The Mezzofanti Guild Language Learning Made Simple

The Most Frank And Honest Review Of Rocket Languages Ever Written


This article is a major update to my previous review of Rocket Languages (updated for the new 2019 edition).

I’ve had to adjust some of the harsh criticisms below I made in my earlier review of their courses because the new edition has fixed or removed most of the major flaws I pointed out earlier (I’ve also included a video below).

Simply put: it is significantly improved now compared to when I first used it.

Features such as voice recognition, testing, games, in-built flashcard app and overall design have changed a lot in the newly released edition (click here).

***

NOTE: I occasionally use affiliate links in review posts like this one which help me to maintain and improve this site and the quality of the content I post.

I only ever positively review and recommend products that I personally own or genuinely find useful and being honest is very important to me. There are language blogs out there solely concerned with profiteering and this is not one of them.

***

If you’ve ever spent time searching online for language learning resources then there’s a good chance you’ve already stumbled upon Rocket Languages at some point.

To describe it in its own words it’s a ‘recognized leader in online language learning’ and it’s been around for quite some time (about a decade according to its about page).

I was given access to sample all 3 levels of the Spanish and French editions + ‘Travelogues’ as well as the Premium Egyptian Arabic version.

Despite my initial hesitation and frankly low expectations of the program, I have to say that I was actually very impressed by the course’s quality which I’m going to explain below.

Although it does contain reading and writing lessons, its strength is definitely in speaking and listening, and the grammar is demonstrated rather than explained in heavy detail.

From the Arabic version:

“Using a scientific process called ‘chunking‘, Rocket Arabic breaks down every day Arabic conversations into small segments so your mind can more easily absorb and remember them. The chunking method means that you’ll be able to work on your conversational Arabic and overcome the fear of saying the wrong thing, in the privacy of your own home.”

Rocket Languages currently has the following languages available: Spanish, Korean, Portuguese, Japanese, Arabic (Egyptian), Italian, Hindi, German, French, Chinese (Mandarin), Sign Language (American) and English (for Spanish speakers).

The first level sells at just under $100 for lifetime access (or around $260 if you decide you want the intermediate and advanced levels).

The price does seem steep but I’ll explain below why I think this price is still justifiable.

I’ve put together a quick video here to walk you through the new edition’s interface (note: the video shows the 2016 edition which has since had a few significant improvements in the 2019 edition):

Before you continue reading the review, these are the languages in the Rocket series if you’d like more info and samples (select one):

 

Below I’ll list what I believe are the negative aspects of Rocket Languages but do continue reading because I make some very important points toward the end of this article.

 

Unrestrained, aggressive affiliate partners damage its reputation

I hope the folks over at Rocket read this. (EDIT: They did read it)

I must admit that I was reluctant to even sample and review Rocket Languages at first because of frustrating experiences with its affiliates over the last few years.

Searching for language learning content via search engines inevitably leads you to fake, spammy review websites created by Rocket affiliate members (not Rocket Languages themselves) and I’ve had many instances of them polluting my blog with sales links which I immediately delete and ban.

I posted this on Twitter a while back in fact:

It’s due no doubt to the fact that Rocket Languages has a generous commission scheme in place and runs through a third-party affiliate payment system (making it harder to control who does what) and this makes it way too susceptible to aggressive marketing abuse by its members.

This is not necessarily the direct fault of Rocket Languages at all but they need to be aware that dodgy partners are very harmful to their brand and reputation.

Overall, I believe Rocket Languages is actually a good quality product which I’ll explain below so I do hope they keep a closer eye on their partners.

 

The desktop interface is was very outdated

First up, the Rocket interface has improved a lot since I first wrote this review.

While the Rocket Android app interface seems to be relatively unchanged, the Rocket Languages desktop interface has come a long way. It was previously very outdated and unattractive compared to its competitors (e.g. Duolingo).

Although it never detracted from the high quality of the course content, the large blocks of black text on dull grey were awful to look at.

Now it’s very sleek and modern-looking, and very easy to navigate.

This makes it a pleasure to use.

One of Rocket Language’s best features is its comprehensive audio content (see below) but it’s made better when everything is easy and comfortable to navigate.

 

Spelling issues seem to have been fixed

When I first used Rocket Languages to write my initial review, I mentioned a few careless English spelling errors in the course content.

This appears to have been fixed.

I hadn’t noticed any problems with the Arabic content which was a relief but the English spelling mistakes gave me the impression that somebody was in a hurry to finish the product.

Like the interface design, something as simple as an obvious spelling mistake can turn learners off what is otherwise a potentially great tool so I’m glad this has been taken care of finally.

