Why is Rosetta Stone so successful when their courses are so bad?

As some of you may know, I am considered an expert on foreign language instruction based on my experience in the field and my authorship of a very successful series to teach Chinese to English-speakers.

Yesterday someone asked what I thought of Rosetta Stone. I told him that I have never seen any evidence that anyone who used RS to learn a language was actually able to communicate in it.

He was shocked. In his mind and the minds of most people, RS is synonymous with language learning.

I explained that they do two things very well.

They have the best marketing of any group. They have established in the public mind that RS = language learning.

They are the only firm to aggressively go after pirates. You will not find a single pirated version of their courses on the net. Not one.

In spite of the fact that their courses do not seem to provide what they claim to provide, they are the most commercially successful language courses in the world.

And that is a very sad commentary on publishing.

Author: Harold

3 thoughts on “Why is Rosetta Stone so successful when their courses are so bad?

  1. I just saw about 30 courses of theirs going up and down on demonoid. There's not much they'll be able to do about that one. I'm sure I saw them on binary usenet before too, and there's little they'll be able to do about that one either. They won't succeed where the entire music industry has failed.

    The sooner language courses providers move to the new paradigm, which means accepting they will be giving some content free but selling ads on the back of it, as well as making money by face-to-facing, the sooner they can resume making the money they deserve for the work they've done. Of course, the fact that on places like YouTube people are doing courses of varying quality for totally free won't help those who want to stick to the former business model – even if they caught every pirate to sail under the skull and crossbones.

  2. I just left a comment on one of your other posts…and it was about piracy/plagiarism. I was expecting a review of Rosetta Stone, alas you really are preoccupied about these issues a bit much, no? Think nothing

    In either matter, Rosetta Stone is very well pirated but they suck. The reason they are successful is because they like Apple software have a very nice market budget and make profuse usage of it. In fact I hear they spend more money on marketing for certain languages then actually developing them. They market it so well too, I remember when they first appeared on the scene they were doing late-night infomercial spots, and being young and naive they made it seem like this was the holy grail (even the name which I was aware of at the time something about Egyptian Heiroglyphics and deciphering). I thought this must be it. So you have brilliant marketing, a demographic that is likely to make impulse purchases at infomercial hour and you're pretty much well set. Another thing is after, they had the momentum going in marketing I believe they made deals. I actually got to finally use the Rosetta Stone software in the military which they had a deal with, at the time before then I was using books, flashcards, and at least a dictionary. To say the least after usage of the course, I said this is the most pointless worthless garbage I've ever encountered.

    There is probrably more to it as well (percieved value, false reviews, etc)

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