You’ve probably heard about Rosetta Stone as one of the most famous programs for learning a language. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that many people also use the program for learning Russian. But – is it a good choice? And does it matter what previous knowledge you have of Russian (e.g. is it suitable for complete beginners)? We decided to find out and here are the results in this complete Rosetta Stone Russian review.
Note: this review is divided into the following sections: first we’ll give a quick overview of the program. Then we’ll discuss the 5 best parts of the program. After that I’ll tell which 2 types of people are most likely to get the most out of the program. Oh, there are also some downsides of the program – so there’s a short section that discusses these shortcomings and when not to get Rosetta Stone Russian.
Rosetta Stone Russian review
It’s a language learning software that you can install on your computer or Mac. So it doesn’t matter if you’re a Windows or Apple user. The program is divided into 5 different levels and logically you start at the first level and as you become more advanced you continue with the upper levels.
After you’ve finished all the 5 levels, you will be well on your way to fluency. Each level takes around 50 hours, so in total you’d have spent 250 hours. Russian is a language for which the average learner needs around 1100 focused hours, so following the Rosetta Stone course will get you to almost 25% of that. Of course, if you focus and don’t rush through the course – but that is truth for all forms of learning.
Before we get started: let’s address this thing first
Rosetta Stone has a lot of critics. The reason for this is because it takes a special approach to language learning. Instead of teaching you Russian through English, they use only Russian. If you’re not used to this, than it can be a tough thing to get used to. So many of the negative reviews you read will be of people who were not expecting this.
Instead they went in the program with the expectation that the course was going to do all the heavy lifting for them. If you’ve got any experience with learning languages, then you know that this isn’t true. You’ve got to do some work yourself – and no program is going to magically teach you Russian.
So I want you to wipe your slate clean of any previous (negative) impressions that you might have of the program. In this Rosetta Stone Russian review we’ll discuss the course objectively. That means that you can create your own image of how the program will work for you.
Let’s continue with what you’ll find inside the Russian program:
What will you get with Rosetta Stone Russian?
One of the nice things about the course is that it’s available in many different forms. Do you like to use it on your tablet or mobile while out on the go (if you’ve got 5 minutes to spare)? Or do you prefer to sit down at your desk, notepad in hand and buckle down for an hour or 2? That’s also a perfect option if you install it on your computer.
Here’s an overview of everything you get when you order 1 level of Rosetta Stone Russian:
- 50 hours of language lessons
- Access for up to 5 family members (or friends)
- Speech recognition so that you can compare your speech to that of a native
- Access to 3 months of the program on your smartphone/tablet
- Live tutoring lessons with a native
- Earbuds are included
So as you can see it’s a luxury language learning product. You get a ton of bells and whistles, and if you’re preparing for a trip to Russia with several others, then it can be a solid investment. Now, onto the Rosetta Stone Russian review itself and what it can do for you:
5 Benefits of learning Russian with Rosetta Stone
#1 Learning through language immersion
The main benefit of learning Russian with Rosetta Stone is that the program itself focuses on complete immersion. That means that it tries to simulate how you would learn the language if you’d step off the plane in Moscow with only a little (or no) previous knowledge of Russian. This has been widely recognized as one of the most effective ways to learn a new language.
We’ve all heard the stories (and maybe you know a few of them personally) of people who travelled to Spain to study there for a year and came back speaking fluent Spanish. When asked what courses or lessons they took, they often reply that *well, it just happened as I was making new friends and living my daily life*.
So it’s a very powerful thing. And Rosetta Stone is one of the best ways to recreate that experience of actually being in Russia.
#2 Using visual and audio together for learning
Another thing that will work very well for ingraining vocabulary and phrases into your memory is the use of audio + visual. That means that as you hear specific phrases, you will see the picture that is associated with it. So you’re engaging several parts of your brain. And the more active your brain is when learning something, the better it will be stored in your long-term memory. Here is a video of how the program works – check it out and see if you enjoy it
#3 There is no English to fall back on
I review a lot of Russian products on this site and one thing that I really like in this Rosetta Stone Russian review is that there *is no English to fall back on*. That is one of the reasons the program gets quite some hate in other reviews. However, I think it’s a very well thought of decision by the makers.
It does take some time to get used to. And many people are losing their critical thinking and problem-solving skills because they look even the smallest things up on Google instead of thinking for themselves. But if you like to actually use your brain a little bit – and are alright with not understanding a word for some time – and then experiencing this aha moment when it finally clicks after a couple of sessions is a very rewarding feeling.
