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Rocket Portuguese Review – Not Quite Worth the Money or Time

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Quick Review

Summary:

Rocket Portuguese is an online Portuguese course made up of audio and reading lessons. The course currently covers one difficulty level, which claims to bring beginning learners of Brazilian Portuguese up to an intermediate level. Interactive audio lessons and repetitive exercises provide learners with lots of practice in a variety of skills, but some may find it difficult to justify the price with how monotonous the course is.

The course would work best for learners at a low level that enjoy both audio and visual content, lots of explanations, and frequent practice activities. It probably isn’t the right resource, though, for those looking for an especially engaging way to learn or those on a budget.

Quality

The interface is clean and easy to use, but the voice recognition could work better.

Thoroughness

The course is structured fairly well, but exercises are overly repetitive.

Value

There are certainly resources that are better worth your time and money than Rocket Portuguese.

Price

Rocket Portuguese Level One is available for a one-time price of $149.95 or $27/month for six months.

What is Rocket Portuguese?

Rocket Portuguese is a course created by the popular Rocket Languages. We’ve tried quite a few of their courses, and have found that, while different, they all have some key things in common. Rocket Portuguese is unique in that it only offers one difficulty level instead of three, but it otherwise has some familiar advantages and drawbacks.

Rocket Portuguese Layout

This is an area in which the course performs well, and it’s just like the other Rocket Languages courses. The course is broken up into modules, which are divided into lessons of three different types.

The dashboard also features a progress bar that makes it easy to see if you’re meeting your study goals and a link to some other handy tools. It’s easy to navigate and intuitive, which is great.

The three types of lessons are Interactive Audio Lessons, Language and Culture Lessons, and Survival Kit Lessons.

Interactive Audio Lessons

These lessons feel like the “bread and butter” of the Rocket Portuguese course.

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The lessons are presented by a host that does all of the English speaking and explanations (of which there are a lot) and a native speaker that participates in the Portuguese dialogue as well as helps learners drill pronunciation.

The hosts aren’t terribly engaging, unfortunately, and the lessons do seem to drag on for longer than necessary, often around 25 minutes.

Each audio lesson is based around a piece of dialogue in Portuguese that uses the language you’re learning. The audio lesson is where you’ll get lots of explanations as well as some listen-and-repeat practice, meaning you should be prepared for the following Play It! exercise.

The audio lesson and an accompanying PDF file can be downloaded for use offline.

Conversation Practice

The Play It! exercise is where you’ll get practice participating in a conversation.

You get to choose which conversation partner’s lines you’d like to say, recording yourself speaking when prompted. I chose to act as Paulo in the above example. This is the interactive part of the lesson!

It’s also where you’ll get a healthy dose of the voice recognition system that Rocket Portuguese uses. The program analyzes your recording, scoring your pronunciation and providing feedback. This may be one of the only ways to get pronunciation feedback without an actual human listening to you speak, but that doesn’t mean it’s just as good.

There are several resources that use similar voice recognition technology to provide pronunciation feedback, and none of them are perfect. Unfortunately, it’s quite possible to receive a perfect pronunciation score even when deliberately botching the recording. There are moments where it shines, though, and is able to point out specific syllables that have been mispronounced.

The take away here is that the pronunciation practice you’ll get with Rocket Portuguese is an imperfect substitute to getting feedback from a human. It’s certainly helpful to record yourself speaking and to listen back to your own pronunciation, but I think relying too heavily on this the pronunciation training you’ll find here would be a mistake.

Extra Vocabulary

Following the conversation practice in each audio lesson is a section with extra vocabulary.

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This is vocabulary that’s related to the lesson’s dialogue in some way or was mentioned in the audio lesson. It’s pretty straightforward: each word or phrase comes with an English translation and the chance to record yourself speaking.

Language and Culture Lessons

These lessons are aptly titled. Where the Interactive Audio Lessons are centered around a piece of dialogue, these take a more detailed look at the mechanics of the Portuguese language. They also take time to provide some information related to Brazilian culture.

The language lessons contain some useful information, which you’ll read about and have chances to practice producing. In the earlier Language and Culture Lessons it’s things like the alphabet and pronunciation rules, later lessons tackle things like irregular verbs and conditional statements.

Since there’s only one difficulty level in the Portuguese course, the lessons never become overly complicated.

Learning about Brazilian culture is a great way to increase study motivation as well as deepen your connection with Portuguese, but I don’t think it’s done exceptionally well in Rocket Portuguese.

I’m glad that these cultural tidbits make an appearance, as they break up some of the course’s monotony, but they just aren’t very engaging. A small picture and some paragraphs of text don’t exactly capture my imagination. It would be great if there were more pictures, videos, or something else to liven up the section.

Survival Kit and Review Lessons

These lessons are squarely focused on teaching important phrases and words for navigating a Portuguese-language environment.

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It will likely benefit learners to get practice with useable phrases in the above categories, but they seem to mostly be vocabulary lists, nothing super special.

Rocket Reinforcement Activities

These activities are available at the end of each lesson, and they’re where learners get ample practice with the material they’ve learned. You’ll get so much practice, in fact, that the activities may begin to feel overly repetitive and monotonous.

Flashcards

These function pretty simply. You have the choice to see a word or phrase in Portuguese or English on the first side of the flashcard; the task is to translate in your head.

