Rocket Languages Review
- Computer software
- 31 Audio lessons with text
- Available languages: Spanish, French, German, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Arabic, Hindi
- Homepage: Rocket Languages
This is one of the more interactive products of this kind available on the market today, with a fantastically wide variety of games, quizzes, lessons and tests for the learner to engage with. It is also relatively reasonably priced at the moment, and sits comfortably in the middle of the varied price range for foreign language programs. However, while there is a plethora of activities to choose from, the focus seems to be more on trying to make a fun and entertaining product, than really assisting in helping the learner to get to grips with a language.
Incidentally, the audio is particularly clear compared to certain other products of this kind, and it is also surprisingly useful having two characters (Mauricio and Amy) take you through the lessons instead of just hearing a bland voice that you can’t connect to. This personal touch makes it a little easier to feel like you’re having an individual lesson.
The games – MegaVocab, MegaAudio, MegaVerbs – feel like a good addition to the course, but ultimately fall a little flat. MegaVerbs is the best game, working through verbs (obviously!) and tenses in a way that a lot of the simpler at-home courses just neglect to do. However, the games overall seem as though they were designed to keep you occupied, and to have something else to fill up the space, as opposed to being innovative ways to get you to learn the language.
The best part of this package is the well-written text. Too often with this sort of course designers and developers neglect to really focus on the correct language. It sounds ridiculous, for language courses, but it can be a very tricky thing to really convey nuance of meaning without being able to explain in person, so a lot of software just skims over it.
I couldn’t see anything wrong or misleading with the text that was presented here, with accuracy clearly being prized over cost. It’s very reassuring, and leads me to believe that in a few editions time, this will be the sort of course that I would recommend to people a lot more than at present.
There are 31 audio lessons and computer software with learning games. We’ll discuss later how effective these games are, but in terms of technical quality, there is nothing particularly wrong here. Which, in my opinion, is pretty much the best way to describe this course; there is nothing much wrong, but nothing much right either. There are better courses to buy, but there are also much worse ones, and it really depends entirely on what your learning style is as to how effective you find this course.
There seems to be a lot on offer with this program, but the almost inevitable downside is that there just hasn’t been enough thought on any one aspect of it specifically. The variety of games, for example, is something that might push you into buying this, if you are one of those people who learns by doing, but even so there are other available courses that utilize these kinds of things more to their advantage.
Rocket Languages just seems to include the games just to be able to say they have games, instead of having thought through how best this might benefit your learning. This program has a focus on conversation of a lighter tone, with very little consideration given to alternative uses for learning a language other than holidaying.
The main problem here, and it is a big one, is that the lessons themselves are very simplistic. There is no sense of learning the language as a whole, or connecting to it in any real sense. On the audio lessons, you will hear the English sentence, then the Spanish version, then a blank space for you to repeat it, then you’ll hear the Spanish again. And it does it this way over and over and over again, with very little variation on that theme. If this is the best method for you to learn, with a lot of repetition and very little independent thought encouraged, then this might well be the course for you.
One of the more positive aspects about this program is the Progress Tracker. This course show your progress not only by how far you have come in terms of how many lessons you have completed, but also with a variety of tests and quizzes at the end of each level. It’s one of the best things about this course, being able to see exactly where your strengths and weaknesses lie, and is invaluable in understanding just where you need to improve.
A similar positive is that once you have progressed through all the levels, you can apply for a Rocket Spanish Premium Certificate test. While I originally thought that sounded like a little bit of a gimmick, it is actually equal to levels A1 and A2 of the C.E.F.R.L. (Common European Frame of Reference for Languages); making it a qualification you could legitimately put on a C.V.
However, for Rocket Languages to call this a complete language course is a little misleading. There is so much missing from the content, with little to no business or professional language used at all. And I suppose that’s exactly the point; this isn’t meant for those wishing to learn a language in its entirety, or even get to grips with the basics so they can learn more later. It seems to be solely designed for holiday-makers, and while this is still a useful tool for that sort of learning, it isn’t explicitly stated anywhere on the packaging or software.
Definitely something to be aware of, especially if this is not the kind of thing you want it for. It is certainly not the right tool to learn a foreign language for business or even just to learn the language as a whole. On the other hand, if you are looking for a simpler course to give you the basics needed for travelling abroad, then this might be good for you.
Rocket Languages are still a relatively new company in this field, and as such have set up in the comfortable middle ground of pricing. Compared to other programs charging you hundreds and hundreds of dollars, this really isn’t too bad of a deal. It very much depends on the kind of learner you are, however, as to whether this is a good investment for you.
If you learn easily with simple repetition, then it might be worth the price tag, but if this is not the best way for you to take in information then that’s a bit of a pity, because there just isn’t another way to learn here.
The games are relatively fun, but not particularly effective with their learning efficiency, while the written material offered here is interesting, but not particularly satisfying in terms of content. Also, if you purchase the online version of this course, then the higher levels of learning require an extra charge, though it is cheaper overall to buy the course in this way.
Certainly, if you are looking for a more middle-of-the-road option, then Rocket Languages is probably one that I would recommend for you, but I can’t stress enough that it isn’t comprehensive enough to call itself a full language course. If you are really trying to understand a language, then there are much more detailed and effective courses out there for you.
The course is advertised as a stand-alone intensive course, but it really doesn’t seem as though this is the case. There isn’t enough diversity within the subjects that are offered, and misses out on a lot of topics.
It certainly isn’t a fully comprehensive language course as it might purport to be. Still, on a more positive note, unlike other programs of this kind, Rocket Languages does seem like it would be an excellent study aid. There isn’t quite enough information here to be able to grasp a language beyond its basics, but it is certainly worth purchasing as a supplement to a foreign language course you are already taking.
Pro & Contra
|can be used without computer||the course is not well thought out|
|offers games||…but the games are not very effective|
|not expensieve||audio lessons are not very effective|
|offers much material||…but the material itself can’t satisfy|