Rosetta Stone is the most recognizable brand when it comes to learning languages, but does that mean it's the best?
The answer to that question will differ widely based on which language you're learning. In this article we'll look at some of the unique features of the Hebrew language, and how well (or not) Rosetta Stone teaches it.
For a more in-depth look at the Rosetta Stone method itself you can check out our Ultimate Rosetta Stone review.
Review of: Rosetta Stone Hebrew
Use: Language learning software for learning Hebrew
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 help much with Hebrew script
- Complex grammar is difficult
- Not for intermediate/advanced learners
Rosetta Stone Hebrew can help those new to the Hebrew language learn the foundational aspects of the language like grammar and vocabulary. However the higher your ability in the language the less valuable you're likely to find the course.
As grammar gets more complex Rosetta Stone struggles to adequately teach it using their no English method. There are also features of the Hebrew language that students would benefit from if they learned the grammar explicitly.
While the course wouldn't be my first choice for learning the language, some beginners may find it helpful.
Is Rosetta Stone Hebrew right for you?
Yes if you're a beginner
If you're new to Hebrew with little or no experience in the language then Rosetta Stone may be an option for you. Their method caters specifically to new language learners.
Yes if you're a casual learner
If you want to take a gradual approach to the language then Rosetta Stone is also a great fit. The course tries its hardest to ease you into the language bit by bit. Some don't like this slow paced style, but if you're the slow and steady type this course could be a good fit.
No if you're lower intermediate or higher
The effectiveness of Rosetta Stone courses typically drop off after you pass the low intermediate level of proficiency in the language. This is mainly because the courses are designed for beginners.
No if you like a more intense approach
If you've learned a foreign language before and or you simply want to dive head first into Hebrew, then Rosetta Stone probably isn't your cup of tea. You may find the pacing of the course to be at best slow and at worst boring.
No if you want to learn Biblical Hebrew
Rosetta Stone only offers a Modern Hebrew course, they do not offer a course for Biblical Hebrew. Though the languages are obviously related, those who learn Modern Hebrew will learn the language as it is spoken today in Israel. Those who learn Biblical Hebrew learn and interpret the written language as it was used in the biblical texts.
Okay for the basics
Rosetta Stone Hebrew does a decent job of teaching basic vocabulary and very basic grammar. Their method works in such a way that when you understand what is taught it sticks with you.
One advantage of learning Modern Hebrew is that when you start constructing basic sentences, the word order is the same as English: Subject-Verb-Object (SVO).
This isn't the case with many other languages. Because of this similar word order Rosetta Stone's no translation method works well with simple phrases, as it's not hard to surmise what's being talked about.
A brief intro to some of the basics of Hebrew grammar, including word order
It's not ideal for learning the Hebrew Script
New Hebrew learners often struggle with reading written Hebrew, as its writing system is much different than that of English. A different alphabet, vowels that are implied but not written, and the fact that you read from right to left all contribute to the difficulty of the written language.
More info on the Hebrew writing system
The Rosetta courses typically gloss over writing systems. They work better with languages that use a Latin based alphabet similar to English, but they struggle to adequately teach writing systems that are further removed. Their courses have always emphasized repeating spoken vocabulary over being able to interpret texts.
Learning explicit grammar is good for Hebrew
There are always differing opinions as what way is best to learn a language. Some choose a hard focus on grammar, while others lead off with relevant vocabulary and put of grammar until later.
Another benefit of learning Hebrew is that it is a Semitic language. Languages in this family are especially logical and their grammar follows a predictable system of patters and rules. The difference is hard to get used to at first, but once you get a handle on how the language works it's easier to make leaps in your learning.
I think Rosetta Stone does Hebrew learners a disservice by not teaching any explicit grammar. It's hard to pick up rules and patterns (especially in more complicated sentences) if you don't actually know what they are.
Sure Rosetta Stone gives you room to infer new words and the way they're used, but this gets increasingly more difficult to do the further you progress in the language.
What other people are saying about Rosetta Stone Hebrew
"As with any foreign language, it takes the time commitment to really get the most out of the learning. But, Rosetta Stone’s program gives an excellent overview of speaking, reading, and writing, and gives you common conversational vocabulary along the way....
The most challenging part, as you move further in the learning, can be knowing what “exactly” you are saying. I didn’t notice any area where it tells me a translation of what I’m saying. If it exists, it wasn’t intuitive on how to find that."
Alternatives to Rosetta Stone Hebrew
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 your new foreign language. With Pimsleur You'll learn a limited but functional vocabulary and have a good sense of pronunciation.
Pimsleur is the only audio course I know of that effectively helps you develop your Hebrew conversation skills.
From $4+ per month
15+ minutes a day
Hebrewpod101 features audio lessons in a podcast format. Lessons are great for grammar and vocabulary. Each lesson is designed around a Hebrew 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 Hebrew learning tool (it's also much cheaper too). The site features transcripts, an in-site flashcard system, and many other useful features.
$6+ per hour (varies between teachers)
30 minute or 1 hour lessons
An intro video from one of Italki's Hebrew teachers.
Italki is an online market place that connects language learners with language teachers for one-on-one language classes via video or audio chat.
You can connect with language speakers from around the world and practice your speaking skills. Italki is one of the only sites that provides one on one lessons with professional Hebrew teachers.
*with a purchase of $20 or more. After your first purchased lesson a credit of $10 will be added to your account
Rosetta Stone Hebrew has value if you're a beginner and want to ease into the basic vocabulary and grammar of the language. More advanced students will find the course less helpful.
The course does well with low level Hebrew but once you get into more advance materials it's hard to work through the language efficiently with no translations.
Rosetta Stone doesn't pay much attention to the Hebrew script, and because of their no translation policy you're likely to miss out on the benefits of learning such a logical language.