Skip nav


More than half of British travellers wouldn’t know how to ask for basic directions in another language if they get lost abroad, according to a new survey by Rosetta Stone, which has today launched Version 3, Personal Edition of its acclaimed foreign language learning software in the UK. The software incorporates state-of-the-art voice recognition technology and uses Dynamic ImmersionTM to teach language the way we learned as children; one word at a time and building to more complex sentences.

Conducted by YouGov, the poll was commissioned to gain an understanding of the UK’s foreign language proficiency and associated travel habits, and surveyed more than 2000 males and females across the country.

Despite Spain being the most popular tourist destination for UK travellers abroad*, nearly nine in 10 (87 per cent) don’t know how to ask for general directions in Spanish. Furthermore, more than four out of five (82 per cent) are not able to follow basic directions such as ‘left’, ‘right’ and ‘straight’.

The survey also found that almost two thirds (62 per cent) of UK residents don’t speak a second language and of the third that do, over 70 per cent speak French.

French fared better than other popular languages on the survey, including German, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish. This could be due to the fact that France is the second most popular travel destination for Britons* or because French is the primary foreign language taught at most schools in the UK**. Even so, only 40 per cent of British residents said they are able to ask for directions in French. Unfortunately, even if given the most basic directions, half would not be able to follow them.

Italy, Portugal and Germany are other highly popular travel destinations, with millions of UK nationals visiting every year.* The Rosetta Stone poll revealed that more than 90 per cent of them are likely to get lost in Italy, as they can’t ask for directions or follow instructions in Italian. They will do marginally better in Germany, with 85 per cent not being able to ask for directions in German and 79 per cent not being able to follow these, while almost all British adults run the risk of getting lost in Portugal.

Interestingly, the survey also found that a considerably larger number of Britons know how to ask for a drink at the bar in a foreign language, than can ask for general directions. For example, only 13 per cent of Britons can ask for directions in Spanish, but more than double (29 per cent) know how to ask for a drink at the bar.

Currently, almost 70 million UK residents travel abroad every year and figures show that we are becoming more adventurous with our destinations, with visits to South America, Asia and Africa on the rise.*

Steven Wines, Managing Director Europe at Rosetta Stone, said “Locals in these regions are less likely to speak English, so it is important to learn the basic language skills, at the very least. Learning a new language used to require tedious translation, memorisation and dull grammar drills. The Rosetta Stone program includes none of these, but instead offers an exciting, innovative, effective program, making the learning experience fun. Learners today want fast, easy, effective language programs, as they increasingly intermingle with other cultures both at home and abroad: Rosetta Stone is the answer.

“The Version 3 instinctive user interface, high-quality audio and beautiful photography make this language learning experience a pleasure, while the latest technology in speech recognition means that users can have an engaging conversation with their computer, gaining fluency and confidence before interacting with people.”

Version 3 Personal Edition is the next generation of the award-winning interactive software that uses technology to create an environment of complete immersion in the language, which is proven to be the fastest and best way to learn a new language. Through Adaptive RecallTM, learners are tested on new language knowledge at optimal intervals to ensure efficient retention, while the program’s Contextual FormationTM uses these patterns and life-like simulations to provide the context learners need to obtain results.

Rosetta Stone Version 3 is now available in the UK in the 10 most popular languages offered by Rosetta Stone. An additional 20 languages are available in Rosetta Stone Version 2.

Millions of learners in more than 150 countries have already used Rosetta Stone to gain the confidence that comes with truly knowing a new language.


For further information please contact:

Justyna Gnyp / Becky Barr
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7612 1830
E-mail: /

Notes to Editor:

Rosetta Stone Version 3

Rosetta Stone Version 3 offers Level 1, 2 and 3 instruction in 10 languages: Arabic, English (UK), English (US), French, German, Italian, Portuguese (Brazil), Russian, Spanish (Latin America), and Spanish (Spain). Prices range from £139 (for a Level 1 CD-ROM only) to £339 (for Level 1, 2 and 3 CD-ROM set). Learners can also order a three or six-month online subscription. A headset microphone is included with every order. A comprehensive product demonstration of Rosetta Stone is available online at and will be available for purchase on the website and on

Proven Method

Proprietary speech recognition technology, guided pronunciation exercises and simulated dialogues build confidence in speaking. Learners acquire reading and writing skills by associating letters and words with their new sounds and meanings. Learners become proficient in understanding the new language through exposure to native speakers and meaning derived from relevant context. Instant feedback is provided within a carefully sequenced structure to ensure learning success.

About Rosetta Stone Inc.

Rosetta Stone Inc. is a leading provider of language learning software. Acclaimed for the speed, power and effectiveness of its Dynamic ImmersionTM method, Rosetta Stone is a revolutionary language learning software program. While teaching 30 languages to millions of people in more than 150 countries throughout the world, Rosetta Stone software is the key to Language Learning Success™. Rosetta Stone was founded in 1992 on two core beliefs: that the natural way people learn languages as children remains the most successful method for learning new languages; and that interactive CD-ROM and online technology can recreate the immersion method powerfully for learners of any age. Rosetta Stone (UK) Limited, a subsidiary of Rosetta Stone Inc., is based in Windsor, England.

Rosetta Stone, Rosetta World, Dynamic Immersion, Adaptive Recall, Contextual Formation and
Language Learning Success are trademarks of Rosetta Stone Ltd.

About YouGov

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2,010 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 4 and 5 October 2007. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18 +).

*Office for National Statistics (ONS),
**National Centre for Languages (CiLT),