Duolingo vs. Rosetta Stone: Choosing Best Language Learning App

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Learning a new language has many mental and social benefits. Nowadays, more and more people are shifting to learning new languages via apps or other software, and a plethora of language-learning apps have come up.

The two most popular ones are Duolingo and Rosetta Stone. You must have come across these apps but choosing one over the other is easier said than done.

In this article, we pit one app against another and highlight what makes them stand apart from other apps. We shall take a look at their features, their price, the language-learning methods that they offer, their pros and cons, and their interactive features.

In the battle of Duolingo vs. Rosetta Stone, we will ultimately choose a winner and illustrate the factors that have influenced our decision.

Breaking down Duolingo vs. Rosetta Stone



As a free, language-learning mobile app, Duolingo was launched in 2011. With over 110 million downloads, it has quickly emerged as one of the top apps in the world.

Many of the users who use Duolingo are beginner language learners and hobbyists who are looking to get a taste of the new language.

Its gamified approach to language learning, coupled with the fact that it is a free app, has made it quite popular among language learners.

Rosetta Stone

Rosetta Stone

Named after the Egyptian hieroglyphics, Rosetta Stone was founded in 1992 and offered a wide array of languages to learn from.

In the Duolingo vs. Rosetta Stone battle, it is clear that the latter offers a more traditional approach to learning new languages and is less gamified than Duolingo.

However, the app does boast of a research-backed method of learning new languages.

How Duolingo works

Select the language and determine your skills

Before you get started, Duolingo allows you to take a proficiency test to get gauge your language skills before you start. This test is optional, so beginners are not required to take it.

Select the language and determine your skills

Learning basic words

For beginners, Duolingo will start teaching basic words that you must know, such as ‘boy,’ ‘girl,’ ‘taxi,’ and so on. If you want to engage in conversations in the new language, it is essential that you get the basics covered first. This is as basic as it can get, and a firm command of these words will really benefit you later on.

Depending on the learning speed, you are likely to spend a few hours or days mastering the basics before moving on to higher levels. Duolingo keeps you engaged by urging you to earn badges and level up as you progress. This is a major plus point that clearly gives Duolingo an advantage in our battle of Duolingo vs. Rosetta Stone.

Advanced language lessons

You will begin leveling up once you gain command over the basic vocabulary of the new language. The advanced lessons will include translating words directly, forming full sentences, and much more. You only have three lives before you are forced to restart the lesson. The basics will come in handy when going through advanced lessons.

Advanced language lessons

Complete the lesson and keep going

As mentioned earlier, Duolingo gamifies the process of learning a language by allowing you to level up and earn badges as you progress. There are an endless amount of badges, and you will be spending a lot of years earning all of them.

Does that mean that you will be fluent in the language if you earn all the badges? Probably not.

Learning a language via an app is very different from learning by conversing with a native speaker. Of course, you will learn the basics and get a decent grasp of vocabulary and grammar, but if your aim is to learn the language in order to speak confidently with native speakers, the app has its limits. In that sense, the Duolingo vs. Rosetta Stone battle does not have a clear winner.

Complete the lesson and keep going

How Rosetta Stone Works

Explore the demo

When comparing Duolingo vs. Rosetta Stone, one thing pops out immediately. Duolingo is free, while Rosetta Stone is a paid service. Both will require you to sign up before you start exploring their features.

However, Rosetta Stone does offer a very interactive demo that allows you to give the first few lessons a shot and understand what the software has to offer.

Explore the Rosetta demo

Choose the product

Rosetta Stone provides two different products – a downloadable CD version and an online subscription. Of the two, the online subscription is relatively new. There are pros and cons to each. The online subscription expires once you cancel.

The downloadable CD version offers the software for up to 5 users, and you get to keep the license forever. However, their mobile app and games are valid for only three months.

Choose the Rosetta product

Upgrade to a price plan

If you decide to choose the subscription, there are four options available – 3 months, six months, 12 months, and 24 months. Significant discounts are available if you decide to choose the 12 or 24 months option.

Upgrade Rosetta to a price plan

Duolingo vs. Rosetta Stone Business Model

When you consider the price, the two apps are poles apart. Duolingo is a freemium service, while Rosetta Stone requires you to buy a subscription before you start using it. The secondary pricing model of Rosetta Stone for subscription is already mentioned. For CD-Rom, the pricing is broken down as follows:

  • $179 for one level
  • $279 for two levels
  • $379 for three levels
  • $479 for all five levels

On the other hand, Duolingo offers a very different business model. Duolingo has been able to sell the translated versions of the app made by users to corporations and educational institutes. In recent years, Duolingo has experimented with multiple business models, some of which are as follows:

  • Certifications for learning new languages
  • Premium subscriptions
  • Advertisements (for corporations)

It is still too early to tell which of these options Duolingo will really focus on. But for the time being, as long as the price is concerned, the battle of Duolingo vs. Rosetta Stone is clearly won by the former.

As complementary services

When it comes to focusing on language skills, both Duolingo and Rosetta Stone look to help individuals get a better grasp of grammar and increase their vocabulary. But when it comes to practicing real-time conversations, neither is especially helpful. We recommend the users use these apps in addition to working with a professional tutor.

