Rocket Spanish is an audio- and text-based course that claims it can take your Spanish abilities from beginner to advanced. So, can it?
I began this program as a relative novice, having dabbled in Spanish previously by trying out lessons from other programs and picking up a few things while traveling. I’m well-suited to evaluate how Rocket Spanish stacks up from the perspective of a beginner, as someone who started with Lesson 1.1 and has worked from there.
With so many Spanish courses on the market, it’s hard to know which ones actually live up to the hype. You’ve probably heard of big language-learning names like Pimsleur and Rosetta Stone, but you may not yet have heard much about Rocket Languages, which emerged onto the scene relatively recently in 2004.
In this extremely detailed Rocket Spanish review, I’ll show you what to expect and explain why I think it’s currently the best comprehensive Spanish course on the market today.
Some of the things I’ll cover include:
- My overall takeaway of the program: pros and cons
- The three levels of difficulty offered by Rocket Spanish
- Overall organization of the course
- The kinds of lessons offered
- Extra tools and functions available
Let’s get started.
Rocket Spanish Review
I have been using Rocket Languages to get my Spanish skills up to speed fast, since I recently moved to a Spanish-speaking country. My verdict: I love it! I put in about an hour of work every day, and I’ve been progressing quickly through the lessons, making drastic improvements to my speaking and listening skills.
Of course, every program has pros and cons.
Here are the main things I like about Rocket Spanish:
- Excellent value: Rocket Spanish is not super cheap or free. It is, however, priced competitively when compared to its market rivals, and in my book, it gains an edge on them by providing a staggering amount of content. Rocket’s lessons will last you months (if not years). There are hours of audio along with page after page of exercises and explanatory text. In my opinion, you simply can’t find better value out there.
- Comprehensiveness: Thanks to all this content, Rocket Spanish is one of the most thorough, comprehensive language courses I’ve ever come across. If you’re looking to buy just one thing to reach a high level in Spanish, Rocket would be my recommendation.
- Options and flexibility: That said, some people might just want to reach basic conversational proficiency and call it a day. If that’s you, you can just stick to buying only one level of Rocket Spanish, making it a cost-effective option.
- Natural-sounding dialogues: At some point in your Spanish-learning journey, you may have heard or translated painfully awkward sentences. Rocket Spanish makes a serious effort to recreate realistic scenarios with plausible dialogue. You’ll learn tons of phrases that you may actually want to use later, and you won’t sound like a total robot.
- Enjoyable programming: Unsurprisingly, these natural dialogues lead to a more enjoyable and engaging learning experience. You get to know the main characters and follow along with them through various situations. There’s also a fair amount of humor sprinkled throughout these conversations. Rocket does a great job at keeping you motivated, which is key if you want to reach fluency in Spanish.
- Right-sized lessons: Each audio lesson, if done in full with all the complementary exercises, might take from around 25 to 50 minutes. I’ve found that I can easily fit lessons into my daily schedule. Even on super busy days, I can find the time to do something, even if I can’t squeeze in a full lesson. I might take a short quiz or listen to a 2-minute conversation. This keeps me moving forward every day.
- Steady build-up: In addition, each lesson builds on the next, reinforcing previously learned words and concepts and introducing a few new ones. This steady progression helps me remember what I’ve learned and doesn’t overwhelm me with too much at once.
- Ability to save words and phrases: Whenever you learn a new word, phrase, or sentence in a lesson, you have the option of “starring” it to save for later. I use this feature a lot and have ended up with an awesome list of words and phrases that I personally find extremely useful.
- Downloadable lessons: This is a major advantage Rocket Spanish has over subscription-based programs that withdraw your access to material once you stop paying the monthly fee. With Rocket, once you’ve paid for material, it’s yours. You can download lessons to listen to them anytime, even when you don’t have an internet connection. If you’re learning Spanish while on the go, this feature is really great. Oh, and you can also download the course as an e-book!
One more thing I should note: I’ve been using Rocket Spanish online with what might be the world’s worst Wi-Fi connection, and I’ve managed to play all the audio with no problems (meanwhile, my email refuses to load…). So based on my experience, at least, Rocket Spanish is very user-friendly and designed to work even under sub-optimal circumstances.
