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Rosetta Stone - Will You Become Fluent

Updated on February 17, 2013

If you want to know why Rosetta Stone's share price is going down, it's because people aren't lining up in droves to buy their products. I met an employee of the the Rosetta Stone company through a broken down battery, taco bell and picking up a friend. So I got to talking to this Rosetta Stone employee and about the program. I told him my opinion about the program and their advertising campaign and he said, the truth is, "it will never make anyone fluent." I laughed. Because as your read this article you will know that if anyone had to meet this person, I was the best candidate.

I have listened to Rosetta Stone commercials on the radio, I have watched their infomercials religiously, and I have played with their language programs at the kiosks found at airports and malls. The only thing I have not done is order their free cd.

I have watched Rosetta Stone religiously, because I have been interested in their advertising campaign. I have been obsessed with it. They came up with a product, stated to people that they don’t need to memorize and that they will learn naturally. They came up with a voice recognition component, and they said you will speak fluently. Throughout the process of analyzing their advertising techniques I have found that Rosetta Stone has done a great job with advertising, but also at the same time are lying to people to sell their product.

I think the infomercials are entertaining and I can see how people would get caught up in convincing themselves to buy their products, but if you watch the infomercials they reveal information that you are not aware of.

They have an infomercial showing students with headsets on their heads in a classroom setting using the Rosetta Stone program. These students, if they really are language learning students, give a high recommendation about how great the program is. What else did you expect? Ok, but they don't tell you that the program is so great is because there is a teacher in the classroom who is teaching the students with a lesson plan that is not solely based on the Rosetta Stone software. The program is used in the classroom as a supplement or reinforcement. Would an individual person at home have the same lesson plans with the same reinforcement? No, the individual is on their own, unless they pay a teacher to teach them and keep the learning consistent.

Then there are testimonials made by people like Michael Phelps who swear this is the quickest way to learn a language. If this was the quickest way to learn a language, then why did Michael Phelps not say one word of “Chinese”? or why has nobody else showed off how much they learned by speaking the language that they have learned through Rosetta Stone. If the program is so quick and easy, then these people should be speaking a foreign language. Dang it, just say something. But they don’t and that should be a red flag.

When Rosetta Stone says that you do not have to memorize and you will learn by being immersed in the language and that learning is natural, they are full of it. The truth of the matter is, by using any program, you are memorizing and practicing. When Rosetta Stone says it's the fastest way, those words make me laugh. It's such an ambiguous statement. The truth is that the program takes a long time to learn from and you will need a lot of studying, practice and perseverance.

I wish I could take a survey asking how many people have bought the program and have never even opened the box or who have used it as many as three times and never went back to it. I would say there is a high percentage of people just handing Rosetta Stone their money for nothing.

If you are a good sales person, you can sell anything and that is what Rosetta Stone is doing. Rosetta Stone is selling dreams, fantasies, wishes and desires. They are selling the idea that you will speak a second language fluently, easily and quickly and let me tell you that their statements are far from the truth.

Two years ago, Amethyzt Moon asked the question on Yahoo Answers, “Can you become fluent in a language with Rosetta Stone?” She states, “Apparently the Army and Air Force uses Rosetta Stone to learn languages, however, I have Rosetta Stone Versions 3 and it seems like it’s not enough to learn the languages fluently, do they have a different version of something? Have you become fluent or know anyone that has become fluent from the Rosetta Stone program?”

This Answer comes from M. Shadows who answered the question on Yahoo Answers. “The military uses Rosetta Stone as homework software, while most of the actual learning takes place through immersion (being placed around language speakers) and the teacher-to-student learning process. Rosetta Stone is most likely just a supplement that they use to review the language. Remember , exaggeration is the key to a successful sales pitch. The best way to become fluent in a language is to become immersed in it.”

