Pimsleur vs Rosetta Stone – which is better? The big two in terms of home language learning systems are of course Pimsleur and Rosetta Stone and while there are many reviews around of each it can be useful to see how they stack up against each other.

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The Pimsleur Approach

  • audio based (CD or downloadable MP3)
  • 90 days to complete all three levels
  • graduated interval recall (also known as spaced repetition

Just listen and then respond, very simple to do and if followed in the recommended fashion it can be quite effective at achieving a reasonable level of conversational ability although the vocabulary is a little lacking and will certainly need to be built on. It does however provide a solid foundation and gets you over the initial hurdle of actually speaking with a new language.

The Rosetta Stone Totale Approach

  • computer based training
  • aims to create an immersive learning environment (dynamic immersion)
  • includes an audio based companion
  • adaptive recall
  • 3 to 5 levels which take up to 50 hours each to complete
  • Live online lessons

The Rosetta Stone Totale system is a very comprehensive learning system but it also comes with some demanding requirements in terms of the hardware and operating system it runs on which results in a lack of portability and can often create additional technical problems for users leading to frustration. While it does have an ‘audio companion’ it is less useful on its own and to get the full benefit of the advanced ‘Totale’ system you really need to be able to use all components, the live online lessons are a particularly useful feature. However all this additional functionality and complexity also comes at a price and it generally costs more than Pimsleur.

Pimsleur on the other hand is as simple and undemanding as can be and it will happily run on anything that can play MP3 files which means everything from cellphones to netbooks, tablets, phablets, digital organizers, dedicated mp3 players and of course full desktop pc’s, running windows, mac, linux, unix, android or pretty much anything else you can think of. You can really take it with you anywhere and learn on the go – it does one thing really well and that is it gets you speaking in a new language with a core vocabulary which you can then build on.

For much more info on both these learning systems have a look at our in-depth Pimsleur Review and Rosetta Stone Review.

In an ideal world where money is no object (or if you are fortunate enough to benefit from “other peoples money”) you could get both systems which would really turbo charge your language learning journey. For the rest of us, the decision can be based on various factors:

  • cost (Pimsleur is usually cheaper)
  • compatibility (Pimsleur is more cross platform)
  • does the method appeal to me? (a personal choice)
  • does it do the job? (Both do a reasonable job but Rosetta provides a more comprehensive computer based learning platform which may be more effective for some people)

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