And here is one of its limitations:
- No video component: Although there is tons of audio and text, there are currently no video-based lessons on Rocket Spanish. Also, while there are some images, there are not as many as you’d find in an image-based program like Rosetta Stone.
Now in some ways, this can be an advantage. The lack of video and the moderate use of pictures is probably a major factor in Rocket’s loading speed; as I’ve just mentioned up above, I’ve found that Rocket lessons load fast, even with my awful internet connection.
But the fact remains that some people like videos and enjoy watching conversations in addition to just listening to them. If this describes you, then I’d recommend supplementing Rocket Spanish with some Spanish-language television (more on this in a section down below!).
That’s pretty much all I can think of at the moment in terms of downsides.
I’ve spent a lot of time over the last few months getting into a Spanish-learning routine in preparation for moving abroad. I’ve tested out multiple programs and settled on Rocket as my favorite, primarily because it is so comprehensive and because I enjoy the dialogues.
How I use Rocket Spanish
I complement Rocket Spanish with a few other activities. For one thing, now that I live abroad, I regularly practice conversing with native speakers. I’ve also grown to love a few Spanish TV shows and I like having Spanish music on in the background.
But Rocket Spanish serves as the core component of my study, methodically teaching me the fundamentals, expanding my vocab, and providing me with crucial structure on a daily basis.
This program is about as thorough as it gets. If you are looking to purchase a quality Spanish program to make fast progress on your Spanish, then this is it. And even if you don’t currently have access to other learning materials, Rocket Spanish is comprehensive enough to work well as a standalone course.
Now it’s time to get into the details: How is Rocket Spanish structured? What can you expect from the lessons? And what does this program have to offer that make it a stand-out?
Three levels of learning (+ the travelogue)
Rocket Spanish has three levels of increasing difficulty. Level 1 is suitable for complete beginners, Level 2 is aimed at intermediate learners, and Level 3 tackles advanced grammar and demands more complex skills.
You can purchase all three levels, or just a single level, depending on your needs. To give you some idea of pricing as of 2018, you can find Rocket Spanish on sale for around:
- $100 for Level 1
- $250 for Levels 1 & 2
- $260 for Levels 1, 2, & 3
You can even try it before you buy by creating a free trial account. And once you’ve purchased the program, there’s a 60-day trial period during which you can try out the program risk-free.
In addition to the 3 Levels, there is a travelogue series designed for students at an intermediate to advanced conversational level.
What are the introductory lessons like?
Lesson 1.1 starts out with a very simple conversation, suitable for complete beginners. One thing I like: You begin speaking and participating in Spanish conversations from the very start. The hosts prompt you to repeat and produce phrases aloud.
Many language learners find that speaking aloud is a crucial element of committing new words and phrases to memory and being able to use them in practice.
I also like that even the early lessons include actual, full conversations (even if they’re very short at first). That’s because I am a big believer in learning things in context. You’ll remember new words and understand their real-world usage much better if you learn them within the context of a full sentence.
Within the lessons that make up the very first module of Level 1 (there are 8 modules total at this level), you can expect to learn:
- How to order a coffee
- How to talk about your job
- How to describe your family
- How to discuss travel plans
Ordering a coffee is possibly one of my most frequent activities in any foreign country, so I was glad to see it included right at the beginning of Rocket Spanish.
Jobs, families, and travel plans are also extremely common subjects for conversation and small talk—it makes total sense that they are included early on too.
In general, it seems that the creators of Rocket Spanish have put considerable thought into what most people actually want to learn and what kinds of conversations the average traveler (or expat, or exchange student) is likely to have.
So that’s just Level 1, module 1—what about the rest of Level 1? How much can you expect to learn?
Level 1 covers a lot of ground. It includes 8 modules with 34 interactive audio lessons along with 33 language & culture lessons.
You’ll learn the basics of Spanish grammar, acquire a decent vocabulary that will equip you for common situations (e.g. checking into a hotel, meeting a new person, describing your job, etc.), and gain confidence. With some hard work, Level 1 can take you up to an intermediate conversational level.
Just how advanced does Rocket Spanish get?
Due to its huge amount of content, Rocket Spanish gets quite advanced. Within Levels 1, 2, and 3, you have 98 interactive audio lessons, each complete with extra vocab and exercises.
