Note: The Rocket Korean program received some major updates in the new 2021 Edition. We’ve updated our Rocket Korean review below to reflect the changes.
The Korean language is unique in that it is considered by many to be a language isolate. This means that it is a natural language that has little to no association with another language. If you are considering learning Korean, you might be wondering what’s the best way to do so.
Apart from learning by total immersion, a quick internet search will yield a handful of online language-learning programs promising to teach you how to become fluent in Korean. Do they live up to their own hype? In this article, we’ll be reviewing one of the more popular language programs – Rocket Korean, a part of the award-winning Rocket Languages group.
Rocket Korean Review: Summary
There is now the option to break down the cost of Rocket Korean into six monthly payments for added convenience.
Description: Rocket Korean is a product of Rocket Languages, a comprehensive language program with lessons on grammar, vocabulary and Korean culture. The lesson get you learning the Hangul from the very beginning and the platform features lots of extra learning tools, such as flashcards and voice recognition software.
In a nutshell: Overall, Rocket Korean is a brilliant option for those looking for an introductory course that covers all aspects of the Korean language (excluding reading). Our only issue is that it’s only for beginners and limits your progression, forcing you to find an alternative course beyond an intermediate level.
Quality of Learning Materials:
Quantity of Lessons:
Effective and Efficient:
Teaches Useful Phrases:
Overall Score: 3.6
Rocket Korean Review: Overview
Unlike other Rocket Languages courses, Rocket Korean only offers a beginners course, taking you from beginner level to intermediate. Once you’ve completed the course you will have reached a good conversational level. The course consists of seven modules and a bonus “Survival Kit,” which offers quick vocab lessons that are ideal for travel and other specific situations.
The entire course contains over 120 hours of lesson time, broken down into 3 distinct lesson types:
- 32 Interactive audio lessons
- 28 Language and culture lessons
- 27 Writing lessons
Each lesson type focuses on a different skill or aspect of the language. For example, the audio lessons focus mainly on basic conversations by providing authentic dialogues, broken down line-by-line for you to practice and study.
The next type of lesson, the ‘language and culture’ lessons, go deeper into the Korean grammar, breaking the language down into its basic building blocks to help you understand how it works and eventually start constructing your own sentences.
FInally, the writing lessons introduce the Hangul writing system, letter by letter. Short videos show you the stroke order, accompanied by explanations and background information about each letter which helps with the memorisation. Unfortunately, there is no functionality for you to write the letters yourself (unlike other courses) so it’s recommended that you practice writing the Hangul out yourself on a notebook or pad of paper.
A membership to Rocket Korean not only gives you full access to the lesson but also offers:
The Pros: What We Like About Rocket Korean
Pro #1: New, Simplified User Interface
We love the updates Rocket Languages made to its platform. In the past, users were a bit confused on where to begin lessons. Now, the dashboard is clearly labeled and numbered, so you can easily start or pick up where you left off.
Pro #2: Leaderboard
We are a bit on the competitive side, so we love the idea of the leaderboard. Comparing your progress to that of other users is one way to keep motivated to use the program each day. Daily study and maintaining motivation will help you achieve your goal of learning to speak Korean.
Pro #3: Lots (and lots) of Content
Each lesson is jam-packed with information. They even have extra testing and extension vocab for you to learn more content beyond the scope of the lessons. The new Survival Kit provides quick, easy-to-pick-up phrases if you are planning to travel soon. The cultural lessons offer additional insight into the language. All in all, there’s enough lessons to keep you occupied for quite some time.
Pro #4: Focuses on Authentic Language
We like how they’ve placed a big emphasis on real everyday language by incorporating an authentic dialogue into every audio lesson. You can listen to the native speakers and mimic their pronunciation and intonation by recording your own voice and playing it back alongside the native speaker. You can effectively take part in the dialogue too by taking on one of the roles in the dialogue. The computer will play only the audio of the other speaker, leaving gaps for you to speak, automatically recording your voice.
Pro #5: Useful Tools & Features
Within the learning platform, you’ll find some useful extra tools when you click on the profile icon. For example, they’ve integrated a flashcard function right into the program, allowing you to test yourself on what you’ve learnt, even create some of your own flashcard decks.
Other tools allow you to add notes during the lesson, save useful vocabulary into a vocab bank, and take benchmark tests to gage your level. And finally, let’s not forget the forum, which allows you to ask questions and connect with other like-minded students.
The Cons: What We Didn't Like About Rocket Korean
Con #1: Beginner’s-Only Course
You can only go so far with Rocket Korean’s course. If you are striving for fluency, you will need to find an additional program once you’ve finished this course. This can be a huge inconvenience because you will need to change to a new platform, after you’ve just got used to the Rocket Japanese teaching style. You might find overlap with other content and waste time re-learning content you know already. You may also have difficulty choosing what level to start at with a new program.
