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Rocket Italian Review

An in-depth evaluation of the Rocket Italian app, and whether we think it's worth it

Rocket Languages offers one of the most popular language apps in the world for learning to speak Italian. In fact, many people struggling with basic apps (like Duolingo) tend to switch to Rocket long term for its more in-depth audio lessons and focus on verbal practice. And having used Rocket Italian, I can see why. This in-depth course is much more intensive and focused on the all-important skills of listening comprehension and speaking. So let’s explore whether Rocket Italian might be right for you in this detailed review.

Rocket Italian

Rocket Italian

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Our Score

9.7

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Pros
  • Extremely comprehensive program compared to others like Duolingo
  • Interactive audio lessons boost development of speaking skills
  • Quick-hit exercises following audio lessons drive home language retention
  • Uses Google's voice recognition software (very, very good)
Cons
  • Could use more images (tough for visual learners)
  • No real community feel with other users (unlike Duolingo & others)
Rocket Italian
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Rocket Italian Reviews Outline

Given that this is a comprehensive review, we’ve added jump-to links above to make things easy.

Video Guide: Our Thoughts On Rocket Italian

Watch our Rocket Italian video review above. From pricing, to lesson structure, to our overall thoughts, John covers everything you should know about Rocket Italian. Please continue reading for more detail.

Rocket Italian Program Overview

Let’s start with an overview of how the Rocket Italian program is organized and what their lessons are like. I think this will give you a better feel for what to expect and set the stage for my thoughts.

So, the Rocket Italian program is divided into three overarching levels: beginner, intermediate and advanced. Pretty simple. Within each of these levels, there are six learning modules, each of which break down into around 8 to 10 lessons.

Rocket Languages Italian
The Rocket Italian dashboard

And in fact, these lessons are bifurcated into two different formats. About half of the lessons take the form of “interactive audio lessons” and the other half are called Rocket’s “language & culture lessons.” Let me break down what those different lessons are like below.

What The Lessons Are Like

Between these two lesson types, let’s start with the interactive audio lessons, as these are where you’ll spend 70% of your time (rough estimate). In my opinion, these audio lessons are really the highlight of Rocket’s course, and what sets Rocket apart from other popular language apps like Rosetta Stone, Babbel and Busuu.

So here’s how they work: each audio lesson, which takes around 20 to 30 minutes to complete, features an English-speaking moderator who walks you through a conversation between a couple fluent Italian speakers.

Rocket Italian audio lesson
The audio lessons are a highlight

The moderator will start by setting the stage for the upcoming conversation, and describing what the main learning goal of the lesson is. From there, as the conversation starts to unfold, the moderator will intermittently stop to explain what you just heard, provide vocabulary and grammar insights, and allow you a chance to practice your pronunciation out loud.

In fact, that’s one thing to keep in mind as you work through these mock conversations – you will be asked to repeat words and phrases out loud alongside the fluent speakers. So when planning your lessons, make sure you can complete these in a quiet place where you can talk aloud to yourself.

Then after the core audio lesson, you’ll be prompted to complete a series of exercises and drills designed to reinforce what you just learned. These drills include flashcards, more pronunciation practice, sentence construction exercises, and quizzes. Plus, you’ll even get an opportunity to recreate the mock conversation you heard earlier by filling the role of one of the Italian speakers. That’s essentially it as far as the interactive audio lessons go.

Rocket Italian culture lesson
A typical language & culture lesson

Then the other type of lesson from Rocket is their “language & culture” lessons, which include detailed grammar information and interesting cultural tidbits. For these lessons, you’ll typically start by reading through a few short digital explanations of the grammar rules being covered, then practice with a few examples, and finally finish with a short note regarding an important cultural point. In total, these language & culture lessons take about 20 to 30 minutes or so to complete, if that.

That’s honestly it from a high level. Beyond those two types of lessons, there’s really not too much to the Rocket Italian program apart from the occasional expert tip and a few “survival kits” as they call them.

Rocket Italian Pricing

Before diving into my thoughts on this app, I want to briefly discuss Rocket’s plans and pricing, as Rocket does things a little differently than other Italian apps. In short, Rocket offers lifetime plans as opposed to monthly or annual subscriptions.

