Let's not beat around the bush - we all know that there have been plenty of reviews for one of the most well-known language learning courses out there: Rocket Languages.
Thing is, it's kind of hard to find one that actually discusses the truth about the course - partly due to the fact that a great majority of them find the Rocket Languages learning courses unanimously one of the best ones; while overlooking some of its shortcomings (and to be quite frank, it DOES have its shortcomings, as with any other language learning course).
And that's what we're here for - beyond the overly floral and the downright hagiographic reviews that many of the Rocket Languages courses see on the internet, we're going to show you the real lowdown as to what to expect, what to look for, and how to use Rocket Languages courses before you part with your hard-earned money.
Without much further ado, let's take an in-depth look at the Rocket Languages language courses: how it works, what's inside the box, what's under the hood, and what value can it bring to your language learning journey.
What Exactly is RocketLanguages and What Does It Offer?
Rocket Languages offers a full suite of language learning solutions for learners of all skill levels. Their courses are interactive courses featuring language lessons, conversational practice, writing, lessons, and exams to test your mastery of the language you choose to learn. They have been in the market for quite a long time, and, thanks to its marketing, they have become one of the most recognizable and best-selling language learning courses in the world today - right up there with Rosetta Stone, Duolingo, and Living Languages.
How are the Courses Structured?
Rocket Languages follows a standardized course structure for the majority of the courses it provides - that is, it offers the language learning course itself, featuring conversational, pronunciation, speaking, reading and listening comprehension and writing practice through a variety of bite-sized lessons, while offering a supplementary course on the target language's culture, history, and traditions. Both courses are accessed through Rocket Languages' online portal through web, smartphone (iOS or Android), or desktop channels, and members are granted lifetime access to the course material that they have purchased (which can also be downloaded for learners who want to take the course offline).
How Does It Work?
The prevailing idea (and major selling point) behind Rocket Languages' courses is its focus on learning only what a prospective language learner needs to know to be able to communicate in the target language in real-life and practical situations. Rocket Languages builds on this focus through a bevy of exercises that are designed for even the most novice language learner to be comfortable speaking the language within completing a course. Minimal emphasis is given to rote repetition and the study of grammar and verb forms that are hardly ever used in the spoken language that other courses or traditional classroom learning tends to overemphasize on, aimed at keeping user interaction and engagement at high levels throughout the entire course - and less of the jargon, theories, and archaic verb forms that is better served in the classroom for the advanced learner.
Which Languages are Included in the Rocket Languages Course Collection?
Rocket Languages boasts a wide array of language course offerings - 13, in fact (and that's not even counting the specialized English courses for Spanish and Japanese speakers). That's Spanish, English Sign Language, Russian, Portuguese, Korean, Japanese, Italian, Hindi, German, French, English, Mandarin Chinese, and Arabic. Though all of these language couses follow the tried-and-tested structure of Rocket Languages' coursework in general, let's focus on the main language course offerings as follows.
* Rocket Spanish - Rocket Languages' Spanish course is one of its bestsellers for a reason; and it is because Spanish is the second largest language by number of native speakers (437 million!) and is fast becoming (if it isn't already yet) an important second language to learn in commerce, government, and in day-to-day conversation thanks to the number of Spanish speakers living all over the world. I must note however that Rocket Languages offers the Latin American variety as opposed to the European variety - and why not? After all, Latin American Spanish is spoken by a larger percentage of people all over the world.
* Rocket French - Ah, but of course, who can forget the language of love everybody wants to learn? True enough, Rocket French is designed specifically for native English speakers to more easily adapt their pronunciation skills to a native and neutral French accent. That being said, French is one of the world's important languages in terms of commerce, the academe, and government and public policy, which makes Rocket's French course one of its best-selling titles in its catalog.
* Rocket Italian - Italian retains its prestige and its value in the same fields that French and Spanish find themselves in use in - and Italy's perennially popular tourism sector will guarantee an endless supply of language learners, new and old, to learn the language of such a historically and culturally important country. Furthermore, many people all over the world have claims to Italian descent from immigration in centuries past, which also adds to the list of language learners who will find this course useful.
