Thursday, December 24, 2015

Rosetta Stone: Expensive and unimpressive

Sent to the New York Post, Dec. 24. 2015

Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña advises parents to buy Rosetta Stone if they are not happy with cuts to foreign language programs. ("Fariña suggests buying Rosetta Stone to learn foreign languages," Dec. 23.)

As the Post points out, a major problem is expense: Rosetta Stone costs $200, which few parents can afford: half of NY City students live below the poverty line.

There's another reason: Rosetta Stone is not especially effective and there is evidence that it is not especially interesting. Despite all of Rosetta Stone's advertising, only two (unpublished) studies have been done examining its effectiveness. Both conclude that Rosetta Stone was no better than traditional language study.

In a third study, 150 people were asked to do Rosetta Stone in Spanish, Chinese or Arabic for 10 hours a week for 20 weeks. Nearly 80% of the subjects dropped out before completing the first week of a 20-week course and only one person completed the entire course. Among the reasons: the program “was not compelling enough for continued study."

Those interested in the details can read my review, available for free at and at Krashen, S. 2013.  Rosetta Stone: Does not provide compelling input, research reports at best suggestive, conflicting reports on users’ attitudes.
International Journal of Foreign Language Education, 8(1).

Stephen Krashen

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