 

The pointless Word and Phrase Master games are now gone

When I wrote my initial review, Rocket included several small, web-based games which I said were a complete and utter waste of time that should either be improved or removed.

Not only were they too easy but they lacked any real educational value. Educational games should be both fun and challenging but the Word and Phrase Master games were neither.

Rocket’s finally removed them in the latest edition.

 

Arabic writing lessons still could be better but testing has improved

The testing has hugely improved in fact.

This isn’t relevant to you if you want to use the Spanish, French or another European language edition.

For Arabic in particular, the writing lessons have lots of potential but are just not explanatory enough for new learners in my opinion. The videos demonstrating how to write are just a few seconds long which may not be adequate for some people.

In many of the lessons the new words are given but you’re not actually shown how to write them until the following lesson as a review.

This makes no sense to me at all.

The videos demonstrating how to write letters, numbers and words are actually quite good but there’s not enough of them to justify calling them writing lessons.

If you’re going to create writing lessons (especially for a language like Arabic), you should either do it properly and comprehensively or leave it alone and focus on the speaking and listening component (which Rocket does very well).

But here’s the good news: the testing for writing is loads better.

If you’ve used Duolingo and are familier with the writing tests on there, you’ll like this new feature of Rocket Languages testing.

Even for Arabic, it does a really accurate job detecting the correct and incorrect spelling of words you type (marking the correct letters in green and the wrong letters in red).

 

New recording feature uses Google Web Speech API for accurate voice recognition

UPDATE: The voice recognition feature is now available (as of the new 2019 edition) on the mobile app version also (with excellent accuracy). 

In my early review, I noted that competitors like Rosetta Stone and Duolingo use technology that automatically matches the sound waves of your voice with the native speaker’s voice giving you a correct or incorrect response.

Rocket was a step behind its competitors in that it lacked a voice recognition feature like this.

The new edition utilizes the Google Web Speech API to recognize your pronunciation and compare it with the native speakers in the Rocket course.

This is a huge improvement to the previous edition.

I must say however that I’ve never seen the value of this approach to pronunciation practise and Duolingo and Rosetta Stone are often terribly inaccurate anyway with voice recognition (occasionally I’ll purposely say something completely wrong and receive a correct response from both of them).

Aiming to correct your pronunciation by having a piece of software tell you you’re right or wrong is definitely not a natural way to improve your pronunciation but it’s good to see that Rocket has finally caught up to its competitors in offering this feature.

It’s not going to hurt using it of course but I don’t see a whole lot of value in it personally.

 

The quality and comprehensiveness of Rocket Language’s audio is excellent

This is what makes Rocket Languages worth buying despite the negatives I’ve listed above.

I was genuinely impressed by the overall comprehensiveness and quality of the audio and dialogue content for the Egyptian Arabic version I sampled.

Firstly, the very fact that it teaches a spoken dialect rather than standard dialect puts it miles ahead of Rosetta Stone.

The content really does present the spoken language as it’s naturally used which is hard to come by with Arabic language products.

It covers a wide range of topics beginning with the absolute basics and leading up to discussions that are actually quite advanced in level and unique for a course of its type (e.g. in addition to basic content like simple greetings, there are dialogues on relationships, sport, literature, and lots of other topics relevant to the country – all with accompanying audio by native speakers).

It consists of two sections:

Interactive Audio which is where you’ll find lots of quality dialogue material and Language and Culture which is full of grammar and detailed cultural notes.

The dialogues and lessons are presented in a humorous and interesting way too and unlike Rocket’s competitors they don’t use a cookie cutter approach (in other words the content is unique to each language version).

The person who’s presenting the content in English actually engages with and comments on the content which I think is fantastic.

For the audio content and its comprehensiveness I would say that the price is justifiable. On this point alone I’d recommend the product to anyone.

 

The mobile app (Android and iOS) is great

I mentioned the mobile app above which is available both on Android and iOS (for free if you’ve purchased a Rocket course).

I much prefer it to the desktop interface since it’s much more simplified and it only really lacks features such as the games which I believe are unnecessary anyway.

MAJOR UPDATE: As of the new 2019 edition, the iOS and Android apps are outstanding. Features work flawlessly and the interface (UI) and navigation are a joy to use.

I’m told by the guys over at Rocket that more features for the mobile apps are in the works and due to be released soon.

 

Rocket provides an active forum for discussion about the language and culture

Members have access to a learners forum for the specified language as well as a general forum for everyone.

