If you're curious about learning Portuguese as a foreign language, and have searched around the web for courses, then you've probably come across Rosetta Stone.
Their brand is the most famous within the language learning world, and for better or worse their courses are among the most popular. But all this still begs the important question: is Rosetta Stone a good way to learn Portuguese?
In this post we take a look at how well Rosetta Stone teaches Portuguese as a foreign language. We'll look at some of the unique features of the language and how they relate to RS's method.
For a more detailed review of the Rosetta Stone method and the overall features in their courses you can check out our Ultimate Rosetta Stone Review.
Review of: Rosetta Stone Portuguese
Use: Language learning software for learning Portuguese
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 conversation skills
- Not for intermediate/advanced learners
Rosetta Stone was created for beginners, and it is the beginner who will benefit the most from the Portuguese course. It does a good job of teaching the basics of grammar and vocabulary.
Advance and intermediate students don't stand to gain much using the course.
The course works well with the Portuguese language because of its close proximity to English, but it doesn't do much to help you get ready to speak Portuguese in the real world.
All in all it can be a good option if you're new to the language, otherwise you should probably look elsewhere.
Is Rosetta Stone Portuguese right for you?
Yes if you want to "taste test" the language
If you're not completely sure you want to learn Portuguese, and are more curious about the language in general then Rosetta Stone is a good course to get started with.
Their method is gradual and gently paced, so as to introduce beginners to the language without any pressure.
Yes if you want to build a foundation in Portuguese
If you simply want a working knowledge of how to construct simple phrases, and the basics of Portuguese grammar and vocabulary then Rosetta Stone is definitely a good choice for you. That is what it was designed to do.
Maybe, if you're learning European Portuguese
Rosetta Stone only offers a course in Brazilian Portuguese, not European Portuguese. What's the difference?
Largely the difference is in accent and pronunciation. People from Portugal and from Brazil have distinct accents from one another.
There is also a slight grammatical difference between the two types of Portuguese: in Portugal they used two different pronouns for the word "you" (tu and Você). Tu is informal while Você is used in formal situations. In Brazil they use tu for both formal and informal situations.
If you learn one type of Portuguese you shouldn't have too much trouble understanding the other. Therefore if you're planning on speaking Portuguese in Portugal Rosetta Stone can still be effective.
No if you're hardcore about learning Portuguese
Rosetta Stone's gentle method can seem unnecessary and downright boring to those who are serious about learning the language and want to plow through it as thoroughly and quickly as possible. RS works better for the casual language learner than it does the more serious one.
No if you're not a beginner
If you have a level of low intermediate or higher you should probably skip over Rosetta Stone. Their courses are designed for new learners and have little to nothing to offer advanced students.
Portuguese is a Romance language
Rosetta Stone works better with languages in the Romance family, of which Portuguese is one. The reason Rosetta Stone works better with languages in this category is because at first its method was most likely designed for teaching English speakers Spanish (though nobody knows for sure).
Spanish is also in the Romance family. The same method that was designed to teach you the grammar and syntax of Spanish will also effectively help you learn Portuguese.
The Romance languages are closely related to English and share common traits such as similar alphabets, cognates, and similar sentence structures.
Rosetta Stone uses zero English in their courses, as they follow a strict no translation approach to teaching foreign languages. This can be good or bad depending on the language you're learning.
When you have a language with grammar more similar to English than the method can work well for helping you to remember and conceptualize foreign grammar rules.
However if the language you're learning is miles away from English grammatically then you're going to have a harder time using Rosetta Stone to learn it. A great example of such a language is Japanese.
The good news is that Portuguese and English grammar are like not too distant linguistic cousins. There are some important differences, but not so many that it seems overwhelming.
One example of this is that both languages use a Subject-Verb-Object word order, which makes learning Portuguese without any translation a lot less confusing than it would be otherwise.
More info on the basics of Portuguese grammar
Rosetta Stone Portuguese doesn't build conversation skills
Rosetta Stone works great for basic grammar and vocabulary. What it's not as good at is preparing you to use them in a real conversation. All throughout the course you are required to repeat and response to questions and prompts that are stiff and artificial.
You're not so much using the language as you are repeating it. Again this my help you remember, but it won't help you understand a man on the streets of Brazil as he talks at normal speed.
Could you easily understand this video without the subtitles?
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.
What other people are saying about Rosetta Stone Portuguese
Review from Braziliangringo.com
"It is one of the best programs for learning new Brazilian vocabulary and improving your pronunciation. Workouts in this program are image based and very engaging so learning Brazilian is never monotonic with Rosetta Stone.
Online version of this program also has some great social features (e-tutoring and games) so you will be able to get support or communicate with other Portuguese learners.
This software also has one of the most advanced Speech Recognition features and all recording are made by native Brazilian speakers so Rosetta Stone can be very useful for improving your Portuguese speaking skills.
Alternatives to Rosetta Stone Portuguese
20+ minutes a day
Rocket Portuguese 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 Portuguese).
Rocket Portuguese doesn't have the slow and steady approach of Rosetta Stone, but it is pretty comprehensive and also focuses on reading and writing Portuguese, as well as speaking and listening; which Rosetta Stone does not do.
From $4+ per month
15+ minutes a day
Portuguesepod101 features audio lessons in a podcast format. Lessons are great for grammar and vocabulary, and are centered around a recorded dialogue between two native speakers.
The teachers (aka podcast hosts) do a great job of keeping things engaging.
While it's not as structured as Rosetta Stone, Portuguesepod101 is still a substantial Portuguese learning tool (it's also much cheaper too). The site features transcripts for each lesson, and there is also a flashcard system for learning new words.
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 Portuguese conversation skills.
If you're a novice when it comes to Portuguese and you want to test drive the language, Rosetta Stone is a viable option. The course also works well if you simply want to get acquainted with the vocabulary and grammar of the language.
Rosetta Stone Portuguese does not suit hardcore or veteran learners, as its method will probably feel too slow and basic for them. Advanced learners shouldn't waist their time with the course because it was designed for beginners.