Rosetta Stone and Duolingo are both very popular language programs. Both have their strengths and disadvantages, but how do you choose the right one for your language goals?
There isn’t one objective best language learning program for every type of language learner, but the right one for you will depend on what you prioritize and what other language tools you use.
Table of Contents
- An Overview of Rosetta Stone
- An Overview of Duolingo
- Where Rosetta Stone Beats Duolingo
- Where Duolingo Beats Rosetta Stone
- Rosetta Stone vs Duolingo – Which is the Better Language Learning App?
An Overview of Rosetta Stone
Rosetta Stone has been a popular language-learning platform for decades, offering users a powerful natural immersion method to teach new languages.
How does Rosetta Stone work?
Rosetta Stone uses a method called Structured Immersion. All lessons on the platform are presented in the target language along with pictures and audio recorded by native speakers. Our full review of Rosetta Stone is at the link below.
The structured immersion method is modeled after the way humans learn their first language and helps users with learning languages faster and more naturally than methods based in rote memorization and translation. This also means the curriculum is the same no matter what the user’s native language is.
Rosetta Stone’s curriculum
Rosetta Stone’s curriculum has two sections: Foundations and Fluency Builder.
Foundations is the beginner level course (A1 to B2 on the CEFR scale), which is available for 25 languages. Some languages have more content than others depending on the popularity of the course.
Fluency Builder is the advanced-level course (B1 to C1 on the CEFR scale). It’s only available for English, Spanish, French, German and Italian.
The Foundations curriculum is broken up into Units. More popular languages have 20 Units while less popular languages don’t have as many. Each Unit covers a different topic like “Language Basics” or “Recreation and Tourism.”
Each Unit is made up of four Lessons. Each Lesson has a specific focus within the Unit topic, for example:
- Unit 1 (Language Basics), Lesson 1: Basic sentences
- Unit 1 (Language Basics), Lesson 2: Everyday items
- Unit 1 (Language Basics), Lesson 3: Colors and sizes
- Unit 1 (Language Basics), Lesson 4: Clothing and quantities
Each Rosetta Stone lesson consists of a handful of study activities. The first activity is always called the Core Lesson. It introduces all of the new vocabulary for the Lesson and walks the user through a few practice activities.
After the Core Lesson, there are a handful of other language learning activities focused on different skills like grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation.
Which languages does Rosetta Stone offer?
Rosetta Stone offers 25 languages at the Foundations level (A1 – B1) and 5 at the Fluency Builder level (B1-C2).
- Chinese (Mandarin)
- English (American)
- English (British)
- Filipino (Tagalog)
- Persian (Farsi)
- Portuguese (Brazil)
- Spanish (Latin America)
- Spanish (Spain)
Fluency Builder (B1-C1)
- English (American)
- English (British)
- Spanish (Latin America)
- Spanish (Spain)
How much does Rosetta Stone cost?
Is Rosetta Stone free? No, there is no free version. There are currently three subscription options for new users:
- 3 months: $35.97 total ($11.99/mo)
- 12 months: $95.88 total ($7.99/mo)
- Lifetime: $179. This option includes access to not only all 25 languages available on the platform, but also all skill levels. That’s $7.16 per language! This is the best total value for language learning software out of all the programs and apps we’ve reviewed.
An Overview of Duolingo
Duolingo is a popular language-learning app that offers free, gamified courses in a variety of languages. You’ll instantly recognize it by its mascot, Duo the Owl. Read our full review of Duolingo at the link below.
How does Duolingo work?
Duolingo’s curriculum and user experience are designed with fun and ease of use in mind at every turn. The short, bite-sized lessons, the organization of skills into a road map, gamification features, and use of humor throughout create a dopamine-filled experience.
Curriculum and skill tree
Duolingo’s course content is arranged in a “skill tree.” Each skill has a category like “Basics”, “Travel”, or “Adverbs.” Each skill has five levels and each level is made up of a small number of lessons. Lessons include various activities, including translating words and phrases, listening exercises, and speaking exercises with voice recognition.
Gamified learning platform
Duolingo’s user experience is like a video game. With these features, their lessons activate the brain’s reward center and make learners want to come back for more.
Every time a player completes a Lesson or uses the Practice feature to train previously-learned skills, they earn XP, short for experience points. XP is used as a rough measure of how much you’ve studied on the platform.
Leagues foster friendly competition between Duolingo players. 30 players are randomly assigned to each League and they compete to see who can study the most in the week. Players who finish in the top 10 advance one “Level” in the following week’s League competition. There are 10 Levels total. The higher the level you reach, the more intense the competition gets.