This is a good feature to have since it allows people to ask for clarification and engage with one another.

Questions regarding various aspects of the grammar and expressions not found in the course content for example are asked and answered.

The forums appear to be actively moderated by native speakers although it is unclear how often they check in.

 

Scheduler and points system is a nice motivator to keep up with daily practise

While not innovative and a fairly common feature in other products, it’s nice to see that Rocket has incorporated a scheduler and points system to keep people motivated.

UPDATE: This is another feature that has been improved a lot in the 2019 edition and is also set to be an included feature in the mobile apps.

The scheduler is there to encourage study streaks (much like Duolingo) and the points help you to move up a leader board and compete against other learners.

 

The Phrase Finder ‘My Vocab’ tool is super useful

This is a brilliant feature.

Since the Rocket content is so comprehensive, it makes sense to have a good search tool to find exactly what you’re looking for.

It’s a powerful search tool and as you can see in the picture, the results come back with all sentences containing the word or expression in the search query.

UPDATE: It was called ‘Phrase Finder’ originally but now is part of the ‘My Vocab’ section. Functionality and appearance are a lot better since the 2019 update.

 

 

All audio and lessons are fully downloadable as MP3 and PDF files

You’re not restricted to online access with the Rocket content.

This is actually a great selling point since every bit of content on the site is downloadable and able to be used offline. The MP3 audio is ideal for listening during commutes and the PDF’s are easily printable.

Competitors like Duolingo and Rosetta Stone are limited to use in the application or online so it’s nice that Rocket gives you complete access to the content you paid for.

 

Overall the downloadable, comprehensive audio content of Rocket Languages outweighs its few negative aspects

… and justifies the somewhat steep cost.

While I can’t comment on the specifics of all language versions, Rocket Languages is definitely a quality product I’d recommend because of the comprehensiveness of its content and quality of its dialogues.

The price for all 3 levels is quite steep but totally justifiable when you consider that you’ll get years of value out of the extensive course content (unlike some of its competitors).

The changes and additional features in the new edition of Rocket are a massive and very welcome improvement too.

If you’re interested in trying it out or listening to samples of their lessons, you can do that here.

Choose your language to get started:

 

If you’ve used it before and have your own feedback you’d like to add (positive or negative), you can do that in the comment section below.

 

Comments

House Rules: I love comments and feedback (positive and negative) but I have my limits. You're in my home here so act accordingly. No advertising. Links will be automatically flagged for moderation.

Got something to share?

  1. I expected your review to be a savage taking down of Rocket Languages. I know them only from the spam videos all over youtube that sell/link to their product by fraudulently titling the videos with all sort of language learning issue catchphrases.
    I have no experience with the product you've reviewed, but before reading it I had -80% confidence in them as a learning materials outfit. Now I'd have maybe -20%.

    1. That's precisely why I highlighted the abuse by affiliate marketers (idiots who make those kinds of spammy videos which I hate as much as you do).

      They've done a good job at wrecking that company's reputation.

    2. Yeah but Rocket Languages could perfectly do something against it. So they are not completely innocent either.

      Their affiliate contract actually says that if you review Rocket French, you shouldn't compare it to other products in the review. So they are not looking for honesty either.

    3. Benjamin, you mentioned you'd have a hard time recommending Rocket French but it looks like you already did four months before your post above, on what looks to be your own website (french together.com)?

    4. Yes, and I still recommend it. My main problem was that they looked spammy. And that since their affiliate team didn't answer me, I assumed they were not really behind their product.

  2. Some people can also use rocket languages free through a library at home .

    1. I'm the same diana as above I just wanted to add more.

      Like I mentioned above I got rocket languages free through my local library , but I was reluctant to use it .To the outsider rocket language does look gimmicky. Its design doesn't look like it's been updated in the past 10 years,and its not the most organized, but I will give it another try thanks to this review.

  3. Thanks for this review. It's rare to read honest reviews of Rocket Languages indeed.

    I reviewed it and found the product to be ok. But what really turned me off is the feeling that there is no one behind the company. I contacted them several times and never got a reply and it feels like their only purpose is to make money, and not to help people learn languages. I may be wrong though, but this is how it looks to me.

    The French version is pretty good, but the quality of the audio didn't convince me, one of the voice had a very British accent.

    So even though I like Rocket French, I would have a hard time recommending it because it feels like the team behind it doesn't really care about the product.

    1. Thanks for your input.

      It's good to hear from someone who's tried a different language version out. The non-native accent is a bit concerning for sure but thankfully it isn't true for the Arabic edition.

