confused man learning a language

Learning a new language is difficult. Don't let anyone try to tell you it isn't. I remember many years ago trying to learn both French and Spanish with a book and a couple of CDs. Unfortunately, I didn't do very well. The books were boring, I couldn't practise speaking and I got stuck and confused so many times that I eventually gave up.

Fortunately, things have changed a lot in the last 10 years. Learning a foreign language now has never been easier and quicker with online and computer based courses which are interactive. Unfortunately, many of the courses that you can find are just not very good.

The 3 online courses which I review here, I have tried myself. These are the ones which I think will help you to learn or improve a foreign language the quickest (I've taught English to Spanish speakers for over 10 years, learnt Spanish and I have written over 200 online English exercises, so I know a little about what works when learning a new language). They are:

  • Rosetta Stone
  • Rocket Languages
  • Innovative Language Learning

To help you make the right decision for you, I’ll quickly describe how the different courses work and what features they have. At the end of each course review, I’ll give my own opinion of what is good and bad about the course.

None are free, but the selected online courses I've chosen will suit every budget and still provide you with a good product.

If you want to learn Spanish, go to my review of Spanish online courses.

For some of these products, I do receive a small commission for each sale (if it comes from this website). This helps to pay for the website.


Rosetta Stone

Overview: Rosetta Stone is one of the largest and oldest language learning companies in the world. With their courses you'll learn vocabulary, phrases and grammar through repeated interactive picture and word games. These have been designed to help you both discover and remember the grammatical structures of the language yourself. All their courses are very extensive (you'll learn everything that you need to) and packed with a lot of features.

They provide both online interactive courses and home delivered computer software courses (for upto 5 people to use).

Course Languages: English, Arabic, Greek, Polish, Chinese (Mandarin), Hebrew, Portuguese, Dutch, Hindi, Russian, Irish, Spanish, Italian, Filipino, Japanese, Swedish, French, Korean, Turkish, German, Persian (Farsi) & Vietnamese.

What the courses include: Live online tutoring classes to practise, Interactive online games/quizzes, Audio and video lessons/exercises, an online community network, Pronunciation tests, Mobile/tablet apps.

What the courses don't include: TV channel.

Course Levels: From beginner to advanced.

Cost: From $275 to $499.

You can either buy their interactive computer software or pay a yearly subscription to get access to every level (beginner to advanced) of their online web language course.

My Opinion: Good for all levels. Both their online and computer software courses look good and are easy to use. Although you have to pay up front to get their courses, they are very complete courses (covering grammar, reading, listening, writing, speaking etc...). Both the live online tutor classes and the online community forum provide you with an excellent opportunity to practice what you've learnt.

For me personally, I found the online vocabulary exercises repetitive and slowed down the pace of learning the language.

All in all, Rosetta Stone's courses are a good way to learn a new language, but they need to improve their exercises.

Find out more: Click here to go to Rosetta Stone's website.

Rocket Languages

Overview: Rocket Languages online courses are focused on learning languages through listening and speaking (each exercise has an audio recording to listen to and a pronunciation test). They focus more on how language is actually used and on vocabulary and phrases than on learning just grammar.

They mainly provide online interactive web courses, but for some languages they also have home delivered conversational based software and cds.

Course Languages: Spanish, English, French, Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin), German, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Sign Language.

What the courses include: Interactive web exercises, Interactive online games/quizzes, Pronunciation tests, an Online community network.

What the courses don't include: Live online tutoring classes, TV channel, Video exercises, Mobile/tablet apps.

Course Levels: From beginner to intermediate.

Cost: From $100 to $150.

My Opinion: For me, overall Rocket Language provides good online courses and is good value for money. The interface is very easy to use and the exercises are well made and useful. You can also try it for 6 days for free (which is good).

Apart from the exercises, it doesn't have many of the features that other online web courses have. Although it does have online vocabulary games and an online community network, there aren't many online games and the online community network isn't commonly used by the members.

But I do think the exercises are good. If you don't want to spend much money and want to a learn foreign language for conversations or travel, then this is a good course for you.

Offer: Click here to try Rocket Languages Free for 6 Days.

Find out more: Click here to go to Rocket Languages's website.

Innovative Language Learning

Overview: Innovative Language Learning is relatively new, but it's becoming increasingly popular. Their teaching method is a little bit different (or innovative) to others. The main focus is on audio (podcasts) and video lessons to teach and explain (in English) vocabulary, phrases and grammar. These are reinforced through online pdfs and interactive vocabulary & pronunciation games and exercises.

Although you will have to pay a monthly subscription to receive their regular audio (podcast) and video exercises, you can also buy individual apps to use on your mobile/tablet and computer.

Course Languages: Arabic, Bulgarian, Cantonese, Chinese, English, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Farsi, Filipino, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Malay, Mongolian, Nepali, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Spanish, Swahili, Swedish, Thai, Turkish, Ukrainian & Vietnamese.

What the courses include: Audio and video lesson/exercises, Interactive web exercises, Individual computer and mobile/tablet apps, Pronunciation tests, Interactive online games/quizzes, TV channel, Ebooks.

What the courses don't include: Live online tutoring classes, an online community network.

Course Levels: From beginner to advanced.

Cost: Various. Some of the apps are free, but for the full versions you'll have to pay $10. To subscribe to the weekly video/audio classes and get access to their online resources starts from $10 a month.

My Opinion: It's good for all levels. Because you don't have to spend hundreds of dollars up front, this is a very good option to try. Their audio and video lessons are good. The focus on learning through listening is good for pronunciation and understanding when people are actually speaking to you in the language. This also make it easy to learn a language when out of the house and travelling.

The lack of a online community forum (apart from Facebook etc..) and the ability to measure your progression, are two weak points in my opinion.

If you find the traditional method of learning new languages boring, this is something I would recommend that you try.

Offer: Click here to set up a free account at Innovative Language Learning.

Find out more: Click here to go to Innovative Language Learning's website.


In conclusion

For me, although the Rosetta Stone online courses aren't bad (and they do have many features). I'm not sure that I can recommend them. I'd recommend that you start with the cheaper alternatives. Although Rocket Languages is relatively limited in the features it has, its content is good for starting to learn a language and it's not expensive. If you are looking for something different, then Innovative Language Learning is something that you could consider as well.


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