Rocket Language Course Review
Languages: Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Sign Language, Spanish
The Rocket Language Course is possibly the best value language course on the market. As much as I really wanted to dislike it, the whole bundle of audio course, workbook, and language games is quite excellent.
The Rocket language system is centered around the audio courses which concentrate on simple everyday conversations. Each audio file begins with a conversation between a man and a woman in the native language (in this case French) beginning with basic introductions and leading up to more complicated exchanges. The short conversation is then broken down piece-by-piece with the student expected to respond aloud and repeat each given sentence. The young man does all of the talking in English and explains grammar and vocabulary issues as he goes along. In each subsequent lesson the previous vocabulary is read to check you can remember it; if you cannot you are advised to repeat the previous lesson.
The Mega games consist of three parts: Megavocab and Mega audio both ask you to choose the topic to be tested to begin with e.g. places, the weather, shopping etc. Megavocab then gives you a picture and asks you to choose the correct word or phrase to describe it out of a possible 4. Thankfully the meaning of the word is given in English which is often necessary as the pictures can be a little obscure at times, but you can also turn this option off if preferred. Mega audio gives you six pictures with the English description and plays you the spoken word or phrase of your chosen topic and you must choose the correct picture.
The third game is called Megaverbs. In this game you first choose a tense (present, perfect, conditional etc.) and then the computer gives you a verb in its neutral infinitive form (eg. to send) and a personal pronoun (I, he, they etc.). You must then write the correct conjugation of the verb. Each of the three games gives you 4 points for a correct answer and subtracts one for each incorrect guess.
As well as the audio course and the surprisingly effective games, Rocket also supplies the transcript for every conversation so you can see how words are spelt, and a grammar booklet which gives more information about the topics being covered and the grammar involved. These booklets are full colour and have embedded audio clips so you can hear the words that you are reading about. They also have written exercises to help you become better at the new grammar.
The final added bonus are the Megacards. These are pre-made flash cards for beginner and advanced which you can print out and use to help increae your vocabulary.
I have to admit when I first looked at Rocket French I was hoping it would be terrible and I would hate it. The website that you order the product from has all the hallmarks of a cheap sales pitch and i was expecting the product to follow suit (or at worst be a complete scam). I have to say though that I was pleasantly surprised: the Rocket French course is professionally done, quite effective in its method, and surprisingly engaging.
The audio course alone is of a good standard, but nothing ground-breaking in its approach. Each conversation is useful and relevant and spoken at a good pace—not too slow to appear artificial but just slow enough for a novice to understand. The conversations are then broken down by sentence and by word and the meaning of each is given to show how the grammar in the language is structured. I liked the way the translation is often given literally in the order of the foreign words and then in the English order e.g. “comment vous appelez-vous?” is translated into English as “what is your name?” but the narrator also gives the direct literal translation as ”how do you call yourself?”. I think this is a useful way to understand the sentence structure in French and also to understand the use of the vocabulary.
Students are reminded of past vocabulary and urged to retake lessons to cement learning. Although the audio courses are well done they have no graduated interval recall as such and are therefore less efficient than the Pimsleur course, although with the right self disiciplne for reviewing, a student could learn just as much, if not more, with the Rocket.
These games are fun, addictive and surprisingly effective at helping you use the vocabulary you have learned and advance your knowledge of grammar and language construction. I have to say, out of all the games and added exercises of other programs that i have tried, these were the most fun and probably the most effective. Although this is just a side dish to the main event it has been very well made, and along with the transcript and grammar booklet increase the effectiveness of the whole product
Rocket language courses have plenty of hours worth of audio material and if you buy the extended package you get even more. These audio courses even when finished can be reviewed at your leisure, but even still, they do have a limited shelf life and can only take you so far, as any audio course can. However, the added Mega games and the grammar workbooks mean that your grasp of vocabulary and grammar can be extended even when the audio courses have been exhausted. For this reason i think that Rocket language has very useful length of service possibilities in anyone’s collection.
There is certainly nothing difficult about Rocket language courses. The audio courses are simple to play—the instructions for everything are given by the hosts—and of course they can be used in a car stereo or an ipod (as long as you are comfortable speaking words aloud). The Software for the games is no more complicated. It is easy to load, and easy to navigate and play each game. The instructions are straight forward and easy to follow and the Megavocab game even has a vocab creator so you can customise the game to your requirements.
Cost is probably the biggest plus for Rocket languages. The fact that the downloadable files are priced at least half the cost of its competitors gives Rocket a definite advantage in the value for money stakes.
Another Benefit of Rocket is that you can try it for free before you buy. Give them your e-mail address and they will send you the first 3 lessons of the course for free over 6 days. Sure they will probably send you follow up sales letters for the rest of your life (or until you unsubscribe anyway) but it’s free, and what better way to get a taste before you fork out your cash.