You'd think with such a high demand for Japanese learning resources, there would be an abundance of quality courses out there for language learners. Sadly the truth is, there just aren't.
That's why I'm excited about today's post. We're going to look at one of the best options for a stand alone Japanese course: Rocket Japanese.
Rocket Japanese accomplishes what so few Japanese courses do: it provides an effective and efficient way to learn Japanese.
In this article we'll talk about the specific strengths of the course, and we'll also point out some of its shortcomings (no course is perfect afterall).
If you want to check out our most thorough and intense review of the method behind Rocket Languages courses you can check out our general review here.
Barring the most advanced Japanese learners, this course is thorough enough to be helpful to all students of Japanese. Beginners stand the most to gain, as the course is designed to take you from a beginning level of Japanese to an upper intermediate level.
The material in the later levels cater to the needs of many intermediate students as well.
This course thoroughly covers all aspects of the Japanese language including: reading, writing, speaking, and listening. It also helps you improve your conversational ability, while learning grammar as well.
For most people this course is too thorough and expensive to be a simple Japanese learning tool you use on the side. If you're looking for a supplementary learning tool, this way not be the best resource for you.
Advanced students will probably benefit more from immersion in the Japanese language and through conversations with native speakers, than they would from this course.
Japanese is consistently ranked as one of the most difficult languages to learn for native English speakers. This is due to the fact that the two languages share little to no similarities in grammar or vocabulary.
The difference in word order is just one of the many significant differences of Japanese gramamr
We won't get into the finer details of Japanese grammar here. Suffice to say in many ways Japanese and English are worlds apart linguistically.
Unfortunately many language learning companies take a best selling Spanish or French course, and swap out the material for basic Japanese.
The problem is that a method or system that works well for a language closely related to English (like Spanish or French), doesn't necessarily work for teaching Japanese. Often times some of the most significant aspects of Japanese grammar aren't even explained in these types of courses!
Not so with Rocket Japanese. Rocket lessons are divided into one of two categories: audio lessons and language and culture lessons.
The audio lessons are great for learning practical Japanese vocabulary, but it's the language and culture lessons I want to talk about.
The language and culture lessons essentially break down and explain an individual aspect of Japanese grammar and teach you how to use it.
These lessons cover an array of grammar based topics such as using honorific language, mimetic expressions, verb pairing, and many other topics. This course does not shy away from the nitty gritty of the Japanese language!
A brief introduction to the Japanese writing system
Do to the complexity of written Japanese, this important aspect of language is often conveniently overlooked by Japanese courses. At best kanji and kana are only minimally covered.
Like some other Asian languages (most notably Korean), the Japanese language uses varying levels of politeness. This means that the grammar and words forms you use often changed based on your relationship to the person you're talking to or about.
A brief introduction for politeness levels in Japanese
In just about every language, courses often err on the side of more formal or polite language. This is also the case with Rocket Japanese.
However many Japanese courses don't make a differentiation between the most formal Japanese and some of the less formal levels of politeness. Often times a student to not even be exposed to less formal Japanese at all.
Rocket Japanese makes the important distinction between politeness levels. Though the course does focus more on being polite, you will be exposed to less formal uses of the language, and you will also be conscious of how polite the phrases you're using are.
There's a lot of praise for Rocket Japanese in this review, however the course isn't with out its downsides.
This course is an effective way to learn Japanese, but to be honest it's not always the most engaging. The material is covered thoroughly and represented well, but if you're looking for a novel and engaging way to learn Japanese this course might not cut it.
In the end you will half to apply yourself and work through the material if you want results. Sometimes after a lot of work, the audio lessons and grammar explanations can get dull.
It's best to use this course in conjunction with some supplemental resources, in order to spice things up once in awhile.
This course is designed to be a comprehensive stand alone course for learning Japanese.
If you're looking for a supplemental resource, tool or app, the offerings of Rocket Language will probably feel like overkill. Also the price tag is a little high to justify this course as a mere learning tool.
Rocket Japanese is arguably one of the most comprehensive audio courses for Japanese available (in terms of its sheer volume of material).
In other words, there’s a tonne of content in all 3 levels of the program combined....
...With the possible exception of JapanesePod101 (which is a less comprehensive, podcast-style audio course), Rocket Japanese stands out as one of the only worthy contenders for online course options.
If learning Japanese is a goal of yours, then I definitely think Rocket Japanese is a worthwhile investment. It my experience it gives the most bang for your buck in terms of all the learn at home courses that are on the market. Backed by the money-back guarantee and excellent customer service, you really can’t get much better.
From $4+ per month
15+ minutes a day
Japanesepod101 features audio lessons in a podcast format. Lessons are great for grammar and vocabulary. Each lesson is designed around a Japanese conversation between native speakers, and the teachers do a great job of keeping things engaging.
While it's not as structured as Rosetta Stone it's still a substantial Japanese learning tool (it's also much cheaper too). The site features transcripts, an in-site flashcard system, and many other useful features.
30 minutes a day
Pimsleur is probably the second most popular language course behind Rosetta Stone. Pimsleur is 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
An intro video from one of Italki's Japanese teachers.
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. There are over 200+ Japanese teachers and tutors on Italki.
*with a purchase of $10 or more. After you complete your first lesson a credit of $10 will be added to your account
Rocket Japanese is an excellent option for serious learners who are looking for a stand alone course for learning a foreign language.
Yes the course can seem dry after awhile, and it's a bit too thorough and expensive to be used as a learning tool on the side. However this course is easily one of the most effective and comprehensive Japanese courses on the market.
Rocket Languages offers a few lessons from their courses for free. If you're interested in their Japanese course I recommend checking out the free lessons and deciding for yourself if the course is right for you!
I'm definitely an unlikely language learner. I failed Spanish in high school. I started learning German as a hobby while studying abroad. Long story short...and a couple languages later...I love language learning!
The 3 Best Sites for Online Japanese Classes
The Best Way to Learn Japanese (There is One)
Best Programs to Learn Japanese (The Top 5)
Pimsleur Japanese Review (Strengths and Weaknesses)
Rosetta Stone Japanese Full Review (Beginners Beware)
What’s The Deal with Babbel Japanese? (Course Info)