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Rosetta Stone Review

Monday, May 20th

2024 Chinese Lesson Reviews

Rosetta Stone Review 2.5 Star Rating

Rosetta Stone

2.5 Star Rating
  • $47.97 for 3 months or $126 for a year
  • Offers live-streamed classes (Live Lessons) covering various topics
  • Provides immediate pronunciation feedback through TruAccent speech recognition software
  • Customizes your learning journey based on your needs with "Your Plan"
  • Includes additional features like Stories and offline downloads of the Audio Companion
  • Gives 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Offers a 3-day free trial

Rosetta Stone has long been leading the way in language learning. Since the '90s, it's been the trusted companion for anyone eager to learn a new language.

Immersive language learning method

Instead of the traditional drill of vocabulary and grammar, Rosetta Stone invites you into an immersive experience. You learn languages almost like your first, connecting words to pictures and sounds, making everything click intuitively. With its voice recognition tech and interactive exercises, it gently guides you through, helping you hit new milestones almost without noticing. But is Rosetta Stone still relevant among so many new competitors, and is it your best option for learning Chinese? We'll get into all of that and more in this review.

$47.97 for 3 months or $126 for a year

Rosetta Stone offers a 3-month plan at $15.99 per month, billed as one $47.97 payment. It also provides a lifetime subscription for unlimited languages at a one-time payment of $199, regularly priced at $399. A 12-month plan is available at $10.50 per month, regularly $13.99, billed as one $126 payment. All the plans include Chinese (Mandarin). If you do sign up and you're underwhelmed with your lessons, you have 30 days to get your money back.

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Live Tutoring costs extra

Live Tutoring Sessions are available too, but they're not included in the basic package and need to be purchased separately. Live Lessons, on the other hand, are included. These are 25-minute live-streamed classes covering specific topics with real-world relevance. You can interact and review your knowledge through a live chat feature during these lessons.

Immersive Chinese language learning with immediate pronunciation feedback

With Rosetta Stone, you'll be speaking Chinese right away. You'll begin your lessons by repeating key vocabulary words aloud and the speech recognition software, TruAccent, will give you immediate feedback on your pronunciation. To test your skills at the end of a unit, you'll engage in two-way conversations - called Milestones - with pre-recorded native speakers. During lessons, you'll also improve your listening comprehension by matching spoken words and phrases to corresponding images.

More difficult than latin-based alphabets

As you move through the lessons, you'll start with simple words and phrases, and eventually progress to full sentences and complex ideas. Rosetta Stone claims you'll be reading in your new language from the get-go, without any need for translation or rote memorization. However, we think that's a pretty big promise to make when you're talking about languages that don't utilize the Latin alphabet. We'll let you know how that shakes out later on.

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Your pathway is designed just for you

With Rosetta Stone's "Your Plan," you can tailor your language learning journey to your needs. You tell them the reasons behind your decision to learn a new language and your current level - Beginner, Intermediate, or Proficient. Based on this, they create a unique six-week learning plan specifically for you. You'll receive handpicked content that aligns with your interests and regular reminders to keep you focused and on track towards achieving your language learning goals.

Apparently no character writing practice

We created an account and signed up for the 3-day trial of Mandarin Chinese. Before we started our first lesson, we were asked to check a box indicating whether or not we wanted our lessons to include "extra practice on letters, characters, and sounds," which we did. However, it wasn't apparent what that actually did. We hoped it would mean we'd see additional lessons on how Chinese characters are constructed and proper stroke order for writing them, but no dice. The only thing we did find was a glossary of characters and their sounds, but that won't get you very far.

"Immersion" might be needlessly frustrating

We didn't love the matching-images-to-words portion of the lessons because it doesn't provide an English translation for anything - only pinyin and audio of the Chinese pronunciation. This meant we were unsure if we were learning the vocabulary for 'men,' 'men playing basketball,' 'women,' or 'old women laughing'. Although we could enable other scripts for Chinese vocabulary, we did not find a way to switch on English translations.

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Missing tools help bridge gaps

While it's true that this approach is probably similar to how children learn, we don't think it's detrimental to have tools like translations to English in language learning. Just because kids don't have these tools when they're first picking up language doesn't mean they're harmful. In fact, for adult learners, these tools can bridge crucial gaps in understanding, making the learning process more accessible and less frustrating - and making you more likely to stick with it. We weren't the only ones who were frustrated. One angry Rosetta Stone user wrote in a review, "I'm presented with four pictures of people and it just says "Liang ge nu hai zi he ta men fu mu.' I don't know what a fu mu is. This is how I'm being taught? I'm not an infant, I know another language. Just tell me in that."

Too frustrating for what it costs

There are a handful of other features that Rosetta Stone offers in addition to the lessons (like Stories and offline downloads of the Audio Companion) but we don't think they provide enough additional value to compensate for the shortcomings of the main lesson content. While you're welcome to test out the 3-day free trial and see for yourself, ultimately, we think your time and money would be better spent learning Chinese with one of our higher-rated websites.

Where Can You Get the Best Chinese Lessons Online?

The motivations for learning Chinese are as diverse and compelling as the language itself. Perhaps you're fascinated by the rich history and culture of China, eager to read its classical poetry or modern literature in its original form. Maybe you're looking to expand your business skills and communicate directly with the vast Chinese market. Or, you might dream of traveling through China, exploring everything from bustling cities to serene landscapes, all while engaging with locals in their native tongue.

