Rocket Japanese Review – 2021 Edition

Today I am updating my Rocket Japanese Review because they just recently released their 2021 Edition and there are some huge changes to the course.

It’s been improved in pretty much every way. The interface is really nice and smooth, there’s more information in each lesson, better explanations, and they even have a new Japanese voice actor!

Let’s dive right into it and I will share my experience and thoughts on it!

Overview of the Course


Rocket Japanese Levels

The entire course is divided into three levels, and the CEO told me that Level 1 is now closely aligned with the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) N5.

I really like that they tailored it this way because more and more people are taking the test these days as a way to gauge their abilities or make themselves more appealing on their resume. So it’s nice to have that kind of support from the course.

As you can see from the screenshot above, each level has a total of 7 modules that are further broken down into one of three lesson types:

  1. Interactive Audio
  2. Language & Culture
  3. Writing

There is also a Survival Kit of essential phrases and words for specific situations to help you increase your vocabulary. Things like colors, parts of the body, days of the week, and more.

One of the things that I have always been impressed with is the pure amount of content that is provided. When I originally took the course, I spent 30-60 minutes a day on it and it took me about a year to get through.

For me, it was nice because I didn’t want to have to buy a lot other courses or books to learn Japanese. Rocket Japanese had more than enough content to satisfy my learning appetite.

Let’s take a closer look at the three lesson types now and see what they do.

Interactive Audio Lessons


Rocket Japanese Conversation Example

The first type of lesson is the Interactive Audio ones and they center around a Japanese conversation between two native speakers.

Back when I first used Rocket Japanese, there was an English gentleman who participated in these conversations, but Rocket Languages has completely redone all of them and now it is two native Japanese participants.

This is a much appreciated change since listening to natives speak is the best way to learn the correct sounds of the language.

You get to listen to the conversation first and then the lesson goes into each word and phrase and explains what they mean and how the grammar works in those situations.

This is really nice because you can get both a big picture view of the conversation as well as a detailed explanation on how each part works.

What I also really liked about it was that every sentence is listed in full Japanese, then hiragana with spaces to help comprehension, then romaji for people who are learning to read Japanese, and then finally the English translation.

This means that anyone can use the lessons to learn more Japanese because it is structured to be accessible to all learners.

Once the lesson is completed there are several quizzes at the end that allow you to play around with the Japanese you just learned as well as strengthen your understanding of it.

Things like flashcards, listening exercises, sentence construction, and several others.

Personally, I’ve always found it to be helpful to test the information that I just learned, so I was happy to take the quizzes after each lesson.

They are pretty short and enjoyable, so it’s a nice way to finish things off.

Out of the three lesson types, this one was my favorite because its focus is on teaching you how to have conversations in Japanese – something that is very important to me and a lot of other students.

Language & Culture Lessons


Japanese Culture Lesson

In the Language & Culture section you learn a lot of details about Japanese.

The “language” part of these lessons focus on explaining the grammar in detail. I personally was glad when I went through these lessons because Japanese grammar is nothing like English grammar.

It’s so different that many times I felt like Japanese and English were the exact opposite of each other!

Being able to go through detailed explanations on things like particles, word order, conjugation rules, and then seeing them all in action with lots of example sentences really helped me to build a solid understanding of how Japanese works.

Then we get to the “culture” part of the lessons which is a really fun exploration of land of Japan and its intricacies.

These lessons go over a lot of the obvious differences between Japan and the rest of the world, like the rules surrounding chopsticks.

They also go into the more detailed nuances of things such as the varying levels of politeness and which words should be used in each situation.

If you want to learn the customs and rules of Japanese society, then these lessons will help a lot to prepare you for when you visit the country.

Writing Lessons


Learning Kanji

Two of the key skills of any language are reading and writing. In this third section of Rocket Japanese, you learn how to read each character and then write it using correct stoke order.

These lessons go over all of the hiragana characters, all of the katakana characters, and then it moves on to kanji.

A simple way to think of these three writing systems is that hiragana is kind of like lower-case letters in the English alphabet.

That would make katakana similar to upper-case letters (kanji are like emojis).

At any rate, each lesson teaches you how to write the new characters and then provides examples of them in words and sentences.

To get the most out of these section, it helps to write the new characters out on a piece of paper, but even if you just want to learn how to read them you can get a lot out of it.

But one of the cool new things is that you can draw them with your mouse on the screen!

These lessons are fairly short, so it’s nice to combine them with one of the other types to get a good amount of variety.

What is Rocket Record?


Rocket Record

One of cool things about Rocket Japanese is their tool called “Rocket Record.”

This is their program that records you when you practice speaking Japanese to improve things like intonation, pronunciation, and overall flow.

It’s super quick and easy to use and it even gives you a rating afterwards to help you see how close you were to the native speaker.

