Rocket Languages Review: In this post I take a look at the popular online language learning courses from Rocket Languages. Can it help you learn a new language effectively?
One of my favourite activities here on Actual Fluency is to give language software, apps, courses and other methods a good test to see if it's useful and effective to learn languages with.
Today I'm taking a look at Rocket Languages. Rocket is an online course provider, that specialises in providing a wide range of content for a fixed up-front price. I tested the Spanish version which has 3 levels: Beginners, Intermediate and Advanced.
Rocket Languages features
One of the cool things about Rocket is you get a virtual tour when you start your membership. This gives a quick overview over the various features of the site.
Interactive Audio Lessons
At the core of Rocket Languages course we find the interactive audio lessons. There are around 30 audio lessons per level and each lesson is an average of 25 minutes long. The audio lessons contain a conversation where you’re prompted to repeat aloud after the native speaker.
The conversation is then broken down into smaller pieces and explained thoroughly before moving on.
Language and Cultural lessons
There are around 30 Language and Culture lessons with every Rocket level as well. These lessons break down the grammar that you need to know to really understand the language. Each lesson also comes with a Culture component that gives insight into the people who speak the language.
Testing and reinforcement
Each lesson tests your language ability through:
- Role Playing
There are also Flashcard sets available for all the vocabulary used in a particular lesson. And they have a forum where you can get answers to any language questions you might have.
The site also features an excellent range of 25+ articles on how to make the most of your learning time, and the best way to get results faster than other methods.
One of the big features of Rocket Languages is that they offer high quality voice recognition across the site and in many of the exercises. This is a helpful way to encourage the student to use the language more actively.
I'm not entirely sold on the idea of an automatic pronunciation checker, but from my limited testing it seemed to work decently well.
I recorded my voice and then was able to easily compare it to the recording. On the first lesson it was very forgiving and gave me 100% accuracy when I could clearly hear a difference, so again I'm not sure if this type of grading system is useful at all.[Update: I later discovered that you can change how forgiving this checker should be, as you progress and become more confident in the language.]
You can try this feature for yourself by giving Rocket a free trial in any of their 12 languages here:
The first page you see when you log in is your dashboard, and it has a minimalistic design with all the features easily accessible from the left hand side menu.
Once you start a lesson from the impressive list you will see the following tracks available to listen to or download:
- The Full Lesson audio
- Just the conversation
- Roleplay Person 1
- Roleplay Person 2
- Review Track
I like this separation, as you can immerse yourself in the native material alone or listen to the full explanations and guidance in the main lesson audio.
In the lesson you're also able to download the PDF and take advantage of the many testing and reinforcement methods previously discussed.
Rocket Languages is available in a variety of languages. Click the language you want to learn below to be taken to the free trial page.
- Levels 1-2-3: French, Spanish, German, Italian, Japanese
- Levels 1-2: Chinese Mandarin
- Level 1: English, ASL, Russian, Portuguese, Korean, Hindi, Arabic, English for Spanish speakers, English for Japanese speakers.
What I really like
- Guided and easy to use: When I log into the website it's super easy to navigate around, and the lessons guide me quite effortlessly through the journey towards fluency.
- Risk-free to try: A lifetime trial of selected lessons from all 3 levels without giving my credit card information and 60 day money back guarantee
- Flexible: All parts of every dialogue can be listened to individually and learnt through various testing methods.
- Lot of content: Hundreds of lessons with extras, tools and bonuses
- One-time investment: When I have to maintain the language in 5 years I don't need to pay to re-subscribe.
What I'm not a huge fan of
- Price: While I definitely think Rocket provides value for money, the investment is not insignificant.
- Target language/English ratio: Rocket Languages spends a lot of time explaining the concepts, grammar points, and cultural notes in each lesson. Some people love this attention to detail, and others more keen on immersion should probably stick to just the target language tracks that are easily downloadable within each lesson.
- Excessive marketing at times: Let's just say they're good marketers, and you will see lots of offers, as well as emails to try and persuade you to give it a try. It doesn't detract from the value of the product itself, but it is a point worth making nonetheless.
Update: 2017 Improvements
Rocket have just improved their programs to the 2017 edition, and the major changes in the new Edition are:
- The Android and iOS apps have been totally upgraded and now feature full voice recognition as well as a completely new interface
- The desktop version also has an updated interface to allow better navigation and responsiveness across devices.
- In addition the motivational aspects have been improved to encourage learners to stick with it.
Rocket Languages review conclusion
Is Rocket Languages an effective way to learn a language?
You get a ton of high-quality content and they've done a great job linking all the content together in bite-sized audio files.
Each lesson also comes with a range of tools to make learning easier and with the transcripts you can print the lessons out and practice the old-school way.
While the cost might look scary, you have to remember it's a one-time investment. This means, compared to other services that you'll pay more upfront but you'll pay only once.
For example: What about when you want to maintain your languages down the road, then you'd still have access to Rocket but would have to resubscribe to the monthly services.
They also say that a monetary investment is a great motivator to learning.
So all in all I'm going to give this Rocket Languages review a positive rating.
They also offer a free trial with no strings attached and a 60 day money-back guarantee, so you can find out for yourself whether you like it or not.
That's my recommendation. Take the trial and then decide if you like it enough to invest in it after.
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