In this article we take a closer look at Rosetta Stone’s Tagalog course. We’ll discuss how the Rosetta Stone method holds up to the Tagalog language, as well as look at some of the pros and cons of the course.
Is Rosetta Stone Tagalog right for you?
Yes if you’re new to the language
If there’s one thing Rosetta Stone does well it’s tae away the intimidation that comes with learning a new language. If you know little to no Tagalog and are uneasy or unsure about how to learn a foreign language, then Rosetta Stone might be a good place to start.
The Rosetta Stone method is very gradual (some say too gradual). It walks you through fundamental words and phrases in a way that’s intuitive. You’ll quickly be able to pick up what a new word means and you’ll also have a general idea of how it’s used.
No if you want to learn grammar
There are no explanations in Rosetta Stone Tagalog (more on this later). So if you like to understand grammar and know how each word works in a particular sentence, this course will drive you crazy.
No if you want to speak conversationally
Rosetta Stone follows the classic textbook approach to language learning. Words and phrases are taught based on their subject or based on the kind of sentences you’re learning. The vocabulary in Rosetta Stone isn’t always practical. Yes you learn a lot of words, but whether or not you’ll be able to use those words in a real Tagalog conversation is another story.
Pros of Rosetta Stone Tagalog
Good for visual learners, and not bad for basic vocabulary
If you’re a visual learner, you will appreciate Rosetta Stone. Throughout the program pictures are given as clues for what words mean and how conversations flow. Even if you’re not a visual learner the pictures do make it easier to recall basic vocabulary (I’ll admit that). There’s just something about pictures and audio. When they’re used together in the right way, they are effective language tools. For basic Tagalog Rosetta Stone uses audiovisual elements in the right way.
Method is simple and easy
A huge part of the appeal of Rosetta Stone is that it’s pretty intuitive. You very quickly figure out how the lessons work and what’s expected of you. Also, as I said before, the Tagalog course progresses gradually. It’s a very low pressure learning environment.
Cons of Rosetta Stone Tagalog
Faux immersion method
Rosetta Stone Tagalog follows a strict no English and no translation approach. This means the only words you’ll see or hear throughout the course will be in Tagalog. The idea behind this method is to immerse you into the language and prevent you from thinking in English. On the surface it sounds great. I suppose for very basic vocabulary this method works fine. But once sentences get longer and more complex things can get confusing quickly.
There are no explanations in Rosetta Stone. Only Tagalog words and pictures. This can leave you guessing as to what a particular word or phrase means. You might get the gist of a phrase, but the particulars are often unclear.
Limited course content
There are only three levels of Rosetta Stone Tagalog. To put this in perspective, most other RS courses have 5 levels. With five levels of Rosetta Stone you can expect to reach an upper beginner level of proficiency in a foreign language, which is already kind of low given the hype surrounding the course. With three levels the expectations are even lower. Only the most absolute beginners will find Rosetta Stone Tagalog useful.
One of the biggest gripes I have with Rosetta Stone is its price tag. A monthly subscription for the course is over $60 a month. If you buy the entire course outright you can expect to pay as much as $200. Rosetta Stone Tagalog only has three levels, so I find it hard to justify these prices. Even if the Tagalog course has the usual five levels offered by Rosetta Stone, it would still feel overpriced.
There are simply too many better alternatives to justify buying Rosetta Stone. With the Rosetta Stone method leaving much to be desired, a lot of the alternatives are not only cheaper but more effective at teaching a language (we’ll take a look at some of the alternatives to Rosetta Stone Tagalog at the end of this review).
What other people say about Rosetta Stone Tagalog
“Rosetta Stone Tagalog is good enough for those who are looking to learn Tagalog, but are not expecting to become fluent right away. It is a decent choice for tourists who are considering traveling to the Philippines on vacation and would want to be able to communicate with the locals in the most basic way. Truthfully, there are a couple of programs that are so much better than this one, but it is not a complete waste of money either.”
Alternatives to Rosetta Stone Tagalog
Filipinopod101 is an app and website that has hundreds of Tagalog lessons for beginner, intermediate, and advanced students. Each lesson is set up as a podcast episode and features a real conversation between two Filipino speakers. The podcast hosts act as your personal tutors and explain the grammar and vocabulary behind each dialogue. Also every lesson comes with full transcripts in both Tagalog and English.
Filipinopod101 also has many bonus learning resources too. There’s s Tagalog to English dictionary, a pronunciation guide, video lessons, interactive phrase lists, ebook downloads, and more.
Pimsleur Tagalog is an audio course that trains learners to speak and think in Tagalog. It does this through its unique prompt-response method. Each lesson teaches you a series of phrases. Pimsleur breaks them down syllable by syllable so that you can hear the nuances of the Filipino sound system and develop a good accent when you speak. Once you know the phrases, Pimsleur will start throwing prompts at you. You will have to answer and ask questions completely in Tagalog the same way you would if you were face to face with a Filipino speaker.
Learn Tagalog with Master Ling
Master Ling is a language learning app that teaches Tagalog vocabulary through a series of minigames and interactive exercises. On Master Ling you’ll work with Tagalog dialogues, complete unfinished sentences, practice with a Tagalog chatbot, learn pronunciation and writing, review with flashcards, and more. In contrast to Rosetta Stone, Master Ming has content for beginners all way up to advanced learners.