Con #2: Empty Forums
Though we love the idea of interactive user forums for questions and answers among users, we found that most are empty or outdated. Users simply aren’t using the forums very often making it difficult to connect with other Korean students.
Con #3: English is Used Too Much
We felt that the audio lessons were too English-heavy, with a big emphasis on explaining what everything means rather than just demonstrating and letting you figure it out yourself. This means that the lessons move quite slowly with everything getting clarified first in English. You may want to sometimes skip the audio files and dive straight into the dialogues to get as much immersion into the language as possible – something that’s very important when learning a language.
Con #4: Voice Recognition Software is Not Great
It’s awesome that they now include a voice recognition software to give you a score on your pronunciation, however it is far from perfect, often giving a perfect score even when I made deliberate mistakes. Instead, we’d like to see more focus on the pronunciation itself, how to make the unique sounds in Korean, rather than rely on a buggy technology. We’d recommend finding a Korean tutor on italki to help you hone your pronunciation skills.
Con #5: Can Get Repetitive
The practice exercises are all very similar, based upon memorisation only, which can get boring very quickly. We’d like to see more fun and varied ways of testing yourself rather than basic translation exercises.
What are the Lessons Like?
As mentioned, the course features 3 lesson types. They alternate throughout the course which helps to keep everything fresh and interesting. Each lesson takes around 20 to 40 minutes to complete and you can download the MP3 files for you to study whilst on the go (for example, when at the gym or on a commute). This makes it very easy to fit around your busy lifestyle.
The topics are very interesting and focus mainly on useful situations that you may encounter while living or travelling in Korea. For example, you’ll learn how to order food, hail a cab, or ask for directions. The culture lessons provide a fascinating insight into Korean society, looking at honorifics, traditions and dining etiquette.
At the end of each lesson, there’s a section called “Rocket Reinforcement” where you’ll find a series of activities to drill home what you’ve learnt. Each activity uses a slightly different method to test you on what you’ve learnt.
These activities are:
- Play it! Take part in the dialogue by recording your own voice.
- Flashcards: Translate each word or phrase and then rate it on how difficult you felt it was
- Hear it! Say it! You get fed each word and you are asked to record yourself pronouncing it
- Know it! You must translate the meanings
- Quiz: A multiple choice test
It’s also worth noting that you can change the difficulty of the ‘Rocket Record’ between hard and easy. Plus you can toggle the romanization on or off.
Some users have noted that they appreciate the fact that the instructors do not waste time engaging in eye-rolling jokes on the audio lessons (a common issue before the update). On the flip side, the lessons can now feel a little too dry in comparison to other programs.
Who Is Rocket Korean For?
Those who’ll get the most out of the course are those who:
Who Is Rocket Korean NOT For?
Those who might not be a best fit for Rocket Korean are those who:
Rocket Korean vs. Competition
Rocket Korean vs. Pimsleur Korean
Pimsleur Korean offers a premium monthly subscription for $19.95. Like Rocket, it includes mostly audio lessons, but you can also find quizzes and flashcards for visualization. Up to three household members can use the account on different devices. It also offers some reading lessons in addition to audio.
Rocket Korean vs. KoreanClass101
KoreanClass101 is a member of Innovative Languages’ Pod101 courses. It has three monthly subscription levels based upon how much access and learning features you want. It claims to be one of the fastest and most fun ways to become fluent in Korean. Lessons are comprehensive and include both video and audio along with transcripts. Expertise levels range from absolute beginner to advanced speaker.
Rocket Korean vs. Duolingo Korean
Duolingo Korean is a game-like application designed to make learning to speak the language fun. You will find a variety of exercises including fill in the blank, multiple choice and arranging words in order. Understanding the most basic aspects of Korean is a good idea before starting Duolingo, as there are few to no grammar explanations.
Is Rocket Korean Worth the Money?
All in all, the price is very affordable for a serious student. There is plenty of content for the absolute beginner to get started in Korean. For a comparable program, you will have to fork over a monthly subscription fee. We’re a big fan of the one-time or six-month payment plan fees with Rocket Languages.
Rocket Korean Review: Conclusion
We want to love Rocket Korean like we do other Rocket Languages, but our biggest complaint is the lack of intermediate to advanced lessons. For the price, you do get a good quantity of information you can access for a lifetime, but you are limited in how far you can progress in Korean.
It’s definitely worth it for all of the comprehensive information that’s packed into the 8 modules (plus all the extra tools). Rocket Korean is an excellent introductory course with everything you’ll need to reach a basic conversational level.
However, in order to become fluent, you will need to find an additional course. This can be a huge inconvenience financially as well as academically when you consider various learning methods between programs. Still, if you only need a basic introduction to the language and a few phrases, Rocket Korean will suffice.
Our Editorial Team is a group of language learning enthusiasts who are passionate about testing new apps and finding the best ways to learn a language.