* Rocket English - There isn't anyone who doesn't want to learn the lingua franca of commerce, policy, business, and the academe. In today's globalized world, English is undoubtedly the most important language to learn. Organizations all over the world universally require knowledge of English in order when screening for prospective employees or scholars; the fact that Rocket Languages offers not just a general English course, but also specialized English courses for Spanish and Japanese speakers is a testament to the popularity and the demand for it.
Now that we've discussed everything that needs to be known in terms of features and functions, let's get to the meat of the matter - that is, what makes the Rocket Language courses so good and how learners stand to benefit from them.
* Award-winning interactivity: Rocket Languages makes it easy for a learner to keep himself engaged throughout the language learning process. And this is due t the fact that there is something for every learner in the coursework - it mixes and matches exercises for every learning style, which will appeal to every learner.
* Portability: You can take your language learning anytime, anywhere with the Rocket Languages apps for iOS and Android.
* A lifetime's worth of updates without recurring fees: Updates are absolutely free without any strings attached or sneaky billing methods you need to watch out for.
* Offers beginners a real sense of progress and success: The way the course is structured is designed to give ANY language learner the positive reinforcement that he or she needs to KEEP GOING with their language learning - and sometimes, this is more than enough to keep anyone engaged.
* Mostly killer, hardly any filler: Rocket Languages courses focus on what you ABSOLUTELY have to know before you go to the target country's language - that is, the most important conversations you'll probably have, with the most important vocabulary you'll only ever need. None of those esoteric conversations and grammar other courses pack in for filler.
* Good value for money: Isn't this where it all comes to a head? In the end, $149.95 for lifetime access is a small price to pay for a full-suite language learning course that has excellent customer support and a supportive network of native speakers in the community.
There are certain aspects of Rocket Languages' software and coursework that can stand to be improved, however - and here are some of the most salient criticisms that language learners may encounter when using the app.
* Too basic for intermediate learners: Intermediate learners may find the coursework tedious due to the way it's structured - it's designed to be taken in a a linear method. Unless of course you just plan to do the exercises to review. Advanced learners may be better off continuing on with conversation classes or one-on-one tutoring.
* Too much focus on an accessible, fun product: There's nothing wrong with making language learning fun - after all, that's what keeps people engaged to learning. However, the other side of this is that language learning becomes an exercise in memorization. And NOT learning HOW the language works, which requires a lot of trial and error (which language learners need to go through in order FIND the best way for them to learn).
* Too much focus on language learning for holidaymakers: Granted, this is probably one of the main reasons for language learners to start learning languages in the first place, but the wealth of dialogue the course offers, you'd think that Rocket Languages could have added booster packs for those who want to learn the language for business or commerce.
* Your $149.95 could go a longer way with one-on-one learning: There is more you could learn for $149.95 than just the same phrases repeated over and over again - you could use the same money to finance a course of classes with a native speaking teacher or tutor on italki, for instance, and as there is no substitute for learning with a native speaker, you'll learn more than you ever will there than you will be spending hours on end learning how to ask where the bathroom is.
With that in mind, can I recommend Rocket Languages for anybody? Yes, particularly if you've only begun your language learning journey - Rocket Languages courses are some of the best-designed courses for beginners to have a foundation in the language. But those expecting a magic bullet for $149.95 will be severely disappointed, because you'd be expecting the moon and the stars if you expect to be fluent after finishing a course all the way even to the advanced levels (for Spanish, for instance). That being said, it's an excellent resource for beginners and for those who have the specific goal of learning a language to be able to speak it when they are in the country that speaks the target language. More advanced or intermediate learners would do best to not spend money on this course, as it would better be served being used for private classes or one-on-one tutoring in the native language, but it's a course that works for the great majority of language learners starting their first steps - as part of a language learning program that uses a multi-disciplinary approach to learning. That being said, for $149.95, it's a great supplementary course to your regimen of classes, and could help intermediate learners to reinforce what they've learned in their classes.
If your expectations are realistic before beginning the course, then yes, you'll have a blast learning through Rocket Languages...and hopefully that's what this review has achieved, rather than promising you "fluency in 3 months".
Click to learn more about RocketLanguages learning courses: Rocket Spanish, Rocket French, Rocket German, Rocket Italian, Rocket Japanese, Rocket Chinese, Rocket Korean, Rocket Hindi, Rocket Arabic, Rocket Russian, Rocket Portuguese, Rocket English.
Best of luck!