After clicking to reveal the correct answer on the other side of the flashcard, you can rate your performance based on how easy it was for you. Upon completion, you’ll have the chance to practice again with a focus on the cards you had the most difficulty with.

Hear It! Say It!

This is a listen-and-repeat exercise where your pronunciation is graded by the voice-recognition system.

After recording yourself repeating the word or sentence, you’ll be given an accuracy rating. Again, you can choose to practice the phrases you had extra trouble with once you’ve completed the activity.

Write It!

This is the section where (yep, you guessed it) you practice writing what you hear.

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I think it’s a decent way to practice writing skills. Coming up with the correct way to write what you hear isn’t always easy, and it can be a good way to get more comfortable with the language. There are also some built-in buttons for typing special characters in Portuguese, which makes for a smooth experience.

Know It!

This section is where you get to show how much of the lesson you have remembered.

Words and phrases are written in English and it is up to you to speak the Portuguese equivalent into the microphone. You get to rate yourself based on what you are able to translate as well as your pronunciation.

Quiz

The quiz feature reviews the material covered in the lesson with five multiple-choice questions.

The questions test specific language knowledge related to the lesson and include some comprehension questions as well.

There may not be a ton of questions in the quizzes, but I appreciate the English explanations for incorrect answers and the fact that the answers aren’t necessarily obvious at first glance.

Tools

In addition to the lessons and reinforcement activities, there are a handful of extra features available. Some of them are more useful than others.

The My Progress feature is something that may appeal to learners with a competitive streak or those that enjoy some mild gamification. There’s a leaderboard, points and streaks to maintain.

The Forum section is unfortunately bare. It seems like it’s been used more for seeking help regarding various issues with the platform than for resource sharing or more general language help.

There are only ten comments from the last six months in the “Introduce Yourself” thread, for example.

My Benchmark is essentially a placement test and can be used to periodically check your progress. It may be more useful in other Rocket Languages courses where there are multiple difficulty levels to progress through.

The My Notes and My Vocab tools are a little bit less exciting. There’s a small box that you can type in for each lesson that will save any notes you’d like to take, but it’s a small box and not really useable for any large bits of information.

The My Vocab feature is useful for saving words that you’d later like to add to your own flashcard deck, but it doesn’t always recognize the words in the lessons.

Rocket Portuguese Isn’t Cheap

There are two different payment options for the one level offered by Rocket Portuguese.

All of the packages include the following features: 

I do appreciate resources that are available for a one-time purchase, as I’m prone to forgetting about recurring subscriptions (who isn’t?). I like the idea of having lifetime access and not stressing about payment after purchase, but I think this course is priced a little too high.

It’s worth mentioning that the course seems to always be on sale, so don’t stress about buying it in time to get the discount.

Alternatives

We’ve tried a ton of different resources for learning Portuguese, and there’s a lot more than Rocket Portuguese out there. Check out our favorite online courses, the top apps and the best podcasts for learning Portuguese.

Here are a few of our favorites.

Pimsleur

If you find audio lessons especially appealing, consider Pimsleur. It’s a platform that’s been around longer than most and features a language course with a solid structure and plenty of practice opportunities. The lessons require a high level of engagement, meaning you’ll speaking in Portuguese right away and won’t spend any time listening idly.

This isn’t the place for learners that are interested in improving their reading and writing skills or those that like in-depth, explicit grammar explanations, but it’s potentially great for aural/verbal learners. Here’s our full review of Pimsleur.

PortuguesePod101

This one’s similar to Rocket Portuguese in that it contains a lot of audio lessons, supporting text, and thorough explanations. The two differ in that this one doesn’t have the clear structure you’ll find in Rocket Portuguese, but it does contain significantly more material. It also has lessons that we think are more engaging, and cultural information that’s more detailed. Read the PortuguesePod101 review.

Semantica

If you’ve got an interest in Brazilian culture, Semantica is probably worth looking at. It uses engaging videos and authentic language scenarios to help learners improve their comprehension skills. It doesn’t offer a ton of speaking practice, but it shines where Rocket Portuguese falls short by providing engaging material and fantastic cultural insight. Here’s our review of Semantica.

Speechling

The voice-recognition system in Rocket Portuguese is an imperfect substitute for getting feedback from a real human. If you’re looking for the best pronunciation practice, you’ll need to get a human involved, and Speechling makes that possible.

A membership to Speechling allows you to submit an unlimited number of recordings of yourself speaking Portuguese to be evaluated by real teachers. It’s also free to use for a limited number of recordings each month. Read our full Speechling review here.

Final Thoughts

Resources to learn Portuguese

Rocket Portuguese definitely has some strengths. It’s easy to use and navigate through, there are a variety of practice exercises for engaging with the material, and the course is structured really well.

These aren’t things to take for granted, as they’re things many resources fail to achieve.

There are some problems, though, that I think make the resource not worth most people’s time or money.

The biggest issue for me was that I found using the course to be exceptionally boring. It’s hard for me to imagine using the course regularly and remaining excited about Portuguese. If there were some videos from time to time or if the review activities had more variation, I might feel differently.

I should say that I’m sure learners at the beginner level that are able to put up with the slow pace of the course, use it regularly, and include some supplementary resources, will significantly improve their level of Portuguese. I just think that there are cheaper and more interesting ways to go about it.

Luckily, Rocket Portuguese is free to try if you want to see how it suits you. Why not give it a go?

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