      I noticed you didn't mention the company aspect in your review. I actually found them to be quite persistent when contacting me.

    2. Yeah I didn't mention it because I mainly dealt with the company as an affiliate. And I didn't want to add that as a negative side considering they may very well not answer affiliates but have a good communication with clients.

    3. Hi Donovan,

      Thanks for your honestly in relation to Arabic language resources. Which is the best and most widely used Arabic dialect used? Since about 2011I I have tried to learn Arabic very on and off. The Arabic alphabet is very is quite, but I don’t give up on it completly. Some f riends of mine are oginally from Egept (sorry can’t think in English today!) and they are willing to practice a bit of Arabic with me, therefore I am wondering if that is very different from Morrocan Arabic? Shukran

    4. Benjamin, just as there is no ‘British’ nation so there is no ‘British’ accent in the sense of one standing for all the others. If you mean English – and you do – at least have the courtesy to say so and give us our right name, as you would undoubtedly in referring to Scots or Welsh [both equally ‘British’ nations]. Thanks.

    5. I couldn’t agree more. I bought the French program which helped enormously because I needed to brush up for a trip to Paris in 2017.

      From that time, I came back to California and decided to retackle Spanish. It was pretty much down hill from there.

      I purchased another program; sent in more money and nothing worked with any consistency. I sent email after email.

      The program kept turning down my password; I’d change my password…. more emails… more apologies

      Finally, I was out of cope. Asked for a complete refund and guess what?

      They return email states ,”Too much time has elapsed.” Lovely

      Caveat Emptor!!!!!

  4. I'm always a little saddened when I check out a new (to me) language site and there are no people shown (Mango Languages is the biggest offender so far). I spent a few years learning Chinese through podcasts, but I came away feeling like I'd only been training my listening comprehension — which is important. But in terms of actually acquiring the language, we always learn so much faster from other people. Being able to see lips move and form words is just vital, at least to me.

    Still, I'm always looking for new ways to up my game and there's some good stuff here. Thanks very much for the review!

  5. For me, it is a bit discouraging to see that it teaches only Egyptian Arabic. It's OK if you want to live in Egypt, but if your interests are more general or literary, then Modern Standard Arabic is more useful.

    1. Modern Standard Arabic is a bit like Received Pronunciation of British English. It would be better to use speakers with natural prestige-pronunciation in British English, likewise Standard American using someone speaking naturally (which is easy, because they are in the majority—there is nothing corresponding to British RP), with, say, with a pronunciation similar to mainstream news anchors and the like.

      Egyptian Arabic comes the closest to 'prestige', or at least unmarked pronunciation.

      I agree with the author, Rocket Languages is choosing the least worst option in a linquistically non-ideal world.

  6. I see you mentioned the program costing just under $100. I’m checking out the site now as I want to buy the program and there are 3 prices depending on the ‘level’ of French you wish to achieve. The cheapest one is $90 and the most expensive is $250.
    I’m assuming you’re referring to the ‘level 1’ package in your review because of the price. Would you recommend forking out the extra $150+ for the highest level or do you still think that the first level is sufficient?
    Thanks for any help!

    1. The two higher levels of Rocket Languages are (in my opinion), where all the best dialogue content is.

      So yeah, I’d spend the extra myself.

    2. Are intermediate and advanced levels each $250? Is there a sample lesson for intermediate and advanced so I can see which is best for me?

  7. I am using the Spanish program and am currently doing the Premium Plus Level 2. There are three speakers two are from Chile and one is from the US who does most of the English parts but also speaks Spanish.

    I have found them quite good, I enjoy the different lessons and since I purchased it, there have been several upgrades which I have received for nothing.

    I have contacted them a few times with questions or errors and have always received an answer within a day or so. There is also a Forum to ask questions or make comments.

    The latest upgrade I am using is the Play It section where you speak one of the parts in the story and they blank out more and more words so you have to remember them in Spanish.

    I agree the Games are not very good but I like everything else and feel it was good value. I am moving on to Premium Plus Level 3 shortly.

    1. Thanks for your feedback, Morell.

    2. From the Spanish sample I can tell the Chilean person is clearly a native speaker and his pronunciation seems pretty adequate for such course; the US speaker who explains everything is easy to understand, but she has a clear American accent that wouldn’t pass for a native speaker for a second: her vowels are slightly odd at times, her plosives are exaggerated and she pronounces some diphthongs as two syllables, just to name a few things. I wouldn’t say she speaks too bad, but I wouldn’t learn how to pronounce Spanish from her if you really aim to sound without too much of an accent. I have heard foreigners who still didn’t sound exactly like a native, but spoke in a much more natural way and using fewer or no “foreign sounds”. If a friend taught me a language for free admitting that her accent is not perfect, fair enough, but I expect a little more when I pay for a product. I think they should have restricted the dialogues to native speakers only.

