Rosetta Stone vs Duolingo

By Jordan Fabel •  Updated: March 16, 2022  •  10 min read  •  Education
Approved Course is reader-supported. If you buy through links on our site, we may earn a small commission.

Both Rosetta Stone and Duolingo offer language learning apps and online options. You can learn a new language with either one. However, they teach in a different way and both offer different types of learning.

Whether you’re trying to learn a new language to travel, for a job, or for fun, Rosetta Stone and Duolingo are great options. Before you choose the right language learning app for you, let’s compare the two.

Rosetta Stone Overview

While Rosetta Stone has been around much longer, they have not been online for the entire time. Rosetta Stone was started in the early 1990s and has been a top language-learning program for 25 years. They offer 28 total languages with a subscription model.

This option uses a patented Dynamic Immersion method to help students learn through experience with the language. They use motivational learning to keep you going and you never simply get the translation of a word.

Pros

Cons

If you choose Rosetta Stone, you will get one core 30-minute lesson in each learning module. This will be followed by anywhere from three to 15 supplemental drills. Usually, the supplemental drills are five to ten minutes long. They will cover things, such as grammar, writing, pronunciation, and listening.

Typically, it will take about an hour to complete each lesson with Rosetta Stone. You will get a combination of images and audio to help you learn. The main emphasis with Rosetta Stone is the visuals.

The lessons and trills are a bit of a variation of interactive flashcards. You will listen to a native speaker say a phrase, and then you will click on the image that matches the phrase. It will start with one- or two-word phrases and build to longer phrases over time.

Duolingo Overview

Since 2012, Duolingo has been very popular as a learning language app. They offer more than 34 total languages to choose from if you already speak English. Duolingo is known as the most popular language-learning app, partially because they offer a free version.

The structured lessons make it easy to work through and learn quickly. It also offers a game-line interface to make it fun and more enjoyable for learners.

Pros

Cons

Duolingo uses shorter, bite-sized lessons. Each one will take only about five to ten minutes to complete. You will get a few interactive exercises in each lesson.

The lessons may include fill-in-the-blanks, verbal practice, writing full sentences, listening drills, or matching pairs.

What Does It Mean to Become Fluent?

You will see language learning programs like Rosetta Stone and Duolingo talk about becoming fluent. This is defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as “capable of using a language easily and accurately” or “having or showing mastery of a subject or skill”.

There are different degrees of fluency when it comes to speaking a language. The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) is the most accepted standard. They provide a six-point scale going from A1 to C2 with A1 being a beginner and C2 being a master of the language. Here’s a quick breakdown of each level of fluency according to CEFR:

Rosetta Stone and Duolingo will help you reach an A2 or B1 level, but you will not become a more advanced user of the language. Neither one offers enough to make you a master or even highly fluent in a foreign language.

Rosetta Stone vs Duolingo: Languages Offered

Rosetta Stone offers 28 total languages, while Duolingo offers 37. They both offer the main languages, such as Spanish and French. Some of the other languages both offer include:

Along with these main languages, Rosetta Stone offers Spanish and English in different forms. You can take Spanish from Latin American or Spain. English is offered in American or British.

Duolingo also offers many unique language options including:

Some of these courses are still in the Beta version, however.

While Duolingo offers more languages, Rosetta Stone still offers quite a few. Duolingo gets the win in this category, but only by a small amount.

Rosetta Stone vs Duolingo: Features Offered

Both Rosetta Stone and Duolingo offer apps you can use for learning. Rosetta Stone uses an immersion learning method with lessons you will need to complete to keep moving on. They offer a Phrasebook, which allows you to reference phrases used in conversation. The main goal of Rosetta Stone is to get you to speak the language every day.

Duolingo uses a game style of learning. They split things up into bite-sized lessons to help you work through the language effectively. It’s a personalized learning method that puts an emphasis on fun.

Both offer good features, so this category is a tie between Rosetta Stone and Duolingo. They are similar in some ways, but also different with the features they offer.