Thus, at first glance, Rocket Italian appears to be more expensive than competitors like Pimsleur and Memrise. Basically, how it works is that Rocket breaks down their plans by learning level.

The Level 1 beginner package costs around $150; the Levels 1 and 2 intermediate bundle costs $300; and their advanced bundle with Levels 1, 2 and 3 costs around $450.

However, it is important to note here that you’ll almost never pay full price with Rocket, as they’re almost always running some sort of deal or special promotion. So do be sure to check for coupon codes before buying. In addition, just know that Rocket does offer a 20-day money back guarantee. It’s not as good as free trial, but close enough.

Rocket Italian Highlights

Having covered pricing, how the Rocket Italian program is structured, and what the lessons are like, let’s get to my thoughts on this course. Specifically, let’s discuss what I like and what I don’t like about Rocket Italian, starting with the major pros.

Love, Love, Love The Audio Lessons

My first highlight is easy to identify: the interactive audio lessons. These guided audio lessons are simply awesome and really differentiate Rocket’s Italian program from competitors. Most other language learning apps (apart from maybe Pimsleur), focus on short, basic lessons that don’t really include any sort of in-depth verbal or conversational practice.

Rocket course Italian
After the audio lesson, you can jump in as one of the actors

However, with Rocket’s audio lessons, as I’ve already alluded to, that’s obviously not the case. Users are actively involved in following the conversation. You need to pay attention and understand what’s going on, so that you can respond at the proper times when called upon.

This, in my opinion, is very effective at getting you to recall and use the Italian language under pressure just as you would in real situations. This is critical because, if we’re being honest, this type of practice is about the closest thing you can get to immersion in a self-paced app, and is the best way for truly learning a new language.

One Course: Beginner Through Advanced

My second pro to call out is that Rocket’s lesson formats and overall learning framework are better than other language apps for helping you to progress towards an advanced level of fluency.

This is due in large part to that conversational speaking component that I just covered. With other language companies out there like Rosetta Stone and Mondly, for example, their lessons primarily center around vocabulary flashcards, quick-hit drills and repeating words and phrases in a vacuum.

In others words, the lessons created by these other language apps are somewhat basic. There really isn’t an opportunity for spontaneous language usage that mimics or simulates full conversations like you get with Rocket Italian. As such, you can generally take the Rocket course from total newcomer level through advanced fluency.

Speech Software Is Top-Notch

Next, I want to give a shout out to Rocket’s speech recognition technology. The nice thing with Rocket Italian is that they actually use Google’s Web Speech API, which many linguists and speech experts consider to be one of the best speech tools in the world.

In short, as you complete audio lessons and various reinforcement drills, the Rocket program records your voice and then uses Google to determine the accuracy of your pronunciation. Rocket even gives you a grade on a scale of 1-to-100 so you can closely track how you’re doing on pronunciation, which I found it to be extremely accurate.

To be clear though, no speech recognition technology out there is perfect. I don’t want you thinking Google’s tech is flawless – it’s not a 1-for-1 replacement for conversing with an actual fluent Italian speaker. Yet, compared to other voice recognition software I’ve tested, the Rocket/Google combo is one of the better ones on the market.

Smart Grammar Instruction 

Another aspect of the Rocket Italian program that I really like is how Rocket makes grammar instruction a priority within its coursework. This stands in contrast to most other language learning companies on the market who simply sprinkle grammar into their main lessons (see Memrise).

Rather, Rocket covers grammar in multiple ways. For one, as you complete Rocket’s audio lessons, the moderator routinely stops to explain different grammar principles, as well as the “why” behind them.

Then the lion’s share of the grammar instruction is delivered through the company’s language & culture lessons, which I brushed on above. In short, I was just really impressed with the level of grammar content that the Rocket Italian course provides, as well as how Rocket blends this material into their lessons.

Nice New Interface & User Experience

Finally, my last highlight worth noting is Rocket’s new digital interface. So a while back, I actually took and reviewed the Rocket Spanish course. And one of my main criticisms was that their desktop and mobile apps were dated and clunky. They just felt so old school and behind the times.

