08 July 2013

Learning Spanish – which home course is best ?

While nothing beats in-person Spanish lessons from a great instructor with a proven curriculum, there are advantages to start with a Spanish-language home course.

A Spanish language home-learning course enables you to: 
  • study on your own schedule (around your work and other responsibilities)
  • maintain the continuity of your Spanish studies even if you travel or move 
  • get past the most awkward beginning phase of Spanish-learning in private 
  • save many hundreds (or thousands) of dollars

So what Spanish home-learning course is the best?

That is what I wondered.

So, I read several reviews. Then I studied, tested, and tried the four that seemed the most promising. (I spent a minimum of 12 hours investigating each course.)

While all the Spanish home-study courses I considered have merit, the one I chose for myself is Rocket Spanish. I was surprised how much I liked it because I had not heard much about it before.

However, it turns out that I am not alone in my opinion. Rocket Languages (the company that makes Rocket Spanish) is PC magazine's Editor's Choice for language learning.


Is Rocket Spanish right for you? 


While Rocket Spanish is the Spanish-learning program I selected, it's not right for everyone.

I recommend Rocket Spanish if..... 
  • You speak English  - Directions and explanations are given in English.
  • You are an adult – The learning method is designed for adults 
  • You are a beginner or intermediate Spanish learner–You aren't expected to know any Spanish to start.
  • You have a computer or tablet (Rocket Spanish works well for tablets, too) 
  • You have Internet access: Rocket Spanish is an online course. There is an optional 20 CD language learning set. These can be helpful for someone with limited Internet access; however, there are some tools and resources that are only available online. 
  • You have at least 45 minutes a day to study Spanish (an hour is better). 
  • You have a place to study where you can speak out loud. You need to repeat what you are learning for it to work. 

What sets Rocket Spanish apart from the competition? 


Rocket Spanish has a distinct set of attributes that set it apart from the other Spanish home-study courses I examined:

1) You develop useful Spanish conversation skills much more quickly 
From the very first lesson, Rocket Spanish provides useful conversation skills for real-life situations you are likely to encounter in a Spanish-speaking country.

2) You learn about Latin American culture 
Rocket Spanish includes more than 30 cultural lessons that help you know what to expect and how to avoid awkward situations in Latin America.

3) You are provided with clear and complete instructions in English 
We now know that adults don't learn a language the same way as babies, as once popularized. With Rocket Spanish, unnecessary frustration is avoided by providing you with instructions, explanations, and encouragement in English.

4) You are provided with the most complete set of tools to aid learning, keep you motivated, and to evaluate your progress. 
Besides the core learning path that includes...
  • Spanish learning audio lessons
  • Easy to digest Spanish language principles and grammar lessons 
  • And Latin American culture lessons,
Rocket Spanish provides a variety of supplemental study tools that include...
  • A variety of self-tests
  • Motivational incentives  (like progress tracking, level badges... or the option to compete with other learners online if you are the competitive type.) 
  • Spanish word games. 
5) You may actually find yourself enjoying your Spanish study time 
The audio instructors, Maricio and Amy, are positive, entertaining, and encouraging. The online portions of Rocket Spanish have a game-like quality.

 6) You pay less 
Rocket Spanish costs less than the competition. I was a little skeptical of Rocket Spanish because of the low price. However, after using it, I am impressed with the value. Again, I am not alone in my assessment.  Ninety-seven percent of people who have purchased Rocket Spanish report it is a good value for the money.

My personal experience using Rocket Spanish 


My overall impression of Rocket Spanish 
I found Rocket Spanish to be an effective Spanish learning program. It helps develop useful Spanish conversation skills quickly, and provides a solid learning path for those of us aspiring toward Spanish fluency. It's friendly to use and offers a great value for the money.

What you get when you purchase Rocket Spanish 
The main components of Rocket Spanish are the 30+ audio lessons and 30+ language lessons. The audio lessons are built around natural social situations you are likely to encounter in a Latin American country.

The language lessons teach you things like how to say the letters in the alphabet, how to count, and eases you into the rules and fundamentals of the Spanish language.

Each language lesson comes with a cultural lesson, an article that provides insight into customs, etiquette, and perspectives of Latin American culture.

The main audio tract of each lesson can be downloaded and used on a MP3 player, so you can listen while you do other things. The written lesson materials can also be downloaded  and printed.

The audio and language lessons include an online voice comparison tool and three different self-tests to make sure you fully learned the lesson.

Rocket Spanish comes with assessment tests. You can test yourself on parts of the program, or all of the program. Additionally, there are several progress measuring tools to keep you motivated.

Rocket Spanish also comes with Spanish word games that provide an entertaining way to reinforce what you are learning.

Purchasing Rocket Spanish  
When I purchased Rocket Spanish I received  a link with my email receipt that gave me immediate access to the program. I purchased Rocket Spanish Premium (level 1) and Rocket Spanish Premium Plus (level 2)

I  also received a free bonus product called the Rocket Spanish Toolbox. It includes a tool to flag words anywhere in the program, a tool to build a personalized vocabulary list, and a built-in note pad.

I purchased Rocket Spanish level 1, level 2 , and the Spanish Toolbox in two transactions (one for level 1 and another for level 2).  I was happy to see that all the components I ordered were delivered together as an integrated set (with a tab at the top to choose between level 1 and level 2).

