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Even so this course packs quite a punch! Let's dive in and see why this course might be one of the best kept secrets in the Spanish learning world.
Review of: Rocket Spanish
Use: Stand alone course for learning Spanish
Comprehensive, it will take you from beginner to mid-intermediate level in Spanish.
Reasonably priced compared to more expensive courses
Lesson are about 30 minutes long
Ease of Use
Well structured and easy to follow
I Don't Like
Summary: Rocket Spanish is a premiere option for those who are looking for an all in one comprehensive Spanish course.
Overall the course is structured well and will take students from a beginner level all the way past intermediate. The course level are paced to be challenging but not too challenging.
The highlight of the course is its focus on conversational Spanish and grammar. Most Spanish courses focus on one or the other. Rocket Spanish strikes a good balance between teaching you Spanish you can use right away, while also explaining how the language works.
The course also incorporates reading, writing, listening, and even a bit of speaking into their program, giving you a well rounded introduction to the language.
Unfortunately the course is only available for Latin American Spanish. You won't find the pronunciation or the vocabulary of Castilian Spanish here.
Rocket Spanish has a lot to offer, and it's reasonably priced. Their site offers a free trial with some sample lessons which are definitely worth checking out.
The method: 1/2 conversation + 1/2 grammar
The method behind Rocket Spanish takes a twofold approach to language learning. It focuses on practical vocabulary you can use in a real conversation, while also teaching grammar. The course has two distinct lesson types: interactive audio lessons and culture/language lessons.
The audio lessons are built around dialogues and teach conversational Spanish. The culture and language lessons get into the nitty gritty of the grammar that goes behind Spanish conversations.
Most Spanish courses will teach conversational vocabulary OR focus on grammar. Not many do a good job of teaching both. Rocket Spanish is a rare exception.
Each audio lesson is built around a short Spanish conversation between two native speakers. Each lesson is around 30 minutes long (give or take).
Here the speakers explain and break down each phrase within the conversation. They give some tips on how these expressions and words can be used. They also break down the pronunciation of each word by syllable to help you pronounce it correctly.
A sample audio lesson
I took an example of one of the audio lessons from the Rocket Spanish course level one. You can access it for free under their free trial (no credit card needed, just an email).
The Conversation: the bulk of the lesson
This particular lesson covers the basics of expressing your wants and needs in Spanish. In the dialogue a woman (Amy) and her friend (Mauricio) decide what they want to drink at a cafe.
In this lesson you learn two very important Spanish verbs: querer (to want) and necesitar (to need). After completing the lesson you know how to express what you want or need, while also being able to ask someone else what they want or need.
The lesson also covers the all important phrase: Necesito ayuda (literally: I need help! The lesson points out that if you want to ask for help in an emergency you can simply shout help! (ayuda!), just like in English.
This is a great example of how these audio lessons teach you practical ways to use the phrases you learn!
Role playing practice
After each audio lesson you can practice the example conversation by role playing as one of the two speakers.
Conversation transcript & extra vocabulary
Last but not least, each audio lesson has a reinforcement section where you can practice what you've learned through flashcards, saying or writing what you see and hear, or a simple good old fashion quiz.
Language & culture lesson (grammar)
The language and culture lessons breakdown the important parts of the Spanish language, such as grammar and pronunciation. They also often offer some informational tidbits about Latin American culture.
The lessons are often straightforward no fluff grammar lessons (my favorite kind). They include conjugation charts, word tables, and recorded audio as well.
Also most importantly these lessons provide you with a list of example phrases where you can see the grammar in action.
Just like the audio lessons, the language and culture lessons have a reinforcement section where you can review and practice the material you've just learned by speaking, writing, flashcards, or quizzes.
Rocket Spanish comes in three course levels. Like most language courses the levels are arranged by difficulty and a new learner is expected to work through them in a linear fashion.
Each level has 7-8 modules of audio lessons (a module can have anywhere from 4-7 lessons), and 5-8 language and culture modules. Each level also includes an array of survival kit lessons which over even more Spanish phrases.
How far will the 3 levels take you?
If you start from level one with little to no knowledge of Spanish, and you work all the way through level 3, you should expect to have a low to mid intermediate ability in Spanish.