Conversations contained within these lessons gradually become more complex and challenging, but if you proceed in a linear fashion through the course, you’ll be ready to tackle them.
Then there are 87 language & culture lessons in total, which cover the finer points of grammar and usage. Once you get up to Level 3, you’ll learn how to:
- Express desires, doubts, and feelings
- Use the passive voice
- Speak in the conditional tense (would have…could have…should have…)
- Use the past perfect and future perfect tenses
- Speculate about things
- Use the often-dreaded subjunctive mood to express uncertainty and subjectivity
So basically, you’ll learn how to say virtually anything you want in Spanish! Level 3 will probably take you some time to master, but once you have, you’ll be at a high level of fluency.
And then there’s the travelogue, created with more advanced students in mind. The travelogue builds on everything you’ve learned in Levels 1 through 3 and gives you a cohesive and entertaining narrative packed with dialogue and conversational phrases.
With diligence and study on your end, Rocket Spanish can help you reach an advanced conversational level. You’ll be able to interact confidently in a wide variety of situations and express complex thoughts.
As you grow more advanced, you’ll soon be ready to complement Rocket’s lessons with some additional material: Spanish literature, film, television, music, and conversations with native speakers.
After completing all three levels of Rocket, I hope to be able to read some of the classics of Spanish literature (perhaps with the occasional assistance of a dictionary!) and enjoy Spanish television without subtitles.
What if you just want to learn (or brush up on) the basics for a vacation?
It’s okay if you don’t have grand ambitions for becoming so fluent in Spanish you could pass for a native speaker. Many people just want to get a solid grasp of basic grammar and become reasonably conversational.
So if this describes you, should you use the Rocket Spanish program?
That depends. Are you just headed to Mexico for a week and staying somewhere with English-speaking staff? Then maybe just Google Translate a few essential phrases (“Hello,” “Thank you,” “Where are the bathrooms?”) and call it a day.
But there are some cases in which even a more casual learner will benefit from Rocket’s program. For example:
- If you’re headed on a slightly longer vacation (2+ weeks) and anticipate having at least some conversations with locals.
- If you will be using a lot of public transportation or negotiating on your own with taxis.
- If you’re going to rural or more remote areas where you’re not sure whether you’ll encounter many English speakers.
- If you enjoy conversing and interacting with people you meet and hope to do so on your trip.
- If you vacation fairly frequently in Spain or Latin America and find yourself repeatedly needing to learn Spanish.
- If you just like learning languages and figure this vacation is as good an opportunity as any to jumpstart your language acquisition.
In the above cases, a more solid grounding in Spanish would be beneficial. I’d suggest taking a look at Level 1 of Rocket Spanish.
Since you can buy just this level individually, it’s a cost-effective option. This level will help you to become proficient and conversational at a deeper level than just flipping through a phrasebook. And it will cover your needs in a wide range of common situations.
Organization of the course
As I’ve mentioned, the Rocket Spanish course is split into 3 levels of difficulty. And within each level, the course is divided into three parts:
- Interactive audio lessons
- Language and culture lessons
- Survival kit lessons
I’ll discuss all of these in greater detail below.
Then, there’s also some extra material, most notably the travelogue lessons and the advanced learning modules.
The course proceeds in a linear progression. If you are starting Rocket Spanish as a total beginner, then I highly recommend that you simply start at Level 1, Lesson 1.1 and go from there. The lessons tend to build on each other, so you’ll get a more thorough grasp of Spanish this way, instead of jumping around.
If, like me, you begin Rocket Spanish as a beginner who has a little prior Spanish knowledge (emphasis on a little), then I still recommend starting at Lesson 1.1. However, you can accelerate the first few lessons—I’ll explain how below.
If you’re unsure of your level, then you can always check in by taking the Benchmark Test. Each level has a benchmark test with the material you learn at that level. If you’re an advanced beginner or intermediate learner, this will help you figure out where to start.
Interactive audio lessons
At the core of each interactive audio lesson is a conversation.
These conversations are typically only about a minute or so long, introducing a manageable amount of new grammar and vocabulary.
The audio lesson hosts, Mauricio and Amy, introduce each conversation and then go through it, piece by piece, repeating key words and phrases until you’re completely comfortable with it.
