Note: The Rocket Japanese program received some major updates in the fall of 2020. We’ve updated our Rocket Japanese review below to reflect the changes.
Whether you plan to compete in today’s global market or simply want to try something new, speaking Japanese is an essential language skill to acquire. Spoken primarily in Japan as the national language, approximately 128 million people speak Japanese as a first language. Written Japanese uses the Chinese characters (kanji) and much of its compound words (made of 2 or more characters) were originally derived from Chinese.
Mostly a phonetic language, Japanese does not use any articles. Nouns do not have a masculine or feminine connotation, and verbs are generally only conjugated for tense. Sentence structure is topic-comment format, which can be a bit confusing as the ‘topic’ is not always the ‘subject.’ If you are ready to give learning to speak Japanese a shot, check out our review for Rocket Japanese below.
If you’re looking for the free trial of Rocket Japanese, click here.
Rocket Japanese Review Overview
The award-winning Rocket Languages brings you Rocket Japanese for students of Japanese. The company promises (and mostly delivers) a powerful language learning platform with practical lessons that are proven to work. Boasting their Mastery Method, Rocket Japanese builds on research of those who speak more than one language and actual science to effectively teach Japanese.
This Mastery Method includes:
- Out-loud speaking activities
- Step-by-step instructions
- Pronunciation practice
- Time efficiency
- Whole-brain learning
Rocket Japanese promises to enhance your affinity for the Japanese culture by teaching you how locals live, work and play. It also offers a large variety of activities to keep you motivated and on track to learning with relevant topics and vocabulary.
What’s New In Rocket Japanese For 2021?
Since 2019 when we wrote our original review (in the sections below), there’s been some pretty big updates to Rocket Japanese in October and November of 2020.
Here are some of the most notable updates:
- New Language and Culture lessons for Level 1 which are written to JLPT N5 requirements (N4 and N3 have also been promised for the coming months)
- New writing lessons that cover hiragana, katakana and N5 kanji
- A new kanji practice utility: Draw It!
- New Survival Kit lessons for Level 1 covering N5 vocabulary
- Updated notations and translations in Level 1 to make lessons even clearer
- Sort It! Kana and Sort It! Kanji have replaced Write It! in the Reinforcement activities.
- A new tutorial in the Dashboard (“Find out how everything works!”)
We were able to test out the new features and were impressed with the time and thought that they’ve put in.
It seems like they’ve listened to past criticism and specifically improved those aspects. For example, improving the notations and literal translations, and making sure the level components correspond to levels on the JLPT. These are the biggest improvements in our opinion.
The Draw It Kanji practice function (screenshot below) is also a welcome improvement, and works well if you’re studying on a tablet or mobile. That said, it’s not really workable if you study with a regular laptop and trackpad.
Good Points Of Rocket Japanese
The efficiency and flexibility of the program won it major points with us. Here’s what we liked best:
Bad Points Of Rocket Japanese
There were a few things we didn’t love about Rocket Japanese. Here are two that stood out:
What are the Lessons Like?
Lessons vary by level and build upon each previous level. Rocket Japanese takes a comprehensive and immersive approach to teaching. Instead of simply repeating vocabulary words or phrases (like Rosetta Stone for example), you are taught the grammar behind the construction of those phrases. In our experience, this in-depth approach yields the best results.
Level 1 offers over 134 hours of lessons that you can go over as many times as necessary. There are 34 interactive audio lessons to help you perfect your pronunciation, and 33 language and culture lessons to help fully immerse you in Japanese. Should you choose to buy two or even all three lessons, you will receive over 370 hours of lesson time.
We also liked that Rocket Japanese is moving towards being more ‘interactive. For example, with the “Play It'” audio lessons, is that you can choose which character to ‘act’ as. See this screenshot:
Who Is Rocket Japanese For?
Rocket Japanese is recommended for anyone who:
- wants a comprehensive, all-in-one resource to learn Japanese from scratch
- wants to get ahead in business by expanding to Japan
- wants to be conversational for an upcoming vacation or business trip
- enjoys learning at their own pace
- thrives on independent study
Who Is Rocket Japanese NOT For?
Language learning software is hardly a one-size-fits-all investment. Those who might not benefit from something like Rocket Japanese include those who:
- are visual learners (this course is mostly geared toward listening)
- thrive more in classroom environments
cannot afford the initial investment and would do better on a monthly subscription
Update: Rocket Japanese now has a payment program for people that prefer to spread the cost over multiple payments.
Rocket Japanese vs. The Competition
You can find quite a few free and subscription programs that claim to quickly and effectively teach you to speak Japanese. Which ones are worth the hype and how does Rocket Japanese compare? Read on for information about some competitors.
Rocket Japanese vs. JapanesePod101
One of the first language programs you will find when searching is JapanesePod101. It is set up very much like Rocket Japanese with immersive learning from a logical stand point that builds upon previous lessons.
Both programs offer substantial content with both apps and desktop versions, so you can learn anywhere. The biggest difference between the two is that JapanesePod101 utilizes a monthly subscription service instead of one-time payment.
Rocket Japanese vs. FluentU
FluentU takes a unique approach to language learning by adding subtitles and interactive captions to mostly YouTube videos. While this can certainly be entertaining, comprehensive content with grammar lessons is lacking. There is no real structure to this approach and though it could definitely be used as a secondary program, it really isn’t suited for beginners seeking fluency. FluentU also charges on a monthly or yearly basis.
Rocket Japanese vs. Rosetta Stone Japanese
Rosetta Stone Japanese offers both a monthly subscription plan and a lifetime access plan so you have options. Like Rocket Japanese, they offer a voice recognition to help you fine-tune your pronunciation. Lessons can be learned on desktop or mobile app and are as short as 10 minutes long. Tutoring is available for an additional monthly fee.
Is Rocket Japanese Worth the Money?
When you consider the amount of learning material included with Rocket Japanese, we think it’s worth the money. If you were to compare the cost of attending a language learning class at a college or university, Rocket Japanese ends up being many times more affordable.
One thing we really liked about Rocket Japanese is that they offer a free trial, so you can see if their course fits your learning style.
RocketJapanese also offers a 60 day no questions asked money-back guarantee, which we think is pretty cool.
Rocket Japanese Review: Summary
Rocket Japanese is a great learning tool made for motivated students of Japanese. The included interactive voice lessons are a bonus over most other programs in helping you perfect your pronunciation. The one-time fee (as opposed to a monthly subscription model) means that you set the timeline on your learning.
All in all, Rocket Japanese is one of the more comprehensive courses out there for learning Japanese, especially at the lower levels. Its Mastery Method is a logical way to learn, retain and use Japanese in everyday life.
For beginners in Japanese, we can safely recommend Rocket Japanese as a great comprehensive program. All that said, for more advanced Japanese learners, Rocket Japanese might not have enough content for your level, and we might instead recommend JapanesePod101.