Babbel, Rosetta Stone, and Duolingo are 3 of the most popular ways to learn a language, so what’s the difference? When comparing Babbel vs Rosetta Stone vs Duolingo, what should you keep in mind as a language learner?
If you’re here and already know that one of these options isn’t for you, I’ve already compared all 3 head-to-head. Go ahead and skip right to the appropriate comparison:
If not, let’s continue through this comparison of Babbel vs Rosetta Stone vs Duolingo. Just as the title suggests, we’ll start with Babbel, continue with Rosetta Stone, and end with Duolingo.
To start, Babbel is great for language learners looking for a structured approach, from beginner to advanced, based primarily on grammar. Babbel languages include:
- Portuguese (Brazilian)
If you’re interested in this approach, I recommend reading my Babbel review here, but at the end of the day, it is an excellent, very handy app for building a “correct” understanding of your target language.
This doesn’t mean that Babbel doesn’t foster communication – actually, recently they’ve offered a group coaching service called Babbel Live. It’s still very new and has a lot of growing to do (for example, I hope one day they offer coaching classes based specifically on their own lessons), but I’m excited to see Babbel’s future!
At the moment, Babbel Live is available in French, German, Italian, and Spanish.
Babbel’s recently started to realize that the real value in a language learning program is having a human there to give you feedback, and their pricing has changed to reflect that!
Access to just the Babbel is a monthly subscription, ranging from $6-10 a month, depending on your commitment. If you really love Babbel’s approach, you can also opt for lifetime access to all languages. Click here to access current prices.
If you also want the Babbel Live classes (which I recommend if you like Babbel and you also want to improve your conversational skills), it’s a different story. Babbel Live is also a monthly subscription for unlimited classes, for $50-100 a month, depending on your commitment, but you’ll also get the app free for the duration of your subscription!
Click here for up-to-date prices.
Next, we have Rosetta Stone. Rosetta Stone is one of the original language learning resources, starting out as CD-ROM software back in 2013 at astronomical prices (like $300 for a single box set). Fortunately, as tech has developed and the language learning industry has exploded, Rosetta Stone has had to shift their prices to stay current.
Rosetta Stone languages include:
- Chinese (Mandarin)
- English (American)
- English (British)
- Filipino (Tagalog)
- Persian (Farsi)
- Portuguese (Brazilian)
- Spanish (Castilian)
- Spanish (Latin American)
There’s definitely some overlap in languages between Babbel and Rosetta Stone, but Rosetta Stone offers more. Go to my Babbel vs Rosetta Stone review for a more in-depth comparison.
Babbel vs Rosetta Stone: similarities
Like Babbel, Rosetta Stone has also shifted their approach from just lessons to lessons + live coaching. While the details are different (more on that later), the concept is the same: use the app to learn the lessons, then attend the live lessons with a language tutor.
Both Babbel and Rosetta Stone are also priced similarly. The difference in price is negligible – click here to get updated prices.
Lastly, if you end up loving Rosetta Stone’s approach, I’d recommend a lifetime membership (about the same price as Babbel lifetime, give or take).
Babbel vs Rosetta Stone: differences
Unlike Babbel, Rosetta Stone’s main goal is to get language learners a well-rounded education…but only to tourist level. You’ll learn to say the words, read them, and think in the language instead of translating it, but you’ll only get through beginner words/concepts, and some may find it horrifyingly slow.
If you’re not a beginner language learner, Rosetta Stone is not for you. However, if you have pretty much zero experience with learning languages and you just want to get a foundation in the language, Rosetta Stone may be for you.
Also unlike Babbel, Rosetta Stone is not particularly upfront with information when it comes to their live lessons. From what they share on their website, all we know is that your session is about 15-20 minutes (compared to Babbel Live’s 60-minute lessons).
To access Rosetta Stone’s live lessons, you need to purchase a Lifetime Plus subscription.
Finally, how does Duolingo fit into Babbel vs Rosetta Stone vs Duolingo? Duolingo is arguably the most popular, thanks to its $0 price tag and heavy gamification, but that doesn’t mean it’s the language learning app for you.
