While not as popular as Rosetta Stone or Pimsleur courses, Rocket Languages have carved out a well defined niche in the language learning world. Their courses have gained a reputation for being both thorough and effective.
In our Rocket French review we take a closer look at the Rocket French course. We'll look at the strengths and weakness of the material. We'll also point out which learners stand to gain the most by using this course.
If you want to know more about the method behind the Rocket Language courses you get check out our full review of all their courses.
Let's dive in!
Is Rocket French right for you?
If your French is at a beginner or intermediate level
In the early levels of the course you'll find all the foundational aspects of French that you'd expect to find a good beginner's course (simple grammar, vocabulary, useful phrases, etc).
As you progress through the course and reach the higher levels, you'll will be exposed to more advanced aspects of the language such as irregular verbs, reflexive pronouns, using the passive voice, and so on.
Whether French feels brand new to you, or its like a good friend you want to know better, you are likely to find plenty of useful material in this course.
If you're looking for a complete French course
Rocket French is a comprehensive course. It thoroughly covers all aspects of the language: reading, writing, listening, and speaking.
If you were to start with the course with no knowledge of French and worked through the material in it's entirety, you could expect to have a highly functional ability and understanding in the French language.
If you're simply looking for an extra learning tool
If this course were a book on learning French, it would be a pretty thick one. It's comprehensiveness comes with a somewhat higher price tag (when compared to apps and smaller learning tools).
If you're simply looking for a new or novel way to add some spice to your French studies, this course might be overkill.
What’s included in the Rocket French course
Rocket French is available in three course levels. The levels are named premium, premium plus, and platinum.
Each level gets progressively more difficult and together all three walk you through the French language from the level of absolute beginner (with little to no knowledge of French), up to intermediate (being able to express yourself freely on most common topics).
Each level contains three lesson types: interactive audio lessons, language culture lessons, and survival kit lessons.
With the exception of the survival kit lesson each lesson type is broken down into modules. Each level has 7-8 modules of interactive audio lessons and an additional 7-8 modules of the language & culture lessons. Each module will contain anywhere from 3-8 lessons
Interactive audio lessons
The interactive audio lessons are built around a recorded dialogue between two French speakers.
The lesson then presents the new French words and phases presented in the dialogue so that the user can see how they’re used and what they mean. You will also be given a chance to practice what you’ve learned alongside a recording.
Language and culture lessons
The language and culture lessons teach grammar as well as introduce the user to French culture.
Typically these lessons include a text with lengthy explanations and examples of how the grammar in the text works. As far as grammar explanations go, the language and culture lessons go pretty in-depth.
Survival kit lessons
The survival kit lessons are like an add on to the bulk of the course content found in the other two lessons types. The survival kit lessons don’t follow a module system.
Instead they are a collection of phrasebook type lessons centered around various topics such as shopping, life in the city, numbers, etc.
At the end of each lesson in Rocket Languages there is a reinforcement section, where users can practice what they’ve learned.
These reinforcement sections are broken down into five activities: 1) Hear it say it!, 2) Write it!, 3) Know it!, 4) Quiz, and 5) Flashcards.
Hear it say it!
Hear it say it! activities play a clip of audio from the lesson and give you the chance to repeat it. The main purpose of this exercise is to help you develop your French accent with the course's voice recognition software.
Here the user simply writes (types) what he or she hears from the audio. A virtual keyboard is provided so users can easily use accent marks when needed.
In this activity the user is given an English word, and he or she must speak the French translation. Rocket Langauges uses voice recognition technology to grade the user on his or her pronunciation.
The Quiz activity is exactly as it sounds: a quiz on the material from the lesson. Users are presented a series of multiple choice questions to answer.
The flashcards are a series of flashcards with questions from the lesson. When answering users select how difficult it was to answer the question. The easier the question the less that particular card will be shown. The harder the question the more often it will be shown (think spaced repetition).
Points and incentives
Completing the reinforcement activities from the lessons gives the user points. These points can add up to a daily goal (set by the user), a streak (meeting your daily goal consistently), or earn you virtual badges and a place on the public leaderboard.
The goal behind the point system is to bring an element of fun and competitiveness into your language learning.
At any point in the course the user can take the benchmark test. Users are asked a series of questions and give three lives. Each time they answer incorrectly they lose a life.
The longer the user lasts by answering correctly, the higher his or her score. The purpose of this benchmark test is so that users can track their progress as they work through the course levels.
While taking the benchmark test everyday may not prove that beneficial, taking it every week or so will allow the user to see the difference in their French proficiency.
Pros of Rocket French
It improves your conversational ability AND your grammar
The folks behind Rocket French break their program into two basic types of lessons: the language and culture lesson which center on grammar, and the audio lessons which focus on conversational phrases.
Many language courses struggle to teach conversational French and French grammar. Typically a language learning company will make the decision to focus their product more on one than the other (after all it's simpler to produce courses that way).
Rocket French is the rare course that thoroughly exposes you to the practical and theoretical aspects of the language.
The audio lessons will teach you words and phrases in contextual chunks, so that you can start speaking quickly (this is also a great way to learn words implicitly through context).
