Update on March 22, 2013: Rosetta Stone is just too expensive and, frankly, not all it's advertised up to be. As a result, we are removing the links below and leaving this page only for archival purposes. If you are interested in getting a solid language learning product for Chinese, have a look at our review of ChineseClass101, which offers online learning as well as mobile apps for Android and iOS.
Rosetta Stone Mandarin Chinese software can be found using the language deal finder.
Often we see new copies at discounts from the Rosetta Stone price, plus free shipping. Sometimes you can find used items from reliable sellers for even cheaper.
About Rosetta Stone
Rosetta Stone is proprietary language-learning software produced by Rosetta Stone, Ltd. Its title and its logo are an allusion to the Rosetta Stone, an artifact inscribed in multiple languages that helped researchers to decipher Ancient Egyptian by comparing it to the Greek inscription.
The Rosetta Stone software utilizes a combination of images, text, and sound, with difficulty levels increasing as the student progresses, in order to teach various vocabulary terms and grammatical functions intuitively, without drills or translation. Their method is called the Dynamic Immersion method. The goal is to teach languages the way first languages are learned.
Rosetta Stone Packages
Several different packages of lessons are available. The full course in each language is separated into three levels. There is only one level available for Latin. All retail software packages except the homeschool version contain two CDs, one with the application software and another with the instruction. The homeschool version also consists of disks for a server program and a student management program.
Rosetta Stone Deals
Get the best prices here on all Rosetta Stone products!
Arabic (Modern Standard), Chinese (Mandarin), Danish, Dutch, English (American), English (British), French (Parisian), German, Indonesian, Swahili, Tagalog (Filipino), Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Indonesian, Irish, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Latin, Persian (Farsi), Pashto, Polish, Portuguese (Brazil), Russian, Spanish (Latin America), Spanish (Spain), Swedish, Swahili, Tagalog (Filipino), Thai, Turkish, Vietnamese and Welsh
Rosetta Stone Version 2
All languages except Latin use the same set of words and sentences in the same order, with the same images (some of which are recycled from lesson to lesson). There are three levels of instruction, each sold separately, or they can be purchased bundled for a discount. In version two, most languages were offered with only two levels, though a few were offered in a third:
Level 1 consists of eight units, starting from simple vocabulary such as "boy", "girl", "man", "woman", moving up through numbers, the past and future tenses and concluding with a unit on giving directions. Units 1 through 4 have 10 lessons plus a review lesson, units 5 through 8 have 11 lessons plus a review lesson. 92 total lessons in level 1.
Level 2 offers units 9 through 19; however as a practical matter there are only nine units devoted to instruction since units 18 and 19 are "glossary" units devoted to single words having to do with a particular topic (school, nature, automobiles etc.). Level 2 units consider more advanced grammatical concepts, as well as specific subjects like banking, shopping and travel. These exercises also use short video clips in QuickTime format to illustrate some verbs. Units 16 and 17 consist solely of old Saturday Evening Post cartoons and their captions. 118 total lessons in level 2.
Level 3 is no longer offered on version 2 products, but when it was, it used longer video and writing passages to expand the level of instruction.
Rosetta Stone Version 3
In version 3, all languages have three levels, though what they cover is different; there is more of a focus on conversation and less on complex grammatical topics.
Level 1 consists of four units, each with four thirty-minute lessons and a number of five to fifteen minute activities. The level, which is supposed to "build a foundation of fundamental vocabulary and essential language structure," takes about 24 hours to complete following Rosetta Stone's recommended course. Starting from simple vocabulary such as basic greetings, "boy", "girl", "man", and "woman", moving up through numbers, comparisons, adjectives, nouns, future tense, and telling time. Each unit also contains a ten-minute simulated conversation called a "Milestone."
The four units in Level 1 are: The Basics, Friends and Family, Work and School, and Shopping.
Level 2 offers units 5 through 8, for a total of about twenty-four hours designed to teach you to "navigate your surroundings as you build on the vocabulary and essential language structure in Level 1." More grammar is covered, including past and future tenses, and imperative forms. Topics such as giving directions, writing letters, workplace terms, apologies, discussing emotions, and criticizing art are also covered. As in Level 1, each unit is followed by a ten-minute "Milestone."
The four units in Level 2 are: Travel, Past and Future, Friends and Social Life, and Dining and Vacation.
Level 3 offers the final four units (9 through 12), which are supposed to help "connect with the world around you by building on the language fundamentals and conversational skills you developed in Levels 1 and 2." In addition to expanding upon grammar learned in Levels 1 and 2, Level 3 teaches more in depth vocabulary, including botanical terms, culinary terms, how to express detailed opinions and judgments, and how to discuss politics, religion, and business. As in the first two levels, each unit contains a ten-minute "Milestone" activity in which the user participates in a simulated conversation.
The four units in Level 3 are: Home and Health, Life and World, Places and Events, and Talking About the World.
Other Rosetta Stone Packages
An Explorer package consisting basically of the first three units from Level I was available for a much cheaper price than the full Level I. This product is no longer available from the publisher.
A Traveler version, consisting of several lessons focusing on basic terms as well as vocabulary important for travel, was produced in the late 1990s and is no longer available.
Audio Companion was released on June 9, 2008 and is meant to reinforce what is learned using the computer software. It is portable and is meant to be played on a CD player or MP3 player.