When I log in to use Rocket Spanish I have access to all my lessons and learning tools, complete with my personalized progress reports and progress history, all in one place.

The first time you use Rocket Spanish 
When you first log in to Rocket Spanish there is an orientation menu in the form of a checklist to introduce you to the various Spanish-learning components.

I started using the orientation guide to learn about all the tools and modules. However, after 15 minutes, I quit and just started in on the first Spanish lesson.

After a few lessons I got a feel for the program and how it worked.  Then, I started looking around at the other tools and information. I recommend you do the same. Start in with the first lesson and learn as you go.

Technology and new methods built on a traditional Spanish learning foundation 
To me, Rocket Spanish is like the “Best of Learning Spanish”. Traditional learning methods are enhanced with modern linguistic methods like“chunking” and are reinforced with online-learning tools.

Rocket Spanish simulates putting-you-on-the -spot, so you really learn the material 
In addition to the main audio conversation and instruction for each lesson, there are additional supporting audios with just one side of the conversation recorded. These one-sided recordings train you to understand and respond at a natural conversational pace.

There are three self-tests at the end of each lesson. The self-tests allow you to focus on any part of the lesson you did not master,  without having to go back and repeat the whole lesson.

Digital voice graph might be overkill 
Rocket Spanish audio lessons teach pronunciation by breaking up new words into syllables and focusing on each sound. This is a tried-and-true system that has been used for more than 40 years.

However, Rocket Languages recently added an audio voice comparison tool called Rocket Record. It records your voice and also makes a digital graph of your voice pattern to visually compare with the recording and digital voice pattern of the instructor.

I use the Rocket Record voice comparison tool to reinforce what I learned on the audio lesson. But, I use my ear only to make the comparison, not the digital voice graph, which to me seems unnecessary and time-consuming.

So, why did Rocket Spanish add the voice graph? A digital voice recognition tool has long been a bragging right of a leading competitor. (A feature other learning systems didn't have.)  In my personal opinion, the voice-pattern graph is more of a selling gimmick than a real language learning breakthrough.

Rocket Spanish levels:
  • Rocket Spanish Premium – (level 1) beginner 
  • Rocket Spanish Premium Plus (level 2) intermediate 
  • Rocket Spanish Platinum (level 3) advanced 
Coming from another home-learning Spanish course to Rocket Spanish 
Most Spanish language home-study courses have levels. However, the curriculum of various courses are not uniform.

Since I have completed another  popular Spanish program through level 3,  I tried starting Rocket Spanish at level 2. However, there was too much I didn't know. I ended up starting with Rocket Spanish level 1 and just going through it at a faster pace.

However, I haven't lost anything by going back and starting at the beginning. Rocket Spanish provides more real-world phrases earlier in the course and gives you a broader selection of phrases for a given situation. I also benefited from the the language learning and cultural lessons that other home study courses do not provide.

Rocket Spanish is a product of Rocket Languages 


Rocket Languages is a New Zealand based company that started in 2004. (It also has a presence in the U.S.  and is accredited by the Better Business Bureau). The company was founded by Mark Ling and his friend Jason Oxenham while exploring the best way to learn a new language.

After a year of research and consulting, they began working with Mauricio Evlapieff, a native Spanish speaker from Chile, and the author of the Rocket Spanish course. Amy Waterman, who learned Spanish while living and working in Ecuador, also joined the project.

The team worked together with programmers to develop their first online language learning product: Rocket Spanish.

Today Rocket Languages offers courses for 10 languages, including American sign language. Now, more than a million learners are using Rocket Language courses.

Pricing


Rocket Spanish Premium (level 1) online course is $99.95

You pay once and have 24/7 access for as long as you want. It is NOT an annual subscription like so many online products these days. So, if your studies get interrupted for any reason, you can come back and pick them up.

Rocket Spanish can be purchased from anywhere in the world with a variety of payment options. I purchased it from Uruguay using my PayPal account.

Rocket Spanish Premium (level 1) 20-CD pack is $299.95 and includes free shipping anywhere in the world.

Rocket Spanish Premium Plus (level 2) is an online course and lists for $149.
Rocket Spanish Platinum (level 3)  is also an online course and lists for $149.

60-day Guarantee 
Rocket Spanish comes with a 60-Day no-hassle guarantee.
If its not what you thought it would be, you get all your money back without jumping through hoops.

If you follow either of the following links and decide to buy Rocket Spanish, you will receive an additional bonus, as explained below.
Learn Spanish online with Rocket Spanish (Order Page) 
Learn Spanish online with Rocket Spanish (Home page)

Extra Bonus

Rocket Spanish is the Spanish-learning home course I use, like, and recommend to friends. I like it so much that I have entered into an affiliate partnership with Rocket Languages, and I would like to offer you an additional bonus.

If you decide to buy Rocket Spanish after going to the Rocket Spanish website from either of the links above, I will send you a free 56-page ebook that teaches you how to learn a new language faster.

This ebook discredits false myths about language learning, introduces the most effective language learning methods, and shows you how to develop the mental framework to learn a new language more quickly. (This ebook offer is in addition to any discounts or bonuses offered on the Rocket Spanish order form or website.)

To received this free ebook, forward a copy of the email receipt for purchasing Rocket Spanish to me, David Hammond, at: David@ParadiseUruguay.com.

When I receive it, I will send you the free 56-page language learning ebook that will help you make the most of your Spanish learning experience.

Hasta las próxima vez!

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