    3. I was interested in a native speaker’s assessment of the American woman’s accent. Jaime provided that for me. Thanks.

      Jack

  8. Donovan, thank you for this updated review. I’ve had Rocket Italian for awhile and it just never grabbed me. Looks like I need to take a second look.

    1. Thanks. I’d be curious to hear what your thoughts are on it.

  9. I found your blog a few weeks ago and am so glad I did. I was also thrilled to find a fellow Queenslander writing it! After reading several of your posts & recommendations for Rocket Languages I decided to give the trial a go for spanish and after finishing the first lesson I bought it and have not regretted it. The best thing for me is the ability to download the audio files & pdfs. I haven’t gotten to do many of the activities so far but whenever I’m in the car I’m listening & responding to the lessons. I really like the way they’ve structured the audio with the english speaker and I’m looking forward to seeing how new voice recognition goes with my pronunciation.
    Also, thanks to your posts about italki and not being afraid to speak I have now had several conversations with native speakers from Latin America on skype. I had been kind of scared being a bit shy and introverted but your straight forward, Aussie attitude was just what I needed to push me out of my comfort zone. So, thanks.

    1. Awesome, Helen!

      Glad you found me. Thanks for sharing 🙂

      All the best with your Spanish.

  10. I have used Rocket Spanish for 3 years and it was an outstanding and excellent program. Unfortunately it was “upgraded” on October 12, 2015 and it has been a huge disappointment. The audio and Voice Recognition do not work for me and there are innumerable other glitches. I have the appropriate browser that they recommended. My computer is new. There are no excuses for the failure of this new launch on my computer. I have submitted several emails outlining my concerns but the problems still persist. In viewing the forum board, it appears the problems are more widespread than Rocket Languages would have us to believe.

    Rocket Languages has had a fabulous product over the years and I wish to stay with them, however the program is currently unusable for me. Once the glitches are fixed, I expect it will once again be one of the best Language tools out there.

    1. Thanks for sharing, Karen.

      I hadn’t heard any bad feedback yet about new edition of Rocket Languages but I suspect it’s probably just typical hiccups that any software has after a major update. If quite a few people have been reporting issues then they’ll probably (hopefully) be working on solutions for the glitches quickly.

      Appreciate the feedback! Let me know if things improve or not.

    2. Yes, they are working hard on the glitches. It looks like a number of people have different glitches and not everyone has the same glitch. I will be skyping with the Jason (CEO) and an IT person in a couple of days so they can try and sort things out for me. Can’t ask for better service than that. Will keep you informed.

  11. I had reported in October 2015 that the Rocket Languages upgrade was less than desirable. However I would like to now report that the major issues have been resolved and the system is better than ever. The Voice Recognition has been vastly improved and many of the other glitches have been resolved. The VR now has 3 levels (Easy, Medium and Hard) which can easily be altered at any time on any lesson. Fantastic improvement. There are also a number of other improvements coming down the line!

    The assistance provided to me by Jason Oxenham (the CEO of Rocket Spanish) was excellent throughout this transition process.

    I can once again happily say that Rocket Languages is a superior program.

  12. I am currently using the trial version of Rocket German and find it ok.
    The only thing that irks me is the voice recognition software. I’ve tried it with all levels and it doesn’t seem to make any difference at all.
    It was mentioned before I believe in this commentary that when you say something deliberately wrong it still can give you a 100% score which is a bit bogus.
    I tried Rocket Spanish trial version a few years ago and found it good even though I don’t think it had VR back then.
    I was thinking about buying the levels 1 and 2 combined (German) for a discounted price for around $150 USD but found their clickbank currency converter way off. It should have been around $205 AUS but came up with $238. Aus dollar was 0.73 US at the time. I tried it again with a different amount and you guessed it the same sort of calculation. Way off!

  13. Thank you for for your review and honesty. Too often the reviewer seems to try and suck up to the company being reviewed rather than be honest in their comments.

    My problem is I have tried to contact the company to ask some simple questions and have not been able do to do so. I left multiple messages on their phone machine over a course of the last 10 days but they will not contact me Back. If their customer service is this poor when they are trying to gain my business, how will it be once I am their client?

  14. Hey what do you think as a comparison between Rocket Arabic and using TalkInArabic.com for learning Egyptian Arabic? I am am beginner trying to decide between the two resources. Is Rocket more comprehensive?

