Best Software
Published in

Best Software

Pimsleur vs Rosetta Stone

Pimsleur and Rosetta Stone are two popular learning courses for teaching foreign languages. They each offer a wide range of languages through a series of lessons at varying levels.

However, Pimsleur and Rosetta Stone have a few differences, primarily in their course style and methods. The former is solely audio lessons, vs the latter focuses on visual learning through pictures and interactive lessons.

So, Pimsleur vs Rosetta Stone, which is the better option for learning a language? To help you select the right course for you, I’ve covered everything you need to know about each course, including their learning style, enjoyability, cost and how effective they can be.

Pimsleur Range of Languages Available

Pimsleur provides an impressive amount of language lessons, even more niche ones.

Here’s a full list of what Pimsleur courses are currently available at the time of writing:

Rosetta Stone Range of Language Lessons Available

Rosetta Stone offers a hefty amount of languages, but not nearly as much as Pimsleur currently do:

Pimsleur Range of Learning Levels Available

A typical Pimsleur course comes in various learning levels. For example, Spanish 1 and Spanish 2. The lower learning levels are targeted for beginners while the higher levels are designed for more advanced language learners.

All Pimsleur courses contain 30 lessons and each one is around 30 minutes long. This means it’ll take you around 15 hours to complete each learning level. If you’re a beginner to a new language, then the most effective approach using Pimsleur would be starting with the first level and progressing onto the higher learning levels once you’re ready.

Each language has varying numbers of learning levels, but the more popular ones like Spanish have around 4 to 5 levels of lessons. Less popular languages like Irish and Haitian Creole usually only have one level of lessons, so if you’re considering Pimsleur check the length of the language you are considering — you may find its one of the short ones and might not be worth the money.

Rosetta Stone Range of Proficiency Levels Available to Learn

Rosetta Stone’s language learning courses are split into 3 to 5 learning levels. Similar to Pimsleur, beginners to a language start at the first level lessons and progress onto later levels as they learn.

Each one of the lessons in a course can take anywhere from 5 minutes to 30 minutes to complete, depending on the type of activity included. I like this approach much more vs a fixed lesson lengths as it helps keep things varied and enjoyable to learn. The number of lessons in each learning level is different for each language course, but on average, it would take between 40 to 50 hours to complete a level.

Most of the popular languages like French have 4 or 5 levels, whereas the less popular languages like Turkish only have 3. Unlike Pimsleur, all of Rosetta’s Stones language learning courses offer a minimum of 3 different learning levels, even for less popular languages. This makes a big difference in how effective it can be to use Pimsleur vs Rosetta Stone for these less popular courses. But, as always, you get what you put into it.

Pimsleur use of Lesson Structure, Length, and Teaching Style

The Pimsleur approach is audio-based. They use words or phrases in the language you want to learn, and then repeat them in your mother tongue so you can translate them into your target language.

Each course comes in 30 different half-hour lessons, or in 10 different half-hour lessons. Some languages come in shorter lengths, like Hungarian, which is only 15 hours long.

As the system is mostly audio based, very little of the course involves reading or writing. Some language learning courses include reading material, but this is mostly for you to look at when you’re listening to the audio.

This type of teaching style is much more effective at encouraging you to learn the spoken language through audio, which is helpful for ensuring correct pronunciation. However, if you learn best through visual methods, then this might not be effective for you.

Rosetta Stone Review of Lesson Structure, Length, and Teaching Style

Rosetta Stone’s teaching style focuses on pictures and audio. For the most part, you’ll be shown a collection of pictures with one or more words or sentences spoken by a native speaker in your chosen language. This method to learning a language is called Dynamic Immersion.

It’s designed this way so you can associate words with a picture to help you understand their meaning, similar to how you learned your native language. It’s surprisingly effective for such a simple method, I really liked this approach and I found myself getting 10 mins in on the bus or waiting in line.

All Rosetta Stone lessons are taught in the language you want to learn, which allows you to quickly understand the written and spoken side of it. They use various activities and tasks in each lesson like speaking and writing exercises for correct pronunciation and spelling of words, and you even get a mode to recreate the natural pacing of a real-life conversation in your target language.

The length of a course varies for each language and how quickly you progress, but one level doesn’t take much longer than 40 to 50 hours to finish. Single lessons would take anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes to complete.

