I often am asked by people wanting to learn Mandarin if Rosetta Stone Mandarin is worth investing in. This product is very widely known. Rosetta Stone does a lot of advertising in mainstream media and it seems they are quite successful at marketing their products.
Rosetta Stone's software for learning Chinese is very expensive by most
any standard. So it becomes important to ask whether it is worth the
bucks. Let me try to answer.
I’ve come to my conclusions by playing around with the software myself, and also by hearing from others who have bought it and used it extensively themselves.
The findings are pretty consistent. And like most things, it’s not all good and it’s not all bad.
If you expect Rosetta Stone Mandarin to be the answer to all your Mandarin learning needs, you may be disappointed – or you will at least have to adjust your expectations after you use it for a bit.
It is good for some things, however.
Rosetta Stone’s Chinese software will help you to learn some basic words and expressions in a novel and engaging way. You will be enjoying an attractive and comfortable interface, excellent audio, perfect Mandarin pronunciation and a somewhat original approach to language learning that will encourage you to get into a semi-immersive learning ‘zone’.
This is all good. It's very good, in fact, when you consider that they must compete against a quality product like Pimsleur's Chinese program, for example, which is less expensive, but lacks some of Rosetta Stone's gloss.
Still, Rosetta Stone is not the magic Mandarin pill. It will not help you ‘learn Chinese as a baby learns its first language’ anymore than a host of other teaching methods will. You will not become fluent using this tool alone.
One of the joys of learning Mandarin Chinese is the cultural understanding that you gain through experiencing and learning the language. The way to greet someone in Chinese, for example, is to ask them “Have you eaten?” Or even the (to Westerners) seemingly intrusive, “Where are you going?”
There's no reason these most basic cultural gems should be absent from introductory level lessons in Mandarin. This is one example of the ways Rosetta Stone does not deliver a complete solution for learning Chinese, in my opinion.
It's a shame they seem to have no free trial of a Rosetta Stone package, though if you gather up all the goods within six months after purchasing, then pay out of your pocket to ship the stuff back to them, they will refund your money.
Now that's not so bad, but then again, not so great when you consider that much of the competition does much better when it comes to free demos and the like. Truly, I'm sometimes left wondering how it is that Rosetta Stone manages to stay in the game at all.
Maybe it's that baby-language claim, which is pretty powerful if you can believe it.
There certainly is some truth in the maxim 'you get what you pay for.' Yet, on the other hand, the nature of the internet and digital goods seems to be challenging that saying.
MandarinPlayer is our own mobile-friendly site that, for about the cost of a textbook, gives you access to a series of dialogues and supporting materials which cleverly weaves Chinese culture into its content.
Quite unlike Rosetta Stone, you can very easily sample some of those beginner dialogs and videos without even sharing an email address, so you know exactly what the product is all about before you commit a thing.
Now if you still feel that the advantages of Rosetta Stone's product mentioned above – mainly having a somewhat novel tool that will indeed help you get a leg up on some basic vocabulary, and in gaining a feel for the sounds of spoken Mandarin, (and money is no object) then I encourage you to invest in Rosetta Stone Mandarin.
However, if you expect, given the price tag as well as the bold claims made by Rosetta Stone’s marketing efforts that you can learn Mandarin effortlessly as a child learns his first language, if you expect that Rosetta Stone software for learning Chinese will deliver those goods, you will likely be let down.
So you make the call on whether it’s worth it or not to shell out the bucks. I hope this bare-bones review of Rosetta Stone Mandarin has helped you be more informed about your decision.