This is about as high as any Spanish course can take you. After the intermediate level you'll have to start speaking with real people and interacting with the language as much as possible to continue to improve. Courses simply can't replace that part of the learning process.
Pros & Cons
The greatest strength of Rocket Spanish is that all in all it's a pretty comprehensive course.
It gives you the vocabulary you need to have actual conversations, but at the same time it also helps you to learn the grammar of Spanish. The course also gives adequate attention to pronunciation, the alphabet, and listening and reading.
There is no one stop shop for Spanish fluency, but Rocket Spanish comes a lot closer than most courses.
The audio lessons give you words and phrases within the context of a conversation. This makes it a lot easier to mentally copy and paste these phrases when you have a conversation with a real person.
At first you'll only be mimicking what you've heard, but after some time you'll start to internalize these phrases and you won't have to think as hard the next time you speak Spanish.
There's none of the next to useless vocabulary you find in other courses where you learn sentences like "the cat drinks milk" or "The boy is wearing a blue shirt".
The course is sequential and well ordered, making it easier for even the most basic learner to follow along. The course levels are paced well. As you work through them your ability will be stretched, but not in way that's overwhelming.
Doesn't use European Spanish
The biggest drawback of the course is that it focuses exclusively on Latin American Spanish. It doesn't give you the option of learning the unique features of Spanish as it is spoken in Spain.
Spanish from Spain (AKA Castilian Spanish) is mutually intelligible with Latin American Spanish. If you know one you'll be able to understand the other. The main differences are in pronunciation and word choice. Sometimes the same word might mean a different thing.
Best way to use Rocket Spanish
Rocket Spanish works well as a stand alone course. That's what it was designed to be after all. If you decide to make it the main way you learn Spanish, there's nothing wrong with that.
Just make sure you supplement the course with some real one on one practice with native speakers. You'll want to practice what you learn in real conversations.
I recommend spending 20-30 minutes a day working through Rocket Spanish. Then a couple times a week set aside some time to practice with a teacher on a site like Italki, a language partner, or simply a Spanish speaking friend.
The course will ensure that you keep developing your skills, while the practice with native speakers will make sure you grow in your speaking abilities.
It also might not be a bad idea to actively watch some Spanish movies or work with some learning apps once in awhile just to mix things up.
What other people say about Rocket Spanish
Rocket Spanish in my opinion beats its competitors on comprehensiveness. In other words, there’s tonnes of lesson content that’ll keep you busy for a long time.
Household names like Rosetta Stone and Pimsleur by comparison just don’t offer nearly as much lesson content. Rocket Spanish is a serious trove that covers a wide variety of topics from the absolute beginner level through to advanced on just about every relevant Spanish-related topic.
Rocket Spanish is especially good at getting results quickly because it focuses on giving you the important and essential language first. If you're heading to a Spanish-speaking country and you need a quick induction, you'll appreciate how quick this is.
When you consider the number of tools you get, the effectiveness of the material and the low cost, Rocket Spanish is probably one of the best value interactive Spanish courses on the market at the moment. Gold star for you, Rocket Spanish!
Alternatives to Rocket Spanish
Spanishpod101 is a Spanish course in the form of audio podcasts. Each lesson is an episode and features a conversation between two native speakers, as well as lesson notes, and sentence examples.
Every episode is moderated by two hosts who help explain difficult concepts and share interesting insights into the language or culture.
The site also features many extra resources like in site flashcards, slow playback and recording (for pronunciation), and vocabulary lists.
Pimsleur Spanish is a completely audio based course. It uses a unique question and response technique to get you thinking in Spanish and using it the way you would in a real conversation.
It's the only Spanish audio course I know that helps prepare you for real life conversations.
FluentU provides native Spanish videos with a built in subtitle and vocabulary system.
You can watch real Spanish videos (commercials, tv clips, music, etc) and learn words in a real life context. It also has its own flashcard system and other learning resources.
Rocket Spanish's emphasis on conversational Spanish and grammar make it a compelling option for learners. This course is comprehensive and will take you all the way to a mid-intermediate level in the language (pretty far).
The course is also reasonably priced compared to other more expensive courses.
In the end Rocket Spanish is one of the best options out there for a stand alone course. Their site offers a free trial, where you can actually work through several lessons in each level.
I recommend trying it out for yourself, and deciding whether or not the course is right for you!