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Rocket French Review – Solid But Boring

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Quick Review

3.7 

Summary:

Rocket Languages offers courses in a number of languages, some of which aren’t great, while others are pretty solid. Rocket French is neither amazing nor terrible, it’s pretty good. The content is structured well and gives you lots of opportunities to practice what you’ve learned. But, their lessons can be rather bland, with a large emphasis on rote memorization drills.

Quality

The lessons aren’t very exciting, but you’ll learn from them, and they’re designed well.

Thoroughness

The course structure is solid and includes lots of explanations.

Value

The price tag for the lessons is relatively high but justifiable.

Price

Level 1 costs $99.95, Levels 1 and 2 cost $249.90, all three levels together costs $259.90.

Alternatives: Pimsleur is a somewhat similar course that focuses more heavily on oral language.

At All Language Resources, our first exposure to Rocket Languages was with Rocket Chinese, which succeeded in lowering our expectations of Rocket French.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that Rocket French is put together much better and doesn’t make the same mistakes as the Chinese course did.

We’ve tried out several French learning courses, such as FrenchPod101, Frantastique, Francais Authentique, Pimsleur, Duolingo, along with some others, as such, I can say that Rocket French is a course worth considering. Rocket French

It’s a resource that covers a lot of content but one that many users may struggle to get through. While the material is solid, the presentation can be too monotonous and the exercises too repetitive.

I do like that you get ample opportunities to practice what you’ve learned with a nice mixture of grammar, speaking, listening, writing, vocabulary, and reading.

After you complete any level, you’ll have had plenty of opportunities to practice the material and can expect to know almost everything there is about that module.

How Rocket French Courses Are Structured

Rocket French offers three main levels of lessons at three different difficulty levels. There is also a separate travelogue pack which is directed towards tourists.

Each of these levels (excluding the travelogue) contains three types of lessons: Interactive Audio Lessons, Language and Culture lessons, and a Survival Kit.

Lessons are grouped into 6-8 modules per level, followed by a Survival Kit and Review section.

The final module is usually meant for you to review the whole level and helps you to avoid forgetting important aspects.

In these lessons, you’ll learn French by speaking, writing, reading and listening.

The Language and Culture lessons are usually written text about the French culture, grammatical rules or other language information that may help you out.

Each of the lessons in the three levels has an assessment or quiz at the end that helps you practice what you have just learned. These tests are in the form of listening, writing and speaking exercises.

At the end of every section, you will also find a “Rocket Certification”. This is to help you recap everything you learned in the module while testing yourself at the same time.

Getting Started With Rocket French

To start using Rocket French, you will first need to sign up to Rocket Languages.

There is a free trial available, and it doesn’t require submitting any payment information. The free trial limits the amount of content you can access on the website to one or two lessons per pack.

One nice resource you can use is the Benchmark test that lets you know where you stand with your language proficiency according to the levels.

This feature is available in the free trial too, so be sure to check it out and make an informed decision about which lesson level to choose.

Once you purchase, depending on your selection, all the content in that (or those) levels will be made available to you. You will see your dashboard which will present to you your lessons according to the module.

You will also have a sidebar that indicates your progress. The progress bar indicates three things: Your daily goal (and how much of that you have accomplished), Your rank according to points in the last 24 hours, and streak for the number of days you have continuously used the website.

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In short, you complete the lessons to complete the module and then take the rocket certification test (merely for a recap) and move on. Finish all the modules in all sections to complete your selected level. If you ready to learn more, then move onto the next pack.

Now to see how these lessons are structured.

How The Lessons Are Structured

Every lesson starts with the interactive audio lesson that the website is so proud of.

The “interactive” part means that they will give you time during the audio to say the word out loud and practice as they are speaking.

You can check your pronunciation as the phrases are repeated multiple times. During the lesson, the speakers will engage in conversation while teaching you the meanings and giving you other bits of information that may come in handy.

Each of these lessons can stretch to about 20 minutes, sometimes longer. Fortunately, you can download all of these audio files.

One thing I felt was that the lesson was a bit repetitive, and being asked to repeat the same phrase over and over again got repetitive.

While the repetition is definitely helpful for beginners, the presentation was unexciting.

If parts of the conversation seem a bit hard to comprehend, then the next part labeled “Conversation Practice” is where you’ll drill the material. As a beginner, doing these in order will be extremely helpful.

One of my favorite things about Rocket French is its emphasis on speaking skills, though to a lower degree than a course like Pimsleur. Throughout the Rocket French course, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to practice speaking French.

Once you’re done listening to the audio, you start practicing your French with a segment called “Play It!”.

Here, you replay the whole conversation, playing as either individual. Each phrase has the translation written for you below, so you understand what you’re saying too!

In progressive levels, you can choose the difficulty of this game. While the easiest difficulty has everything written down for you, as you go higher, they start to take out words for you to fill in as you talk. The highest difficulty requires you to form the whole sentence by yourself while the English translation may be given to you for help.

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To test your speaking skills, you record yourself saying the phrase. This is where “Rocket Record” comes in.

You can use your device’s inbuilt microphone or connect a headset and use that. On your left, you will see the “Rocket Record Difficulty” option right below “My Progress”. Changing this setting allows you to set the level of scrutiny that your recording is put under.

This sounds great in theory, but the voice recognition technology isn’t good enough to be reliable yet.

This isn’t a unique feature with Rocket French though. Every language learning program that uses a form of voice recognition software has these same problems.

In the future, these may be resolved, but for now, I’d suggest trying Speechling (save 10% with the promo code “ALR123”) where you can get feedback on your pronunciation by a real person or finding a tutor on italki.

Once you’re done with this, you will see some “Extra Vocabulary” below.

