Rosetta Stone German Full Review (Unique Features)

  • May 24, 2017

Updated December 15th, 2023

Rosetta stone is often the first course that comes to mind when you think about learning a foreign language. Their courses are loved by some and hated by others. 

We take an in depth look at the Rosetta Stone method in our  Ultimate Rosetta Stone Review. There we get down into the nitty gritty of what makes Rosetta Stone tick, and what its common strengths and weaknesses are. 

We limited the subject of this article specifically to the features of Rosetta Stone German, as not to rehash the same information we covered in the full review.

Here we'll look at some of the unique features of the German language and how they relate to the Rosetta Stone method. 

Enjoy!

Review of: Rosetta Stone German

Use: Language learning software for the German language

Effectiveness

Works well with simple grammar but not with more complex grammar

Price

Rosetta Stone has recently lowered their prices, but their courses are still a little on the expensive side

Time Commitment

1 Lesson typically takes 30 minutes

Ease of Use

 Extremely user friendly

Structure

 Highly structured and walks you through a language step by step 

I Like

  • Easy to use
  • Good for absolute beginners
  • Good for basic use of a language

I Don't Like

    • Doesn't prepare you for speaking
    • Doesn't work well for complicated grammar

Rosetta Stone German can work for beginners who are looking for a tool to supplement their German learning. The course teaches basic grammar and vocabulary well enough.


However Rosetta Stone doesn't hold the weight of more complex German grammar. Their strict no translation method doesn't help when you're trying to learn German cases, articles, and other potentially confusing grammatical features. 

Is Rosetta Stone German Right for you?

Yes for beginners

Rosetta Stone German is designed for beginners who have little to no experience in learning a foreign language. If you are looking for a course or method that will gradually teach you the basic structure and vocabulary of German then Rosetta Stone is worth considering.

No for intermediate or advanced learners

Once you get into an intermediate level of German Rosetta Stone drops the ball. Their courses can teach basic concepts and grammar just fine, but the complexity of German grammar doesn’t work well with Rosetta Stone’s method.

3 Unique features of German (And how they relate to RS)

1) German is a little further from English

German holds an interesting place in the collection of foreign languages. For a native English speaker German is easier to learn than slavic, middle eastern, or Asian languages. But German is more difficult than the Romantic languages (French, Spanish, Italian, etc).

Rosetta Stone works better the closer a foreign language is to English. This is mainly because Rosetta Stone was mostly likely design for Spanish or another Romantic language, and the method was copied for all other languages.

This means that Rosetta Stone German is fairly effective, but German will be more difficult to learn than some other languages.

The real challenge for Rosetta Stone German is grammar....

2) German has complex grammar

Compared to English and the Romance languages, German grammar is more complex. While we won’t get into the finer details here, just know that are four cases in German. For each case nouns (people, places, things,) will be used in a different form. 

Pia and Lisa explain the German cases

Each case contains adjectives that change based on gender (German has 3 genders by the way). If this wasn’t enough German also has its fair share of exceptions and special cases that break the rules you learn.

There are also 3 articles (one for each gender) in German. This wouldn’t be too bad, except a lot of the time the gender of specific German words don’t always makes sense, making the correct article hard to remember.

Here's a little more info on German articles

In our Ultimate Rosetta Stone Review we talk about how Rosetta Stone works pretty well when you’re learning basic grammar and vocabulary. However Rosetta Stone becomes less effective when you get into more complex grammar concepts.

This is because Rosetta Stone uses zero English and sticks to using pictures to teach you the meaning of a word.

With German’s complex grammar system you can imagine how difficult if might be to nail down all of the rules and exceptions using absolutely no translations.

It’s a noble effort on Rosetta Stone’s part, but in practice using only pictures simply isn’t as effective when it comes to more advanced material.

3) The German Alphabet

The German alphabet consists of 26 letters much like English. There also a series of combined letters and 3 umlauted forms (umlauts are dots placed over vowels).

There are a fair amount of letters in the German alphabet that will look and sound either familiar or similar when compared with English. And of course there are some sounds and symbols that will seem completely new.

The similarity of the German alphabet makes the language more suitable for the Rosetta Stone method. You don’t have the problem of learning a new script like Russian or Arabic, which makes German a bit easier to learn whether or not you use Rosetta Stone.

What other people are saying about Rosetta Stone German

"So, how well does Rosetta Stone work? I found it to be very effective at teaching me vocabulary so that I would retain it (there is lots of forced repetition). 

I remember the words and phrases I learned from Rosetta Stone much better than the ones I encountered elsewhere…What it's not good at is teaching you any sort of grammar.

It does have perfunctory grammar activities, but they are not sufficient. 

Perhaps for some languages they are okay, but German grammar in particular is too complicated for the limited space Rosetta Stone gives it.

Trying to teach it solely by example would require many more examples than Rosetta Stone offers you."

J. M. Barnes 
Amazon.com Review

"RS states in their promotions that "instead of learning rules, you'll discover patterns". And YOU may. 

Mostly, I failed. In Spanish I was helped by classes taken years earlier, in which I DID learn the rules. In German, I had not even that help.

It has been said by many "If you don't know the rules, you don't know the language", and that is so true.

Yet this is a great product: its voice recognition is terrific to learn pronunciation. And you can learn quickly. But without further effort on your part, this product will not make you a proficient speaker of a language."