I like this feature a lot, but my favorite part is hitting the playback button so that I can hear myself and then do my own comparison to the original recording.

If you’ve ever listening to a recording of yourself, you’ve probably noticed that your voice sounds different from what you are used to hearing when you speak.

The reason is because we hear a lot of our own voice through the bones in our head (since that’s where the sound hits first).

In other words, what you hear is not the same as what other people hear.

That’s why listening to a recording of yourself is so helpful, because you can actually listen to what you sound like from an outsider’s perspective.

When I tried doing this and listening to how close (or far) my pronunciation was from the native speaker, it helped me to identify what I was doing right and what I was doing wrong.

I was then able to course correct and improve the way I sounded when speaking Japanese.

Although listening to a recording of oneself is probably the least favorite thing for most people to do, when it comes to improving pronunciation it is by far one of the best.

I just wanted to share my experience on that since Rocket Record makes it quick and easy to do – just click a few buttons!

Where to Try it

Rocket Japanese has come a long way over the years, and I’m really glad that they give the updates out for free.

The current state of the program is quite a bit better than when I first used it – which is great!

The main reasons why I like it, are that it teaches all aspects of the language, with an emphases on learning conversational Japanese.

That, along with the tools for improving pronunciation, make it a great way to learn Japanese.

Click Here To Try Rocket Japanese For Free

If you’ve tried using them before, then let me know your experience with a comment down below.

Of if you have any questions about the current version, be sure to share them. Thanks!

33 thoughts on “Rocket Japanese Review – 2021 Edition”

  1. Thank you so much for the elaborated review. I also enjoyed reading other people’s comments and your replies to them – this is very helpful with making a decision on what app/company I want to use. I would like to ask you though, is there anything you do not particularly like about Rocket Japanese?

    Reply
    • Yeah, I guess I would say that even though there is a community form that people can ask questions on, it always seemed like the tutors would take a couple of days to respond, so you could never really get a prompt response. But that’s more just my opinion on it.

      Reply
    • You can buy the CD version and have it shipped to your house, but it increases the price quite a bit if you do.

      Most people (including myself) just buy the digital version which you access online through your computer or phone and go through it that way. I highly recommend that you choose this method if you’re on the fence, as it will save you a lot of money for essentially the same information.

      Reply
  2. This Ultimate Rocket Japanese language training course sounds very complete after reading your thorough review, thanks for your recommendation.
    It always baffled me why no schools around our area taught Japanese when I was at school considering how influential Japan is to the world however one thing is learning the language and speaking it correctly, the other hurdle is learning how to read and write in Japanese.
    I can therefore imagine a few years of determined hard work learning with this quality of training will get towards being fluent. How did you find the training with regards to reading and writing, is it straightforward to learn?
    Thanks again, you’ve inspired me,
    Simon.

    Reply
    • Yeah when you look at the numbers, there’s only like 1% of so Americans learning Japanese. On the other hand there’s around 50 million learning Spanish, so it’s obvious why every school has a Spanish class, but very few have one on learning Japanese.

      The course presents all of the dialog in both the Japanese written system, and also English letters. So there is plenty of practice with regards to learning how to read Japanese.

      They also have a second that teaches you the correct stroke order for hiragana, katakana, and a fair amount of kanji. So to answer your question, the course does a great job at teaching written Japanese as well.

      Having said that, I believe that the true power of this course in particular is in the fact that it gets people speaking and understanding Japanese with its primary lessons and recording software.

      Reply
  3. It was a very clear and throughout review. As I am one of the people who has trouble with spoken language when learning languages this seems like a very useful program 🙂

    Reply
    • Yeah, I think that most people have the hardest time with learning how to speak new languages at a high level. Contrary to what you might naturally assume, learning how to read a new language is usually the easier of the two tasks.

      Reply
    • It’s a good question and one that I’m happy to address.

      The first level of Rocket Japanese is taught by a Japanese native and a guy from England. Her accent it perfect (of course), but his is definitely a British one when he speaks Japanese.

      This isn’t really ideal, as you kind of want to listen to native Japanese people speaking so that you can mimic what it naturally sounds like.

      That being said, the first level is actually the shortest one, with levels 2 & 3 being much, much longer. AND there are two new people who do all of the example sentences for levels 2 & 3 and they are both native Japanese.

      So while it’s not super great that one of the conversation partners speaks Japanese with an accent in level-1, it is (in my mind) not really all that big a deal since his lines make up approximately 10% of the entire course.

      This means that you are going to get a little exposure to what Japanese sounds like from a non-native, which is good, but primarily you are going to be listening to natives speaking Japanese in this course.

      It’s a totally valid concern, but one that I feel is only experienced by people who have used the course for less that 10 hours and never made it beyond the first level. Once you’re past the initial beginner stuff, it becomes a non-issue.