All in all, each audio lesson takes around 20 to 30 minutes.
One of the nice things about the lesson set-up is that Rocket gives you options. It provides audio for both the full lesson, as well as audio that isolates just the Spanish conversation (with no explanation or discussion).
As you can see here, you can opt to listen to the full half-hour lesson, or just the 47-second conversation at the heart of the lesson.
So, if you are going through an early level that you think might be way too easy for you, you can simply play the conversation!
Once you’ve reached your level, however, I strongly suggest you slow down and listen to the full lessons: As you listen, you’ll repeat after the hosts, practice your pronunciation, hear complicated phrases again, learn synonyms and alternative ways of saying something, and so on.
The full lessons contain much more than a simple dissection of the conversation. They also discuss related topics and phrases and explain the contexts in which you might use a particular phrase.
I like to listen to the full audio lesson, repeating and responding when prompted. Then I play just the conversation afterward to ensure I’ve fully understood everything and can construct all the sentences myself.
Another note: As you can see on the above screenshot, you have the option to download audio lessons. I love this feature about Rocket Spanish since it gives me full access to all the content I’ve paid for. If I’m heading somewhere with bad or no Wi-Fi, then I can download as much as I want in advance. This is super useful for traveling!
Okay, so the lesson still isn’t over. After listening to the core audio lesson, you’ll then find a series of exercises that will help cement everything in your memory.
First, you’ll see the option to play the conversation back with yourself in the role of either Mauricio or Amy. There’s even voice recognition software that can determine whether you’re pronouncing everything properly.
I like this exercise because of its emphasis on production: It’s so important to speak Spanish right from the start. Speaking and participating in an imagined conversation really helps you get the material down.
Then, you’ll find a section with additional vocabulary, building on what you’ve learned from the audio.
And finally, some more exercises, such as a short quiz and flashcards. You can choose which of these exercises suits you best. Depending on your preferences and the amount of time you have, you can complete some or all of them.
Language & culture lessons
These lessons generally cover important grammar and usage points of the Spanish language, along with some cultural knowledge. For instance, in Level 1, you’ll learn how to…
- Use the common verbs ser and estar
- Count and tell time
- Conjugate verbs in the present tense
- Use direct and indirect object pronouns
- Use reflexive verbs
…and much more.
These lessons provide a grammatical, structural backbone to everything you’re learning. When you listen to the interactive audio lessons, you hear and learn all sorts of phrases in context, which the hosts Mauricio and Amy methodically unpack for you.
Then, in the language & culture lessons, you’re presented with the grammatical underpinnings of what you’ve been learning.
For instance, take Level 1, Lesson 2.8: Verbs in the Present Tense. This lesson acquaints you with verb infinitives and then shows you how to conjugate verbs in the present tense.
By this point in the program, you’ll have already heard tons of sentences with present-tense verbs in them. You’ll have a sense of how these verbs work, and you’ll be able to construct your own sentences along the patterns you’ve picked up.
What Lesson 2.8 does is make these patterns clear and explicit. No need for guesswork: This lesson will confirm what your intuition has probably already told you.
This format is pretty smart. You learn new words and concepts in context (somewhat intuitively), but then you also formally learn the rules and patterns of the language.
So far, I find that these lessons explain concepts in a clear and straightforward way.
Finally, the language & culture lessons give you a dose of culture from across the Spanish-speaking world. You might learn about public transportation, family traditions, food, cities, all sorts of things.
Survival kit lessons
Although in general, Rocket Spanish works best if you proceed in a linear fashion, one exception to that might be the survival kit lessons. If you’re planning an imminent trip or in need of particular vocabulary, these lessons will be useful. They’re thematic, covering topics like:
- Days of the week, months, and seasons
- Medical Spanish
- Spanish business vocabulary
- Current Events
- Shopping and clothing
- Public transport
As you can see, these lessons are designed to help you navigate Spanish-speaking areas, performing essential activities (such as visiting the doctor or buying a train ticket) with confidence.
Another cool feature of the survival kit lessons: They cover a long list of Spanish-English cognates! Your preexisting English knowledge can give you a leg up on learning Spanish due to all the shared words between them.
Going through these cognate lists is a quick and easy way to increase your Spanish vocabulary. You may be surprised at all the Spanish you already know!
