Thanks for stopping by to read our Rosetta Stone Japanese Review. In this article we look at the pricing, pros and cons, as well as some of the best alternatives if Rosetta Stone isn’t for you.
Rosetta Stone Japanese: Overview
Taking its name from quite possibly the most famous rock in existence, Rosetta Stone has grown to become one of the most recognizable names in the language learning industry. It is currently the only language learning software company that is publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange (Code: RST). They are the undisputed heavyweight champion of the language learning world, and have an undeniable influence on the entire industry. But are their language learning methods efficient?
Rosetta Stone Japanese carries with it a hefty price tag. Their monthly subscription is billed as a one time charge, with the price per month decreasing the longer your commitment. While the 3 and 6 month subscription options may not be realistic for anyone serious about learning a new language, the 12 & 24 month subscription prices seem (on the surface) to offer good value. That is, if they fulfill their promise of teaching you a new language.
This article will dive deep into the Rosetta Stone philosophy and move past their clever marketing strategies to decide if Rosetta Stone Japanese is worth the hefty price tag.
What We Didn’t Like About Rosetta Stone Japanese
It seems that Rosetta Stone spends more money marketing their products than actually investing in their improvement. Rosetta Stone was one of the early players in the language learning software world and it shows. Their interface can be slow, unresponsive, and downright frustrating to work with.
First Impressions Good, But…
For this article, I downloaded Rosetta Stone on my computer and on my iPhone 8+ to test out mobile function. Throughout the whole sales process I was consistently wowed by their marketing. With the exception of maybe DuoLingo, there is a clear lack of effective marketing in this industry and Rosetta Stone gets an A+ in this category for getting me excited about their product.
Sadly, the clever marketing and design seemed to disappear when starting up the actual product and I found myself both disappointed and frustrated in the actual Japanese lessons. Much of this can be attributed to the Rosetta Stone philosophy of dynamic immersion, which is a language learning style that involves the pairing of sounds and texts to corresponding images.
However, this technique has major drawbacks. The primary drawback being that the program doesn’t spend the time in the beginning to teach you any of the complex aspects of the Japanese writing system and simply throws you into a world of immersion without providing any context as to what you’re saying, and what anything means.
If you have little or no experience learning Japanese, you may find yourself extremely frustrated and confused. The Japanese writing system is confusing and only learning word associations with pictures and sounds likely won’t prove to have any substantial long term effect.
In other words, Hiragana, Katakana and Kanji are an essential aspect of the Japanese language and without it, you will have a difficult time reading and understanding Japanese in any real world context.
The Pricing Model
Rosetta Stone Japanese is sold on a SAS (software as a service) model, so you don’t really own the software; you’re essentially renting it. And not on the cheap, for that matter. They offer different pricing for different subscription lengths (with longer costing less per month).
Here are the prices of Rosetta Stone Japanese as of June 12, 2019:
3 Month subscription: $41.97
6 Month Subscription: $77.94
12 Month Subscription: $107.88
24 Month Subscription: $155.76
Better Programs Out There For The Money
For such a large financial investment, shouldn’t a language learning program provide more then just word association and clunky software? The consensus in the language learning community is a definitive yes, and this article will show you some of our recommendations for Rosetta Stone Japanese alternatives that we believe are better.
What We Liked About Rosetta Stone Japanese
Despite the negatives, there are a few good things that can be said about Rosetta Stone both as a company and as a product. For one, the company has led innovation in the language learning space for nearly three decades now. Their positive contributions have helped millions of people learn more than two dozen languages and they have helped pave the way for innovation in the language learning sector.
When it comes to software applications, Rosetta Stone seem to have embraced the idea of creating simple and easy-to-use applications. Rosetta Stone is quite possibly the easiest language learning program out there. The interface is simple, easy to navigate and user friendly. Their website, billing system and the software itself are also well-designed with rich colors and beautiful typography. Aesthetically, the service is great.
If you are an intermediate Japanese language learner, Rosetta Stone might have some value to you as a vocabulary review kit, and a word pronunciation guide. But at such a hefty price tag, you’ll get more value out of a more comprehensive language learning service.
What Other Reviewers Had To Say…
Don’t take our word for it though, we encourage you to try the program out for yourself. When reading reviews of a language learning tool, it’s important to understand that everyone has different learning styles. And while the language learning community tends to review Rosetta Stone’s Japanese edition unfavorably, it’s not a uniform consensus. We did want to attach some screenshots that reinforce the critical points we make in our article.
A staff writer at language101.com offered to even eat his Rosetta Stone discs if someone could carry a conversation in Japanese after practicing solely with Rosetta Stone for 45 minutes a day. He also expressed his frustration with their customer service department after not receiving answers to questions about the program:
You Shouldn’t Buy Rosetta Stone If…
1. You are new to the Japanese language.
If you are a beginner, or are unfamiliar with the different alphabets, you should stay far away from Rosetta Stone. The value of this software to an aspiring Japanese speaker doesn’t really improve for more intermediate and advanced speakers of the language. This is because of the rigid nature of the software program itself.
2. You don’t like following a rigid curriculum.
Rosetta Stone’s software leaves little room for creativity in planning your own lessons, and isn’t suited to self-starters and students who get frustrated with a slow, easy pace.
3. You plan to live in Japan.
If you’re planning to eventually live in Japan, you’ll need to learn the Japanese writing system to help you out in daily life. In that case, this is not the program for you.
In the end, many language hackers agree that Rosetta Stone Japanese makes the language learning process difficult, confusing, and downright inefficient. Simply put, after extensive testing on our part, we can’t recommend Rosetta Stone Japanese. Below are some alternatives that we do recommend.
Rosetta Stone Japanese Alternatives
While Rosetta Stone might be the global leader in language learning software products, that by no definition of the word means that it is the best and most comprehensive product out there. Thankfully there are many other innovative language learning programs that are worth your money and your time.
The two we are most willing to recommend today are JapanesePod101 and Rocket Japanese.
JapanesePod101 is quite possibly the most well put together language learning product we’ve tested. It has literally thousands of audio and video lessons, and detailed pdf’s with useful cultural context, and intuitively designed lesson plans to help teach Japanese efficiently. In our opinion, JapanesePod101 is the clear and definitive winner in Japanese language instruction. Read our review of JapanesePod101 here.
2. Rocket Japanese
Rocket Japanese is a close second, and provides a quality product that is well researched, logical, and provides tangible results. One of its main selling points is that it provides many useful lessons in the complex world of Japanese grammar. Japanese grammar and sentence structure bear almost no similarities to English, and Rocket Japanese teaches that system efficiently. This is completely devoid in the Rosetta Stone Japanese program. We wrote a detailed review of Rocket Japanese — read it here.
Conclusion: Go With JapanesePod101 Instead
In conclusion, while we were excited to try Rosetta Stone Japanese, it simply didn’t live up to the hype (or the inflated marketing budgets). Japanese is one of the more difficult languages to learn and is not something that can be done through casual immersion.
An effective Japanese program should provide ample context, examples, and explanation, which is why we believe JapanesePod101 is the best choice for learning Japanese. It has thousands of hours of video and audio content, and is as close as one can get to learning Japanese from a real teacher without the high price tag of taking classes.
JapanesePod101 has options for different budgets, and there really is no substitute that we’ve found that compares. With all of these options considered, we highly recommend JapanesePod101 for all of your language learning endeavors.
You can read our full review of JapanesePod101 by clicking the image below, or use our special discount link to get 65% off.