If you've searched around for the best method to learn Spanish you're liable to have heard of Rocket Spanish. Overall the course has a surprisingly positive reputation. (I say surprisingly because the course simply isn't as well known as others such as Rosetta Stone or Pimsleur).
In this post we take an in depth look at Rocket Spanish to see how well it works with the Spanish language.
If you want a more in depth review of the general method and layout of the Rocket Language courses you can check out our full Rocket Languages Review.
Is Rocket Spanish Right for You?
If you're a beginner to upper intermediate student
Rocket Spanish will help all but the most advanced students of the language. The first level of the course covers all the basics you'd expect to find in a beginner course (how to talk about yourself, alphabet/pronunciation, and foundational grammar).
The later levels will deal with more complex language usage. In the third level you'll find a lot of content on the tricky Spanish past tenses. You'll also learn and use things like the subjunctive and indicative mood.
So whether you've been studying Spanish for awhile, or are completely new to the language, Rocket Spanish will help increase your proficiency.
If You want a comprehensive Spanish course
Rocket Spanish is one of the most comprehensive courses available for learning Spanish
What do we mean exactly when we say comprehensive?
First, you can expect to use all four aspects of the language. You learn to read and write in Spanish, as well as listen and speak.
Second, there isn't any part of Spanish that the course leaves untouched. You will be exposed to all of the grammar and vocabulary you will need in order to use the language at a functional level (higher than the level you'd be able to reach with some other courses).
If you want a learning tool or supplement
Rocket Spanish is a full on language course, and it's price reflects that. While it's reasonably priced next to its competitors, the cost is a bit high if you're simply looking for a supplement for your Spanish learning.
If you want a new or interesting way to practice Spanish or learn a few new words here or there you're probably better off using an app or some other low priced alternative.
If you want an entertaining way of learning Spanish
To be honest there aren't a lot of drawbacks when it comes to Rocket Languages. One of the main shortcomings of the course is that it can seem a bit dull if it's all you use to learn Spanish.
The course works hard to teach you Spanish (which it does successfully). However it doesn't try that hard to make the process fun or overtly interesting. This may be a pro or con depending on your learning style.
The Rocket Spanish method
Rocket Spanish’s method takes a dual focused approach to teaching users Spanish through grammar and vocabulary.
The course presents new material to the user through two lesson types: interactive audio lessons and the language & culture lessons. Each lesson type includes a section to help you review and assess your Spanish knowledge.
The general thinking behind this approach is that the audio lessons teach you what to say, the grammar lessons teach you the mechanics behind the vocabulary, and the review helps you practice and remember it all.
Now let’s take a closer look at each lesson type.
Interactive audio lessons
The audio lessons are the conversational part of the course. Each lesson includes a dialogue between one native Spanish speaker and another. The lesson then breaks down the dialogue into what I would call stock phrases.
Phrases from the recorded conversation are translated. You are also given the option to listen to individual phrases at differing speeds in order to practice pronunciation.
The aim of the interactive audio lessons is to teach you these stock phrases in the context of a complete conversation so that you will understand and remember them.
Each phrase you learn becomes a metaphorical tool in your Spanish toolkit, so you can use it when you start speaking Spanish with people in the real world.
As you complete more lessons, the amount of Spanish phrases you know will grow, until you have an entire repertoire to use when speaking and writing.
It’s important to note that these lessons don’t define the phrases word for word. That sort of grammatical analysis happens in the language and culture lessons.
What I like about the interactive audio lessons
The vocabulary taught in these lessons lessons is practical. The phrases you learn come from actual conversations and they come in handy when you start having conversations of your own. Many other courses or textbooks teach vocabulary categorically.
If you’re learning Spanish adjectives you’re given a list of adjectives with their English translations. If you’re learning verbs then you’re handed a list of verbs. In this manner you’re taught Spanish in a way that’s devoid of any real conversation, making it hard to have a real conversation on your own.
The audio lessons avoid this common mistake and teach Spanish phrases in the context of a real Spanish dialogue as if you were practicing with a real Spanish speaker.
Language and Culture lessons
Learning stock phrases and conversation patterns is a great way to jump start your Spanish speaking abilities, but sooner rather than later you will need to start learning grammar. That’s where the language and culture lessons come in.
These lessons take a set of Spanish phrases and dive into the nitty-gritty of Spanish grammar. You see how a particular aspect of grammar works, and then you are able to apply it to create phrases of your own.
As their name suggests these lessons also discuss the culture of various Spanish speaking countries across Latin America.
When paired with the audio lessons, the language and culture lessons strike a wonderful balance in teaching Spanish. Together both types of lessons give you Spanish you can use right from the start, while helping you to understand what you're saying.
Reinforcing what you learn
Each lesson in Rocket Spanish includes a series of review activities to help you retain what you learn. These activities range from writing and speaking exercises (Rocket Languages uses Google’s Web Speech API for voice recognition), role playing dialogues, flashcards and quizzes.