Rosetta Stone also offers paid live tutoring lessons. The tutoring lessons are run by an experienced tutor of your target language in a small group setting. You only speak and listen in your target language to help you develop your skills and build your confidence with words. The only downside is that the slots for the tutoring sessions can be at inconvenient hours for certain time zones and one might not get the schedule one want.

Pimsleur Gamification (How Enjoyable is It?)

The Pimsleur approach to language learning can be boring, especially as the software is entirely audio-based. This means there isn’t much variety in the program’s teaching style or lesson content.

For the most part, you’ll be listening to words and phrases in your target language and mother tongue, and then repeating them. It’s the same for all the lessons at all levels.

Over time, this can be incredibly tedious and could impact how effective the course can be to use. When it comes to keeping me engages, the Pimsleur vs Rosetta Stone grudge match falls in Rosetta Stone’s favor this time.

Rosetta Stone Gamification (How Enjoyable is It?)

Rosetta Stone features audio and visual teaching lessons, which are split into different activities, such as reading and writing activities. This adds variety to the lesson content and structure as you won’t just be doing the same task over again.

Additionally, Rosetta Stone also offers different games to help you learn your target language. These typically come in the form of bingo and guessing games. You can also play multiplayer games live with another learner of your target language, or even someone learning your mother tongue. Rosetta Stone offers much more variety in terms of lessons vs Pimsleur.

As someone who is a visual learner, I really like how Rosetta Stone’s course (unlike Pimsleur courses) prioritizes visual learning through pictures and written words. Using games to help individuals learn a language is also a great feature, particularly for younger audiences who might not want to sit down and ‘study’ a new language. This makes Rosetta Stone’s courses a much more enjoyable and light-hearted experience vs Pimsleur.

Pimsleur Pricing

There are two subscription tiers for Pimsleur. The basic version costs $14.95 per month and gives you access to all levels of one language, as well as extra features like a Driving Mode and the ability to install the software on up to 4 devices.

The premium version costs $19.95 and comes with all the features in the basic tier, as well as some extra ones. These include Flash Cards, Speed Round, Speak Easy, Lightbulb Moments, and Quick Match lessons.

Rosetta Stone Pricing

A lot of Rosetta Stone reviews forget to mention that it offers a subscription service with the option to include a tutor. This is a nice addition vs Pimsleur that is a much more independent course. The length of time you subscribe for and whether you choose to use a tutor alters the cost of the software. The minimum amount of time you can subscribe to Rosetta Stone is 3 months (though you’ll likely want a longer subscription to get good at a language).

Without the tutor, Rosetta Stone costs roughly $21 per month if you subscribe for 3 months, $19 per month for 6 months, $17 per month for 12 months, and $13 per month for 24 months.

If you decide to use one, then the cost of the software drives up considerably. Again, if you want to subscribe for longer it does reduce the price each month.

With a tutor, Rosetta Stone would cost around $43 per month for 3 months, $41 per month for 6 months, $32 per month for 12 months, and $21 per month for 24 months.

Unless you subscribe to Rosetta Stone for 24 months, its a lot cheaper each month to go with Pimsleur vs Rosetta stone. You also only have to commit to the software for one month, which is ideal if you later decide it’s not the one you want.

The minimum amount of time you can subscribe to Rosetta Stone is 3 months, which would cost you around $63 without a tutor and $129 with one. The more budget-friendly option between Rosetta Stone vs Pimsleur would be Pimsleur by a landslide.

Pimsleur Platforms Available

You can access all of your Pimsleur audio lessons via the Pimsleur Language Learning app on desktop or mobile. The mobile version can be downloaded for free on iOS and Android devices.

The Pimsleur app is compatible with most Mac and PC computers, as well as most smartphones (iOS 11 or greater, and Android 7 or greater with a least a 1280 x 720 screen). You can also play the audio courses through an Amazon Echo device.

Rosetta Stone Platforms Available

Rosetta Stone audio courses can be accessed through a free desktop and mobile app called Rosetta Stone — Learn Languages, provided you have an active subscription. You can also use the app on Kindle Fire and Amazon Echo devices. However, the offered languages on Amazon Echo devices are limited, which would get Pimsleur another point in the Rosetta Stone vs Pimsleur slug match if you’re an Alexa geek like me!