Rosetta Stone vs Duolingo: Teaching Methods

The biggest difference you will find between Rosetta Stone and Duolingo is the teaching methods used. They both teach language very well but in a different way.

Rosetta Stone uses the following teaching methods:

These supplemental learning methods go along with the immersion learning used by Rosetta Stone. It makes for a far more complete program, especially with their TruAccent voice-recognition system to give you instant feedback on your speaking accuracy.

Duolingo uses a game-like type of learning method. This structure is set up to allow you to unlock new lessons as you complete the ones you’re working on. However, it can fall short in many ways including:

The bulk of what Duolingo offers is general skills in the language. This can make it a great option for some, but it can be lacking in this category for others, too.

The winner of this category is clearly Rosetta Stone. Not only do they offer more teaching methods and resources, but they also back it all up with results.

Rosetta Stone vs Duolingo: The Cost

Rosetta Stone does not offer a free option. However, they do offer a free trial. You can try it out before deciding to become a subscriber.

If you decide to subscribe to Rosetta Stone the options are:

The lifetime access option will allow you unlimited access to all the languages. They do offer student, military, frontline hero, and teacher discounts. You can also get a program for your business or your school.

If you’re a homeschool teacher, you can use a three-day trial of their homeschool curriculum. Then, if you decide to purchase, the cost is the same as above.

Duolingo is free to use for anybody. They do play ads and you will be limited based on how well you do each day. However, you can upgrade for an ad-free and unlimited experience for around $84 per year.

Since Duolingo has a free version and a cheaper overall price, it’s the winner of this category. However, Rosetta Stone offers a pretty good deal if you want to learn multiple languages with their lifetime access subscription.

Who is Rosetta Stone for?

A great choice for beginners, Rosetta Stone is for the more serious user. Since you will need about an hour to complete a lesson, you need to have plenty of time to work on the language daily.

The teaching method is more formal and you can choose different versions of English or Spanish. If you’re an auditory learner, this might be the perfect option for you.

You will learn a bit more grammar and vocabulary with Rosetta Stone compared to Duolingo. However, you will only be able to work on one language at a time, unless you get the lifetime access option.

Who is Duolingo for?

Duolingo is for the casual learner. It’s a great choice for those without much time to study, too. If you can only find a few minutes a day to work on your new language, Duolingo is the right choice for you.

With shorter lessons, it can be fit into time at lunch, on breaks, or even while waiting in lines. Those on a very tight budget will enjoy the free version.

The interface also tends to be more colorful. It’s a game-like experience, so if that is what you prefer, Duolingo is right for you. You can also try multiple languages at the same time if you want.

Results from Using Rosetta Stone and Duolingo

Rosetta Stone has shown that they can quickly get you into a new language. They have shown that using their program for 55 hours is worth about one semester of learning at a school. Duolingo, however, shows that learners can get the same results in just 34 hours.

However, Rosetta Stone offers a higher quality type of learning. You will use methods that are better for memory retention, motivational learning, and language acquisition. With the immersive experience, you can learn the language faster and with better accuracy with Rosetta Stone.

Rosetta Stone aims to teach you the language, not just phrases and words. You will learn organically and get more real-world practice than you get with Duolingo.

However, with the core lessons of Rosetta Stone or Duolingo, you won’t advance past the A2 or B1 fluency level. It will take more resources and even tutoring to get to a higher level of fluency.

Both Rosetta Stone and Duolingo offer great options to learn a new language. As long as you go into these types of apps with proper expectations, you can be on your way to speaking a new language. Neither one will make you fluent, but you can speak well enough to travel and interact with others. Plus, Rosetta Stone and Duolingo can help you get started on your way to fluency in a new language.

Jordan Fabel

Jordan Fabel

Covering different 'paths' that people's lives can take. Creative, foster parent, ticket dismissal, you get the idea. Exploring the requirements, certifications, exams, and obviously, approved courses along each path. I, personally, am the high school dropout son of two teacher parents. So how did I get here? That story is coming soon!