  15. So I have been wanting to do Spanish forever..it is on my bucket list…I am so confused by all the different providers out there. I struggle to sit in front of a computer for any period of time. So many reviews and each one is all over the board. Who do you recommend I go with. Who is the most mobile or app reliable. Feel free to email me if you dont want the answer to appear on the blog. Thanks Jojo

  16. I wanted a challenge in life so I decided to study Arabic. Holy cow what was I thinking!!! :))). I first tried Pimsleur Egyptian Arabic and it was a very good product but only helped with speaking and understanding some core sentences which overall was not a bad deal. But, I like to learn all aspects of a language (reading & writing included). Then I came to this reviewed and decided to give it a go. I am thoroughly satisfy with my progress in Egyptian Arabic using Rocket Arabic (month so far). I figure once I’m done with the entire course in 6 months or so, I will be a B1. Why so long? I don’t go to the next lesson until I have 100% mastery of the content. Next step will be to get talkinarabic.com to improve at the intermediate/Advance level and talk to natives via italki. I use Assimil for European languages and will try Rocket French to see how it compares in the future. Donovan, thank you for inspiring me to tackle such a rewarding and difficulty language (according to me, I know you said it’s easy :).

  17. Hi Donovan,

    Thanks for the review on Rocket Languages. I (for some unknown reason) have taken an interest in learning Italian and was looking for a good course.

    Now, to switch topics…I read in your bio that you ‘have a passion for raising awareness of endangered minority languages.’ One that I believe would qualify is Haitian Creole. I have been studying HC sporadically for the past 13 years and have tried most of the few products that are out there. I can hold a beginner/intermediate conversation, but listening comprehension is very difficult.

    Just curoius if you have any experience with this language? Thanks!

  18. Good review of Rocket Languages, I did one myself for the Chinese version. My 7 year old sister used it and really picked up Mandarin quickly, which is personally why I recommended it.

    1. Awesome!

      Thanks for the input, Ryan.

  19. They don’t have a level test? This is a huge disappointment.

  20. For the languages that have 3 levels, based on the CEFR scale, which level would you say they take you to?

    1. Depends entirely on your own learning approach, attitude, motivation, etc.

      I’d say B2 equivalent content.

  21. Hello there. I want to learn Arabic primarily to understand Quran. As I understand Rocket is good at teaching spoken Arabic whereas Rosetta Stone is good with spoken. I want to go ahead with Rosetta Stone but I’m not sure. Can you please advise me on this matter?

    Many Thanks, Azhar

  22. I used to be a pretty advanced Spanish speaker, but lost the language over the years. My boyfriend wants to learn and is a beginner. We want to get a program we can work on together (a refresh for me and a start for him). The challenge is that he is dyslexic and therefore struggles with reading/writing-intensive learning. With that in mind, do you think Rocket would be better than Rosetta Stone? We plan on buying the full level package for whichever we choose. Thanks!

    1. Emma B,

      If in the US, go to your local library and get the Pimsleur level 1-5 Spanish for free (audio course). Otherwise, Rocket languages would be best…it’s affordable and it works! I think there’s a link on Donovan’s site.

      Cheers:)

    2. Difficult to say which would be better for someone with dyslexia but what I can say is that Rocket can be used as a purely audio tool if preferred and allows for more flexible learning styles. Literacy components are optional.

      Rosetta Stone is much more limited in the way it’s used but its one advantage is its use of images and visual cues which may benefit dyslexic learners.

      I definitely prefer Rocket myself but haven’t heard any feedback from dyslexic learners as of yet.

  23. Donovan, thanks for your honest review of Rocket Language. It sounds like a good method, but I have a concern (nonnative speaker voices) and the 3 level format.

    I am about A2 in German. I need to train my ear. Lv2 and 3 sound great for my needs.

    Wouldn’t buying lv 1,2 and 3 (quite expensive) be a waste of money, since I probably already know all the lv 1 material?
    Thanks.

  24. I just bought Rocket Arabic based on your review! Thanks, Donovan!

  25. I just came from their site, looking for a review (great one her btw, thanks!).

    Pricing is $100 for the first course, $250 for the first 2, and $260 for the first 3 (all), at least for the Italian ones. I will probably go for all 3.

    I looked at rocket because I was not men on buying a subscription for another app. I expect to be leaving Italian for years, and it seems that rocket had the content to get you much further than most systems.

    Also, I use a pimsleur audio course, but want some visibility of the words & to understand the rules. They are quite complex in Italian!

