In this review I’m going to jump into the Rocket Hindi course and give you my honest opinion on whether or not I think it’s worth using.
I have some positive and negative points to share on what I’ve experienced.
Rocket Hindi describes itself as a ‘recognized leader in online language learning’ and is part of the popular Rocket Languages series that’s been around for over 13 years now.
The program uses what I call a ‘chunking approach’ which means that instead of focusing on heavy grammar instruction and getting you to memorize rules, they instead teach you bitsize, practical words and expressions that you put to immediate use.
While most Rocket Languages editions include 3 levels – Premium, Combo and Works – the Hindi edition unfortunately only offers the first level.
Perhaps this will change over time.
What that means is the Rocket Hindi is probably only suitable for Beginner learners and wouldn’t offer much value to high-level learners who have already mastered the basics.
Despite only offering Level 1, I believe Rocket Hindi provides a solid amount of content and stands out for the sheer fact that it’s one of the only Hindi courses available at this time.
Here’s a quick video demonstration I made showing some of the other language editions (this is the 2016 interface which has been hugely improved in the recent 2018 edition):
Used Rocket Hindi before? Make sure to share your thoughts below!
The all-important question: What Hindi resources are available?
I’m sure one of the first things you noticed when searching for Hindi resources is that there isn’t a whole lot.
In fact, Rocket Hindi is the only online course of its kind.
So you could stop there and say:
“Well that’s all I’ve got available to me so I don’t really have a choice.”
But I just want to point out 3 other paid options that are equally as valuable to any Hindi leaner (though very different to Rocket Hindi).
HindiPod101 is a podcast-style library that includes both audio and video.
It’s not quite the same as Rocket Hindi because it’s not a structured audio course but can be used that way to a certain extent. It’s quite popular and periodically is expanded.
Glossika Hindi is a spaced repetition listening program that is a totally different kind of product (one of my personal favorites). Glossika would suit Intermediate – Advanced learners in particular who don’t find adequate content in Rocket Hindi.
And finally italki is a platform for finding conversation partners and teachers – including many Hindi options. It’s extremely inexpensive (some just a few $ per hour!).
So while there’s not a whole lot in terms of online learning options, these are definitely the best place to start.
Rocket Hindi’s two clear strengths: comprehensiveness and audio quality
The point I like to always raise about Rocket courses – especially the Hindi course – is that the audio quality is tremendously good.
A rare thing indeed.
I’ve been very impressed by the quality and scope of the Rocket Hindi audio and dialogues.
If you compare this to other audio courses (even some of the big household name products), they’ve done really well.
The Hindi words, phrases and dialogues are presented just as they’re used in real life by native speakers from India.
Rocket Hindi delivers a unique and wide variety of lesson topics that range from absolute beginner level to advanced.
These cover areas such sport, literature, culturally-specific topics related to India, relationships and more.
It’s all accompanied by high quality, natural audio.
The course is made up of 5 main sections:
- ‘Language and Culture’
- ‘Interactive Audio’
- ‘Survival Kit’
The Interactive Audio section contains all the high quality dialogues, podcast-style lesson and conversations.
The Language and Culture section is where you’ll find grammar and detailed information on Indian culture.
Writing covers the Hindi alphabet – (देवनागरी).
Survival Kit is (in my opinion) a great starting point as it covers essential survival terms and expressions in Hindi.
Tools contains the forum, in-built dictionary, flashcards and more.
Unlike programs like Rosetta Stone and Pimsleur (see this review), Rocket Hindi presents its lessons in a humorous and unique way.
They don’t follow a ‘cookie cutter’ approach which means that all lessons are specifically designed for India-related content matter. I also like that the presenters in the lesson audio engage with the material keeping it fun and interesting.
This is one point where Rocket Hindi beats HindiPod101 in my opinion as the content on HindiPod101 is lot more boring to listen to.
The problem with Rocket Hindi’s not-so-active community
One of the frequent criticisms I have of most editions of Rocket Languages is the almost totally inactive community.
This is the forum located under My Tools.
While this may not be an overly popular part of the site, I think it’s worth noting that the forum could do with some improvement.
Teachers don’t seem to monitor it often and encourage discussion.
It can be said that a lot of people either don’t know how to use online forums or simply prefer to learn on their own at their own pace without interaction.
This may be the case with the Rocket Hindi community.
But if you find the online community element important to your learning then you might be better off joining another community like the italki for instance.
Go mobile: The Rocket Hindi iOS and Android apps are much better
While the desktop interface for Rocket Hindi has improved significantly in the 2018 edition, I still prefer to use the mobile app.
It’s exactly the same content.
All the features still work (as far I’ve tried).
The only difference is that it’s a standalone app – less distractions, a minimalist design.
And it works faster (at least for me it does).
What I can’t understand is why they don’t charge extra for the use of the app. It’s a free download from the app and play stores.
If you commute regularly or even if you prefer to lay in bed while learning Hindi then I highly recommend downloading the app in addition to buying the course.
Rocket Hindi’s tools: The vocab bank and leaderboard stand out
I already mentioned the forum which is one of the tools.
And a slightly disappointing.
But there are two other tools that I think are excellent and done right.
One is the Leaderboard, points and study streak section – this feature is all about encouraging you to study.
It’s a gamified motivator.
You’re able to compete (in a sense) with other members by studying more which earns you points and badges.
It’s an important feature that you find in other products such as Duolingo and Memrise.
There’s also the ‘My Vocab’ tool which is like a course dictionary that scans through the entire Hindi course when you search for something and brings back every example of the word or phrase in their lesson database (which you can then add to the inbuilt flashcard app).
It’s a contextual dictionary.
This is an immensely useful tool and something I got a lot of use out of.
You’re not restricted from accessing the lesson content with Rocket Hindi
To be fair, this is also a feature of HindiPod101.
What I think is important for consumers to realize is that many online courses now are becoming subscription-based.
Either that or they can’t be used outside of the program (e.g. Rosetta Stone).
The beauty of Rocket Hindi is that it’s a one-time subscription.
You own it for life.
And you can download the entire course for offline use. If you want to print out all the lessons for offline study, you can do that with Rocket Hindi.
If you want to download every audio file on the site and only listen to them offline, no problem.
You can easily put all the MP3’s on your mobile listening device or computer.
This is a big selling point in my opinion.
Things that need to be changed, fixed or removed in Rocket Hindi
I already mentioned a few above (e.g. the forum).
Here are some of the general features of Rocket Hindi that I think need addressing or adding:
- Strict vetting of sales affiliates. Rocket Languages has an unchecked affiliate scheme in place that makes it almost impossible to stop spammers from annoying the heck out of people with spammy ads and fake reviews about Rocket products.
- Further improvements to the web app design could be helpful, including added graphics and a better testing system.
- A vibrant, active community where teachers engage with and ask questions regularly is needed (see above).
- Perhaps a lesson scheduler as an upsell to set Skype lessons with a native Hindi teacher (similar to the way italki does it).
- Absolutely needs a Level 2 and 3 at some stage to benefit higher-level learners.
Overall: Rocket Hindi is a valuable and and comprehensive tool for learning the language
Rocket Hindi retains its value over the long term.
It’s a comprehensive course (despite only having a single level) and covers a wide range of topics.
Some of the features I’ve mentioned need improvement (or removal) but the natural audio dialogues are where Rocket Hindi shines.
You can try it out by clicking here.
Reviewed by Donovan Nagel.