Learning Chinese, however, presents a unique set of challenges unlike those found in learning languages like Spanish or French. For one, there's the intricate system of Chinese characters, each carrying its own meaning and pronunciation, which can seem daunting at first glance. Then, there's the tonal nature of Mandarin Chinese, where the meaning of a word can change dramatically with the pitch of your voice.

The Best Chinese Lessons Compare Chinese Lessons Compare Chinese Lesson Reviews What are the best Chinese Lessons Best Chinese Lesson Reviews

Chinese Lesson FAQ

With China being the most populated country in the world, it will come as no surprise that an estimated 1.31 billion people speak Chinese - approximately 16% of everyone on the planet! And, that only includes those whose first or native language is Chinese, not those who are learning it as a second (or third!) language.
There are seven primary dialect groups in Chinese: Mandarin, Yue (or Cantonese), Min, Kejia, Gan, Xiang and Wu. Mandarin is the most widely used and is the dialect you'll most likely use if you travel to Taiwan, Singapore, or China, particularly in the northern regions. Most Chinese lessons are based on Mandarin.
Chinese is one of four languages ranked as a Category IV by the State Department's Foreign Service Institute: a designation that means that, for native English speakers, Chinese is "exceptionally difficult" (along with Arabic, Japanese, and Korean). However, if you're patient and hard-working, you can learn to speak and write in Chinese!
Many experts recommend focusing first on learning how to speak Chinese. The written language is extremely complex, because it's based on pictographs and not a phonetic alphabet, and most learners have a bigger need to communicate orally than in writing. Chinese is a tonal language, where shifting the "shape" of one's voice can change a syllable into a different word. (In Mandarin, for example, the syllable "ma" can mean everything from "mother" to "horse" and even "to scold" depending on the tone!) That can be very tricky for non-Asian learners to master, making it a great place to start.
There's no way to study Chinese that's more convenient than online lessons. You don't have to worry about making it to class on time, being able to register for a course, or turning in homework! Studying Chinese online is also much more affordable, and it lets you take things at your own pace.
Depending on whether you're using a Mac or PC (or an iPhone or Android), there are different steps you can take to enable a Chinese keyboard. Your best bet is to do a search based on the operating system you've got and follow the steps to turn on the Chinese language functionality.
No! You can choose classes with one-time fees for a complete course or a monthly subscription for continuous access, but both types of Chinese lessons are very affordable. For example, one popular program has a 12-month membership for just $16.66 per month, and another offers two levels of Chinese lessons for $249.90. You'll have a hard time finding an in-person class for less than that!
Sometimes. If you've subscribed to a monthly plan, you'll probably be able to cancel future recurring payments. If you've paid for a package of Chinese lessons, some platforms will allow you to request a refund within the first 30-60 days of use. However, your best option is to use any free lessons or resources that the language program offers prior to purchase: many sites have partial or full lessons you can try before you buy, or a 7-day trial you can use before your payments kick in. That's a great way to find out if the Chinese lessons you're considering are a good match for how you learn and what you want to get out of your studies.
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Continued from above...

But don't let these hurdles deter you. With commitment and the right resources, you're on your way to fluency. Mastering Chinese opens up a universe of cultural, professional, and social opportunities, allowing you to connect with over a billion speakers worldwide.

Online Chinese lessons offer a variety of approaches to suit different learning preferences. For auditory learners, there are programs focused on immersive listening practices, helping you attune your ear to the nuances of the language. If you're game for a challenge, gamified learning platforms make acquiring new vocabulary and grammar points engaging, rewarding your progress with points and badges.

For those who prefer a more structured learning path, comprehensive courses provide a blend of video lessons, interactive quizzes, and writing exercises, ensuring you develop a well-rounded skill set, from character recognition and writing to speaking and listening.

And if personal interaction is what drives your learning, tutoring services connect you with native Chinese speakers for real-time conversation and cultural exchange, enriching your study with authentic experiences.

Feeling overwhelmed by the options? Here's what to consider as you begin your journey to learn Chinese:

  • Current fluency level. Assess whether you're starting from scratch or if you have some knowledge of Chinese. Choose lessons that align with your starting point.
  • Learning medium. Determine whether you prefer app-based lessons, audio files, desktop platforms, or another format that fits your lifestyle and learning habits.
  • Skill focus. Decide if you want to concentrate on listening and speaking, reading and writing, or a combination. Remember, Chinese characters are essential for reading and writing, and tone practice is critical for understanding and being understood.
  • Pinyin vs. characters. Consider if the app emphasizes learning through pinyin (the Romanization of Chinese sounds) or focuses more on teaching Chinese characters. Some learners may prefer starting with pinyin to master pronunciation before moving on to characters, while others might want to dive directly into character recognition and writing.
  • Cost. Evaluate whether the lessons are priced as a one-time payment or require a subscription. Consider the value of free options and the benefits of paid upgrades.
  • Learner reviews. Look for feedback from other learners. Their experiences can provide insight into the effectiveness of the platform and the time it may take to see progress.

To guide you to the best Chinese lessons for your goals and preferred learning style, our team at Top Consumer Reviews has tested today's leading options and provided honest feedback on what each one offers. So, what are you waiting for? Embark on your Chinese learning adventure today!

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