Friday, December 7, 2012

Rosetta Stone Is Overpriced Garbage

There, I said it.  Rosetta Stone is overpriced garbage.

Obviously, I'm not a shill for Rosetta Stone.  Obviously I'm not paid to tell you how friggin' wonderful it is, and how it's the best thing since the invention of the wheel.

I mean, what the hell?  This crap costs, like, four hundred dollars.  And the price is always three hundred dollars off from some imaginary "actual retail" that nobody ever truly pays (god, at least I really hope not).  A reasonable price for what you get would be about fifty dollars.  I'd maybe pay that, despite its shortcomings, which I'll most certainly let you know about.  It doesn't give you ANY translations, just pictures of stuff and people yapping in a foreign language you don't know yet. Often the pictures are confusing and ambiguous, and they are never in any way associated with the culture that goes with the language you are learning.

And for this exorbitant price, they give you TWO installs.  Here's the story of my first and probably only experience with it.  I got suckered in for nearly five hundred bucks for Polish 1,2 and 3 (so is it telling that it's already gone down about a hundred bucks since I bought it?).  I installed it on my desktop at the time, and the hard disk promptly fried.  So I spent a half an hour on the phone with a tech support person whose native language did not seem to be English (but wouldn't let on what it was), and seemed to have an IQ of about eighty.  I begged for another install, but instead, they insisted that I should install my second and final install.  Once I got another machine, I installed the second install.  Of course, the motherboard fried on this computer.  Now I'm completely shit out of luck.  I haven't bothered to call tech support because, frankly, I'm just disgusted with myself for getting fleeced on this product in the first place.  Also I've read online that they just blow you off if you are beyond the initial six-month guarantee period (which I am).

A while back, they ran these commercials with Michael Phelps, talking about what a wonderful experience he had learning Chinese with Rosetta Stone.  I was dumbstruck by the fact that in the commercials, he utters NOT A SINGLE WORD of the language.  C'mon, people, at least fake a few lines for that too much to ask?  So it's making me think that it's just another case of an overpaid lying celebrity selling garbage as gold.  If you're going to pay some shiny face a gazillion dollars to invade everybody's livingroom to baffle them with bullshit so you can switch on the cash vacuum, at least toss in a couple of fucking token dance steps.  Also, for the cost they probably paid Michael Phelps to dance this jig, they conceivably could have cut the price in half (and undoubtedly would have sold more units as a result) But, of course, long before this time, I've already purchased this trash.

OK, I will admit it has some actual educational value.  There is a smidgen of lipstick on this pig somewhere (but nowhere near the lips).  And that's why I'd consider paying fifty bucks for some Rosetta Stone in some other language at some point.  Maybe.  But not until I've gotten my dead Polish software that I paid through the nose for to work again.


  1. I never stuck it out past the second level because the material is so awful and dry. They may be on version 4 now but it's the same old sow they've always wheeled out. There is no correction, no native practice and no way to gauge your actual skill level. Honestly, I'd crayon out a Polish dictionary into flashcards before I'd pay even fiddy beans for Rosetta.

    Considering that there are similar 'free' language communities online, it kind of makes the Stone completely redundant anyway. At least on a system like Livemocha! people tell you when you're screwing up and making errors.

    1. I completely agree with everything that you said. There are a ton of resources out there to learn for free. And Rosetta Stone seems to be a formulaic bauble that just gets re-adapted for different languages.

  2. Anyone who pays for Rosetta Stone is better off buying a subscription to a magazine in a language they don't understand. It is junk with good marketing!

  3. When used in conjunction with another language-learning method, the "match-picture-to-word" technique isn't terrible.

    When used in conjunction with my wallet, I couldn't imagine anything worse than Rosetta Stone.

    I took me only a few hours to make, freely release, and open-source code that does exactly the same thing:

    The cost of Google Image Search, Google Translate, Chrome Voice Synth, and 1 public domain dictionary from Project Gutenberg? Free. How are they charging $500 for a pack of lessons???