These engaging, often humorous travelogue lessons follow the fictional adventures of Miguel and María, who fly to Mexico and then work their way south through Central and South America, stopping in at various scenic locations and handling all sorts of mishaps.
If only I’d worked my way through these lessons earlier…A few years ago, I took a trip to the Dominican Republic and, after a close encounter with a stray dog, found myself in need of some rabies shots. Three hospitals and an accidental tetanus booster later, I finally ended up in the right place and got my first rabies vaccination.
This whole process would have been infinitely easier if I had been able to communicate in Spanish.
For one thing, I could have picked up a phone and called ahead to see if any of those hospitals had the rabies vaccine before going all the way there. But since I didn’t speak Spanish, I wasn’t confident I’d be able to have a coherent phone conversation.
And what about once I got there? Knowing even basic phrases such as: “There was a dog,” “I am worried about rabies,” and “I would like to get the rabies vaccine,” would have gotten my point across much more efficiently than what I actually did: drawing a stick figure person and a rabid-looking dog on a Post-It note to explain things.
Rocket’s travelogue lessons (as well as the survival kit lessons) are perfect if you love traveling and want to be able to communicate in Spanish-speaking countries. Whether you’re hoping to make new friends or just have an easier time at the hospital, these lessons will help you out.
And remember: Because this is not a time-limited, subscription-based course, you can take multiple passes at the travelogue.
This provides an opportunity to track your progress if you take a stab at one of the travelogue lessons every few weeks. You’ll likely find that it becomes easier and easier to follow along with full comprehension.
The travelogue is a really fun addition to this course. And it’s not just an afterthought! There are 12 chapters in the story, each containing 5 to 6 substantial lessons. You’ll learn new vocab and idioms as you enjoy a little armchair travel through Latin America, from Playa del Carmen and Tulúm to the Iberá Wetlands and Machu Pichu.
In addition to the main course content, Rocket has a few extra learning tools that you may find helpful.
Language learning forum
The Rocket Spanish forum is a great resource—it’s actually pretty active. You can use the forum to ask questions about Spanish grammar and vocab, get advice on language learning strategies, or just share your excitement about learning something new.
Though I haven’t posted there yet myself, the forum appears to house a helpful community where you can ask (and answer) questions.
The forum is searchable. If you find a specific point confusing, there’s a good chance you’re not alone and someone has sought help in one of the thousands of threads.
Flashcards and My Vocab
Flashcards are a tried-and-true method for language learning, so I was happy to find that Rocket Spanish has a great flashcard feature.
You can build your own flashcard sets, or you can use public ones that other users have created. The ability to use public, pre-made flashcard sets is awesome because it saves you time!
Some examples of publicly available flashcard sets:
- 50 most common Spanish verbs
- Body parts
You can search Rocket’s database of public flashcard sets if you have a specific goal in mind. And if no such set exists, it’s easy to make one yourself.
In addition to flashcards, Rocket Spanish lets you collect words, phrases, and complete sentences in “My Vocab.” To save something to My Vocab, simply click on the star next to a word or phrase. You can also import anything in My Vocab into My Flashcards, which makes it super easy to create flashcard decks.
When you click over to the My Vocab tab, you’ll have a list of all your saved vocabulary. Each entry includes the Spanish word/phrase, an audio recording of it in Spanish, and the English translation.
I love this feature because I prefer to learn new vocabulary in context. I like seeing new words in complete phrases and sentences, as this helps me remember the meaning better and makes it easier for me to use new words myself.
So I’ve saved tons of useful phrases in My Vocab. Basic phrases that arise often, such as:
- ¿Para cuántas personas?
- “For how many people?”
- Tenemos que salir temprano.
- “We have to leave early.”
- ¿Qué quieres hacer este fin de semana?
- “What do you want to do this weekend?”
- ¿Qué vas a hacer?
- “What are you going to do?”
- Hable más despacio, por favor.
- “Speak more slowly please.”
- No hay nada.
- “There isn’t anything.”
Here is just a brief snippet of what I’ve got saved in My Vocab:
As shown in the screenshot, I’m able to play audio of each sentence and practice speaking it myself (with voice-recognition software).
