Rocket Languages German Review
Learn German Software: Have you come across Rocket Languages’ German course? Don’t know whether this is something for you?
My husband and me have tested two of the most popular German language training software: Rocket German by Rocket Languages, and Rosetta Stone German. My husband doesn’t speak German, and I am a trained linguist. Our views differ on some interesting aspects, and align on many others.
Rocket German Review
Learn German Software: I reviewed Rocket German to assess whether this was a viable tool for my time-starved husband to finally get to grips with my mother tongue. We put together the following review in March 2013.
Learn German Software: The content is perfect for travellers learning German, and for those who are not into learning a language from the bottom up but want to master it perfectly in every day situations. Grammar is taught in very context specific lessons such as ‘greeting, meeting, food and drink’, ‘retail therapy’, ‘asking for directions’, ‘on a tour’; ‘travelling on business’, ‘reserving a table’, ‘going skiing’.
Learn German Software: Rocket German centers around interactive audio lessons, everyday dialogues, and role play. You are constantly put into an interactive context, where you engage with characters or deal with specific situations.
Ease of Use
Learn German Software: My husband didn’t the navigation intuitive. “One needs to read the fine print in order to understand where to start from.” The dashboard’s presence just wasn’t enough guidance. Unlike him, I found myself at ease with what to find where. The site’s content is wrapped up in four categories: Interactive Audio; Language and Culture; Games; Survival Kit.
Learn German Software: Rocket German’s key features include a voice comparison system called Rocket Record; a dashboard to help you track your progress in the categories Hear It, Say It andKnow It; a toolbox, and an online user forum. You can make and save notes for each lesson, and save words in My Vocabulary.
Voice comparison – Rocket Record: I’ve always been evangelical about a good German pronunciation with my trilingual kids and non-German husband. It’s no use speaking a language when natives can’t understand you. The Rocket Record voice comparison tool is one of the best features of Rocket German: you can record your own pronunciation AND compare both your and the tutor’s pronunciation at the same time. My husband and I love it.
The content is packaged in Interactive Audio Lessons, Language and Culture Lessons, Games, and a Survival Kit. Each of the lessons includes an audio file featuring a dialogue or role play, a transcript, and background on grammar, pronunciation and vocabulary. The grammar is mostly tied into the context of specific lessons. There is no stand-alone grammar to pull out and learn or rehearse.
Games like ‘Phrase Master’ and ‘Word Master’ bring in that play element that will deepen your learning experience. Help the little astronaut bridge the word/phrase gap to safely reach his rocket. Each of the various games is tailored to the learner’s level of knowledge. We both found the games exciting, fun and a powerful driver of progress, though we both took a few minutes to figure out how to play them. Those games are like throwing mud on the wall. You find out what sticks and what doesn’t, and where to focus your learning.
The Toolbox revealed itself as a treasure chest as soon as I opened it. It was full of tips and techniques on how get the most out of Rocket German. I am a visual person and find it hard to learn by listening. The guidance on making the audio based lessons work for me felt great: This programme can be cracked by non audio types just as well. I would read the content alongside the audio, write down lessons and then print them for a recap. The Five Step Language Learning Programme, part of the Advanced Learning Techniques, isn’t rocket science but it focuses people like my husband, who are genuinely busy and need to re-align their daily commitments with their language learning goals.
Online forum: Rocket German’s user forum was used by a couple of pupils, with one or two avid learners among their regulars. Questions were answered in depth and in a relevant way by tutors and native speakers. It took between one day and two weeks to have your question answered. Most questions were subject-based rather than technical complaints. More rarely, users discovered minor inaccuracies in the study materials. They were dealt with promptly.
Free App: Rocket German and its rich content is also available as a free Android and iOS app for members.
Learn German Software: The site design, especially the homepage, appears cluttered to my husband. I actually find it informative. Rocket dishes out a lot of its vast amount of content right at the start. If this doesn’t impress learners, it may spoil their appetite. The imagery used in some of the lessons is clip art style, and frankly can’t compare to competitors such as Rosetta Stone German. In all, we think Rocket German’s design is ready for a charm offensive.
Learn German Software: Rocket German’s self assessments are good brainteasers. Learners test their knowledge through either arehearsal test or a more thorough proficiency test. The rehearsal test is pretty thorough already, and although mostly multiple choice, it gets right down to the nitty gritty of the language from an early stage. My husband was thrown right out of his comfort zone when choosing between formal and informal expressions, attributing genders to nouns and being quizzed on common expressions. He was impressed. The assessments go as far down as to pure grammar, such as ‘what is an infinitive?’. Knowledge of grammar is key if you want to distinguish yourself from a phrasebook parrot. The proficiency test for stage 1 is almost identical to the rehearsal test, although with added timing taken.
We both love Rocket German’s playful approach, based on points to be earned, games, badges, and lots of virtual pads on the shoulder.
Badges is a points-based system that lets you decorate your online name with badges when you complete certain features and pass tests. For competitive people like me, checking out other learners made me try a little harder. The Leader Board gave me that extra kick, I just wondered for how long. Some kind of reward would have been nice.
Installation and Updates
Learn German Software: Rocket Languages’ courses are essentially web based. This saves you potentially tedious installation. You can download course materials such as the Interactive Audio Lessons and pdfs of the Language and Culture lessons. If you want to download everything straight away, choose the 20 CD set option. It includes all learning materials, except the Games, quizzes, voice comparison tools, progress tracking and My Notes / My Vocabulary.
Learn German Software: The online user forum provides support for course related questions. Technical problems can be solved via a toll free number and email. For further information, visit Rocket Languages. They usually offer free trials of their software for a couple of days.
Runners Up To Best Learn German Software
There were a few runners up that made it into our shortlist of learn German software, such as award winning language software Rosetta Stone German, Tell Me More German because of its fantastic variety of features and ultimate speech recognition technology used, or the German Complete Edition because you can upload it on iTunes and learn German while you commute or go jogging. They all ticked the majority of the quality criteria listed above.