Rocket Italian drills
Rocket Italian flashcard drill

That’s all changed though. Since that time, Rocket has totally revamped their digital platform and user experience, and it’s awesome now. Everything is really modern and sleek, as well as intuitively organized. It’s a polished design that I now think is just as good as other companies like Babbel and Duolingo.

Rocket Italian Lowlights

So those are the things I like about Rocket Italian. But not everything can be sunshine and roses. So now let’s cover the things I don’t like about Rocket Italian.

Visual Learners Might Have Issues

The first major issue with this course in my eyes is that the Rocket Italian lessons may not be the best option for visual learners. Because the Rocket lessons lean a little more towards audio and text, people who need visuals could struggle.

Rocket Italian exercise
Not many visuals in the exercises

Honestly, beyond the limited images used in the language & culture lessons, there’s really not a ton of graphics and visuals throughout the Rocket course. This obviously may be an issue depending on what type of learner you are. For some folks out there who really need graphics to comprehend things and help the material sink in, then maybe Rocket just isn’t in the cards for you.

Audio Lesson Downsides 

While I do think Rocket’s audio lessons are extremely effective and a major value add, there are a couple drawbacks. For one, the lessons are somewhat lengthy. To complete a full lesson (both the audio portion and reinforcement drills), it takes around an hour or so from start to finish.

Now of course you can always pause a lesson and return to it later if you don’t have the necessary time, but if you want to complete full lessons in one sitting and you’re kind of limited on time, then Rocket might not be a great fit.

For example, if you’re looking for short, 10- to 15-minute lessons to better fit your schedule, you might want to take a look at companies like Babbel Italian.

And for two, I have to admit that the audio lessons can feel a little sterile. I mean they’re just sort of PC, like they were created by a PR team to accommodate every demographic on Earth. The moderator is very calm, and there’s no humor or personality. It’s just all business.

Now, don’t get me wrong, the Rocket Italian lessons are engaging and do a good job holding your attention (especially since you need to frequently jump in), but I just felt like the audio lessons could use a little fun factor and personality to liven them up.

No Feeling Of Community

Finally, the Rocket program overall just doesn’t seem to have as much of a community feel as other language apps out there. Sure, there is a leaderboard where you can see how you compare with other Rocket users, as well as a forum where you can chat with other learners, but by and large, these features just feel like they’re more of an afterthought.

This is comparison to other language apps which really go the extra mile in developing a community-like feel among its user base. For example, Busuu actually matches learners up with one another and has you provide feedback on each others’ speaking exercises.

Memrise allows users to create courses and follow each other, and even Duolingo has a pretty unique community feel with its gamified language learning experience. Basically,  if interacting with other Italian learners is important to you, Rocket may not be the best choice.

Verdict: Rocket Languages Italian Course

That covers about everything I can think of, so here’s my final verdict. If you’re truly serious about learning Italian and want to reach a point where you can actually hold conversations, then I think Rocket is a great choice – assuming you dedicate the time. If you are consistent in doing your lessons and engaging with the audio, then I think Rocket Italian is one of the most effective apps around.

However, if you just want some quick, 10-minute nightly lessons because you want to learn a few phrases before your trip to Rome, then I actually think Babbel and other Italian apps might be a better fit. But like I said, if you’re looking to reach an intermediate to advanced level of fluency, then I think Rocket Italian is a fantastic option. True, the lessons are a little lengthy and intense, but by and large, I think Rocket Italian is about the most robust and effective program that I’ve taken and reviewed.

Related: Best Apps To Learn Italian

FAQ

Is Rocket Italian free?

Unfortunately, Rocket Italian is not free. You can sometimes access old CDs of their audio course from your local library, but Rocket is now largely a paid subscription. Lifetime plans start at roughly $100 after discounts.

Is Rocket Italian good?

In my opinion, Rocket Italian is a fantastic app. The audio lessons are intense at first, but if you stick with them and complete the reinforcement drills, I loved this language app. Compared to others I’ve tried (like Duolingo), I learned much more quickly with Rocket Languages.

How is Rocket Italian different from Duolingo and others?

The primary difference between Rocket Italian and other apps (like Rosetta Stone and Duolingo) is Rocket’s focus on verbal practice. The central component of their course is audio lessons, which really boosts your listening comprehension and speaking skills.

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