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Busuu vs Rosetta Stone

See which language learning app is best for you between Rosetta Stone and Busuu

Mathias Johansen
Mathias Johansen
Mathias is the founder of Guide2Fluency, and is located in New York City. Originally born in Norway and now living in the US, Mathias has also lived in Germany, France and the UK. He is fluent in four languages and holds a Certificate in Intercultural Communication. Language is Mathias’ passion, and he founded Guide2Fluency with the aim of helping everyone become bilingual.

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In This Article

Busuu and Rosetta Stone are both popular language learning platforms, but they differ significantly in their approaches. In this article, we highlight the major differences between the two so that you can easily make a final decision as to which one to choose.

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A tried and true language app that offers a more immersive, contextual-based language learning experience compared to Busuu.

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Busuu offers a modern approach to language learning that prioritizes social interaction and community-based learning.

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rosetta stone languages

Rosetta Stone

  • 20+ Languages
  • Money Back Guarantee
Our Score
  • Immersive learning method is very effective
  • Lessons include lots of imagery and graphics (great for visual learners)
  • Quick and accurate speech recognition software
  • Modern, intuitive digital platform and mobile app
  • Tons of bonus resources and tools
  • Lessons can become boring at times
  • More expensive than Busuu

Why Choose Rosetta Stone Over Busuu

To start this comparison, let’s first discuss how the Rosetta Stone language programs work, and the major reasons you should consider using Rosetta Stone to learn a new language over Busuu.

How The Rosetta Stone Program Works

Let’s begin by outlining the structure of the Rosetta Stone language courses. At a high level, they consist of 20 learning units covering thematic topics such as health, dining, and travel.

Each unit contains four lessons, each divided into four sections: a core lesson (about 30 minutes), and separate sections for pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar (each about 10 minutes). This adds up to about an hour per lesson.

Rosetta Stone dashboard
A peek inside the Rosetta Stone course

When you sign up, you can answer questions about your skill level and reasons for learning a new language, and choose between the standard 20-unit path or a custom weekly study plan.

Next, let’s explore the Rosetta Stone learning method and lesson format. The program is built around two principles: immersion and imagery. Unlike other apps, Rosetta Stone avoids using English translations, believing that continuous exposure to your target language speeds up learning.

Lessons use images to help learners associate new vocabulary with visual cues, providing context. Later, we’ll discuss the advantages and disadvantages of this approach, but those are the key points for now – an immersive learning experience with lots of visual aids. For the record, this holds true for the Rosetta Stone German, Rosetta Stone French, and Rosetta Stone Italian courses as well.

More Language Options

Rosetta Stone offers a wider range of languages, with a total of 25 compared to Busuu’s 14. If you’re interested in learning less common languages like Korean, Swedish, Filipino, Dutch, or others, Rosetta Stone is likely your best (or only) option.

Immersive Learning

Unlike most language learning apps, Rosetta Stone minimizes the use of English for directions and translations. While you can enable translations in the app, they are hidden by default to maintain an immersive experience, aligning with the company’s intentional approach.

Rosetta Stone exercise
Immersive learning experience with Rosetta Stone

The goal is to replicate the natural language acquisition process, akin to how a toddler learns a language for the first time. This format encourages learning through visual cues, repetition, and intuition, which I find highly effective. Excessive use of English in lessons can sometimes hinder the learning process, regardless of whether you are learning Spanish or German, for example.

Visual Learners

In simple terms, Rosetta Stone is ideal for visual learners, though this doesn’t mean Busuu is unsuitable for them. As you will see later in this comparison, Busuu incorporates videos into its lessons.

However, Rosetta Stone’s heavy use of images in nearly all exercises makes it particularly well-suited for visual learners.

Speech Recognition Software

One feature I appreciate in Rosetta Stone is their TruAccent speech recognition technology, which they have developed over years. During the lessons, when prompted to repeat words, fill in blanks, or interpret images, TruAccent listens and prompts you to correct your pronunciation if needed.

Rosetta Stone drill
Stellar speech software

In contrast, Busuu used to rely solely on their user community for pronunciation feedback, which was less immediate and consistent. In the past, users would have to wait hours or days for feedback, and the quality would vary as correctors are fluent in the target language, not necessarily English.

However, recently, Busuu added their own speech recognition software, but early feedback is that Busuu’s speech software is not nearly as good as Rosetta Stone’s.

Extra Language Resources

One of the standout features of Rosetta Stone is its Stories feature, which are like mini-podcasts with transcripts. They cover various topics and unlock as you progress, offering a fun way to enhance your listening and reading skills.

Rosetta Stone short story exercise
Example short story from Rosetta Stone

Additionally, you can record yourself reading the stories to compare your pronunciation to the moderator’s.