So, let me repeat. The program uses only Russian. So you’re going to have to do some mental gymnastics at time. But the more you have to think about the new words and phrases you’re learning – the better and faster you’ll speak Russian.
#4 Lots of content
I always enjoy it if there’s a lot of content. Logical, because you don’t want to shelve out money for a course that takes you an hour a day for a week. I like to stick with 1 thing until it becomes a routine and with the 50 hour+ content Rosetta Stone gives, this can mean 3months of half an hour per day on working days. Now, I bet you that half an hour per day for 3 months will see a drastic increase in your Russian speaking abilities!
#5 Personal tutoring will help you get through sticking points
Every person is different, so there will always be some parts of a program that click with you, while for other parts you might need some more explanation. Rosetta Stone acknowledges this that their program is not perfect in that sense. And to get over your own personal sticking points, you can ask for help from a tutor. This is done online and you get a 3-month trial for this when you order the program.
2 Types of people who will benefit the most from Rosetta Stone
It’s a program with a pretty heavy price tag and some features that may make it not too popular with some people. That’s why here’s an overview of the 2 types of people who will get the most results out of Rosetta Stone Russian:
- People who like learning through guessing, fun and immersion – this is literally the perfect person to use the program. Because those are the foundation principle on which Rosetta Stone is built. It’s almost puzzle-like and if you like to solve things then you’re going to enjoy the program.
- People who already know some Russian and want a very good supplementary program – if you already know some Russian and want to improve that. Or you are already following classes and want a very effective home-study method to accompany your classes, Rosetta Stone is a very good program for that. It will take away the classroom atmosphere and add a new fun touch to your learning.
Don’t get Rosetta Stone if you…
Of course, this Rosetta Stone Russian review wouldn’t be complete without a warning to some other people who this program might not be the best course for you. I wouldn’t recommend Rosetta Stone if you:
- Don’t know the Russian alphabet yet – please, please learn the alphabet before getting this program, because it’s not included. Here’s a good link to do that.
- Are looking for a hand-held ‘class’ experience – Rosetta Stone is a great program in that you have to do a bit of work to get your results. It won’t feel like that but sometimes you will literally feel your brain churning to find out which image fits the spoken words.
- Need detailed grammar instructions – didn’t touch on this yet, but the program doesn’t teach grammar explicitly. Another brain teaser – and it works if you put in the effort. However, I do recommend you print this cases overview from Wikipedia to give you more detailed instructions on how the cases work.
What I’d recommend instead:
If for any of the above reasons you think Rosetta Stone isn’t for you to learn Russian – then I recommend you try out Russianpod101. It’s a (mainly) audio-based online course that offers all the benefits of Rosetta Stone for a lower price. They have just as much content and you’ll learn all the necessary aspects of the Russian language.
Here’s a short overview of what Russianpod101 has to offer:
- Hundreds of audio podcast lessons ( ranging from 10-20 minutes )
- List of 2000 most common word in Russian ( plus example phrases )
- A tool to help you perfect your pronunciation
- A guide that will teach you the Russian alphabet
- List of Russian key-phrases
- Russian dictionary
- Verb conjugation sheets
- Easy to follow tutorials on Russian grammar
- Grammar database ( detailed write-ups covering over 100 grammar points )
What’s especially good about Russianpod101 is that the way every audio lesson is built. Take a look:
- A short dialogue in Russian (20-50 seconds)
- The same dialogue – still in Russian, but now spoken slowly
- The dialogue with its English translation
- New vocabulary + translation
- Explanation of new grammatical concepts
- Common used expressions
- The dialogue again – so you can test the things you’ve learned
If you’re curious for the program, then you can try out a free trial of the course here. You can try it for 7 days – so there’s no risk. After that: if you want to continue you can sign up for the podcasts. The prices start as low as $4 per month, so it’s cheaper than Rosetta Stone. Which makes it a solid alternative if you don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars on your Russian practice.
How to incorporate Rosetta Stone in your Russian practice?
While reading this Rosetta Stone Russian review, you’re probably getting curious what the best way is to incorporate the course into your Russian practice. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. If you want to know the specific nuts and bolts of how to get the most out of Rosetta Stone, the following guidelines will help you.
It doesn’t matter if you want to follow just Rosetta Stone, or if you plan to use the program together with other Russian material/courses. It works fine if you’re following the program alongside real classes for example. But it’s also fine to do Rosetta Stone Russian as a stand-alone program. There’s no need to adhere to a specific strategy; the following 3 guidelines will work whatever your approach is.
