Rocket Spanish founder Mauricio Evlampieff, was a native of Chile whose family moved to the United States. He found himself ‘thrown’ into an English speaking school at the age of 12, so he can claim to have some experience learning a foreign language. Years later he devised the Rocket course for friends who wanted to learn Spanish.
Rocket Spanish incorporates conversation, grammar and vocabulary. The aim is to quick-start students in the world of practical Spanish. The focus is on everyday situations you might find yourself in as a visitor to a Spanish speaking country (primarily Latin American) and how to greet, ask questions and generally converse. In the author’s words, “The Rocket Spanish course emphasizes developing the ability to speak Spanish and understand what you’re saying in context, before you learn the nitty-gritty details of grammar.”
The course is divided into several sections. The Interactive Audio section features a native speaker. If you are doing the online course, you will have the Spanish and the English conversation in writing to follow along with. The audio lessons can be downloaded in MP3 files so you can use them on your desktop computer or with your MP3 player.
To reinforce the audio lessons, corresponding sections in the Conversation Course (more language) and Beginners Book (grammar) are recommended. Both are in PDF file format. Further reinforcement is available in Rocket’s Mega Vocab and Mega Audio games sections of the course.
Getting Set Up
Getting started is pretty easy. Sign-on to the Rocket site on the internet provides a course menu in the left-hand column. There you will find an instruction manual (in both audio and PDF file) to get you started. Lessons are also listed on the left, and a simple click of the mouse opens the lesson of your choice on the main page. There is no need navigate away from the Home page to get going, which is a welcome touch. In addition to built in audio files, downloadable PDF files are provided and easily accessible with the standard Adobe Reader. (If you don’t have the reader, it is a free download from Adobe.)
Rocket recommends that if you are ‘really serious’ you will follow this program:
1. Listen to a lesson in the Interactive Audio Course.
2. Read the corresponding lesson in the Conversation Course.
3. Study the corresponding lesson in the Beginners Book, and do the exercises at the end of each part.
4. Schedule at least fifteen minutes to play the Rocket Spanish MegaVocab and MegaAudio games, or examine the supplemental vocabulary lists in theBeginners Vocabulary Supplement.
5. Listen to the Interactive Audio Lesson one final time.
Interactive Audio: The audio lessons are straightforward with a narrator to help guide you through. Rocket doesn’t use speech recognition software, so when they say ‘interactive audio’ they mean that you listen and repeat to learn the pronunciation. There is no response to your speech, however.
Conversation Course: The conversation course is in PDF format and provides an expansion of what you learn in the audio lessons with more conversation. A cool feature here is that you can click your mouse on a phrase on your page and an audio rendition is delivered.
Mega Vocab and Audio: Downloading a program file from the Rocket site to your hard drive brings up games to help you in your learning. These are basically point and click programs. In Mega Audio you hear a word and have to pick the picture that corresponds. In Mega Vocab, an object is shown and you click on the Spanish name that describes it. A voice in Spanish says ‘good’ or you hear a buzzer when you’ve made a boo-boo. A scoreboard keeps track of how well you are doing.
Grammar: The grammar section (beginner and advanced) provides MP3 files along with a PDF guide. I found this quite helpful. The verbal instruction reinforced the written words and made it easier to follow. The PDF guide also includes graphics to better describe grammatical points – helpful for those who are visual learners.
Other Aids: Rocket Spanish provides other learning aids such as Mega Cards. These are over 500 words and phrases you can print and fold and carry with you. Also, a bonus audio section is provided for expanded conversational Spanish on subjects like colours, clothing, food, and countries.
The main site provides support under the Help and Contact tab. This includes a FAQ’s section and a Contact form for comments or suggestions or help. They state that they attempt to respond to any questions within 2 working days.
If you have any questions, you can either send an email or post a message on the members only “Learn Spanish” Forum, where a team of Spanish teachers, natives and fellow enthusiasts will answer your every query. I noticed that a question on grammar got a response from Admin the next day – pretty good.
I found Rocket’s on-line learning site very easy to navigate, and they have a friendly approach to their customers and learning. Directions to loading the various lessons were easy enough to follow. Some may find the lack of a cohesive all-in-one program a bit distracting. For example some situations require you to load both a PDF guide and an MP3 file and run them at the same time in order to get the most out of the lesson. However, this is a small negative and could be alleviated somewhat if you print the PDF file to read and then turn on your MP3 file.
One important thing to notice is that Rocket Spanish offers a free six-day course. It is a great initiative because it helps you to evaluate the software and give you a preview of the FULL Rocket Spanish course. It will reassure you that Rocket Spanish is the right software for you.
Rocket is a relatively simple learning system with enough flexibility to suit most people. It is adequate for those who want a basic grasp of Spanish for travel or other situations where speaking the language is of primary concern.
In terms of value for money Rocket Language by no doubt surpasses all other products.
Rocket Spanish is an excellent program for language learning and wins my reports #1 Choice for best Spanish learning software. It’s feature rich program and the variety of methods it offers for learning give it the lead for overall top performer!