Streaks are the most powerful motivator of Duolingo’s gamification features. When a player meets their XP goal, they begin a study Streak that keeps track of how many consecutive days you’ve practiced. Watching the number go up is satisfying. The notifications like “don’t make Duo sad, keep up your streak” have been memed and parodied across the internet, but you can’t deny that they’re effective.
Lingots, or Gems on mobile, are Duolingo’s in-game currency. Learners can earn Lingots by completing Lessons or reaching daily XP goals and can spend them on in-game items like Streak Freezes and outfits for Duo the Owl.
When a player reaches milestones in the skill tree, they unlock achievements. These keep players focused on long-term goals in addition to meeting their short-term daily practice goals.
Which languages does Duolingo offer?
Duolingo currently offers 38 languages. They frequently add more. Here is the complete list:
- Haitian Creole
- High Valyrian
- Scottish Gaelic
How much does Duolingo cost
Duolingo is completely free to use, but the free version has ads and some limited features. The premium subscription, Duolingo Plus, costs $6.99 per month. Duolingo plus removes the ads and offers additional features like unlimited hearts and monthly streak repairs. These features are nice to have, but most users can get by just fine without them.
Where Rosetta Stone Beats Duolingo
Rosetta Stone and Duolingo are both top-notch ways to learn a language that offer different approaches to language acquisition. Rosetta Stone is the more robust language learning platform, emphasizing natural immersion by using images, audio, and contextual cues to help learners understand the language. Its content is more structured than Duolingo’s and is aimed at teaching grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation in a comprehensive and systematic way. Duolingo is an excellent language study tool that can help learners practice their language skills in a fun and engaging way, but it’s not really designed to teach someone a language from scratch.
Immersive language learning
Immersion is the best way to learn a new language. Rosetta Stone is the closest thing you can get to complete immersion without buying a plane ticket. Most language learning websites are focused on translation. Rosetta Stone’s structured immersion method sets them apart from their competitors and enables users to gain a deep understanding of their target language faster.
Live tutoring sessions
Rosetta Stone Gold license subscribers have access to live virtual tutoring sessions led by native speakers. Each session is paired with a Core Lesson and gives users a chance to practice what they’ve just learned in a session. Each session is exclusively held in the student’s target language to encourage them to use the words they know to communicate and get comfortable speaking to another person. These real-time conversations also mean immediate feedback from a real person.
TruAccent speech recognition
Both Duolingo and Rosetta Stone include speech exercises with speech recognition engines, but only one is designed to help learners develop an authentic accent based on data from millions of native speakers, gives instant feedback, has adjustable sensitivity, and adjusts to children’s speech. That’s Rosetta Stone’s TruAccent speech recognition engine.
Duolingo and other language learning programs’ speech exercises simply detect the words that are spoken by the user. Rosetta Stone goes the extra mile to give users the confidence that they won’t stick out like a sore thumb when they communicate with others in their new language.
Where Duolingo Beats Rosetta Stone
In terms of language practice, Duolingo offers an impressive range of exercises, including grammar drills, vocabulary-building exercises, speaking activities, and listening comprehension tasks. The app’s focus on daily practice and repetition can help most learners build their language skills over time, making it an effective language study tool. It’s easy to drop in and out of Duolingo for practice on-the-go, but the app doesn’t compare in size, method, or scope to a more complete system like Rosetta Stone.
Structuring language practice as part of a more robust program
Duolingo doesn’t have the most in-depth curriculum, but it’s extremely useful for practicing your new language as a supplement to a more robust program.
Fun, gamified program
Another selling point for Duolingo is their emphasis on making learning a language fun. Bite-sized lessons go by quickly and are easy to fit into your day. Learners who struggle with staying motivated often find Duolingo helpful.
Duolingo’s free version is fully usable and the premium version is lower-cost than Rosetta Stone. This makes Duolingo a good choice for learners who haven’t committed to learning a specific language yet and just want to try it out.
Rosetta Stone vs Duolingo – Which is the Better Language Learning App?
Should you use Rosetta Stone or Duolingo? Is Rosetta Stone worth it? That depends on what you’re looking for in a language learning tool. The pricing, curriculum, user experience, and language offerings are all important considerations.
Rosetta Stone is better for learners who…
- Are committed enough to pay for a subscription
- Want an immersive learning experience
- Need a more complete language learning curriculum
- Are interested in live tutoring sessions in-platform
Duolingo is better for learners who…
- Enjoy a gamified format
- Want to practice what they know
- Prefer a free app
- Want to try a language before they spend money on learning tools
- Need a supplemental tool
Our best advice on how to learn a language is to use a variety of tools to get a wide range of knowledge. Since Rosetta Stone works well as a primary tool and Duolingo works well as a supplemental tool, you could even use both.
Rosetta Stone is a property of IXL Learning, Inc.