It has the same format as the previous exercise. However, I strongly suggest you go through this carefully as it contains some useful phrases that haven’t been mentioned in the conversation.

Moreover, they are usually alternate phrases to use in similar situations, so they’re worth learning.

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After this, you’ll move on to the Rocket Reinforcement Activities. These are found throughout the course.

Rocket Reinforcement

There are usually five sections to this – ‘Hear it! Say it!”, “Write it!”, “Know it!”, “Quiz”, and “Flash Cards”

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As the name suggests, “Hear it! Say it!” is where you repeat whatever you hear, and your pronunciation is tested.

“Write it!” is similar but instead, you write down whatever you hear. Here it has overcome FrenchPod101’s shortcomings by making it easy to include diacritical marks.

“Know it!” is a translation game where you read the word in English, but you need to speak the French translation and record it.

The flashcards help you recall the words and phrases you have learned in the lesson.

There are about 25 questions to answer in the above activities. For most of these, you’ll be able to grade yourself, noting how difficult the question was. You can also add more difficult-to-remember words and phrases to your Word Bank for later practice.

The Quiz includes five quick multiple-choice questions.

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Doing these tests gets you points that allow you to meet your daily goal, which you can customize and set however you want. Answering any questions in the platform adds the day to your study streak.

These points that you earn allow you to get new badges that represent your expertise in the language. Consequently, the more points you earn, the higher rank you get on the leaderboard. These small things could give you enough motivation to keep you coming back day after day.

Your evaluations don’t end there.

There is another feature of Rocket French which I really like. It is known as the Benchmark test.

In short, it allows you to track your progress through your course of learning. They’ll be asking you a series of continuous questions and you have three lives. If you go wrong thrice or if you mark anything as not “easy”, you lose a life.

Your benchmark is set according to the number of questions you can answer before you lose all your lives. Technically, you can take this test every day, but I recommend taking it once a week or every other week to see some actual progress.

Rocket French is Too Repetitive

While there’s no doubt that you can learn a lot from Rocket French, it’s just far too repetitive and monotonous. All of the Rocket Reinforcement exercises are the same style in every lesson.

So, at first, you may feel very excited and eager to work your way through them. I’d imagine that if you followed this course regularly for a longer period of time, you might get sick of them and lose motivation. That’d be the worst possible result. After all, the most important thing is that you continue studying regularly.

The teaching style definitely feels a bit old-school with the exercises being basically memorization drills done over and over.

Rocket French Seems To Always Be On Sale

There are three plans available currently – Premium, Premium Plus, and Platinum Plans. There is also a travelogue plan separately available for tourists who need to know the essentials while traveling.

Each of these plans supposedly costs $149 each, or $449.85 in total.

I say supposedly because they seem to always be on sale, and I do mean always. So, the real prices are $99.95 for level 1, $249.90 for levels 1 and 2, and $259.90 for all three levels.

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The only difference between the levels is the difficulty level and the content they teach. While level 1 focuses on the basics, you will start to learn how to converse about more complicated stuff in the subsequent levels. Moreover, you will feel a significant difference in the way they speak as well.

They will speak at a slower than normal pace in level 1 and kick it up several notches by level 3. 

You can also get a full refund on any purchase within the first 60 days for any reason.

The App Is Missing A Few Features

Rocket Languages has its own app for you to use which gives you access to all the languages in their arsenal. However, the app doesn’t include all the features of the website. There are a few missing, but all the essentials are still there.

Fortunately, the app is otherwise quite intuitive and I loved using it.

I tried using the website on a mobile device with the browser. It gives you access to all the features, unlike the mobile app. However, it is quite buggy and some of the graphics (and functions) haven’t adapted well to the smaller screen.

Thus, I recommend using the mobile app over the mobile version of the site. If you ever want to use features like the benchmark test, just log on through your computer every once in a while.

Alternatives

Rocket French isn’t even close to being the only place to go to learn French. There are tons of online courses, apps, podcasts, and even YouTube channels that do a great job of teaching the language. Here are some solid options that are definitely worth considering.

Pimsleur

A resource with a longstanding reputation, Pimsleur has been offering audio-based language courses with excellent structure for many years. What makes its audio lessons unique is that they require a lot of interaction from the learner. You’ll be speaking right away with this course and will have plenty of opportunity to get used to producing French sounds.

The lessons are thorough and build on each other nicely, but you won’t find much in the way of grammar explanations or reading and writing practice. Here’s our Pimsleur review.

French Uncovered

This one could make a great fit for the learner that doesn’t mind a good challenge. French Uncovered takes a story-based approach to teach French, meaning you’ll learners will have to interact with a text that’s 100% in French almost immediately. It may sound daunting, but the persistent, patient learner will be rewarded when the story starts to become intelligible.

Overall, it’s a course with lots of explanations, review exercises, and a unique approach that some will find a better fit than others. Read our French Uncovered review.

News in Slow French

One of Rocket French’s biggest drawbacks is that it isn’t very fun to use. News in Slow French doesn’t share this problem. While it’s probably best for intermediate learners, News in Slow French uses fun, engaging lessons to deliver explanation-rich lessons at all levels. A subscription comes with lots of study materials, and it’s worth checking out. We wrote a full review of News in Slow French here.

Final Thoughts

After having tried out lots of different resources for studying French online, I think Rocket French is pretty good.

There are lots of things they could do better, most importantly relying less on memorization exercises and making the lessons more engaging. It’s also not particularly cheap.

However, given that it’s a one-off purchase and doesn’t require a monthly subscription, I think the price is still fair.

You shouldn’t take my word for it though.

You can try out the lessons yourself without giving any credit card information to see if Rocket French is suitable for your learning style.

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