PROS / Rosetta Stone is completely immersive and uses pattern-based lessons to help you teach yourself Spanish.
CONS / If you choose the desktop option, expect to wait for installation. It took us over an hour to install and begin this program.
VERDICT / For best results, we recommend using the entire Rosetta Stone program. The main lessons alone only teach you Spanish vocabulary by association.
Rosetta Stone is a completely immersive program without English instructions or explanations. Part of the success of the immersive course is the pattern-based method it uses to compensate for a lack of verbal explanation. You learn Spanish by comparing similar pictures with slight differences to learn gender, plurals, conjugation and numbers.
If you have previous experience learning Spanish or any other language in school, you likely encountered piles of vocabulary flashcards. Spanish learning software Rosetta Stone has designed its entire course around this method to teach you the essentials of Spanish vocabulary and mechanics. This makes it a strong choice for visual learners. Thankfully, this program doesn't consist solely of flashcards. The flashcard sections are supplemented with writing and speech recognition activities to reinforce the vocabulary you learned visually.
The main lessons present four images at once and prompt you to choose the correct picture for the Spanish word. So even if you do not know the word “gato,” the nearby picture of a cat clues you in fast. These exercises benefit visual learners most. A good example of this pattern-based method is learning numbers out of sequence paired with a corresponding image. Rather than learning numbers in numerical order, you learn them as they often appear in the real world.
To supplement the visual-heavy main courses, Rosetta Stone employs a sophisticated speech recognition system. Other learn Spanish programs present the word to you first in writing, while this section in Rosetta Stone only uses an image, so you recall the word on your own rather than read a prompt or script. It's also a blessing for auditory learners because it moves away from vocabulary and focuses on pronunciation and conversation skills. This tool works by presenting Spanish words and phrases for you practice, and it gives immediate feedback based on your pronunciation and accent. Rosetta Stone focuses on the fundamental sounds common to Spanish words to improve your pronunciation.
The recording section in this program is designed to improve your pronunciation, but you don’t hear your voice played back automatically. You can listen to your own audio at select times, but the course moves so fast, it gets in the way. Instead of a sliding scale, pronunciation exercises are graded as either pass or fail. If you score anything below a pass, the program asks you to repeat the word.
The best Spanish software doesn’t chain you to a desktop. Rosetta Stone provides a mobile app that allows you to continue learning on the go. This feature is helpful because you can still learn Spanish even if you do not have a lot of time to sit down in front of the computer. Listening to Spanish lessons on the go brings language learning into the real world, training you to think in Spanish outside of the software’s confined context. Rosetta Stone offers an online version of the application as well. You can conveniently access it and learn Spanish words anywhere you have an internet connection.
Rosetta Stone connects you with an online community to give you the whole Spanish speaking experience, which is one of the best ways to learn Spanish. You can play games and chat in Spanish with others who are also learning the language. These teaching tools allow you to use the Spanish words you are learning. While it costs extra, one of Rosetta Stone's prize features is its native-speaking tutors, who are available for chat and private lessons. However, the extra cost only makes this feature worth it if you're truly serious about Spanish fluency.
For all the vocabulary, grammar and writing lessons in Rosetta Stone, this Spanish software misses the mark on cultural context of the language. While this gives you the freedom to associate Spanish vocabulary with your own ideas, you miss the proper context for words native Spanish speakers use. Instead of a full dictionary, this program has a simple index of Spanish words presented in the order the program introduces them. This makes words easier to find but omits many useful words not presented in the software.
Rosetta Stone covers reading, writing, speaking, pronunciation and grammar through its total program. However, each format is incomplete without the other pieces of the program. Rosetta Stone is effective, but only with frequent practice and use of the whole program. The good news is that between online tutoring and mobile compatibility, you can learn Spanish outside of your home or classroom.