There’s a link back to the original lesson in which the sentence appeared, so if I want a full refresher, I can go right back there. There’s also space to take notes: You can put reminders for yourself here, or jot down alternate ways of phrasing something.
As I become more advanced and basic phrases become second nature, I delete them to make room for more complex phrases.
Another useful feature: You can export everything in My Vocab to .CSV. Basically this just gives you options. For example, if you have a favorite flashcard app like StudyBlue or Anki, it’s easy to import your word and phrase lists from Rocket.
Even more exciting: You can use My Vocab to search for words throughout the entire course.
When you search, you can check a box if you want to search only within the words you’ve saved. Otherwise, the search will cover every lesson. Which is awesome!
Here, I’ve done a search for caminar, “to walk.” The results show me every time this word pops up. I get a list of sentences that use caminar in context, such as:
- El hombre va a caminar alrededor de la ciudad.
- “The man is going to walk around the city.”
- Tenía que caminar dos horas por la nieve.
- “I had to walk for two hours through the snow.”
- Voy a caminar a la playa.
- “I am going to walk to the beach.”
Seeing a word used in different contexts is an excellent way to remember it.
You might notice that the three above sentences include caminar in that precise form: The infinitive. However, when I search camin, a truncated form of the verb, I turn up even more phrases with the verb in various conjugations:
- Estoy caminando.
- “I am walking.”
- ¿Estás en el camino?
- “Are you on the way?”
- Camino desde mi casa hasta mi lugar de trabajo todos los días.
- “I walk from my house to my workplace every day.”
This is a very useful feature, whether you’re feeling unsure about a particular word and want to see examples of its use, you’re having trouble remembering a definition, or you simply want to learn some new phrases.
Methods for tracking progress
Rocket Spanish provides multiple ways to track your progress. First, you’ll see three bars measuring your progress on the left:
Each lesson and activity you do earns points, which are tallied up in the first bar. You can see how you stack up compared to other Rocket Spanish users in the second bar—this kind of friendly competition may help keep you motivated!
Finally, the third bar shows you your current streak: How many consecutive days have you worked on your Spanish? As you can see, I clearly need to work on my current streak!
You can also adjust the number of points you set as your goal:
I’ve got mine set to 100 per day, which is the default setting. So far, I find this is a reasonable number of points to achieve, though on a good day I can easily surpass it.
These metrics are simple, but they quantify how much work you’ve put in each day and encourage you to keep learning.
You can also click on the “My Progress” tab under “My Tools.” This will give you some more information on the three measurements above. And you can take the Benchmark Test, which gives you a rough idea of your Spanish level.
I took the Level 1 Benchmark as a diagnostic tool when I started using Rocket Spanish. The result? A whopping 22%!
You can retake the Benchmark tests whenever you want, though, and I’ve made considerable progress since then.
In addition, you can easily track your progress within each module. See here, for example, the display from Level 1, Module 2:
I can see at a glance that I’ve completed 10% of Module 2, including a quarter of the interactive audio lessons. I can also see which activities I’ve completed in each lesson, thanks to the green dots.
All in all, I like the way that Rocket Spanish keeps track of my progress. It’s not overly gamified, but there’s still a little sense of competition. And if you’re someone who hates to break a good long streak, then you’ll find yourself working consistently every day on your Spanish!
I also like having a record of which lessons and modules I’ve completed, and which I still need to work on.
Advanced learning techniques
I recommend checking out the section “My advanced learning” under the “My Tools” tab. These 25 modules are designed for the serious learner, walking you through effective learning strategies, memory tips, and advice to speak more confidently.
These quick, written lessons are a great way to pick up new techniques and stay motivated.
Research indicates that meta-cognition, or thinking about how we think and learn, helps us actually learn more effectively.
If you make use of this section, you’ll not only learn how to speak Spanish, you’ll also learn how to learn. Essentially, this feature can help you become a more efficient autodidact. You can use these principles when you want to teach yourself virtually anything.
I’ll point you to a couple of these lessons in particular: 21 and 22. These cover Alexander Arguelles’ shadowing and scriptorium techniques, which I recommended for independent Spanish learners in my guide to learning Spanish.
Rocket’s Spanish program is, in and of itself, an excellent way to structure your learning. Even if you just follow the lessons one by one, day after day, you will see results. But I really appreciate that they included this extra section on learning techniques too.
