This post was last updated April 2020
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Babbel vs Rosetta Stone
The conversation of Babbel vs Rosetta Stone depends completely on what kind of language learner you are, and how far you want to go with your language. Rosetta Stone, for example, is great for ultimate beginner learners who just want to get to tourist-level understanding, while Babbel is for much more intensive learners.
But, if that doesn’t answer the question of Babbel vs Rosetta Stone for you, let’s go into detail. Both resources are genuinely high quality and very useful, but neither are for every single type of language learner. If you’ve been following me for a while you’re probably a career-learner; at the same time, every career language learner had to start somewhere.
If you haven’t decided what kind of language learner you are just yet, let’s help you decide, shall we? Let’s talk about the similarities and differences between Babbel vs Rosetta Stone, and how to know which one you should examine deeper. Let’s get you started on the right foot of language learning! Nothing is worse than spending all your motivation on the wrong stuff. Cause you’ll lose it. Trust me.
Babbel or Rosetta Stone?
At their cores, both Babbel and Rosetta Stone are meant for different people. In fact, this is why a lot of language learners fail: they start their language learning journey using a program or a website that is great but isn’t great for them. When this happens, they give up and forever think that they “just can’t learn a language”. Spoiler alert: anybody can learn a new language!
I mean, every language learning product on the market talks about how you can be fluent in another language in so many days/months, but that’s all marketing BS, and, unfortunately, that’s why a lot of us fail. We get all excited about learning a new language, and then we get stuck because you just can’t achieve fluency just by learning a little vocab. But nobody really teaches you how to learn a language, and that’s a shame.
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Hopefully, that’s why you’re reading this – you know why you want to learn your language, and you’re looking for the resource that will get you exactly where you’re looking to be. If so, you’re ahead of the curve. You’ve probably been burned by good marketing a few times, too. Don’t worry: I’ve got your back. I’ve been there, and I know exactly what you need.
Babbel vs Rosetta Stone: similarities
Now, Babbel or Rosetta Stone may very well be exactly what you’re looking for. Both are very structured and hold your hand through their lessons (as opposed to something like Memrise where you’re kind of on your own), and both start from the beginning of the language and help you make a solid base in understanding the language.
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Both are subscription-based and available on desktop and mobile, and sync together seamlessly. Your subscription to Babbel or Rosetta Stone only cover one language, though, as opposed to unlocking all of the business’s content in one go.
However, that’s about where their similarities end, and you need to think about whether Babbel or Rosetta Stone is right for you. Before you make this decision, you need to think about a couple of different things, because each service does very different things for very different types of learners.
Your level of experience
First: how comfortable are you with learning a new language? There’s a pretty good chance you’ve taken a foreign language course in school, but I want you to ignore that. Unless you purposefully took language courses to learn the language (for example, for a college degree), I wouldn’t call your two years of foreign language classes in high school “experience”.
High school language courses are notorious for being awful. The purpose of learning a language should be to speak it and understand it, not to take a test. That being said, if a couple of elective classes are all you have on your language learning resume, consider yourself a beginner. I mean, I know I personally learned jack squat from two years of foreign language classes.
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Or, if you have at least an on-again-off-again relationship with Duolingo, you’re probably ready for Babbel. Though Duolingo keeps it simple, it still trains the brain to take in (or at least review) foreign languages. And that’s all we need sometimes – it’s not necessarily all about learning new things all the time, but you know what they say: use it or lose it.
Otherwise, your own judgement of your level of experience is completely up to you. Where Babbel vs Rosetta Stone is concerned, you have the option to try Rosetta Stone’s free trial, and see how you feel about it. If you want to take the three days to decide if that’s on your level, awesome! Or…you can keep reading.
I constantly talk about deciding on your language learning goals because I believe it’s one of the most important things a language learner does, and nobody else seems to talk about it! I mean, whatever you want to end up doing with the language seriously changes how you go about learning it, and, again, what makes a lot of learners fall off the boat.
The guy who’s prepping for a two-week vacation in Italy is (hopefully) going to be learning different things than the guy who wants to work as a translator. Seriously, it’s a big deal. Take a second to think about it, because Babbel and Rosetta Stone teach their users very different things! They’re meant for different goals, and I don’t want you to fall flat and lose motivation just because you were convinced to use the wrong product.
It’s easy to get caught up in sexy marketing schemes, but keep in mind that these schemes aren’t looking out for you. They exist to convince you to use their product. Most of them don’t actually care whether or not you get what you want out of them, as long as they achieve their business goal: getting members.
The language you want to learn
This obviously makes a big difference, too. If you’re learning one of the more commonly spoken languages, you’re likely to find it supported in almost any language learning resource there is. Still, it’s something to be addressed before you get your heart set on a program you can’t actually use.
