When I first started looking at self-study programs to learn Spanish I automatically concentrated on the two top programs – Rosetta Stone and Rocket Spanish. In the past, I had learned several other languages by using Rosetta Stone so, of course, had more familiarity with the program. Besides, Rosetta Stone is used by the US State Department to instill language skills in the heads of their employees – so if it’s good enough for them it’s good enough for me.
But…..as several websites were recommending Rocket Spanish, and it’s far cheaper than Rosetta Stone, I borrowed a friend’s computer to test it out before purchasing it. After only a few hours, I could tell Rosetta Stone was the superior Spanish home-study program — by far — and here is why.
Rosetta Stone Uses Pictures and Sound – Rocket Spanish Only Sound – As a former teacher, I can absolutely guarantee almost everyone learns faster from a combination of pictures and sound.
Rosetta Stone’s immersion program is amazing. You learn by clicking on correct or incorrect answers for vocabulary and grammar, while hearing the words and seeing the photograph of the object at the same time. Your brain remembers the vocabulary quicker and retains it longer.
With Rocket Spanish, you learn by listening and reading along with the book. After only three hours, I was so bored I can’t imagine finishing the whole course.
Sure, there are a couple of games on Rocket Spanish that come with words and pictures, but nowhere near the amount of vocabulary and grammar you get on Rosetta Stone.
Audio Files and Book – Both Rosetta Stone and Rocket Spanish come with additional audio files and a book — downloaded in PDF form, if you buy offline.
I found the Rocket Spanish book to be easy to read and fun. It also comes with a ton of flash cards you can print out and cut up, so you can test yourself when you are nowhere near a computer or CD player.
Plus, Rocket Spanish comes with audio files of the entire book — so you can read the book and listen to it at the same time.
The documentation that comes with Rosetta Stone is actually mainly nothing than listings of words, phrases and sentences. Very dull and boring, but a great way to revise what you’ve just learned.
Overall, on this one, Rocket Spanish comes out a little bit ahead of Rosetta Stone — the only thing lacking in the Rosetta Stone program, I feel.
Rosetta Stone Tests Your Pronunciation – Another wonderful thing about the Rosetta Stone program is each unit has several pronunciation tests.
Just use the headphones and microphone that come with Rosetta Stone and speak into the mike. The program senses if your pronunciation is correct or not and grades you on it. You can even look at a graph you get every time you speak, and see how closely your pronunciation matches that of the Spanish native speaker. It’s such a great way to improve.
More Levels with Rosetta Stone – Rosetta Stone offers a complete course of everything, from beginner Spanish all the way up to High Advanced.
You pay separately for each course (there are currently five levels) and they’re not cheap, or you can buy all five levels at once – (currently $479 for all five Spanish levels) — but for a language-learning system that will take you up to high advanced level in about a year (you choose how long you’re going to study when you first start the program and what you see on your computer is then tailored to your plan), then it’s well worth it.
Total hours in the Rosetta Stone Spanish program are around 250 hours – which gets you to High Advanced level for the average learner.
Rocket Spanish is just one course — Beginners to Advanced — but as it’s a much smaller course, the information, vocabulary, grammar etc they include is a lot less than what you get with Rosetta Stone. Remember, it’s only $99. You get what you pay for.
The Cost – Of course, Rocket Spanish is cheap. Only $99 for the whole thing. Rosetta Stone, at $479, is not cheap. But…in my opinion, if your goal is to learn Spanish in a self-study program as quickly as possible and retain it easier, then Rosetta Stone is the best bet.
Of course, if you have some extra money to spare, I say buy both programs and follow both. Both are excellent ways to self study Spanish. I simply feel Rosetta Stone has the edge and my experience bore that out.
Oh, and yes, after five levels of Rosetta Stone’s Spanish course, I ended up with a vocabulary of several thousand words and phrases, could easily hold a typical conversation in Spain and discovered I could understand about 75% of Spanish TV. Not bad for less than $500.
For more information, here’s an excellent video from a Rosetta Stone employee, which gives an overview of the Rosetta Stone program (this one is the Latin American Spanish version but the same as the Spanish version).
And to buy Rosetta Stone Spanish? The easiest way is through Amazon — great prices and they even offer FREE SHIPPING.