#1 Do 1 lesson per day
This is the secret of successful language learners. They don’t do 8 hours of practice on a Saturday afternoon and then nothing for the next week. Instead: they do a little bit everyday. If you take this approach, then you will get a littlebit better in Russian every single day. You won’t even see your progress, and that is what makes this simple method incredibly powerful.
Doing 1 course every day doesn’t take a lot of time (half an hour), and you’ll soon get into the habit of doing this. It will start feeling weird to you if you didn’t do your Rosetta Stone course every day. Now, I don’t recommend you become too perfectionistic about this. Doing it 5 days out of every week is enough to see results. So if you skip a day for whatever reason, don’t panic. Just resolve to do your sessions the next day and pick up where you left off.
Taking small steps is one of the best ways to get good at anything, let alone a difficult skill such as Russian.
#2 Make sure to ‘refresh’ between sessions
Another pro tip if you want to get the most out of this Rosetta Stone Russian review, is to make sure that your brain rests enough during each session. You can compare this to physical training. If you’re working up in the gym, then at a certain the moment your muscles will get tired. You can continue working out, but your effectiveness will be less. Now it is time to give your muscles to rest overnight so that you can come back the next day.
It works the same with language learning. Have you ever felt after an intense study session that it felt as if your brain was melting and getting incredibly tired? Then you know that continuing after this point will lead to almost no results. You put in your time for the day, and this is enough. Now it is time to let your brain rest, and make sure all your knowledge gets stored into your long-term memory.
The best, and easiest way to do this, is to get enough sleep. So after you’ve done your practice of one lesson every day, just continue doing the rest of your normal day and make sure to sleep at least 8 hours that night. If you do this then you will come back the next day feeling fresh again for learning more words and phrases in Russian.
Also, I recommend you take at least 15 minutes to half an hour after every lesson in which you do not do anything else that intensive for your brain. Especially don’t learn another language at the same time, because this will cause you to mix up things and not learn any of the two languages.
#3 Use a dictionary for faster learning
As the program is a complete immersion program and no English is used, it is important that you use a dictionary for faster learning. Since you follow the program online, you can easily use Google Translate to make it easier. This way you won’t have to go through a thick dictionary to find the right word. You can of course still do this if you like to use something physical for looking up your words.
The reason why using a dictionary will allow for faster learning, is that you can look up the words that you don’t know. Now this might sound obvious, but with a program such as Rosetta Stone, you otherwise wouldn’t learn these words. By paying attention to the pictures and sounds you will already learn many new words and phrases. However, you can’t do everything on your own and having a simple dictionary with you for looking up those couple of difficult words, will make a huge difference. It cost a couple of minutes per lesson, but your vocabulary will grow three times as much.
Important to notice here is that you shouldn’t use this dictionary at every whim when you don’t know a specific word. As you read before in this Rosetta Stone Russian review, the program was designed so that you use your brain in order to decipher what specific words and phrases mean. Don’t shortcut this process by looking up everything. It will make it less fun to follow the program, and you’ll train your brain to be lazy.
Rosetta Stone Russian review conclusion
If you’re starting out learning Russian and want to use a full immersion approach to learning Russian, then Rosetta Stone can be a valuable course for you.
It teaches Russian the way a native kid would learn it. And depending on your style of learning, this can either be very effective – or not at all.
So check with yourself how you effectively learn and then make a decision.
If you like puzzling and putting in effort to decipher what a specific word of phrase means, than Rosetta Stone Russian is a solid choice for you.
However, if you do not like this, then it’s a better choice to choose Russianpod101 for learning Russian. It’s also an online course. Their audio programs contain translations, so you can just listen and if you focus, you’ll learn a lot of useful Russian phrases.
Where can you get Rosetta Stone Russian?
I hope you enjoyed reading this Rosetta Stone Russian review. If you’re curious where to get the lessons, you can do so through the following link. You’ll find some more information about the program there + customer reviews. So you can use those to make an informed decision.
P.S. enjoyed this Rosetta Stone Russian review? But find the price tag of several hundred dollars too much? Then try Russianpod101 – it’s an effective audio course that is available between $4 and $47 per month. Plus there’s no risk with their FREE 7-day trial!
P.S. If you want to improve your Russian on 'autopilot', my best recommendation is to just listen to 1 single Russianpod101 podcast per day (about 15 minutes). Ideally you do this when commuting to work to create a lasting habit. You can also take a daily walk. I did this for about 6 months, and it's the reason my Russian improved so quickly. There's a free 7 day trial with just an email address, so you're not risking anything. Give it a try and see how fast your Russian skills improve.