This post was last updated on March 27th, 2015 at 09:03 pm

Now, here’s the million dollar question. Which is better? Fluenz French or Rosetta Stone’s French program. I have tried both products and have done some extra research. The article will compare Rosetta Stone (levels 1-5)  against Fluenz French (levels 1-5) and explain to you why one language program is definitively better than the other. 

Fluenz French’s Lovely Interface

Checking, the Rosetta Stone TotalE Program comes with five levels, and 20 audio discs for a price of $200 on their website, it also includes a USB microphone for the speaking portions. Not bad. Fluenz French offers levels one to five, and 5 audio CDs for $386. Both provide online courses that allow for supplemental practice. However, Rosetta Stone’s online courses only come with a 3-month free trial, then you will need to dish out an extra $10 to $25 a month per user. 

Now, you don’t necessarily need to buy courses 1 to 5, both programs you have the option to purchase a lesson or two for a fraction of the price. Thus, more advanced French learners maybe be able to skip Fluenz/Rosetta Stone 1 and 2 and start with their later disk sets.

Rosetta Stone’s Course Quality
Rosetta Stone’s style of teaching involves showing you pictures while listening to French natives and learning the language yourself. You associate the picture of someone running and the words/voice “il court” in French. The genius to the whole program: we won’t use English during your lessons so you learn French through French. It sounds brilliant? But then they’ll toss in a different verb conjugation and you don’t understand it because they don’t explain things in English. You then will proceed to learn things you don’t understand. Alors maintenant vous pouvez voir le problème. The flawed features continue because there are ways to “cheat” the system. Have you ever seen somebody’s face, recognized the person, but forgot their name? Rosetta Stone allows you to recognize the words but not necessarily remember it’s function or usage. 

Rosetta Stone lessons include the “Core Lessons”, Vocabulary, Speaking, Listening, Reading, Writing, Pronunciation and Review lessons, as well as a Milestone at the end of each Unit. The company mentions that you won’t be memorizing, but rather learning to use what you’ve learned in everyday contexts. However, there are many reviews out there which indicate this learning style did not work for them… take for example this review I found off amazon.

I have now had the program for 2 years and do not feel like I have gained any speaking skills with the learning style that Rosetta stone uses. There are no translations in the Rosetta stone philosophy; only use of pictures. Sometimes I have no clue what the words and the pictures mean. I have not developed a vocabulary with Rosetta stone’s program. Rosetta Stone has let me down with its style of learning new languages.

It’s true. See, unlike most “Common sense” language programs. Rosetta Stone decides that the first words it will introduce to you are things like “apple” and “ball”, but things like “my name is” come way down the line… why? 

Question: If you call “arms” legs, how many legs does a human have?
Answer: Two, it doesn’t matter what you call things. Things are what they are, not what you name them. 

Rosetta Stone may boast that it’s “Interactive Language Immersion”, but you can never be offered true immersion in a box. True Immersion comes from living in a Francophone nation for a period of time, not sitting in front of your computer for an hour. Rosetta Stone’s marketing style is flawless, utilizing big words to make their program sound more impressive and reel you in.  

Fluenz French actually teaches YOU
On the other end, Fluenz French is taught by an instructor (Sonia Gill or Carolyn Janin). Our teacher introduces a topic, we listen to a dialogue, then the instructor will go through the dialogue almost word for word, making sure you understand all of the constructions, vocabulary, and conjugations… To me, the Fluenz French teaching method makes sense to adults and teenagers who need that comparison between languages. You pay good money for a language program, you want to be doing more than learning by yourself! Sonia Gill’s one-on-one training provides the encouragement, cultural tips, and awesome explanations of confusing French language concepts. Rosetta Stone’s French program lacks ALL of this because there is no instructor, and no other language besides French. If you’re curious, you can read my FULL Fluenz French Review, where I explain everything about Fluenz French in more depth ; you’ll want to check this article out – it’s nearly 2,000 words.

The Winner?
For this article, I highly recommend Fluenz French. The real winner is in fact DuoLingo which gives you great language practice for free, but we’re not talking about Duo in this article. Rosetta Stone seems to be more popular these days, whenever you think of a program to learn a language, EVERYBODY instantly thinks of “Rosetta Stone.” That’s because Rosetta Stone overhauls on advertising and offer so many languages. However, Fluenz French should really be the first thing that comes to mind with French software. Fluenz uses English speakers to explain the language to you… they teach you like an adult, not like a child. Fleunz’s goal is to teach you words that are the easiest for English speakers to recall and pronounce at first, then they give you all the tools you need to succeed. Fluenz has DEPTH to it, they don’t just throw you into a French jungle and expect you to learn instantaneously. Everything is explained: the difficult concepts, the pronunciation, the conjugations, and the culture. The Fluenz team puts their heart and soul into their products, did you ever wonder why Fluenz only offers a handful of languages and Rosetta Stone offers them all? It’s because Rosetta Stone simply copies the same structure, format, and pictures for all their language programs. I’m sorry, but learning French and learning Mandarin are two completely different elephants to tame… the Fluenz French software is catered to French. 

So, there you have it. If you think that Rosetta Stone’s immersion style is better suited for you, then Rosetta Stone may be your path to French glory. However, poor customer service and licensing agreements of Rosetta Stone may come as a big turn off. If you don’t like the product, you can kiss your money goodbye. Rosetta Stone does offer more languages than Fluenz, so if you wanted to learn Arabic instead of French, go try Rosetta Stone, it’s only a few hundred dollars! 

Let me add that I’ve actually recommended Fluenz French to my friend who wanted a good language program. He purchased it and has never been more happy. I also have purchased Fluenz Italian 1 and 2 to commence my Italian learning. Just so you know, I wasn’t paid by anybody to write this article (although that would be nice), I just wanted to share my two cents and make sure you spend your money on a good French program.

To read our full Fluenz French Review, click HERE.
To return to our French Language Learning Section, click HERE.

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