Duolingo’s languages include:
- Chinese (Mandarin)
- Scottish Gaelic
An important thing to note about Duolingo is although it supports a ton of languages, not all courses are created equal; the newer and less commonly learned languages don’t offer nearly as much content as languages like Spanish and French do.
As mentioned, Duolingo is known for its heavy gamification (more on that in my Duolingo review) which boils down to personal preference. Are you looking for more of a surface-level game that keeps your short-term motivation alive with bright colors, cute sounds, and daily streaks, or do you want to go deeper with your language learning?
With Duolingo, don’t expect to get too advanced. At most, it’s great for building/reviewing the basics, and for the days when you’re just too tired to do anything else.
Duolingo vs Rosetta Stone: similarities
As mentioned in my Duolingo vs Rosetta Stone review, both are great for beginner language learners. I’d say Duolingo is fine for any language learner who is starting a new language from zero or close to zero, but Rosetta Stone is too repetitive for anyone with a handle on learning languages.
Also just like Duolingo, Rosetta Stone’s number of lessons in any given language is pretty variable. Though it is for different reasons, no two language courses are the same.
Both Duolingo and Rosetta Stone also offer a kind of speaking practice, though if it’s the kind you’re looking for is up to debate. Duolingo hosts free online events where the structure depends 100% on the volunteer, and we’ve already mentioned Rosetta Stone’s live lessons.
Duolingo vs Rosetta Stone: differences
In my opinion, these two apps are wildly different, and that’s not just talking about the price tag (Duolingo’s $0 price tag compared to Rosetta Stone’s….not $0 price tag).
For one, their approach: Duolingo teaches you to implicitly pick up grammar, generally without any direct lessons, and with limited (and random) vocabulary. Rosetta Stone, on the other hand, teaches you the basic vocabulary to get you speaking ASAP.
Remember I have a whole post comparing Duolingo vs Rosetta Stone here, but here are a couple more important points. Is Rosetta Stone better than Duolingo? Mehhh…yes and no.
For one: reliability. Duolingo is technically much less reliable than Rosetta Stone (i.e. if you drop a couple of hundred bucks on Rosetta Stone, you’re going to get a full course), but it is also acknowledged that Rosetta Stone takes themes and patterns that are relevant only to Romance languages and applies them across the board.
However, just like Duolingo, the number of lessons in any Rosetta Stone language varies. The answer to how many lessons in Rosetta Stone depends entirely on the language.
Duolingo vs Babbel: similarities
It might surprise you to hear that Duolingo and Babbel are actually pretty similar! Both apps take a more “academic” approach to language learning, however that may look.
Both also have other side resources: podcasts, stories, magazines, live events, all free to use whether you’re paying for a subscription or not. Speaking of paying, a paid subscription to each app is also pretty equal!
And finally, both Duolingo and Babbel each have their own versions of gamification: daily streaks, learning with friends, things like that that some modern-day language learners really love and find motivating.
Duolingo vs Babbel: differences
Many language learners will look at their price tags (Duolingo is totally free with the option to pay for other benefits, Babbel is a paid app) and see that as all they need to know, but in my opinion, that’s a mistake. Just because a language app is free does not mean it’s better.
While Duolingo does feature some speech recognition practice and maybe Duolingo events (depending on the language you’re learning), Babbel also offers speech recognition as well as Babbel Live with professional tutors. For speaking practice, Babbel absolutely blows Duolingo out of the water…and likely always will, as Duolingo makes it a priority to keep their content free.
This is because while Babbel offers more of a deep dive into the language with well-rounded lessons more helpful to actionable, real-life lessons, Duolingo is more helpful for getting a general feel of a language and reviewing the information you’ve already learned.
Babbel vs Rosetta Stone vs Duolingo
All three resources serve wildly different purposes. Some questions you may want to ask yourself if you’re having a hard time making a choice include:
- how deep of an understanding you want (patterns? tourist level? conversations?)
- how important grammar is (not at all? just implicit knowledge? clear rules?)
- which features you want (nothing fancy? just a touch? NEED fun features?)
Once you answer these questions for yourself, it should be pretty obvious which is better: Babbel or Rosetta Stone or Duolingo. And if not, remember I’ve discussed all three in their very own reviews: Babbel, Rosetta Stone, and Duolingo.