The Rosetta Stone: Learn Languages app is compatible with Android 5 or greater, Fire OS 5 or greater, and iOS 12 or greater.

There’s not much between Rosetta Stone vs Pimsleur when it comes to learning platforms. You get desktop and mobile apps with both, which is ideal for learning languages on the go. You also get audio lessons for the two, which can be accessed through Amazon Echo devices.

However, Rosetta Stone can be used on the Kindle Fire, which Pimsleur doesn’t appear to be compatible with. If you want to use a Kindle Fire to play language lessons on, then Rosetta Stone is the clear winner.

Pimsleur — How Natural is the Language Taught?

A select few of the languages taught by Pimsleur can sound artificial, particularly for the more niche ones. The voice actors in some of the Pimsleur recordings don’t always sound like native speakers in their language. This can cause issues with correct pronunciation of words and trying to get the dialect right in your new language.

Rosetta Stone — How Natural is the Language Taught?

Similarly to Pimsleur, Rosetta Stone has a few problems with how some of its languages are taught, namely Korean and Japanese which use honorific words and vocabulary based on who you are and who you are speaking to.

For example, a young child talking to their friends would use a different style of speech than they would if they were talking to their grandparents. Rosetta Stone doesn’t fully explain this, which would make some of the content in its lessons incorrect and feel unnatural. This can be a bit embarrassing in practice but generally won’t get you into trouble. Most honorific cultures understand that new language learners will get this wrong. This is another reason why choosing between Pimsleur vs Rosetta Stone is very dependent on the language you want to learn.

Pimsleur — How is Customer Service?

You can get in touch with a Pimsleur customer support advisor via telephone or email. Their phone lines are open 24/7, which is really helpful if you require an immediate response.

To get in contact with Plimsluer via email is simple as you can simply fill in the form on their ‘Contact Us’ page. However, it’s not clear how long it takes for an advisor to respond to your query.

Rosetta Stone — How is Customer Service?

Like Pimsleur, Rosetta Stone’s customer service can be accessed via phone and email. For US customers with a Personal or Homeschool account, their phone lines are open Monday to Friday from 9am to 10pm EST, and Saturday/Sunday from 11am to 8pm EST.

If you require Spanish support, their phone lines are open Monday to Friday from 10am to 11pm, and 11am to 8pm on Saturday/Sunday.

Emailing Rosetta Stone involves filling out a form on their ‘Support’ page. They promise to reply to your enquiry quickly, but an exact time frame isn’t specified.

If you need a swift reply to your query, then Rosetta Stone also offers live chat support so you can talk to one of their agents in real-time. The live chat is available 24/7 and has an average wait time of just 3 minutes.

Although Pimsleur has phone lines that are open 24/7, when you look at Rosetta Stone vs Pimsleur customer support I think Rosetta Stone’s is slightly better due to their live chat feature. The wait time for the service is around 3 minutes, so it’s a much quicker and more convenient way to contact an advisor than email or phone.

So what’s the verdict on Pimsleur vs Rosetta Stone?

Overall, when weighing up the choice between Pimsleur vs Rosetta Stone, both are effective learning courses for foreign languages. However, I think the Pimsleur approach is a slightly better option due to its affordability and the number of languages it offers.

Pimsleur provides courses in an extensive range of languages, all of which are split into 30 half-hour lessons. The price of the basic version of the software is only $14.95, making it a very budget-friendly choice in vs Rosetta Stone.

The teaching style of the Pimsleur course is completely audio-based, so it isn’t ideal for individuals who learn better visually. This can also make the lessons a bit dull as there isn’t a lot of variety in their structure.

I prefer Rosetta Stone’s teaching style for this reason, which focuses on a visual teaching method. I also like how Rosetta Stone features gamified lessons and an online tutoring service to add some diversity in how you learn.

Both Pimsleur and Rosetta Stone have similar customer services and can be reached through phone or email. Pimsleur offers a 24/7 phone line, vs Rosetta Stone offering a 24/7 live chat. They’re also available on apps for desktop and mobile devices.

Rosetta Stone has some problems with some of their language courses, particularly Japanese and Korean lessons, which don’t fully explain honorific words and vocabulary. It is also very pricey and requires at least a 3-month subscription to the service, which is why I think Pimsleur is a better choice for foreign language learning.

This post first appeared on



Educated reviews and oppinions on the best software and online tools available right now!

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store