Which Language Learning App Is Better?

Learning a new language is an intimidating process, whether you’re going it alone or learning in a classroom setting. Luckily, there are some useful language learning apps, like Duolingo and Rosetta Stone, that can help you improve your skills and continuously learn new vocabulary and grammar.Both of these language apps have both a mobile and desktop app, making it easy to continue your learning from wherever you are. Although both apps will help you toward your language learning goals, they do so in different ways. Is one better than the other? Let’s check it out.


Available Languages

Rosetta Stone presents users with 25 different languages ​​to choose from. A few of the most popular languages ​​here include Chinese (Mandarin), French, Spanish, Korean, Russian, German, Greek, Italian, and Vietnamese. You can even learn Latin through Rosetta Stone, though you can only access these lessons through the web browser app, not the mobile app.

Duolingo presents available languages ​​to learn to you based on what your native language is. For example, if your native language is French, you’ll have six different languages ​​available to choose from. English speakers, by far, have the most options to choose from when selecting their next language to learn, with 38 different unique languages ​​available.

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English speakers can choose from many popular languages, including Spanish, French, Japanese, German, Korean, Italian, Hindi, Chinese, Russian, Arabic, and more. Then, Duolingo also offers its English users more niche fictional languages ​​for fun, like Klingon and High Valyrian.

Learning & Lesson Structure

Through its free version, the Rosetta Stone app only allows you to learn a certain amount until you’re required to pay. While the Duolingo app can be annoying with ads sometimes, you have full access to the course materials all the way to the bottom.

Rosetta Stone gives users a lot of word and picture associations, and this is the main way the app teaches you a new language. Each language course is built with a certain number of units, ranging in topics like Language Basics, Greetings and Introductions, Work and School, Shopping, and more. Within each unit, there are core lessons and then exercises in pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar.

Although there are many lessons to complete, they are all pretty much the same, just with new word and picture combinations. Then, there are instances where you listen to someone speak a phrase and have to match it to a picture, and other instances where you pronounce what’s on the screen.

The Rosetta Stone app also has a couple of neat tabs that allow you to learn more about the culture behind a language, and practice your conversational skills.

The On-Demand tab lets you read related blog posts on conversational tips and cultural insights. Then, on the Extended Learning tab, there are three sections you can explore.

  • Phrasebook: Here, you can hear a native speaker pronounce some common phrases and then practice pronouncing them yourself.
  • Stories: You can browse through a few pre-scripted stories to test your comprehension.
  • Audio Companion: Usually, the app uses a Wi-Fi or cellular data connection to work, but you can download audio lessons for each unit here and access them offline.

While Rosetta Stone may work more on pronunciation and exposure to conversational language, there’s not much focus on grammar. Duolingo, on the other hand, offers a more all-inclusive learning approach, even if the app doesn’t cover everything you need to be fluent in a language.

The entire course is laid out for you as soon as you start a new language. Even if you’re not able to carry out certain lessons further down the learning tree, you can still see the whole course. Over the course, you’ll get both vocabulary and grammar exposure, along with some helpful tips.

The number of modules within a unit varies, but each has five different levels until mastery. Each level has about four to six lessons. Basically, there’s a lot of material to learn! This repetition is super helpful, and you get to hear words and spoken sentences to you as well as repeat them back to ensure you’re pronouncing everything correctly.

One of the unique aspects of Duolingo compared to other language learning apps is gamification. If you’re not sure what gamification is, it’s essentially the process of placing achievements and other gamified elements inside an app that isn’t traditionally a game, like a language learning app, to make users want to return.

Here are a few of the best gamified elements in Duolingo:

  • Daily Streak: Much like Snapchat streaks, Duolingo’s daily streak requires you to complete at least one lesson a day.
  • Achievements: There are a few fun achievements that inspire you to learn, like keeping up your streak for 365 days or learning a total of 2,000 words in a new course.
  • Experience: You earn experience every time you complete a lesson. Typically every month, there’s a new experience challenge to meet and keep you motivated.
  • Leagues: Duolingo has different leagues, or gem ranks, you can compete in, starting with Bronze and ending with Diamond. If you gain enough experience to be in the Top 10 (out of 30 people), then you’re advanced to the next league. If you land in the Bottom 5, you’re demoted to the previous league.

Online Forums & Communities

Rosetta Stone has some useful resources on its website, but there’s no official user forum where users can ask questions and see questions that others have asked as well. There’s an official Rosetta Stone blog you can explore to learn more about your particular language, or you can also check out the Support page or FAQ section on the website.

Duolingo used to have a ton of awesome language data and user questions in its online forums, but as of March 22, 2022, these helpful forums are gone. That said, there are still a few community-building features that have stayed on the Duolingo app.

For example, you still have the ability to add friends and compete with other language learners in leagues every week. These features foster a sense of camaraderie amongst Duolingo users, but not being able to turn to forums when you have a burning question is disappointing. You can still consult unofficial forums like r/duolingo, but it’s not monitored at all by Duolingo.

Pricing

Rosetta Stone is pricey, and you really have to pay to get the most benefits out of its language learning software. This language learning service has been around for a while, and is the first of its kind. So it makes sense that, at this point, the company is charging top dollar for its products.


Right now, Rosetta Stone offers three different payment plans. You can pay for three months at a time, averaging out to about $11.99 per month. Then, there’s a 12-month option that averages out to about $7.99 per month. Or, you can pay a single fee of $179 (discounted from its original price at $29) to get lifetime access to all languages.

If you have the money to spare, a lifetime subscription is the best value for your money, hands down. You’ll have access to all 25 of the languages ​​available through Rosetta Stone, and won’t have to worry about renewing or canceling a subscription in the future.

Although Duolingo has a premium plan, titled Duolingo Plus, you don’t have to pay for a subscription if you’re okay with ads. In addition to getting rid of ads, a Duolingo Plus subscription also lets you complete as many lessons as you want to with no restrictions, as well as taking an endless amount of progress quizzes.

There are two ways you can pay for a Duolingo Plus subscription: monthly or yearly. If you choose to pay month-by-month, it’ll cost you $12.99 every month. But if you know you’ll use the service for at least a year, paying annually saves you a lot of money. For a yearly plan, you’ll pay $79.99, which averages out to about $7 per month. Or, there’s also a new Family Plan option for two to six members that’s $119.99 per year.

Which App Is Better for You?

It’s worth mentioning that you likely won’t become fluent from either Duolingo or Rosetta Stone. In order to truly become fluent, you usually have to immerse yourself in a country, interact with the locals, and test out your language skills in real-time.

That said, between the two apps, Duolingo is more pleasurable to use and does a better job of teaching you basic vocabulary and grammar. Your best bet to get the most out of Duolingo would be to seek outside resources along your learning path, and maybe even use an additional app at the same time, like Rosetta Stone, Babbel, or Memrise.

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