What is Rocket Italian ?
Rocket Italian is an Italian learning course. It is unique from many other language courses in that you download it from the Internet. It takes around 30 minutes to download with a broadband Internet connection.
There is also the option to have the hard copy version of the course shipped to you but this is far more expensive than the download version and the content of both are the same.
This is what you get with Rocket Italian :
An Interactive PDF course
An Audio course
3 Educational games
A survival kit
Access to a forum
Follow up lessons from time to time
The rest of this review will cover the Interactive PDF course as the other components are covered in other posts. See the Learning Lounge for how the course is taught and see how the audio works for details of the audio component of the course.
What level is Rocket Italian ?
The course is aimed at people with no knowledge of Italian. It takes them from beginner through to an intermediate level of the Italian language.
How does it teach Italian ?
The course comprises 29 lessons.
The lessons relate to the audio course so they follow the same themes and topics. The PDF interactive course is not just a transcript of the audio (although a separate transcript of the audio is also provided). It gives more background to the audios. It explains points of grammar and introduces vocabulary.
Each lesson can take around 30 minutes to an hour, depending on your skill level and knowledge of the topic being covered.
How is a lesson taught ?
The topic of the lesson is introduced along with any new Italian words. The student will read through the introduction. Any Italian words can be clicked on and the audio for the word will be heard. The word is clicked you will hear the English equivalent, then the Italian. Then there is a pause and the Italian is spoken again. This gives the student a chance to speak the Italian and practice what he/she is learning.
More examples will be given of the topic and examples of how it is used.
The Culture tab gives you a slice of Italian life or maybe a famous landmark to read about. You won’t learn all there is to know about Italy but it’s a bot of a starter.
A variety of written and multiple choice type exercises conclude each lesson when you click the My Level tab.
Another feature of the course that gives it an interactive quality is the random button. You can press the random button at any time and a Italian sentence or word from the current lesson will be spoken.
So you can practice conversation and comprehension for this particular lesson by speaking and understanding the random audios. It can also give the student a bit of control over the lesson.
Any other teaching methods used ?
The three games are accessed through the PDF course. The games are already covered in some detail but here is the basic outline :
MegaVocab – vocabulary recognition, match one of 6 pictures to a word picked at random by the software.
MegaVerbs – verb conjugation, conjugate a verb in the correct person and tense. There are 20 questions within each game and the software can select any verbs it has in the system.
MegaAudio – comprehension, listen to audio of a word or sentence and guess which of the 4 pictures represent the audio.
A set of flashcards are also provided. These are a set of pictures with the Italian/English meaning underneath. There are 250 of these cards but they need to be printed out to use.
What can you say at the End of the Course ?
The course covers present, past and future tenses. It also goes into reflexive verbs to some extent. You will learn about washing and dressing yourself for instance.
The main verb groups are covered, so examples of
-IRE (Dormire) verbs are presented.
Once you understand how these forms of verbs are conjugated, you will find that you know how to conjugate 80% of all Italian verbs. It’s just a case of learning what each verb is and means. This will take time and no course can truly teach you all the verbs of a language. Ultimately practice and everyday use will expose you to the words you need to use.
The imperfect tense is also introduced along side forming the past tense with have and to be. And some of the main irregular verbs are taught.
Other aspects of grammar like pronouns, adjectives and adverbs are covered. For English speakers, positioning these elements in a sentence is often difficult because it is totally different to English. So this is an important series of lessons.
The course also features some cultural lessons when you click on the culture tab.
At the end of the course you will be able to say things like “Please Helen, set the table! It’s nearly 12 pm, time to cook the pasta sauce and the family will be here!”.
What is good about the course ?
The course starts from beginner through to advanced.
The verb conjugation game is useful, as learning the forms of the verbs can get quite boring and tedious.
Random button is good for adding a bit of spontaneity to the lesson. This is useful if you have done the lesson more than once and need to freshen it up a little.
What is bad about the course ?
The pictures in the MegaVocab game are not always intuitively clear about the meaning. This can make guessing the words quite difficult at times. The English word can be displayed if this happens but doing this makes it too easy.
You can only improve your pronunciation by listening and repeating the audio, no feedback is given by the software as to how your accent sounds.
Any bonuses ?
A good way to see how the course works is to try the free 6 day course. It should help you decide if Rocket Italian suits your learning style and you will learn a bit of Italian along the way.
A Rocket Italian newsletter is sent out every fortnight. The newsletter has a new lesson or extra material in each issue.
I think the Rocket Italian course represents good value. You get an Audio and ebook course and 3 software games. The forum and follow up newsletter are good if you need a bit of support and to stay motivated. Although it is not easy learning a new language, Rocket Italian can certainly make the task easier provided you use it consistently and put the effort in to learn Italian.