Rosetta Stone’s comprehensive suite of learning tools also include on-demand videos, phrasebooks, live lessons, coaching, and audio downloads, which help set it apart from other language learning platforms like Busuu.



  • Free Version Available
  • Money Back Guarantee
Our Score
  • More affordable than Rosetta Stone
  • Quick, engaging lesson format
  • Lessons incorporate videos of fluent speakers
  • Helpful grammar instruction
  • Custom review sessions help with material retention
  • Free version is quite limited
  • Speech software is not as good as Rosetta Stone’s

Why Choose Busuu Over Rosetta Stone

Now that you have a clear understanding of what Rosetta Stone brings to the table, let’s switch gears here and discuss how the Busuu app works, and the strengths of their language courses in relation to Rosetta Stone.

How The Busuu Program Works

The Busuu lessons offer a wide variety of drills and exercises, similar to Babbel. Each lesson, which lasts around 5 to 10 minutes, swiftly progresses through interactive drills.

All lessons are neatly organized under the “Learn” tab, following a clear path similar to Duolingo. The lessons are fast-paced, typically featuring 10 to 15 rapid-fire drills such as fill-in-the-blanks, multiple choice questions, matching pairs, and sentence puzzles.

The Busuu dashboard
A look inside the Busuu program

Occasionally, you’ll record yourself answering a question or responding to a prompt, which is then submitted to the Busuu community for feedback. Every few lessons, you’re prompted to review previously learned words and phrases, creating a dynamic and engaging learning experience.

Video Content Within Lessons

I appreciate that Busuu includes videos of native speakers in their lessons, providing a valuable addition to the learning experience. In contrast, Rosetta Stone’s lessons primarily rely on images, although they do offer on-demand videos as a separate feature.

Busuu lesson
The Busuu lessons incorporate video

The use of videos in Busuu allows learners to observe nonverbal aspects of communication, such as body language and facial expressions, which can aid in faster language acquisition. Overall, Busuu’s integration of video into their standard curriculum is commendable and adds significant value to the learning process (similar to Memrise).

Grammar Instruction

Busuu stands out for its integration of grammar instruction and cultural insights, a feature less emphasized in Rosetta Stone’s courses. Every few Busuu lessons focus on a key grammar principle, such as indefinite articles or demonstrative adjectives, presented in a straightforward manner without lengthy explanations.

Busuu grammar
Grammar explanation from Busuu

Instead, Busuu offers concise explanations, easy-to-understand examples, and drills to ensure comprehension, providing a streamlined approach to grammar instruction. While some linguists argue that immersion (as in the Rosetta Stone method) is more effective than explicit grammar teaching in early language acquisition, the effectiveness of grammar instruction depends on individual preferences.

Custom Review Sessions

Busuu offers a unique feature where personalized review sessions are created for each learner using artificial intelligence. By analyzing data from drills and quizzes, the algorithm identifies individual strengths and weaknesses.

This ensures that during review sessions, learners focus on the words, phrases, and grammar principles they need the most help with. Additionally, the algorithm employs a decay metric and spaced repetition system to optimize vocabulary review, aiding the transition of vocabulary from short-term to long-term memory.

The Busuu Community

I was impressed by Busuu’s community, which facilitates making friends, connecting with other learners, and receiving feedback on your exercises. As you progress through lessons, some of your practice exercises are shared with the community for feedback.

Busuu community feedback
Excellent social features with Busuu

This quick and supportive community is a valuable aspect of Busuu, but it’s important to note that the feedback is from fellow learners, not experts, tutors, or teachers, which may lead to occasional errors.

Verdict: Which Language App Is Better?

After thoroughly using and evaluating both, I believe Rosetta Stone is the winner. Compared to Busuu, I find Rosetta Stone offers a more comprehensive and effective language learning program overall.

While Busuu excels in certain areas, Rosetta Stone’s speech recognition technology, additional resources, and tools make it difficult to beat. If you’re serious about learning a new language, I recommend Rosetta Stone.

➡️Read Next: Rosetta Stone vs Rocket Languages

How do Busuu and Rosetta Stone compare?

The main differences between Busuu and Rosetta Stone lie in their approach and features. Busuu emphasizes community interaction, personalized review sessions, and diverse lesson types, while Rosetta Stone focuses on immersion, imagery, and speech recognition technology for a more structured learning experience.

Which language app is better – Rosetta Stone or Busuu?

Our team believes that Rosetta Stone is better than Busuu for learning a new language due to its immersive, context-based approach, which avoids translations and focuses on continuous exposure to your target language. Additionally, Rosetta Stone’s speech recognition technology and comprehensive set of resources and tools provide a more thorough and effective language learning experience.

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