The Rocket Languages course is split into three major sections. Two are purely for learning, and these are an ‘interactive audio course’ and ‘language and culture’ lessons. This is the bulk of what Rocket offers. The third option is a ‘Survival Kit’ section, which gives a broad overview of the French language in context. It's handy for knowledge top-ups, and for use when you're actually in a French-speaking country. Rocket Languages ranks among our best learn French software apps, and we primarily based this review on the French version, but the relatively high cost and occasional repetitive sections mean it doesn't take top spot.
Rocket Languages review: Method
The interactive audio course is the meat and potato of Rocket Languages and can be downloaded onto your smartphone or laptop, so you can learn from the comfort of your own home or while you’re on the move. Each episode follows a conversation between two characters in a different location and, after our characters have finished the conversation, the user is invited to play each of the spoken phrases separately and record a version of their own using the in-built voice recording software.
After each session you’re invited to join ‘Rocket Reinforcement’, which consists of five further subsections: ‘Write it!’, ‘Know it!’ ‘Quiz’, ‘FlashCard’ and, last but by no means least, ‘Play it!’.
Each of these sections is designed to help consolidate what you’ve learned in the previous lesson before you're invited to take part in the original conversation and ensure that all your efforts have been mentally locked-in. The Rocket software rates your progress and once the user is satisfied that they’ve got the best out of the conversation in hand, they can move on to the next conversation until every module in the series is completed. It doesn't hammer home repetition like Duolingo, and gets the balance between new and repeated lessons just right.
The language and culture element is essentially vocabulary and grammar but viewed from a series of relevant standpoints to sustain your interest. This section contains a host of Rocket Language audio tracks focusing on a variety of topics (names, places, things, etc.) which can be honed with ‘Rocket Reinforcement’ just to be sure that what you’ve learned stays in place.
Alongside these two primary sections are a host of resources to keep you permanently up to speed with your progress, tailored to both your skill level and where you are in the course. A ‘my tools’ banner is permanently on hand to track your achievements, answer questions on vocabulary or anything else related to learning French.
Included in the Rocket Languages fee/package there is a handy ‘Survival Kit’ section. These include up to ten vocabulary sessions with interactive audio, pronunciation tools, plus reinforcement activities and flashcards to make it stick in the memory, for use in real-life situations such as ordering in restaurants, travel on the Metro or seeing a doctor. It’s worth noting that these kits can be bought separately (ie, you don’t have to buy whole levels) in a variety of languages.
If you're an English speaker, Rocket Languages has 12 languages for you: American Sign Language, Arabic (Egyptian), Chinese, French, German, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese (Brazilian), Russian, and Spanish (Latin American).
Rocket Languages review: Cost and app
There is a free trial version, so if you like it you can make an educated decision (based on the trial) which level you want to purchase, though it’s pretty clear that buying Level One and Two makes little or no sense when you can have all the levels for an extra 10 bucks. As costings go, it's way more expensive than our top pick, Rosetta Stone, but is often on sale, so usually works out cheaper overall.
You might just feel that the Survival Kit is enough at $49.95, but bear in mind the Survival Kit comes free with Level One, and you get two free for Level Two and three free for Level Three. Here's what you get:
|Level||Lesson time||Audio lessons||Language lessons||Survival kits||Cost|
|One + Two||300||67||83||2||$299|
|One, Two + Three||422||99||112||3||$449|
Sadly, the app isn’t as comprehensive as the PC/Mac version, and to get the best out of the audio software, ensure you’re using Chrome, as opposed to Firefox, Edge etc.
Should you try Rocket Languages?
Having experienced some initial teething problems, especially with the rather uninspiring interface (that still has some way to go) Rocket Languages has evolved into a comprehensive, rounded online learning language course that doesn’t sucker punch the user into buying more resources as the course progresses. We like that the user knows what they were getting up front, and that there are no hidden costs to access other areas.
On balance, we think the pricing is fair. Sure, you are encouraged to get the ‘discounted’ full package but if you’re keen and dedicated, if you really want to learn the language (as best as anyone can without actually living in the country in question) then Rocket Languages could be right for you. The other thing we liked are the Survival Kits; for rusty French (or other language) users these could be an invaluable resource to bring your language skills back up to speed for under 50 bucks.