Should You Learn Korean Through Rosetta Stone?

Rosetta Stone is one of the most prominent language learning programs out there. I’ve seen advertisements for their courses everywhere from television to YouTube videos (before I got AdBlock ㅋㅋㅋ). In fact, Rosetta Stone was the first language learning software that I have ever heard of.

When I started this website and began reviewing language learning programs, I knew that eventually I would have to cover Rosetta Stone’s courses. Until recently, my only time using them was when I got a free trial DVD from them which featured samples from several of their language courses.

So today, we’re going to review Rosetta Stone Korean and see if it is really worth all that hype.

Keep in mind that I will include affiliate links in this page, which means if you choose to purchase Rosetta Stone through that link I will get a commission from it. However, I am not here to be a salesman. I am here to present the facts of each language learning program so that you can make your own informed decisions. The links are there should you decide that this is the best program for you. So please keep that in mind.

What is Rosetta Stone?

Rosetta Stone is a language learning program which is named after the Rosetta Stone, a rock discovered in 1799 that had a king’s decree written on it with Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, demotic scripts and Ancient Greek. Because of the similarities in what all three scripts were saying, the original Rosetta Stone was crucial in helping researchers understand Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs.

The stone that started it all! Credits go to user Tulumnes from Wikimedia Commons!

Rosetta Stone language courses have been around since 1992 and rely on a type of immersion-based learning, teaching users to match images with new words and phrases. This brings us to our next question.

How Does Rosetta Stone Work?

Rosetta Stone uses something that they call “Dynamic Immersion”. It relies on spaced repetition.

What is spaced repetition?

Imagine you’re studying for a test on state capitals and you learn that Boise is the capital of Idaho.

The next day, you take the test and you remember what the capital of Idaho is… and you aced the test!

Now unless you live in Idaho, chances are that after this test you won’t find yourself in any situation where you need to remember what the capital of Idaho is, or what state Boise is the capital of.

Let’s fast forward a bit. Imagine you’re at a game show. You’re about to win and the last question is: what is the capital of Idaho?

Suddenly, you remember what it is! It’s Boise! DING DING DING!!! You win the game and with it an amazing prize!

Spaced repetition relies on this phenomenon. In order to remember something you learned a while ago, you will have to periodically refresh your memory to recall that fact.

For instance, let’s say I’m quizzing you for a test. I show you a flashcard that asks, “What is the atomic symbol of hydrogen?” Then I flip the flash card and show you the answer. It’s H.

After I show you the atomic symbol for hydrogen, I show you more flashcards asking the same question but for other elements on the period table. You learn that the atomic symbol for helium is He, argon is Ar and that gold is Au.

Then I show you the flashcard asking you what the atomic symbol for hydrogen is again, but this time I don’t flip it over. You have to remember based on the last time I showed you the answer.

Let’s say you answer it correctly and we keep going. We go over even more elements than last time. Radium is Ra, salcium is Ca, sodium is Na, chloride is Cl and Silicon is Si. Then I ask you again what the symbol for hydrogen is. That’s basically how spaced repetition works.

You constantly have to recall the same fact over and over, but the time between each instance I ask you what the atomic symbol for hydrogen is gets longer and longer. Eventually, you will be able to remember anytime that hydrogen’s atomic symbol is H.

That was a bit long winded, but I wanted to explain it in depth just so you understand how the concept works.

Rosetta Stone operates using this method. In a lesson, usually the user has to match an image with a sound or text.

They usually do this in two ways. Let’s say you’re studying Korean.

1. There are four images: an apple, orange, banana and pear. Rosetta Stone will give you the Korean word “sagwa” (사과) and ask you to click on the image that the word corresponds to. In this case, the correct answer would be apple, so you would have to click on the picture of the apple.

2. There is an image of a person eating an apple. Rosetta Stone in this case will give you an incomplete sentence: This person is eating an _________ (이 사람은 ________을/를 먹고 있다). You will have to either pick the correct word (out of several choices they give you) or type the word out.

That’s how Rosetta Stone operates generally. Of course, the same question (about the apple) will periodically show up in longer intervals so that you have to refresh your memory (and eventually retain the Korean word for apple).

What Does Rosetta Stone Korean Come With?

If you’re purchasing an online subscription, the course includes:

-The lessons of course

-A phrasebook

-Extended Learning: this is a feature from Rosetta Stone for users who want to take their learning to the next level. It features games and “stories”. The stories feature has stories written and read aloud by native speakers in the langauge you are learning. You have the option to read along and even record yourself reading to see how your skills have developed. Stories vary in content from poetry to simple narratives.

-Audio companion to your lessons

-Access to mobile features including the app

How Much is Rosetta Stone Korean?

On Amazon, you have three options. You can purchase a six month, 12 month or lifetime subscription.

Six month subscriptions are $119 on Amazon. While 12 month subscriptions are normally $179, Amazon is offering it at a discounted price: $109.

Lifetime subscriptions are $200 on Amazon, although they can go up to $300 on other retailers.

Pros/Cons

Pros:

-I thought that the spaced repetition method can be helpful for beginners, especially when learning new vocabulary.

-Rather than drowning new learners in grammar, Rosetta Stone mainly focuses on the basics like vocabulary and common phrases.

-The user interface is pretty easy to use and appealing. It’s not incredibly cluttered and it’s easy to navigate.

Cons:

-Rosetta Stone Korean makes you learn in the order that they want you to, which can be an inconvenience for those who might already know some of the super basic aspects of Korean language.

-Rosetta Stone Korean does not go in-depth with regards to grammar. They mainly focus on grasping smaller phrases and words, which can be great for beginners but redundant for those who already have a cursory knowledge of the Korean language.

-Rosetta Stone Korean does NOT take the time to differentiate with honorifics. Those who understand the Korean language and culture will know that there are different ways to say the same sentence depending on the age of the person in relation to you. The way to tell someone older than you that you want an apple is going to be different in Korean than if you ask someone younger than you. There is formal and casual speech. Rosetta Stone does not distinguish between the two and sometimes it looks really funny (but also pretty bad) when one of their lessons features an elderly woman talking to a little girl using casual speech.

Conclusion

Overall, while I thought there could be some appeal to beginners with absolutely no background knowledge on the Korean language, I didn’t think it was worth the money. However, even for beginners there are other programs that I would recommend for them over this such as Rocket Languages and Living Language Korean. Both of those programs are similarly priced and offer so much more for their users in my opinion.

There are so many complexities with the Korean language and culture that learners should have a grasp of. I found that Rosetta Stone’s Korean language program left a lot to be desired in covering those things.

I think this program could be useful to those visiting Korea as tourists or on business trips, as the phrases that the course teaches can be very helpful in navigating Korea. However, if you are looking for a more comprehensive study or plan on taking your Korean studies further, I would personally not recommend Rosetta Stone.

That being said, if you are still interested in purchasing Rosetta Stone Korean, click on the image below!

Rosetta Stone Korean on Amazon.com:

2 Replies to “Should You Learn Korean Through Rosetta Stone?”

  1. Wow, I’ve heard of the Rosetta Stone products for a long time, but have never heard of anyone who had tried them. I would be so embarrassed if I did not know about the honorific system of language, similar to french, if I travelled to Korea! Thank you for explaining this crucial bit.

    1. Oh, it’s a very important part of Korean culture as respecting one’s elders is still a very fundamental aspect of our customs. I hope you enjoyed the article! 🙂

Leave a Reply to Kendra Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *