By: Libros Media Ltd.
Rocket Languages is one of the pioneers to offer comprehensive language learning courses.
They offer 15 web-based language courses; each program is uniquely developed and has a different number of levels.
The 15 languages include Rocket English, Rocket French, Rocket Spanish, Rocket Russian, Rocket Portuguese, Rocket Korean, Rocket Japanese, Rocket Italian, Rocket Hindi, Rocket German, Rocket Chinese, Rocket Arabic, Rocket Eigo, Rocket Ingles, and Rocket sign language.
Learning a foreign language is a task that requires discipline and dedication. Moreover, there isn’t one fits all solution; the same approach to learning cannot apply to everyone.
A language learning platform thus has to design itself in a way that enables it to meet either specific or general requirements of its targeted students.
Rocket Languages seems to provide a comprehensive approach, as it allows for interactive audio lessons, language, and cultural lessons and survival kit lessons.
The presentation of the lesson is in spoken language (audio) with the host/teachers being native speakers. Their sign language classes are unique in structure and have video lessons.
Rocket Languages started its learning courses in 2004, and the owner Jason Oxenham shares his experience of having problems while learning French.
He and his friend then decide to come up with a solution that enables one to learn a second language successfully.
Rocket Languages is a result of surveying many polyglots, researching practical strategies to learn a foreign language then hiring linguistic experts along with web developers.
Within a year, Rocket Languages Spanish and French were up and running, selling their online content via MP3 files and in PDF format.
Fast forward to 2019; it is a recognized platform and, over 1.2 million registered users worldwide.
Language learning demands a complex structure which can cater to the unique demands of the online students.
Some may be new to a language, others at the intermediate level, while few need to brush up their forgotten language skills.
For instance; A prefers learning via podcasts, B through entertaining videos, C requires a tutor in a virtual classroom setting, and D demands a fixed curriculum for her course work.
The comprehensiveness or the uniqueness a student searches for in a language learning platform determines his/her choice of software.
Rocket Languages is well known for its comprehensiveness, and the Rocket Languages Mastery Method is applied to learn a new linguistic effectively.
Rocket Languages has 12 languages for English speakers. They also have a program for learning English with instructions in Spanish or Japanese.
Most of the languages have 3 levels, but English, Arabic, Hindi, Russian, Korean, and Portuguese have one level only.
Each level has 7 to 8 modules of audio lessons and language and culture lessons have 3-8 sessions. Their audio sessions run for an average of 30 minutes.
It is important to note that the sign language is different in many ways, and it hosts its lessons via videos while all the others are podcasts.
The highlight of Rocket Languages is that they offer lifetime service after receiving payment. There are no monthly subscriptions.
Rocket Languages is perfect for a student who needs to have permanent access to learning the language.
The system developed by Rocket Languages to impart knowledge of a foreign language is known as the Mastery Method.
They base this method on scientific and practical strategies that polyglots use, which leads to the successful completion of language mastery.
We can break down the Mastery Method into 3 sections; the practical vocabulary (audio lessons), knowledge of grammar (language and cultural lessons), and reinforcement.
The idea behind this method is that a student should first learn what is to be said (the vocabulary and its pronunciation).
Then get into grammar behind that word or phrase. And lastly, the reinforcement lets students review and apply what is learned by conducting exercises/tests.
The lessons of Rocket Languages apply this method and provide other supplementary tools to enhance the quality of the learning.
The voice recognition feature is a unique feature of Rocket Languages. It allows a student to record his/her voice to answer the questions.
The usage of the rocket record is in numerous activities under rocket reinforcement. It is designed to enhance the student’s ability to speak in a foreign language.
The rocket record uses Google Web Speech API, which recognizes the student’s pronunciation and compares it with the native speaker/teacher.
After matching the sound waves, the system gives a verdict in written form, indicating correct or incorrect using colors (red and green).
The phrases recorded also appear in written form in both languages; English and native.
A measure of proximity of the student’s pronunciation with the teachers gets displayed in percentage too.
The aim is to mimic the native teacher closely so that the system can propose the closest rating based on your recording.
Many complain about the quality of the audio recording. But it depends on the microphone used and its positioning by the student.
A headset microphone is preferable so that the system captures what is being spoken and get correct ratings.
If the student pauses a lot while recording, the feature will stop recording. The student needs to speak consistently and after practicing the phrase.
The voice recognition feature works best in Google Chrome. The other browsers, such as Firefox will be able to record but lack pronunciation feedback.
Safari and Internet Explorer will only be able to play the audio lessons of Rocket Languages.
The mobile apps experience with rocket record will be different as Android system uses Google algorithm while iOS devices use Siri based algorithm.
The best part of this feature is that the student can set the difficulty level from the 3 levels provided; easy, medium, and hard.
The activities that use the rocket record allocate points which motivate students. These points lead the student to earn badges and move upwards in the leaderboard.
As noted earlier, Rocket Languages runs on once only payment, and its trial period is not limited to days but by lessons.
The trial users can access only 3 lessons under level 1, while only one session is available in level 2 and 3.
The rest of the content remains locked until completion of the subscription. The free trial versions of different languages appear under “All Courses.”
After selecting the language that one wants to study, the homepage shows Level 1 Dashboard. The name and number of dashboard changes according to the level.
The levels are accessible in the side panel of the dashboard. Each level has a different number of modules. The modules contain interactive audio and language & culture lessons. Some modules may incorporate survival kit lessons too.
Apart from the levels, Rocket Languages also delivers another feature called Travelogue in some of its languages.
Travelogue aims to improve the understanding of the foreign language that travelers need to use while traveling abroad. It also has audio lessons, play it, vocabulary and rocket reinforcement activities.
The next section under the dashboard is my tools. It hosts several useful features to aid in language learning.
These range from my progress to my forum, my benchmark, my flashcards, my notes, my vocab, my advance learning, and rocket recommends.
Dashboard plays a critical role in this system. Apart from outlining all the lessons, it shows the progress of the student in the rocket reinforcement.
It shows the progress with their round icons changing colors after completion or remarks accompanying the icons, such as good or to-do.
We feel that the level dashboards look congested. It hosts all the modules with their lessons under one page.
The side panel lists almost all the information in a small space with minimum designs. A better interface with enhanced designs can be recommendable.
These are the focal point in the learning process of Rocket Languages. The audio lessons are usually 20 to 30 minutes long; they deliver dialogues-based teachings.
These dialogues cover a wide range of topics; from simple greetings to advanced level discussions on relationships, sports, relationships, politics, and others.
There are 2 speakers in the audio, one speaks in English and the other in the native language (the new language the student is learning).
The dialogue delivery in the lessons is engaging in manner. There is often a repetition of newly introduced words and phrases.
The quality of the audio lesson is the highlight of the platform; it’s what promotes it as superior to many others with similar content.
However, adding different varieties of voice in the audio lessons can be an attractive feature.
The system can provide a choice of gender. That is if the student prefers to listen to the male or female voice in the lessons.
Moreover, the inclusion of different tones of speaking such as old, young, child, sick, severe, funny, annoyed, and others can be integrated to provide better and personalized lesson.
The audio clips of the lessons are relatively long. Rocket Languages have additional audios that dwell on the critical parts of the teachings; “the conversation” and “the rocket review.”
These additional audios throw light on the crucial points of the lessons, and it eases the understanding of a foreign language.
A student can download either the audio lesson or the PDF (lesson’s transcript.)
The transcript has a written form of dialogues of the audio lessons. Transcript ensures the student can read and understand the words and phrases used in a session.
The student uses his/her listening skill while going through the audio lessons. Next, speaking the learned and understood phrases is essential, thus the conversation practice.
Play it! part of the conversation practice lets the student choose a role first. The lessons have 2 speakers; thus, the student selects one of the 2 speakers.
A short audio clip from the lesson is available, which the student listens and then uses the rocket record feature to capture his/her spoken phrase.
The system reflects the results of the student’s speaking ability. The results are in the form of ratings, a percentage, and the red/green colored written phrases.
