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FREE Rosetta Stone Online Language Lessons with Your SF Library Card

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Yo hablo bien ahora.

So you’ve got that big trip to South America coming up but you haven’t really spoken anything but Drunken Taqueria Spanish since freshman year of college. Which means you know enough Spanish to navigate your way around say, San Diego, but it probably won’t do you much good in somewhere like Peru where they’re not really huge on tacos. (The ceviche is great though.)

So now that you’ve decided to become a better person and less of a fat, dumb American, you’re wondering how you can work on your second language without going dropping too much coin. Enter the San Francisco Public Libraries Online Resources where thanks to the miracle of Socialism, you can get FREE access to Rosetta Stone Online Language Lessons – that same software fancy businessmen drop a couple hundred bucks of corporate expenses on so they can pick up a language in months instead of years. All you need is your library card and a computer with internet access* (and probably some headphones).

Finding where to access Rosetta Stone on the SFPL site is a little tricky because they tucked it away in the “Articles & Databases” section. But you can access it directly here: SFPL Rosetta Stone Login Page.

You’ll be asked for the barcode number from your library card and your PIN and you’ll be asked to make a Rosetta Stone account. And once you’re past that, you’ll be greeted with a list of courses you can take in a range of handy languages. You can take up to 19 units of Mandarin, French, Hebrew, Japanese, Korean or Spanish. Holy crap, that’s a lot of units! (There are also 3-unit courses for Italian, Greek, German, Russian and you can even take English lessons if that’s what you need to brush up on.)

Even if you’re not in SF, check with your local Public Library to see if they offer it as well. My tiny hometown PL actually offers the same service, although the number of units available varies.

That link again: SFPL Rosetta Stone Login Page

*You’ll have to make sure you have Shockwave installed on your computer, which gave me a little hiccup with the newest version of Safari.

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Andrew is an East Coast transplant from Virginia hamming it up in San Francisco without any intention of leaving. Having worked every typical job from Bike Shop Employee to Bartender to Ad Agency Hotshot, to Dotcom Layoff he now busts his ass covering the "weird things to do" beat for gracious local audiences at and rallies the Western Addy/Lower Haight/Panhandle neighborhoods into action at His work was published in a real, paper magazine one time. One day he might even figure out how to make money from it.


  1. Broke-Ass Stuart - Editor In Cheap
    June 23, 2010 at 3:06 pm

    Once I finish this book I’m working on and I have more time, I’m totally gonna perfect my Spanish.

  2. Kira
    June 23, 2010 at 4:40 pm

    thank you!!!!

  3. J
    July 27, 2010 at 11:11 pm

    Thanks for the link; still can’t get it to work and an SF librarian emailed me to say I should call up Rosetta Stone.
    While searching on the web for something more helpful, I found this:


  4. john chatham
    March 2, 2011 at 8:28 pm

    I need english lessons AND tagalog lessons AND I’m BROKE. (also a citizen of San Francisco)

    John Chatham

    Thanks, Stuart

  5. Deneisha Clarke
    March 10, 2011 at 11:56 pm

    i need spainsh lessons

  6. Simone
    March 19, 2011 at 11:24 pm

    Anybody else find it impossible to register? I got in to the main page just fine with my library card number, but when I try to get a username, I just get this:

    “An error was encountered during registration. Please contact your system administrator.”


  7. Dfsdbjfvsdj
    July 6, 2011 at 1:24 am

    I agree that this article is very good.

  8. Stu Chuang Matthews
    August 4, 2011 at 7:30 pm

    It would be good to post an update to this post… this doesn’t seem to be available anymore.

  9. scott
    April 21, 2012 at 10:32 am

    This is no longer available. Rosetta Stone cancelled its contracts with all public libraries — including San Francisco’s — in 2010.

    Today, the San Francisco library instead offers language learners free access to Mango Languages and Powerspeak. Across the Bay, Oakland public library has Transparent Language (Alameda County public libraries also have Mango).

  10. planey
    November 7, 2012 at 5:52 pm

    I found your post while looking for rosetta stone online…. I am not a resident of SF (although I was born and raised in the bay area) So I decided to try your suggestion of trying my local library…. although it isnt rosetta stone, I did find a language course for free buried in their site….. and over 80 languages to choose from! So thank you for pointing me in the right direction!

  11. Ipad pissed
    July 26, 2013 at 4:51 am

    Thanks for link but damnit! In an Apple City in an Apple World this program will NOT run on an Ipad because shockwave will not load or run on it!?!?