But Rosetta Stone says that their program is an immersion program, which it is true if you look at the definition that states, immersion is, “concentration, complete attention, intense mental effort.” There is also another “immersion” definition that defines the word as “Sinking until covered completely with water.” Well, if we were talking about being immersed with language, we would want to be surrounded by people who are having conversation with us in that language. Rosetta Stone’s software program is not a complete immersion program. It is a tool to use to MEMORIZE vocabulary and phrases that you can use to speak with real people in that language. Rosetta Stone will sell you the program, but you will not become fluent from it. There is a lot more you will have to do. Will you have to memorize, “Yes”. When they say you don’t have to memorize, they are lying. Is it quick and easy to learn? It’s easy if you have the ability to memorize. Is it quick, the answer is “no”. There is nothing quick about becoming fluent in a second language and there is nothing quick about learning a language. It takes time.

If you want to try to learn a second language, I would not just throw my money away when there are free programs on the web that will teach you a language for free. There are also websites that allow you to speak with native speakers through skype for free. So before you start buying Rosetta Stone, I would suggest you do a search on Google: with the words, Languages 4 Free, Languages for Free etc. and then look up on Google, “free skype language exchange”… You will be amazed how quickly you can learn without spending money.


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    • profile image


      4 years ago

      You admitted that you haven't even used the product, so your opinion doesn't have any authority at all. In fact, almost every review I've read about Rosetta Stone was written by people who – like you – haven't used the product, or opened it, decided they didn't like the learning format, and tossed it into storage.

      I'm assuming the others using Rosetta Stone, like me, aren't striving to learn a foreign language to thereafter continue sitting at their computer with those language skills tucked away. Eventually they're going to enter a world where they'll use that language, and Rosetta Stone gives you the foundation to tie the knot with cultural experience – and it's a better foundation than years of French classes (high school and college, along with independent reading and studying) gave me before moving to Brussels. My Spanish, which I learned solely with Rosetta Stone, had much fewer gaps when I stepped into the Spanish-speaking world.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I have finished all five levels of Rosetta Stone Italian. I created a blog to tell people about my experience. You can find a video of me speaking (or at least trying to speak) Italian.

      Here is my conclusion:

      CAN WE SPEAK A LANGUAGE FLUENTLY WITH ROSETTA STONE? – No, but we can START to speak fluently.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      There's a Rosetta Stone ad above this. :P

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      rosetta stone also offer a free 30 min by level with a teacher of your learning language

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      We purchased Rosetta Stone French to use in our homeschool for our high school aged son. (A lot of homeschoolers use it). We use the homeschool version, which includes a printable workbook/quizbook and has a more complete curriculum plan. However, if I did not happen to already read/speak French, I could NEVER have actually used this- because there are no answer keys for correcting the work, and all instrutions are in French.

      I also was very disappointed that it never EXPLAINS the grammar, it just leaves you to pick it up my osmosis. So after one year, although my son could parrot many phrases he had heard, he could not formulate his own sentences for conversation. We have decided to continue using it as a vocabulary-building tool (I do prefer the visual learning vs translation) and exposure to pronunciation, but I have to teach grammar/conjugation etc or he would never be functional in the language.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I bought Rosetta Stone before moving to France. It helps me learn French, but is not going to make me fluent as a standalone learning tool. I'm finding it a bit challenging to renew my Totale online subscription now that my first year has expired. The Rosetta Stone call center was focused on selling me the CD/download version. As best I can tell, I need to repurchase the Totale subscription and drop my old account, losing my lesson scores and progress tracking. Not a big deal, but that certainly suggests that Rosetta Stone is focused on the upfront sale and doesn't expect many people to be around for a second year. Now I need to decide whether it is helpful enough to throw more money at them for the second year.

    • profile image

      International Teacher. 