The goal of these activities is to give you the opportunity to use what you’ve learned.
What you get in a Rocket Spanish course
Three course levels
Rocket Spanish has three course levels. Every level contains 7-8 modules of audio lessons and 7-8 modules of language and culture lessons. Each module has anywhere from 3-8 individual lessons.
Audio lessons take more or less a half hour to work through. The language and culture lessons take slightly less time to finish.
Survival kit lessons
In addition to the core course content, each level includes Survival Kit lessons. These are bonus vocabulary lessons, which are centered on a specific topic such as business, love and romance, the most common words in Spanish, etc.
Pros & Cons of Rocket Spanish
Here are a couple of the biggest pros of using Rocket Spanish.
Great for conversational Spanish
Rocket Spanish has two types of lessons: one which teaches grammar and spelling, and one which teaches conversational Spanish phrases.
It's not hard to find a course that teaches you grammar. In fact you don't even necessarily need to buy a course to learn grammar, as there are a ton of free resources for it on the web.
It's a lot harder to find a course that adequately prepares you for real life conversations. Rocket Spanish takes a good stab at this problem.
The audio lessons teach you Spanish words and phrases which allow you to start speaking right away. You can literally take what you learn in these lessons and use it on the streets of a Spanish speaking country.
That's simply not the case with the vast majority of Spanish courses, which teach you grammar at the expense of being practical.
Teaches Spanish holistically
There are four aspects of language learning: reading, writing, speaking, and listening. Most courses focus on one or two aspects while ignoring the rest.
Rocket Languages strikes a nice balance by teaching all four aspects fairly equally.
From the beginning Rocket Spanish lessons teach Spanish pronunciation alongside vocabulary. There are also activities at the end of every lesson which help you practice speaking (via voice recognition), listening, and writing.
This even approach is a viable asset to any Spanish learner, and is a unique aspect of the course.
Works well online and via mobile app
Rocket Spanish is available online via the Rocket Languages site, or through the mobile app. All course content is optimized for use on mobile. The app lacks nothing from the full web based version, and is easy to use.
Cons of Rocket Spanish
Doesn't cover Spanish from Spain
Rocket Spanish focuses on Latin American Spanish. You won't see any of the pronunciation or word choices from the Spanish spoken in Spain.
How different are the two? Well, if you can speak one you'll have no problems understanding the other. The main difference is pronunciation (Spanish from Spain sounds markedly different from Latin American Spanish).
There is also some difference between word choice. The two versions of the language sometimes use a slightly different word for a specific object or action.
Course can seem dry sometimes
While this course is effective, it can seem a bit dry at times. The main goal of the course is to teach Spanish, which it does.
Unfortunately though there isn't a huge effort to add a component of entertainment or fun to the program. While this isn't absolutely necessary, it would be nice.
What other people say about Rocket Spanish
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...
...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.
Is Rocket Languages an effective way to learn a language?
You get a ton of high-quality content and they've done a great job linking all the content together in bite-sized audio files.
Each lesson also comes with a range of tools to make learning easier and with the transcripts you can print the lessons out and practice the old-school way.
While the cost might look scary, you have to remember it's a one-time investment. This means, compared to other services that you'll pay more upfront but you'll pay only once.
Alternatives to Rocket Spanish
From $4+ per month
15+ minutes a day
Spanishpod101 features audio Spanish lessons in a podcast format. Lessons are great for grammar and vocabulary. Each lesson is designed around a Spanish conversation between native speakers, and the teachers do a great job of keeping things engaging.
While it's not as structured as Rocket Spanish, it's still a substantial learning tool (it's also much cheaper too). The site features transcripts, an in-site flashcard system, and many other useful features.
$14.95 per month
Half an hour a day
Pimsleur is probably the second most popular language course behind Rosetta Stone. Pimsleur is an audio based course turned app and is specifically designed to develop your conversational skills.
This course use a unique and effective question/recall/respond technique to help you get started in your new language. With Pimsleur You'll learn a limited but functional vocabulary and have a good sense of pronunciation.
The app also features a reading portion. Users begin to read Spanish words phonetically and then gradually the course incorporates reading from the audio sections
This course is for those who are serious about speaking Spanish, not just reading or hearing it.
$6+ per hour (varies between teachers)
30 minute or 1 hour lessons
Italki is an online market place that connects language learners with language teachers for one-on-one language classes via video or audio chat.
You can connect with language speakers from around the world and practice your speaking skills. On Italki there are over 800 Spanish teachers and tutor from around the world!
*with a purchase of $20 or more. After your first purchased lesson a credit of $10 will be added to your account
In the end Rocket Spanish is one of the best options for someone looking for a meaty Spanish course, especially if they prefer an auditory learning style.
The course covers all the foundational parts of Spanish and it will leave you with the ability to understand and speak Spanish at a fairly proficient level.
You can sign up for a free trial of the course (no payment information required). There you'll be able to work through some of the lessons from each of the three levels of the course.
It's a great way to test things out and see if this course is right for you!