Meanwhile the grammar lessons get down to the nitty gritty and help you understand the rules behind the phrases and vocabulary you are learning.
I like the fact that Rocket French keeps both lesson types separate. This gives you the option to focus on one or the other if you so desire, making for a flexible course.
You study the language in a holistic way
Another unique aspect of the course is that it allows you to study a new language in a way that's holistic. There are four aspects of learning a language: listening, reading, writing, and speaking.
Lessons feature activities which let you flex your French muscles and practice speaking through pronunciation practice and voice recognition software. The audio lessons help you develop your French ear too.
The course also gives adequate attention to the French alphabet as well as reading and writing. All this adds up to a well balanced approach to teaching French that will leave you the student with an invaluable understanding of all parts of the language.
Great option for audio learners
Rocket French’s real strength is as an audio course. If you prefer an auditory learning style then Rocket French is certainly worth checking out. Not only is the course well organized and thorough, the quality of the recorded audio is quite good.
When listening to the dialogues it’s not hard to imagine that you’re sitting in on a conversation between two people in the real world!
60 day money back guarantee
If you aren’t happy with the course for any reason, simply contact Rocket Languages within 60 days of your purchase, and they will refund your money with no questions asked.
60 days is a long window for a money back guarantee, and I think it goes to show that the company really does stand behind their course. Rocket French also offers a free trial so users can check out the curriculum without having to pay anything.
Available online or on mobile
Back in the day Rocket French was only available as an online course through their website. However the team behind the course has since then made the transition over to mobile.
The mobile app version of Rocket French works seamlessly and has all the valuable features of the online web based version.
Cons of Rocket French
It's not an overly entertaining course
Rocket Language courses are known for being effective, comprehensive, and very much to the point. They aren't known for being overly fun or entertaining. Thus if you're looking for a novel way to practice or learn a foreign language this course may seem a bit stale.
Rocket French is known as an awesome audio course. Unfortunately that reputation doesn’t carry over to the visual side of things. The aesthetic of the course is very practical. From a visual perspective the course is easy to navigate and simple to use.
However there is a lack of visual elements in the actual lesson material (aside from the occasional hand drawn caricatures).
It would be nice to see more visual elements in the course material to help reinforce the audio and written content. If you prefer a visual learning style then this course may not resonate with you.
What other people say about Rocket French
"In my opinion, Rocket French is by far the most comprehensive, well thought out learn French product on the market. It caters for all learning styles and will take you from beginner to reasonably advanced without having to purchase additional products.
With a strong focus on grammar, real-world conversations and listening comprehension, you'll develop written and spoken fluency at the same time."
Aletta Mazlin // TheFrenchExperiment.com Rocket French Review
When I first sampled Rocket French...I admit that I didn’t have high expectations of the program but I was actually seriously impressed at the high quality of its audio content and dialogues.
In fact it’s one of the most comprehensive sites I’ve ever seen for natural dialogue material.
Grammar is demonstrated rather than just being explained and instead of just being a tedious literacy-based program, it really focuses on getting you to speak and listen to French better.
Donovan Nagel // Mezzoguild.com Rocket French Review
Alternatives to Rocket French
From $4+ per month
15+ minutes a day
Frenchpod101 features audio lessons in a podcast format. Lessons are great for grammar and vocabulary. Each lesson is designed around a conversation between native French speakers, and the teachers do a great job of keeping things engaging.
While it's not as quite structured as other popular courses like Rosetta Stone it's still a substantial French learning tool (it's also much cheaper too). The site features transcripts, an in-site flashcard system, and many other useful features.
Frenchpod101 is one of the most popular ways to learn French online and for good reason!
30 minutes a day
Pimsleur is probably the second most popular course behind Rosetta Stone. Pimsleur is an entirely audio based and is specifically designed to develop your conversational skills.
They use a unique and effective question/recall/respond technique to get you on your feet in your new foreign language. With Pimsleur You'll learn a limited but functional vocabulary and have a good sense of pronunciation.
$6+ per hour (varies between teachers)
30 minute or 1 hour lessons
Italki is an online market place that connects language learners with teachers for one-on-one online language classes via video or audio chat.
You can connect with language speakers from around the world and practice your French speaking skills. There 350+ French teachers and tutors on Italki! In my opinion one on one French lessons are the next best thing to practicing with native speakers.
Italki also has a number of free features. Users can search for French speakers learning English and set up a language exchange.
Each user also has a public notebook where they can publish journal entries written in their target language to be corrected by native speakers. There’s also a question and answer forum, as well as a blog published by teachers.
*with a purchase of $10 or more. After you complete your first lesson a credit of $10 will be added to your account
There are countless French courses on the market, but I can honestly say that this course easily stands out from the pack. Few courses or programs can boast the well balanced and comprehensive approach that Rocket Languages uses.
This concludes our Rocket French review. If you're looking for an effective course that will take you anywhere from absolute beginner to intermediate, then you should definitely check out Rocket French! As said before, there is a free trial available, so you take the course for a test run before paying anything!
Starting at $99.95 for Rocket French level 1