      7 years ago

      I work abroad. I generally sign contracts for 2 years. I used Rosetta Stone for Mandarin Chinese before I moved to China and Brazilian Portuguese before moving to Brazil. While, it was not enough to make me fluent, I would not have learned nearly enough to get by without it. It is wonderful for supplementing classes and practicing by yourself. I have used formal classes, private tutors, and most of the free programs/podcasts I can find online. It is my favorite way to study. Rosetta Stone is very useful, but not best used as your only language learning tool.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      As someone else stated, Rosetta Stone is a tool. I've only been using it for a couple of weeks, but I'm impressed so far. The alternative for me would be weekly lessons, which would seem to be less than ideal as I'm sure it would be hard to retain the info from week to week. I've no illusions that passively watching RS lessons is going to teach me a language; like anything you get out what you put in.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I used Dutch Rosetta stone and then listened to a dutch radio station and absolutely started picking it up. Any learning requires study, usage, and emersion. You have to put in the time into anything to get results. Rosetta stone works very well if you use it in conjuction with other tools. Don't be lazy and think a new language is easy especially for Americans since we are so used to one language. It takes a bit of time to get used to learning but once you start to get the rosetta way of teaching it gets very easy.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Sorry Mr Writer...but you are grossly wrong. I am pretty diversed in languages and have taken plenty of lessons in school. I had to move to a German speaking country for a year and decided to use Rosetta Stone Deutsch for less than a half year. I was incredibly grateful as it gave me a launching platform of elementary German to add on to while being there. It would have been much harder had I not used the program. As for other "free" or cheap programs they are garbage. I've tried a couple after, and was so spoiled by the ease of Rosetta Stone I refused to use the cheap programs. Rosetta Stone using some simple, but very effective techniques in their program. I'm not saying it's overly high tech, but they are the only ones that do. Instead of trying to memorize you just start clicking and speaking. Through repitition it does sink in. I suggest before you start creating websites and preaching a very long winded article of nothing but conjecture, you should probably try out the product and not waste everyone's time. Did it even occur to you, that's it's completely ridiculous to do write up on "you opinion" without any actual knowledge or facts?...that's pretty darn stupid......Whether you like it or not.....Das Programm funktioniert sehr gut! Auf Wiedersehen!....(that means it works and see ya later)....

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I bought Rosetta Stone French levels 1-5 in February 2012. It has been about seven months since I bought the program and I love it. I am finishing level three as of now, and I do find it extremely effective. I have learned to pronounce the language very well, and I can even write and speak the language. Aside from using the actual software on the computer, I have been listening to their audio CD in my car for the past 7 months. Learning a language is something that you have to be on top of. If you don't understand a word on Rosetta Stone, go to Google translator and voila. Engage yourself in the language by asking native speakers, doing your own research, and practice, practice, practice. I feel that Rosetta Stone has been one of the best investments I have made. Before buying Rosetta Stone, I tried reading some French online and watch the Standard Deviant DVDs. Nothing worked. Those programs were moving too quickly for me, and the grammar and explanations would only slow me down.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I've just started Japanese with Rosetta Stone doing one lesson a day. I have never had any Japanese language background and learning seems so far to be quick and easy. Being fully fluent that is highly unlikely but only time will tell. I suggest stick with the program and avoid turning words into english translation. Also after awhile get childrens books and start reading! You have to start at the bottom and move up just like a kid learning their first language.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Rosetta Stone is just like any other language learning program. The only downside to Rosetta Stone is the price, ultimately. As for the memorizing bit..You don't notice yourself memorizing unless you really pay attention. Rosetta stone is unique (at least for me) because you will suddenly be able to understand bits of a language after 30 min, where you had zero experience before. But, again, Rosetta Stone is like any other language learning program (if a little more streamlined than most) in that without using the language in a contextual situation, you won't become fluent. Period. There's a lot more than knowledge to fluency.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I grew up in Ontario where you must take french in grades 4-9 growing up so I do have some sort of a french base. However, I am no where near fluent and have forgotten much of the french I took in school. I am certainly not comfortable speaking in french nor listening to french radio/tv, etc. I don't find the normal memorization techniques work for me, so I was looking for something a little more "natural" in the way we grew up learning languages, and I think Rosetta Stone is great for that. It has SIGNIFICANTLY improved my pronunciation already, and is helping improve my vocabulary/listening skills as well. I don't plan to be 100% fluent off of Rosetta stone, but I believe it is a wonderful tool and it really is helping me on my quest to fluency...