The real classroom is actually outside, where you can interact with natives and learn through mistakes. Learning through apps is not a one-stop solution to learning languages. People who are willing to take the embarrassments that go along with learning new languages in a social context tend to learn the fastest.

Basic differences in method

Before we declare a winner to our Duolingo vs. Rosetta Stone battle, let us first summarize how these two apps differ. Rosetta Stone aims to provide an immersive learning experience that allows you to build skills through listening and exercises that require you to match images. They use their state-of-the-art TruAccent speech recognition technology for this.

On the other hand, Duolingo provides a grammar-intensive learning approach where the different levels of gamified learning require you to fill in the blanks and learn as you advance.

There are some other problems with both apps that need to be noted. Although Duolingo offers a gamified experience for learning languages, users have complained that its user interface looks like a child’s toy that is full of cartoonish awards and childish sounds. This can lead to an infantilization of learning. Critics sometimes go as far as to say that it provides a false sense of progression and that users actually don’t learn much.

On the other hand, Rosetta Stone is criticized for not being “fun enough.” It is also criticized for not providing explicit instructions for grammar. However, we believe that this is actually a plus point. Learning a new language doesn’t require you to know the grammar explicitly.

If you give it enough time and are diligent in your learning, you will ultimately begin to connect the dots. Language comprehension takes time, and actual work on the part of the user and cheap awards, and instant gratification are no substitutes for actual learning.

Improper content

To get a clear winner for Duolingo vs. Rosetta Stone, we also take a look at some of the jarring content that these two apps offer. Duolingo sometimes provides quite bizarre dialogue translations. Some of the weirdest examples of dialogue translation include the following –

“Take the cat and go right.”
“There is a cow in the house.”
“Why won’t my feet listen to me?”

Although these sentences don’t necessarily come up frequently, Duolingo does require you to translate such absurd sentences from time to time.

On the other hand, Rosetta Stone sometimes offers content that is culturally inappropriate. This may depend on the language you are trying to learn.

For example, it may take an image from an American context and apply it to a totally different language and scenario. This may not seem like a major problem unless you are aware of the fine nuances that differentiate one culture from another.

And the winner is…

Comparing the two apps is like comparing apples and oranges. They differ greatly in their teaching methods and are priced differently. However, there are a few similarities on which we can judge and decide clearly.

Looking at the Duolingo vs. Rosetta Stone battle from a price-to-value perspective, the clear winner is Duolingo. Both apps offer the same function – to learn and understand basic vocabulary and grammar. Thus, the free app is undoubtedly better.

Still, Rosetta Stone does offer a heavily researched solution to understanding the nuts and bolts of learning a new language. Given how much time and effort they have invested in their curriculum, it is worth checking out.

It is quite problematic to test out both apps from a user’s perspective. But given that the services are largely similar and Duolingo is free while Rosetta Stone requires you to pay upfront, the final winner is Duolingo.

Alternative to Duolingo vs. Rosetta Stone

In this article, we have gone through the differences between the two apps and also covered their major pros and cons. But neither of them offers a distinct solution for improving communication skills, nor do they allow you to chat with native speakers and get feedback in real time.

If you are looking to get a basic understanding of the language and how to form sentences, then the two apps may work. However, with alternative apps, there are a wide variety of skills that you can develop, such as:

  • Building friendships and relationships with native speakers
  • Find new job opportunities in foreign countries
  • Travel to foreign countries with confidence

One such alternative app is called Rype.

Learn new languages in record time with Rype

Learning a new language takes time. The latest scientific research proves that the human brain retains…

  • 5% of the content in a lecture;
  • 10% of the content by reading;
  • 20% of the content through audio-visuals (Duolingo vs. Rosetta Stone);
  • 30% of the content when demonstrated;
  • 50% of the content when engaging in group discussions;
  • 75% of the content through practice;
  • 90% of the content while teaching someone else.

Rype allows users to practice what they have learned by teaching others – which is the best way of retaining information. Specifically, the learning method used by Rype is 4.5 times better than that of Duolingo or Rosetta Stone.

Also read: Memrise Review – A handy tool for learning a new language.


  1. Is Duolingo or Rosetta Stone better for beginners? Duolingo’s easy-to-use interface and gamified lessons might be more appealing for beginners.
  2. Can I become fluent using these apps? While both can help you develop a good foundation, achieving fluency requires practice, preferably with native speakers.
  3. Is Rosetta Stone worth the money? If you’re serious about learning and appreciate its immersive methodology, Rosetta Stone can be a worthwhile investment.
  4. Does Duolingo offer more languages than Rosetta Stone? As of writing, Duolingo does offer a wider variety of languages compared to Rosetta Stone.
  5. Do these platforms offer trial periods? Yes, both platforms offer a trial period for their premium services.


In the Duolingo vs. Rosetta Stone debate, it is quite hard to come to a definitive conclusion. The two apps offer different methods of learning and are rife with problems that are unique to their own methods.

However, on the points that are similar, it is undoubtedly clear that Duolingo emerges as the winner. Although neither of the apps is a substitute for real-life learning, these can be used as complementary learning material.

To reiterate, learning a new language takes time and constant effort, and a professional language tutor should be your primary source of education.

There are other apps like Rype that do offer additional resources, but they too do not suffice alone in teaching you a new language.


Ten years of experience in information and computer technology. Passionate about electronic devices, smartphones, computers, and modern technology.

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