Looking for a complement to Rocket Spanish?
Now I’ve mentioned just how impressively comprehensive Rocket Spanish is. If you can only buy and use one thing to learn Spanish from beginner to advanced, this is it. But of course it’s ridiculous to expect any one language program or method to fulfill your every conceivable need.
In an ideal world, you might also complement Rocket Spanish with a few other things:
- Conversations with native speakers: Most likely, you’re learning Spanish so you can communicate with other people, so practice your Spanish in real life whenever you have the chance! You can vacation in Spain or Latin America, arrange to stay with a host family, or simply set up Skype sessions on italki.
- Music, film, and television: Once you’ve reached a decent level of fluency, a whole new world of culture will open up to you. You’ll be able to understand the words of tons of catchy songs and follow along with Spanish-language movies and TV. I strongly recommend watching El Ministerio del Tiempo, a famous Spanish fantasy series that involves time travel (if you’re a fan of Doctor Who, you’ll love it!). Or you can also enjoy incredible films like El laberinto del fauno (Pan’s Labyrinth) in the original Spanish.
- Literature: I’ve been reading Harry Potter y las Reliquias de la Muerte in conjunction with Rocket Spanish lessons. The first chapter was somewhat hard going, even though I’m already familiar with the plot. It’s been gratifying to find each chapter getting a little bit easier as my Spanish improves. Once I’m done with Harry Potter, I might pick up a book originally written in Spanish, maybe a murder mystery like La caverna de las ideas by José Carlos Somoza!
Are there any downsides to Rocket Spanish?
The one main downside I can think of: Lack of a video element. Some people prefer having video rather than just audio. Video provides visual context cues and body language, which can help you figure out what’s being said.
However, you can definitely find video content out there to use as a supplement to Rocket Spanish. For example, check out the Easy Spanish YouTube channel, which creates short, fun videos on a variety of topics to help you practice your Spanish.
If you’re a beginner, you can also look into children’s TV such as Mundo Zamba and Dora la Exploradora. As you get more advanced, try the wonderful El Ministerio del Tiempo, available on Netflix in some countries, or the Spanish version of The Simpsons, Los Simpsons.
So overall, I don’t think the lack of a video element is a major drawback since there are so many fantastic TV shows already out there, many available for free.
The audio component also works great for people who like to learn while on their commutes. You of course can’t watch videos while driving, but you can listen to audio.
Another possible downside might be the upfront cost of purchasing Rocket Spanish. For some people, $260 (for all three levels) or even $100 (for just Level 1) is a lot of money. In this case, I recommend checking out my Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Learning Spanish, which contains information on the free resources you can use to learn Spanish.
If, however, you can afford to invest in a language program, then I strongly recommend Rocket. It is very competitively priced, significantly less expensive than, say, Pimsleur. I also think that it provides the fantastic value.
This is for two reasons. One, because it simply has so much content. Way more content than other similar programs. And the content is smart, thoughtful, and engaging.
Two, because once you’ve bought it, you actually own everything you’ve bought for life. You can download it and access it anytime (as opposed to subscription-based programs).
Some final words of advice for using this (or any) language learning program:
Even the best Spanish programs can’t help you if you don’t do your part. As with virtually anything else in life, you get out what you put in. Rocket Spanish is a great course, but it can only teach you if you make a genuine effort and study consistently.
Consistency is absolutely key. Even if you can only manage 15 minutes of practice on some days, take that time. Put studying Spanish on your calendar or to-do list every day, and check it off. Within several weeks, you will have formed a solid habit.
Make sure that you are actually speaking as you go through lessons, rather than just following along passively. You’ll learn far more if you actively repeat and respond when prompted.
And finally, have fun! Learning a new language is one of my favorite things to do. It’s challenging but endlessly fascinating and fulfilling. Perhaps the best part? Using a new language while traveling and realizing that people actually do understand me!
If, like me, you’re toward the beginning of your Spanish-learning adventure, there will probably be a few moments of confusion or frustration. Don’t give up! Remind yourself of why you began studying Spanish in the first place; you must have had a reason, right?!
And remind yourself that perfection tends to elude even educated native speakers. You may not be perfect, but you can always keep moving forward.