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I bought Rosetta Stone a year ago and I have been using it for 30 per day I have finished 2 levels of it I am on my third level. I do think it works and very good I am in Toronto and everything is English here but my daugther goes to an all French school and I remember going to pick up my daughter and not understanding nothing and now a year later I can understand so much and have small conversations with my daughter's teacher and they understand me. They have even ask me where am I studing french. I dont go to any other french course other than the daily time that I have on Rosetta Stone. I have not finish I am half way on it. It is expensive but it works so far I don't know how advance I will be when I finish and that will probably take me another year and half but in 2.5 years with no inmersion I am hoping to good results I think as long as you have good self discipline you can learn a language with Rosetta Stone to the point where you can communicate... I am communicating and I half way through it

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      First, let me say that I own Rosetta Stone French Levels 1-5. I am only on Level 1 right now, but I am finding it effective.

      That said - I am well-educated person, educated at top colleges and universities in North America, and lived in Montreal for two full years while attending a masters degree program (at an English-language university.) While "immersed" in a Francophone culture (outside of my studies), I did not become fluent or even close to proficient. That's right, I LIVED in a French-speaking place, with all the signs in French, all products in French, and people speaking French everywhere (including on my campus, just not in lectures), and I developed very little comprehension of the French language. (What I did get was an understanding of all the basic words you see on signs and packaging - though I rarely knew how to pronounce them - and a high level of comfort with the language, which is helpful as I pursue French self-study now, back in the US, though it is different from comprehension.)

      So, I don't imagine that 5 levels of French in Rosetta Stone will make me fluent. However, it is a tool, and a good one. I am combining it with grammar and vocabulary books, and several websites. I don't think I have ever watched a Rosetta Stone infomercial, but I have never seen them claim you don't have to memorize anything. What you don't have to do is memorize long vocabulary lists. And, arguably, you are not memorizing vocabulary when you learn associations between a photo and the word for the noun, verb, concept, or whatever. You are supposed to, for example, associate chien with the concept of a dog, rather than thinking, "chien = dog = furry four-legged animal." You're not supposed to be memorizing the English translation even if that translation has to take place in your head early on. Likewise, you're not exactly "memorizing" the grammar.

      I've also never understood Rosetta Stone to claim or suggest that one will become fluent with the product. It's really geared towards people who want a "survivor" level of proficiency in a new language. To someone who knows NOTHING about French, being able to read menus, order in restaurants, converse with store clerks, express basic ideas, etc., IS "knowing French." You will definitely learn more than that in Rosetta Stone.

      My goal is to get to a high intermediate level and then switch to an in-person course. As I mentioned, I am using Rosetta Stone as just one tool, and so I think I am picking up grammar, verb conjugation, etc., faster than others would. But, even without supplementary materials, you can learn enough in Rosetta Stone to be reasonably comfortable and self-sufficient visiting a foreign country, which is what most people want. (I do want to be fluent, but as I said, I am not relying on RS for that.)

    • Bharatthapa profile image

      Bharat Thapa 

      8 years ago from NEW DELHI

      I am trying it and i am on level2. I have decided to finish all 5levels by doing it everyday for 1hr.

      Let's see i'll be back and let you know of the results.

    • profile image


      8 years ago


      Come back and post when you are fluent. I won't hold my breath.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      rosetta stone is one of the best ways to learn. I have been doing level 1 for 2 days and i can remember more than i did with a teacher at school any day.

    • artlader profile image


      9 years ago from Aiken, South Carolina, USA


      Why would you pay so much money for software that is at best moderately effective when there are free alternatives online?

      Voted up and tagged useful.



    • vox vocis profile image


      9 years ago

      I think Rosetta Stone is a great product but of course it cannot make anyone fluent in speaking a language. There are many different processes one has to go through to learn a language and in the end one has to actually speak the language in order to become fluent.


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