Pimsleur and Rosetta Stone are unique in the language learning world for a few reasons, but most notably are how old they are. They’ve both been around since long before the internet and are still kicking to this day. So how do Pimsleur vs Rosetta Stone compare?
Between Pimsleur and Rosetta Stone, which language learning resource is best for you? Let’s take a look at what their lessons are like, what they teach you, and more so that you can decide on your next language app.
Pimsleur vs Rosetta Stone: languages
You can use either Rosetta Stone or Pimsleur to learn:
- Portuguese (Brazilian)
- Spanish (Castilian)
- Spanish (Latin American)
Rosetta Stone also can be used to learn Latin, and Pimsleur offers double the above list. You can check my Pimsleur review to see those other languages.
Gone are the days of spending hundreds of dollars on CD sets to learn a language. Both Pimsleur and Rosetta Stone have had to modernize to keep up with the introduction of language apps, so let’s compare their basic lessons.
Here’s how Rosetta Stone does it.
Here you have the same method, just easily accessible via the internet or your smartphone. Rosetta Stone uses images to help you understand what each word and/or phrase means, without making you go through the extra step of translating everything.
You’ll use the language in all the ways you’d want to learn, too, which is difficult to accomplish in general. Your time is split between listening and speaking and reading and writing, so you get a very well-rounded language education.
This is honestly an excellent way to learn the basics of a language, and I’m glad they’ve been able to seamlessly transition in this way. It really brings users back to the most simple ways that anybody learns a language for the first time.
Here’s a Pimsleur lesson.
Unlike Rosetta Stone, Pimsleur is 100% audio lessons. That’s their shtick. They’ve modernized to bring their strategy to the 21st century, but they also don’t take advantage of all this visual real estate! It’s pretty disappointing, to be honest.
If you’re not familiar, the Pimsleur method is very important to this company. It was created by one 20th-century academic, and they’ve held steadfast to this exact strategy all this time. You’re listening to a simple conversation, repeating words when you’re told to, and that’s it. You can only listen to a single 30-minute lesson a day.
This made a whole lot more sense 50+ years ago. I just wish they’d take more advantage of today’s technology when it comes to the actual method. The modern world has changed so much, but Pimsleur’s method clearly hasn’t.
Regardless of my personal opinion, you will learn to understand simple conversations one at a time, and you’ll get used to speaking the words, too. If you enjoy the process, it does what it’s supposed to do: get you conversational ASAP.
Pimsleur vs Rosetta Stone: speaking practice
Here is where both apps get a little similar, and that’s not a bad thing! In the spirit of modernization, the easiest and most popular way to add speaking practice to any language app is speech recognition. Both Rosetta Stone and Pimsleur execute this pretty well.
Here’s speaking practice with Rosetta Stone
These lessons are exactly the same as they were back in the age of CD-ROMs. With speech recognition, you’ll get used to saying these phrases smoothly until you feel comfortable expressing them spontaneously. They’re functional sentences that you may actually use, so I’m a big fan.
You can see how Rosetta Stone still does not revert to a native language and instead leads you to figure it out by pairing sentences with imagery. It’s very consistent and reliable.
Now, repeating phrases is the entire backbone of Pimsleur’s lessons, though Pimsleur uses a strategy called “shadowing” where you’re just repeating words and phrases until the words coming out of your mouth sound like the phrases you’re hearing.
But today, Pimsleur also gives learners the option to use speech recognition.
This is what I mean when I say that I wish Pimsleur’s core lessons took more advantage of all the real estate. See how much more engaging this is (at least for visual learners, like me)? See how much easier it is to follow along?
I do wish there were options to have audio in only the target language and/or remove the translation, though.
Still, if Pimsleur decides to continue this particular route, I think it’ll be a great thing for language learners. In a world full of fun sound, bright colors, and quippy notifications, I’d like to see Pimsleur expand its usability a little.
Back in the day, both Rosetta Stone and Pimsleur would cost you a few hundred dollars just for beginner lessons. Thanks to modern tech and a brand-new language learning industry exploding in recent years, they’ve been forced to adjust.
Now, instead of one giant investment for physical CDs, both apps have switched to the subscription model. While they differ in what that subscription looks like (monthly, annually, what-have-you), they each average $10-15 per month.
And most of these subscriptions give you access to all their content in one go, which gives language learners the chance to play around a little bit.
Pimsleur vs Rosetta Stone: your choice
Pimsleur and Rosetta Stone are pretty similar apps: both have been around since before language learning was an accessible interest, and both are best suited for beginner language learners.
However, the differences between these two options are much more notable.
Pimsleur is best for aural learners (those who learn best by listening) who enjoy being led step-by-step through simple, real-life conversations. It’s all listening and repeating constantly, so it’s not beneficial to language learners who need visual cues.
On the other hand, Rosetta Stone keeps language learners on their toes by consistently switching up how you’re using and learning the language: reading it, speaking it, listening to it…it’s all there. And instead of learning one conversation at a time, you’ll be learning sentences and phrases, piece-by-piece.