Rosetta Stone is probably the most well known language learning course on the market, and it has its share of praise and critics.
Typically some beginners like the way the courses softly introduce you to a new language, and leave you with a good foundation in grammar and vocabulary.
The critics of Rosetta stone often point out its slow pace, price tag, and inability to develop your speaking skills.
You can read more on the general pros and cons of Rosetta Stone language courses in our Ultimate Rosetta Stone Review. In this article we are specifically looking at how well Rosetta Stone works with the French language.
Review of: Rosetta Stone French
Use: Language learning software
Works well with simple grammar but not with more complex grammar
Rosetta Stone has recently lowered their prices, but their courses are still a little on the expensive side
1 Lesson typically takes 30 minutes
Ease of Use
Extremely user friendly
Highly structured and walks you through a language step by step
- Easy to use
- Good for absolute beginners
- Good for basic use of a language
I Don't Like
- Doesn't prepare you for speaking
- Vocabulary is often impractical
- Not for intermediate/advanced learners
The French language is a romance language and is closely related to English. As a result the Rosetta Stone method works a lot better for French then other languages like Arabic or Japanese.
While Rosetta Stone it isn't that good at preparing you for real life conversations. The course is designed for beginners who want an introduction to the language.
Rosetta Stone is best used to learn basic grammar and vocabulary, so more advance learners won't find as much value in it.
Is Rosetta Stone French right for you?
Yes if you’re a beginner
Rosetta Stone course are specifically designed for people who have never learned a foreign language before. Their approach is to walk you through the beginning phases of French step by step.
Rosetta Stone is well ordered and takes a lot of the stress and guesswork that other courses sometime leave room for.
Yes if you want to learn grammar and vocabulary
At its core Rosetta Stone is a vocabulary and grammar course. It aims to teach you the foundational parts of the French language. By the end of their 5 levels you will have a working knowledge of the language.
No if you’re more advanced
Rosetta Stone will seem more slow paced and redundant the higher your level of proficiency in the French language. In you’re above an intermediate level in French then Rosetta Stone probably isn’t worth your time, as the material will seem too basic.
No if you want to start speaking right away
Even with its voice recognition component Rosetta Stone doesn’t offer much in the way of practical speaking practice.
If you want to start speaking right off the bat then you should probably look for a more practical (less gradual course) like Pimsleur or a self study program. Rosetta Stone will teach you new words and phrases, but they probably won’t be very practical for you at first.
Rosetta Stone works well for the Romantic languages
It’s highly likely that Rosetta Stone designed a language course for a Romantic language (probably Spanish), then used that course as a template for all its other language courses. If you have used Rosetta Stone in more than one language there’s a definitely a cookie cutter kind of feel to the courses.
As a general rule of thumb the closer a language is to English the better the Rosetta Stone course will work. If you’re learning French then you won’t have a lot of the challenges that students of Japanese, Arabic, and Thai might have if they used Rosetta Stone
French vocabulary and Grammar is similar to English
Both French and English have deeps roots in Latin, so in French you’ll find a lot of words that look and sound similar to their English counterparts.
French grammar, while not exactly the same as English, is very similar; especially compared to other foreign languages. One reason this makes French easier to learn with Rosetta Stone is that French uses the same word/sentence order that English does: SVO (subject, verb, object).
SVO Sentence Order in English & French
French and English alphabets are similar
Intro to the French alphabet
Both French and English use a latin alphabet, so you don’t have to learn a new script like cyrillic or Greek. Languages will different scripts or no alphabet at all are harder to learn with Rosetta Stone. You won’t have any of those problems when learning French.
Doesn’t prepare you for native speakers
Like any language course Rosetta Stone is not a substitute for practicing with real native speakers or at least listening to native speech via media or recorded dialogues.
Native speakers often speak quickly and weld sounds together while dropping others. This makes it hard make out what they’re saying even if you the know the words already.
There's nothing in the Rosetta Stone method that helps prepare you for this. The audio is always spoken slow, and pronunciation is always prim and proper.
Vocabulary is often impractical
If you want to start speaking French right away then Rosetta Stone is a bad choice. The course does a decent job of teaching the foundational grammar and vocabulary of French.
However you will a lot of the words and phrases to be impractical in real life (especially in the beginning of the course). Knowing “the dog is on the ball”, or “the boys have bicycles” isn’t particularly helpful when you meet someone in the real world.
What other people are saying about Rosetta Stone French
"This is how a language program should be designed. It is structured in much the same way anyone learns a language natively; it shows you the visual of the action, then pairs that with the words and sounds, and over time, your brain connects it all together.
What most impresses me are the pronunciation exercises, which record your voice and allow you to compare it by way of a sound graph with the native speaker. If you work the program, you are going to learn how to speak whichever language it is. It is intuitive, easy, and straightforward, and gives you immediate feedback."
"...the software has an "immersion, learn as you did your first language" type of strategy. Meaning that, like others have said, it's a bunch of flash cards paired with French words, with 0 explanations in English.
The problem with this is that it begins quizzing you on rules you didn't know existed until you don't understand why you're wrong. Ex., French is a romance language, so nouns are masculine or feminine.
Unlike Spanish, there is no easy way to know one way or the other. You have to look for "un or une" when you learn vocabulary. But by the time you are being quizzed on which one they are, you didn't know you were supposed to look out for that in previous lessons."
Alternatives to Rosetta Stone French
20+ minutes a day
Rocket French is built around recorded audio in the form of dialogues. The dialogues have English explanations and usually teach the language in "chunks" or phrases versus individual words (this is great for conversational French).
The Rocket French method isn't quite as gradual as the Rosetta Stone method. Overall Rocket French is a more comprehensive course that does a good job of incorporating speaking and listening, as well as reading and writing.
30 minutes a day
Pimsleur is probably the second most popular language course behind Rosetta Stone. Pimsleur is entirely audio based and is specifically designed to develop your conversational skills.
They use a unique and effective question/recall/respond technique to get you on your feet in French. With Pimsleur You'll learn a limited but functional vocabulary and have a good sense of German pronunciation.
From $4+ per month
15+ minutes a day
Frenchpod101 features audio lessons in a podcast format. Lessons are great for grammar and vocabulary. Each lesson is designed around a French conversation between native speakers, and the teachers do a great job of keeping things engaging.
While it's not as structured as Rosetta Stone it's still a substantial French learning tool (it's also much cheaper too). The site features transcripts, an in-site flashcard system, and many other useful features.
Rosetta Stone works well with French because of the language’s close proximity to the English language.
While it won’t do much to develop your speaking skills it will give you a solid foundation in French vocabulary and grammar. Advance learners should look elsewhere but beginners may find the course useful.