    1. (that was supposed to be a reply to a price query above)

  26. You’ve convinced me. I just purchased the Rocket Languages Italian course. They took my money. I was not instructed to set up a password. I cannot log on the begin the lessons. Their system to contact them to report a problem says it may take 2 days for a response! I’m not a happy customer.

    1. To be fair, Rocket Languages responded the next day. Problem solved.

  27. Thank you for the review. On the strength of your fair assessment, I purchased the Japanese program over the Pimsleur one (which I had used and liked but it’s stodgy and did not advance my understanding of how the language is structured and used in everyday conversations). Rocket’s interactive features and improvements since your original review have given me motivation for learning Japanese. It covers the written language, too, which will be useful as my speaking skills develop, so the program is an investment, one that will be useful for learning many aspects of a new language.

    1. Glad it helped.

      All the best with your Japanese, Cynthia.

  28. I’m trying to choose between Rocket Italian with Italianpod101.

    Having completed a sample intermediate Rocket level, I would say that the audio lesson and related materials are comprehensive, challenging and interesting. It would be good to hear materials at a native speaker’s pace, which is, of course, how my Italian friends speak!

    The really disappointing aspect for me is the Language and Culture section. I presume that the grammar material is supplemental, but there is insufficient attempt to ‘teach’ it in the effective interactive way you get on the audio lesson. I have grammar books that are far more effective.

    I’ll try Italianpod tomorrow and come back with my thoughts – if I have the energy after all that hard work!

    1. Let us know how you get on and what decision you make.

      All the best!

    2. Just to add to my above review of Rocket, I wanted to see if there was a syllabus or structure I could download or see. Had an online chat and the answer is ‘no’ though I was told what CEFR level the intermediate is aimed at B1.

      Now to Italianpod101. Had a try this morning. It’s a huge resource, too much to get my head around. I couldn’t really find my level, so jumped between beginner and intermediate. The podcast language at Beginner level was not grammatically easy for me (I guess I’m at A2). The podcast was also at full speed at first, so even more tricky to access, although you can slow it down (very useful) and they do slow the audio when repeated in the lesson.

      My big beef with the resource compared to Rocket, is that the learner is a pretty passive recipient with very little expectation of joining in the lesson, and so, as a learner who really needs to be encouraged (forced?) to be an active learner, it did not suit me too well.

      So I’d give Rocket the thumbs up, it’s far from perfect and is much more expensive that the course book I have used (Progetto Italiano) which has audio & video as well as the clearly structured course material.

      For me, nothing compares with a ‘live’ teacher as any teach yourself method is inevitable limiting, but as I live in a rural area, there is not a great deal of choice. I think I will continue with Progetto and maybe think about Rocket as a supplement.

  29. To what level of speaking will the three levels of Spanish take you?

    1. Hard to answer because it really depends on your level of motivation and persistence but there is a lot of content in all 3 levels combined which as I’ve intimated elsewhere, will last you a long time.

      Combine that with regular speaking practice (either in person or online) and you’ll reach a high level of fluency.

  30. Do they use high frequency words when they teach you?

  31. These reviews are very helpful to me. I’ve been searching for a good Urdu language app and am trying UrduPod101 (the free trial for $1, which currently gives me full access for a short time). I’m not sold on it yet, though. Rocket sounds even better, and while they don’t offer Urdu, they do offer Hindi, and I’m thinking of taking the Hindi course after talking with a Pakistani friend and reading this discussion on Quora. Religious and nationalistic posts aside in that discussion, I think that studying Hindi from someplace like Rocket rather than a substandard Urdu course is the way to go.

    I’m currently studying Polish on Babbel and it’s an excellent course. I’m blasting my way though it on the Android app despite some minor bugs. I got an offer from Babbel for a year for $48 (it’s usually around $85) and had studied enough on the Duolingo free app to realize I was picking it up very quickly and that paying for it via Babbel would be worth it. It is so far and I’m having a ton of fun. I wake up thinking partly in Polish every morning!

    Next up, Arabic, though that will probably have to wait six months or so until I really soak up more Polish and Hindi to not overwhelm myself with a third language too soon. Then on to Italian and Spanish (I speak high-school and some restaurant Spanish but it’s been a while). I’m mostly half Polish and half Italian and recall some of both languages from childhood, so maybe that’s why learning Polish seems kind of easy for me.

    Thanks for all the great info on this site! The reviews in comments are very helpful too. 🙂

  32. I bought all three levels of Rocket Spanish on sale for $180. The program has some errors and kinks and is a bit clunky. But at that price, it is good value because it provides a huge amount of content in spite of its limitations. You get a good grounding (I am nearing the end of Level 1). To become fluent, you are going to need to practice with live people, but I think that is probably the case with most language software.

