrectly or need improvement, which is a big help if you don’t have a native speaker nearby to correct you.
If you say a word or phrase incorrectly, the program will mark it using a dark-gray color. In the below example, we said, “Cuesta nove euros.” instead of the correct, “Cuesta nueve euros. (It costs 9 euros.)” TruAccent recognized which word we pronounced incorrectly and marked it for us so that we could try again. We highly recommend you complete as many voice lessons as possible when working through your lesson material.
By listening to the native speaker and repeating aloud, you tune your ears to better hear the language and train your mouth to pronounce things more easily.
Build your vocabulary and be ready for any situation
In our overseas travels we’ve found it handy to have a vocabulary base of 100-200 words before arrival. You don’t need to be able to form a complete, grammatically-correct sentence. If you’re really pressed for time before departure you can always survive with just a dozen or so words and phrases. Often you can get your point across with just a few words.
For example, if you’re taking a taxi or Uber, you don’t need to be able to give detailed directions. You can usually just show the driver a location on your phone and say, “There, please.” Then, you’ll want to know a few extra words like, “No, keep going,” and, “Turn right/left,” and, “Here is okay, thanks.”
Don’t feel stressed if you aren’t able to remember every single word or sentence you come across in your Rosetta Stone activities, often you won’t need to say an entire sentence to make yourself understood. As for remembering the most important words and phrases, we’d recommend creating vocab lists and using flashcards to help focus on the material most relevant to you (read our Anki guide if you’re new to this).
Rosetta Stone offers up to 20 Units for most of the more commonly-studied languages available on the platform, meaning you can access a wide range of topics based on your needs. If you plan to spend lots of time browsing stores and boutiques, you might check out Unit 4: Shopping. If you’re going overseas for work you’ll find Unit 17: Business and Industry has some helpful activities. No matter what your goal is, you can work through the Lessons at your own pace and focus on the material most relevant to your needs.
How much does Rosetta Stone cost?
Rosetta Stone recently updated its pricing model to include a handful of different subscription options. At the time this article was published, Rosetta Stone has three plans available:
- 3 months: $35.97 total ($11.99/mo)
- 12 months: $95.88 total ($7.99/mo)
- Lifetime: Currently on promotion for $179 (usually $299) and includes access to all the languages available on the platform, for life.
If you’re just planning a single trip and would like to get acquainted with one language before you depart, Rosetta Stone’s three-month subscription ($35.97) will provide you with more than enough resources to prepare in advance of your trip.
If you’re a frequent traveler (or a language geek like us) we’d recommend going with the Lifetime Subscription since it includes unlimited access to the entire product.
In comparison, Babbel’s “Lifetime” plan costs $249 (currently on promotion; normally priced at $499) and only offers 14 languages (compared to 25 on Rosetta Stone).
How to get started with Rosetta Stone today
Planning an adventure to somewhere exotic? We usually recommend learners begin studying at least a month in advance, if not earlier. But it’s also okay if you begin just a few days (or hours) before your arrival.
If you have absolutely zero experience with your target language, werecommend you begin with Unit 1: Language Basics to get an elementary understanding of how the language works.
In order to get the most out of the product when preparing for a trip, focus on the following three Units:
- Unit 5: Travel
- Unit 8: Dining and Vacation
- Unit 13: Tourism and Recreation
No matter what, as long as you learn a few words and show locals that you’re interested in their culture, you’re on the right track. Locals, no matter which country, are always impressed when foreigners try to speak the local language on their trip – you’d be surprised how many people travel to a new country without learning a single word of the local language (not even, “Hello!”).
By taking some time to learn the basics, you’ll stand out among the crowd when you reach your destination. If you put in the effort you can build bridges, make connections with locals, and perhaps even end up forming some lifelong friendships.
Don’t wait until the last minute to learn a language before you travel! Check out Rosetta Stone and start exploring the world.
– written by Drew Grubba for Smarter Language. Drew has ACTFL-certified proficiency in Swedish, German, Portuguese, French and Spanish. He’s also studied Mandarin Chinese, Norwegian and Dutch, and is currently learning Russian.
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