Both Babbel and Rosetta Stone support:
- Brazilian Portuguese
Like I said, the most popular languages. Besides those languages, Babbel also supports:
Finally, Rosetta Stone also covers:
Rosetta Stone has a lot more languages to offer, but keep in mind that the content in every language sticks to the basics. Again, more for beginners/tourists than anything else.
So, maybe now you can make the decision of Babbel vs Rosetta Stone. If not, no worries. I’ve explained the differences in the content itself, now let me explain the difference in how each one teaches their content. Because, again, content isn’t necessarily king; a third grader doesn’t learn the same way that a college freshman does, either!
Let’s start with Babbel. Babbel is pretty reasonably priced – from under $10 a month – and goes from the beginning of the language to the end. You can start using Babbel with absolutely zero knowledge of the language, and take it to advanced levels of grammar. This is a great resource, since it’s really difficult to find intermediate to advanced grammar concepts in foreign languages, outside of just looking up the rules and figuring it out yourself.
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Babbel is also super efficient in how it teaches these concepts. First you’ll get a simple explanation of the lesson, and then you’ll get a couple simple drills to put the concept into practice. This is really great for career language learners, who are familiar with grammatical patterns, or who are really just used to learning new languages. It might go a bit quick for newbie learners though, who need to make sure they’re confident in their basics before moving on.
Suffice to say, Babbel was created for language learners who find it easy to pick up on new languages; not for more “talented” learners, but for those of us who just do it a lot. You can review the lessons as many times as you need, but you’re not going to get the in-depth explanations and constant drilling that inexperienced learners may need.
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If you’re new to this stuff, keep reading, because Babbel might be a bit difficult for you. It’s a great app and I love it to death, but it’s not for everybody, and you shouldn’t expect it to be for everybody.
Next up: Rosetta Stone. Rosetta Stone is more for beginners not just because of what you’ll learn, but also how you learn it. It’s probably the best example of virtual immersion out there, which is amazing for language learners who don’t know how to accomplish that by themselves. Instead of figuring out how to get in practice for all four language skills, Rosetta Stone does it for you while you’re learning your concepts. It’ll hurt your brain, but that just means you’re doing it right.
This in itself is one huge step for beginner language learners. It’s really important to get in the habit of getting a well-rounded education from the start, so when you start looking for more independent means of language learning (ie. Babbel), you’ll know to look for other pieces of the puzzle, too. Learning a language is a lot more than just learning vocabulary, and unfortunately, that’s where a lot of programs fail us.
The other half of what makes Rosetta Stone great for beginners is the constant drilling. You know how I said that Babbel teaches you the thing, drills you a bit, then moves on? Rosetta Stone drills and drills and drills and drills. And then drills some more. Which is nauseatingly boring for seasoned language learners, but definitely helpful for newbies who need to learn to use that part of their brain.
The basics of the language you’re learning need to be a habit. You should easily be able to recall the most simplistic words and ideas before you try to move on. Easy for experienced learners, harder for new learners. I mean, it’s like math: you need to master 2+2 before you get to 2×2, or else nothing’s going to make sense to you.
So, if you need these beginner concepts almost physically drilled into your brain, go wander over to Rosetta Stone, ‘cause that’s what it’s good at.
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Do be forewarned, though, that Rosetta Stone is really expensive. Like, a couple of hundred dollars expensive. Even if you just opt for the monthly online membership (which I highly recommend), which is technically reasonably priced, you still have to pay for 3, 6, 12, or 24 months upfront. Which means you’re spending $79 at minimum.
Fortunately, they have recently updated their pricing structure to include a lifetime membership at $200 – it’s still on the pricey side, but at the same time, it’s much more aligned with the pricing of many other paid language learning resources that offer lifetime or yearly memberships.
This can definitely push Rosetta Stone out of consideration for a lot of language learners, so keep the price in mind.
Babbel vs Rosetta Stone
By now it should be abundantly clear to you which resource will satisfy your needs. You’re either used to learning a new language or you’re not; you either need someone to remind you to practice your language skills or you don’t.
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Either way, I do honestly believe that both products are very high quality, and I do highly recommend them. Obviously, Rosetta Stone isn’t for me, but I do wish I had it from the beginning. Like most of the world, I took a couple foreign language classes; unfortunately, the only thing I remember is not realizing I had a quiz on conjugating tener, and then my teacher making a big deal out of it to the entire class.
Anyways, always make sure you know your skill level and your goals before spending money on any language learning resource. Fluency is a huge claim to make, and unfortunately, almost every marketing scheme for language learning programs will boast that (without even talking about what that even means.
When you get down to it, Babbel is great if you’re looking for something very reasonably priced – like what you pay for your Netflix subscription – that holds your hand through grammatical concepts. You’ll definitely walk away with a great understanding of grammar. Click here if that sounds like you!
On the other hand, Rosetta Stone pulls on your wallet a bit more, but at the same time throws beginner language learners straight into an immersion-style course. No other language learning resource works all 4 language skills quite like Rosetta Stone. Click here if this sounds more like what you’re looking for!