  33. Hi, Donovan!

    Thanks so much for this review. I got started to know this product from your blog about 2 months ago. I’m studing Korean in Seoul, and already spent almost 2 years here. Upto this time I have purchased for Japanese, Korean and French. I also tried Glossika and I found both of them are very effective.

    And I have some question to ask
    【Rocket Languages】
    1) After I purchased Korean, one page came to recommand me for “the Rocket Spanish Travelogue series”. Does that mean there is no Travelogue series for Rocket Korean?

    2) SInce you have tried the Travelogue series for other languages, except the difference which is written in the official webste, I would like to know what is difference from your experience. And is it also available on iOS app interface.

    【Glossika】
    My mother tongue is Chinese. When I learn other languages through Chinese, I just felt the translation is not so much good but acceptable. How do you think? And I also found a good thing that “Egympt Arabic” is available. I remembered you metioned only MSA was available there. And I would like to know whether that is good or not, if you have time to have it glance at it.

    Thanks again for your excellent recommandation and tons of high quality posts.

  34. Hello!
    Thank you for your useful review, I would be interested in purchasing the complete course but I have one question. Do you think it would be possible to access the same course I paid for from 2 different phones on the same account? With other courses this is possible, but in Rocket they don’t really specify how many devices you can connect.

    1. Hi Giorgia.

      I connect to my account from my PC, Android and wife’s iPhone without any issues.

  35. Thank you for this review. I am an American homeschooling parent with three kids who have been taking Spanish through our state’s online public school. The elementary levels were pretty good, but my oldest started middle school this year, and the Spanish is AWFUL!! It is mostly culture with only a little language–so little language that my child is actually forgetting what she learned in years past. The audio is spoken so quickly that it’s hard to pick out any words at all, let alone understand everything they’re saying. Based on your review, I signed up for a free trial of Rocket Spanish and I am very happy to discover that their audio is very clearly spoken, starting slow and speeding up as you progress through the course. That one feature alone will make a HUGE difference for my kid. The point system and watching herself rise through the leaderboard will also help motivate her.

    Also, I had never heard of italki before, so thank you for mentioning it. I used to have basic fluency in Swahili, but have forgotten most of it because I had no one to use it with. I’m now considering breaking out my old college textbook and reteaching myself, using italki for practice.

  36. Your 2019 update to Rocket Arabic is interesting. I’m currently giving Arabic another go. I studied MSA briefly a long while back, so at least I’m familiar with the script and the basic grammar concepts. I revisit Arabic occasionally over the years, and usually end up frustrated by the shocking lack of good resources for autodidacts.

    Before I commit: Do you have a sense for how far Rocket will take you with Egyptian? I tried the free first lesson, and for the most part was impressed. And how was your experience with the voice recognition? Friends from Egypt tell me that the Google API is great, but I struggled with it in the pilot lesson. I would get 100% on words where I know I mispronounced a letter, or skipped the ‘ayn … but could only get 35% on ‘easy’ words like la`a (no) no matter how many times I tried.

  37. Thank you for this honest review. It helped me decide to purchase the full Spanish course. I am wondering, what are the Travelogues? Is it worth the extra $$? Thanks

  38. Thank you for the honest review. I’ll start out with Rocket Language as I attempt to learn Spanish. Do you have any advice for other material I should be using simultaneously as I learn Spanish? I think more technical help is important. Any recommendations on other books or programs would be helpful. Thank you in advance.

    1. Hey Kyle. I’ve put together a best resource list for Spanish here. I periodically add to it. Depends on what specific technical help you need as to what resource I’d recommend.

  39. Was excited to start learning Japanese with Rocket Languages after reading all the positive reviews but maybe I’m using a different Rocket Languages: the voice recognition is so bad it’s virtually unusable.

    What’s that, I’m just not saying right? Well I thought maybe that was it but even when I record the app voice and play it back to the app it doesn’t recognise it.

    I’ve tried on web and iOS—buggy as hell.

    Learning can be challenging but it shouldn’t be unnecessarily so.

    1. Nomas, the voice recognition they use is Google web speech technology.

      Basically, it’s as good as voice recognition gets. Google has some of the most advanced technology in the world for voice translation.

      Not sure why yours isn’t working as well as it should.

Love languages?
JOIN THE GUILD:

Or click here for my Essential Language Learning Tools.

AS SEEN IN:

BBC