Aaron Scott

Alternatives to Rosetta Stone German

Rocket German

Price

$150

Time commitment

20+ minutes a day 

Summary:

Rocket German offers a much more comprehensive approach to learning German than Rosetta Stone, but it also comes with a hefty price tag. 

Unlike Rosetta Stone, Rocket German features several different types of lessons. These include casual podcast-style audio lessons where you listen to native speakers converse in German. Topics covered range from relationships to sports or travel. 

One important thing to note here is that the audio lessons have a natural and real-life feel, unlike the more formal and stilted sound of some other language programs.

Other lesson styles include Language and Culture, which take a fairly deep dive into the complexities of German grammar. You learn these lessons in English, which helps you to understand the differences between English and German sentence structure. The Survival Kit lessons give you quick and easy practical German that you will need for travel or everyday life.

Like Rosetta Stone, Rocket German has a sleek app interface. It offers lots of user-friendly features like tracking your progress but does not have gamified rewards or challenges like Duolingo. Because of this, you could find the lessons a bit repetitive after a while--though probably not as much as you would in RS.

But the big advantage to Rocket German is that it includes 190 lengthy and comprehensive lessons if you purchase the highest level of access. The big downside is that the “Works” or highest-tier level of access to Rocket German does cost a whopping $450. You can pay just $150 for a lower level of access, but you won’t get nearly as much content.

Price

$14.95 per month

Time commitment

30 minutes a day 

Summary:

Like Rosetta Stone, Pimsleur has a long and decorated history as one of the best-regarded language learning programs out there. But in many ways, Pimsleur’s German app offers a lot more than Rosetta Stone.

The first thing to know about Pimsleur German is that the course is primarily audio-based, though it does include some literacy lessons and direct speaking software that lets you try out pronunciation as well. In fact, you can access the audio lessons via the Pimsleur app or through your Amazon Echo Dot!

This means that Rosetta Stone may have a slight edge here if you are a visual learner rather than an audio learner.

However, Pimsleur uses two key concepts that RS does not: It uses Spaced Repetition Theory, and it teaches grammar concepts in English rather than expecting you to magically pick them up out of thin air like the Rosetta Stone immersion method.

The Spaced Repetition Theory in Pimsleur uses the idea that carefully timed repetition of new ideas will help you permanently remember each new word or phrase. This is quite different from “memorizing” a list of vocabulary for a test, and then remembering none of it by the next week!

Plus, Pimsleur uses a narrator speaking in English to help you understand German concepts. The audio lessons include the narrator explaining as well as native speakers holding a conversation in German. The narrator frequently encourages you to repeat a word or phrase out loud during the conversations, too.

Pimsleur’s German program is one of the best ways to get conversational in German quickly. The full program offers five levels. Each level features about 30 lessons, meaning that the entire program will take you over 80 hours of listening and reading in dedicated study time.

Of course, the focus on conversational German may not work as well for you if you want a deep dive into German Grammar or more of a focus on literacy than Pimsleur currently offers. Another potential downside is that it has a moderately high cost, with a monthly subscription rate of just under $20.

That said, Pimsleur offers one of the best programs for an audio learner who wants to speak German within a fairly short time frame.

Price

From $4+ per month

Time commitment

15+ minutes a day 

Summary:

Germanpod101 is an audio and video lesson library rich with hundreds of topics for both beginners and intermediate learners. This program, created by Innovative Language, could work as either an auxiliary resource to your main program or as your core learning program if you work well with audio lessons.

Recently, the Pod101 lessons got a big upgrade with the addition of a new structure that helps you know what order to go through the lessons. This is called Learning Paths, and it lets you pick a starting level as well as a focus to direct you through the vast library of content available to paid subscribers.

It is worth noting that you can access a fair amount of content for free if you prefer to use the video and audio lessons as an add-on to your main program. You can also download lessons as a paid subscriber if you want to subscribe for just a few months and then keep using the content later.

The lessons cover almost every topic imaginable, from basics like introductory German vocabulary to German for medical emergencies or German literature.

The audio lessons have a laid-back, podcast-style approach. They feature narrators who talk you through the subject matter just like any podcast. They also feature dialogue excerpts. You can listen to the dialogue all the way through, or break it down into line-by-line audio to get into the word-for-word translation and help build your vocabulary.

On the downside, Germanpod101 is not as comprehensive as a program like Rocket German. It also has some older videos that seem annoyingly poor quality, though the audio lessons in podcast style overall have better quality.

But if you like a less traditional, more laid-back approach to learning, you may find that GermanPod101 suits your learning style perfectly. It can provide a great introduction to German for a beginner and also features a wealth of material for more advanced learners.

Conclusion

Rosetta Stone German might work for you as an introduction to basic German vocabulary, especially if you work best with a visual learning style.

Once your level of German improves and you encounter the complexities of the language, you will probably find Rosetta Stone to be less effective. This is because The Rosetta Stone method does not work well in teaching grammar for non-romance languages. 

German is a difficult language to learn whether or not you use Rosetta Stone, but in the end, there are probably some better options out there for learning German. 

Rocket German offers a lot if you want a strong foundation in German grammar and literacy as well as some German. The Pimsleur German app will get you conversational in German quickly. And GermanPod101 gives you a lively introduction to German through audio and video lessons that will keep you engaged more easily than the repetitive lessons in Rosetta Stone.

Rosetta Stone German can work as a supplement to your learning, but not the main course.

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