Rocket Languages offers a rating depending on the student’s answer.
However, the student can perform self-assessment; the students can rate the questions instead of the program marking it right or wrong. The ratings are hard, good, or easy.
The rocket reinforcement part of the lesson aims to reinforce the learnings of the audio class and attaches points that earn the student a badge.
It consists of hear it! say it! followed by write it! lastly, know it!
A quiz follows that after that series and next comes flashcards and lastly my notes.
The segment of Hear it! Say it! is to improve the understanding of spoken language by using the voice recognition feature (Rocket record).
The student plays the audio clip and understands the content. He/she then repeats the phrase in the native language that the student is pursuing. It works on listening and speaking skills.
Hotkeys are also given to speed up the process of learning. The rocket reinforcement activities have these hotkeys which provide quick access to some functions such as play tutor audio, record yourself, reveal phrase or give ratings.
Write it! section engages the student in writing out the content that plays in the audio clip. Rocket Languages provides a keyboard icon which can be used to type out the answer.
In case of languages such as Arabic or Chinese that require different characters, Rocket Languages provides the keyboard with the non-Roman keys.
To know if the typed answer is correct or not, the student has to access the reveal button, and the answer is displayed.
Know it! part provides a written English phrase, and the student has to record the answer. The given question answered in natively spoken language.
The answer gets recorded, and the student can see the correct answer written on the screen. This section motivates the student to answer in native language orally, thus improving speaking ability.
The quiz hosts multiple-choice questions. The question is from an audio clip which the student listens, and answers based on the short clip.
The right answer is selected, and the reveal button does its job, the student can identify the correct answer.
The flashcard feature has an English phrase on one side of the card; the student needs to know that phrase in its native terms.
The student flips the flashcard to access the other side of the card. The correct answer is displayed there, and the student can gauge his/her level of understanding.
The student rates the phrase and proceeds with other words/phrases in the flashcard.
The last reinforcement section is my notes, where the student can type main points and save them for future reference.
Rocket Languages content has reinforcement activities that develop all the learning skills; listening, speaking, writing, and reading.
Though only listening and speaking skills are foremostly developed, reading and writing skills lag according to their curriculum.
Improvement in this area can legitimate Rocket Languages tag of providing all-inclusive learning skills.
All the questions emerge from the main audio lesson. However, these audio clips lack control buttons such as play/pause, speed control, or rewind/forward.
It may affect a student’s know-how, as some may fail to capture the phrase at the average speed.
The provision of slow down buttons can do wonders; the students can control the audio to grasp the content according to their caliber.
The control buttons on the main audio lesson can lead to better teaching delivery and ensure optimal learning.
The audio lessons offer ways to keep adding vocabulary (the first step in the Rocket Languages Mastery Method).
The student then needs to tackle the second step of understanding the grammar behind the known words.
All the languages have close connections with the culture of the people who speak in that lingual.
The pronunciation of the words, its usage, tones, and the settings of conversation depend mainly on the native speakers of the language.
To understand any culture, one has to crack its language. The linguistic knowledge provides an in-depth analysis of the culture, values, rites, and rituals of the native speakers.
Rocket Languages utilizes this connection and explains the grammar section using language and culture lessons.
It imparts some cultural knowledge to the students by giving them a dose of the commonly used words/phrases of that particular culture.
The first lesson typically exposes the students to the native language alphabet and its pronunciation.
It slowly builds from there and progresses to simple settings such as greetings, self-introduction, time, number, and gender.
The advanced teaching features topics such as the articles, its tenses, verbs, singular/plural, and comparisons.
The lessons are in written form with attached audio clips, which further support the teachings. An option to download the session in PDF is also available.
Rocket reinforcement activities similar to those in audio lessons are available here too. They ensure the students test their understanding and gauge their position according to the points they earn.
The survival kit lessons take these lessons a step ahead and give more vocabulary and terms related to a particular topic.
Each session of survival kit lesson features audio that focuses on the main words and their pronunciation.
