Homeschooling a foreign language: Rosetta Stone or Duolingo?

Rosetta Stone vs. Duolingo Review: Homeschooling a Foreign Language

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Rosetta Stone vs. Duolingo Review: Homeschooling a Foreign Language

When it comes to homeschooling, few things are as intimidating as the idea of teaching a foreign language. Trust me, I’ve been there. I don’t speak a second language (but did take the required two years of Spanish to graduate) and neither does Chuck.  So how exactly did I teach a foreign language (that I don’t speak) in our homeschool?

Thankfully, there are literally dozens of programs, books, software to help. Here is how we tackled teaching a foreign language in our homeschool.

Spartacus the guinea pig and homeschooling adventures.

Rosetta Stone and Homeschooling a Foreign Language

To begin with we used Rosetta Stone.

This was an easy choice. We first began using Rosetta Stone with our children who were adopted from Liberia in 2007. We dropped nearly $400 on Rosetta Stone English. Yup, hundreds of dollars for a course to teach English. Interestingly, English is actually the official language of Liberia, but it is a very different dialect than what we speak here in the US. It wasn’t just an accent, but many of the words they used were dated (calling all pants trousers) and they didn’t know other common words like laundry (they would just say wash clothes). We had all three kids work on this for about half an hour a day.

Using Rosetta Stone as a Foreign Language in Homeschooling

Rosetta Stone a pricy program but came with great reviews. Adalia, Judah, and Tilly all used the Spanish program with no complaints. Rosetta Stone teaches the language as naturally as possible. There are no vocabulary lists to memorize, instead, the words are taught contextually. The program uses voice recognition to help with pronunciation and lessons can be done in as little as 10 minutes.

teen missions guatemala 2014

Judah in Guatemala circa 2014

I asked Judah to share his thoughts on using Rosetta Stone in our homeschool. Judah homeschooled all the way through high school, doing dual enrollment for his last two years. He graduated from high school with both a high school diploma and an Associate of Arts Degree at age 17. Next, the moved on to Central Washington University where he graduated at age 20 with his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Law and Justice and also earned a minor in Spanish. Enoch is in his first year at Central majoring in Business.

Judah’s Rosetta Stone Review

After a year of Rosetta Stone, I still didn’t know how to tell masculine from feminine verbs. The whole premise of Rosetta Stone is that they don’t tell you how to conjugate anything or tell you any of the rules. The idea is that you learn language naturally like a baby would.

But the thing is, we still send kids to English class to learn the formalities. Rosetta Stone in my experience is great for learning vocabulary but for learning the grammar and rules that really help you know how to speak the language you need something more formal.

Duolingo is a Free Foreign Language Program

A few years ago my teens discovered Duolingo.  Duolingo is free, teaches you to read and speak a foreign language and allows you to listen to native speakers in the language of your choice. It has instant feedback so you can see how you are doing. You can use Duolingo on your computer or download the app to your phone

Homeschool math games are a great way to inspire learning.

Judah’s Duolingo Review

Duolingo is a free program that allows you to learn Spanish by practicing vocabulary while also teaching you rules. Duolingo seems more focused on keeping your attention and having fun but both programs encourage you to set goals for yourself and keep them.

Judah felt that both programs were useful. As he said, Rosetta Stone wasn’t teaching him rules but was very focused on conversational language. Duolingo is also focused on teaching conversational language. Both gave my children a good foundation before taking formal Spanish classes while attending community college. I would recommend either of one these programs to be supplemented by a more formal textbook, or better yet, dual enrollment in a community college. Since all of our kids have done 11th and 12th grade as dual enrollment, this gives them a great headstart for learning more formally.

How have you tackled teaching a foreign language in your homeschool?

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2 thoughts on “Rosetta Stone vs. Duolingo Review: Homeschooling a Foreign Language”

  1. I use Duolinguo too, i learn Japanese. It is indeed very helpful and you learn in a natural way.
    I found it not enough for me though, so i use it along with nihongo master and occasionally a couple of other sites and apps.

  2. We don’t homeschool, but our young sons–9 and 6 years old–use Duolingo for Spanish anyway. My eldest went to a small private school that taught Spanish and French for even the very youngest kids, and he had such an affinity for it that we wanted to continue to encourage exposure to a different language when he switched schools. We live in New Mexico now, so Spanish it is. If a kid can type, he or she can use Duolingo.

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