The trial version of language and culture lesson provides access to two lessons in level 1 and one lesson in level 2 and 3.
The language and culture lessons incorporate pictures and audio clips. However, only reading the content may cause one to get bored, and the learning may turn to be dry.
Featuring videos, along with the written and short audio content can heighten the students’ interest and understanding.
When it comes to explaining the pronunciation, it is essential to provide diagrams or videos.
For instance, a video or image of the mouth and tongue positioning while uttering any word will give a better idea than reading the written manual.
Rocket Languages empowers students with various features that can aid in their learning process.
My progress takes care of the leaderboard, my streaks, and my points.
The learning activities earn you points, which leads to various Rocket badges. At the start is the novice badge and the highest is Black star hero.
There are many ways to earn points; by playing and recording audio using rocket record, completing a rocket reinforcement activity or a lesson. Participating in the forum, rating a flashcard, or by adding words to my vocab can also earn you points.
The student can set a benchmark by undertaking a benchmark test. It is an efficient way to find out the current level of the student.
These tests can be re-done, and the benchmark updated to track improvement.
My vocab section hosts the saved words that the student had intended to collect while studying. The saved phrases can be edited or deleted. These words can be added to flashcards too.
My vocab stores all the problematic words and encourages the students to re-visit and capture the saved vocabularies. One can download the saved words/phrases in CSV format.
My advanced learning tab has a few topics outlined, and each of them provides tips, techniques, and tools to help you master the language.
It aims to motivate the student by providing a learning action plan, making them adopt the role of a confident speaker. They can enhance their capability to remember the content they learned.
My flashcard requires one to create a custom set or use the available public flashcard sets.
The custom set is created by adding a title, setting it as private or public and lastly opting the ways to import the words.
One can manually input the words, bulk import, or import from my vocab. After importing the new words, the flashcard set is ready to be used by the student.
The flashcard feature enables the student to reminiscence information and improves their memory by active recalling.
This section also has tools such as my forum, where students can ask questions and discuss with their fellow community members.
My notes are also accessible, and they are the ones saved by the student while studying. It is collected and stored for future reference for the student.
Rocket Language offers sufficient tools for students to learn a foreign language. The student can maintain their energy level by keeping an eye on my progress and my benchmark.
However, the addition of extra features, such as a dictionary or pronunciation videos can result in a better teaching scenario.
Rocket Languages can be a popular choice for businesses, schools, and travelers who keep re-visiting to boost their language knowledge. Their lifetime access ensures the users keep upgrading their skills.
It is also among the few platforms that offer sign languages. Their lessons are delivered via videos, making it easy to comprehend and engaging.
It is a comprehensive package in terms of the skills it develops of a language student. However, we can view it as the best tool to improve our listening and speaking skills.
Rocket record is responsible for enhancing the spoken language skills. Their audio recognition feature makes it stand out in comparison with its competitors.
Their audio lessons are of high quality, which ensures the students grasp all the learning material.
The teachers in the podcasts are native speakers; thus, their pronunciation and collection of vocabulary are at par.
Their sign language section has videos to ease the students understanding.
They offer flexibility; a student can follow any order of lessons to crack the module’s rocket certification. The certificate marks the point to proceed to the next module under each level.
A student can download the lessons in PDF format or in MP3, which is easy to use for mobile users.
However, the intuition its interface reflects is that of cumbersome. There is a requirement for re-organizing and coming up with better designs to appeal to the masses.
Rocket Languages provides no assessment test to identify students skills and level. The rocket reinforcement activities also become redundant over-time as they lack the competitive edge.
The content also may start becoming monotonous, especially in the language and culture lessons as it is majorly in written format.
The audio lessons may be audible and of good quality, but some audio control buttons can re-define Rocket Languages standards.
The most important can be the slow down feature, which gives the student ample time to grasp the spoken content.
Their lessons are podcasts, thus may not be preferred by students who learn better from video lessons or virtual classroom settings.
It can be recommendable to users who don’t wish to pay monthly subscriptions. It is also suitable for the beginners and intermediate level students who intend to access the learning content for a long time.