      I hope that helps!

      Reply
  4. Very good review, Nick.

    Did this course also teach you to write in Japanese? Because obviously, it’s one thing to speak a language and another thing entirely to write in it.

    And with several other online courses out there, in your opinion, what makes this one stand out?

    In your review, you gave two reasons why people do not learn to speak Japanese very fluently. While your reasons are true, I also think Japan as a nation should do more to export their language and culture.

    Regards.

    Reply
    • Yeah, good question. So it actually does teach you how to write Hiragana, Katakana, and several dozen kanji during the written exercise parts. It includes videos so that you can also learn the correct stroke order, which is pretty cool.

      As for what makes this one different from other courses, I would say the most courses take a vocabulary based approach (they teach one word at a time and use lots of pictures) where as Rocket Japanese takes a more conversational sentences approach (they teach you words ad grammar from a normal conversation).

      The other thing that really stands out about Rocket Japanese is their software for recording yourself. This is INCREDIBLY helpful since you can immediately check how you did compared to the native speaker!

      If you’ve never recorded yourself speaking Japanese before, and then analyzed it, you will probably be shocked at the kinds of mistakes you are regularly making and are not aware of. 

      Unfortunately, it’s one of those things that’s hard to notice when nobody else points it out, or you don’t take the time to listen to yourself from a third person perspective.

      As for your final point, I agree! I think that more people in the world should speak Japanese and get to enjoy their amazing culture!

      Anything that Japan does to help, is a powerful step in that direction. That being said, I myself am a native English speaker, so I feel that I can do the most good by helping other native English speakers learn and understand Japanese.

      Thanks! 

      Reply
  5. Thank you for the thorough Rocket Japanese review. This seems to be a great deal especially if getting the complete course at the special price you have mentioned. Do you know who has developed the Japanese course at Rocket Japanese? Are these some native Japanese people? I personally think that the native people can teach the language the best – what is your view about this? There is something about the language on the subconscious level that can’t be taught.

    Reply
    • Yeah, so the courses were designed in tandem with the Japanese instructors, which you will notice right away with all of the cultural notes that you encounter during the lessons. 

      What they do is teach you a Japanese phrase, explain the English translations, and then go into the similarities and differences between the two languages so that you can get a firm grasp on how the two languages are similar and how they are different from on another.

      As for my view on who can teach Japanese the best, I’ve got some pretty in depth thoughts, but I don’t want to go too much into it since it’s just a comment and not an entire post. Let me just list a few points:

      When it comes to teaching Japanese to people who’s native language is English, the best teaches are English natives. 

      Why?

      Because they know where you are coming from! They know your struggles since they went through the exact same things!

      Native Japanese people don’t quite get this since “Japanese” is normal to them. 

      Although I do believe that there are wonderful Japanese people who teach their language to non-natives. 

      Having said that, the best people to listen to so that you mimic them and learn the language are of course, native Japanese people.

      This goes on to what you touched upon – using the language unconsciously.

      Generally speaking, English natives leak their speaking habits into Japanese. Things like syllable stress, and how ideas are expressed.

      Japanese people obviously use the language correctly all the time, so it’s best to just follow their lead.

      So to wrap it up, my personal opinion is to have an English native explain the language to you, but listen to natives speaking the example phrases.

      I hope that helps! 

      Reply
  6. I’ve always wanted to learn Japanese and it seems like this is a great chance. I have friends that have started learning Japanese years ago and now they’re so fluent!!

    I’m Turkish and we share the same language family root with Japanese, that’s why it’s much more easier for us to learn it. I think I will think about Rocket Japanese 🙂

    Reply
    • Hey, that’s really interesting! I actually had no idea about Turkish and Japanese sharing the same language family root. No doubt it would help a lot when it comes to picking up the language.

      I believe that’s actually one of the reasons that Japanese is so notoriously hard for native English speakers: The vast structural difference between languages!

      I always say take every advantage you can get, so you’re already one step ahead of the game when it comes to nihongo.

      Reply
  7. Hello Nick!
    Being a huge anime fan for years and having my anime theories website has made me want to learn Japanese so badly. However, the lack of time has prevented me from doing so, so far. These Rocket Japanese courses seem like a great place to start since I’m the one responsible for the time and the hours of the day I’ll spend on learning. It seems like a great tool that I’ll be using very soon!

    Reply
    • Yeah, that’s a good point. It does take a commitment of time to fully learn a language. There’s both the daily time that you need to put in, and there’s also a longer time frame that you’ll have to devote as well (months/year).

      I feel like there’s really no “need” to learn the Japanese language in today’s world since it is really only used in a few places on this planet, primarily Japan of course. So when a person decide to learn the language, it is definitely a very personal goal that they have to set for themselves for whatever reason makes the most sense for them.

      So there’s no rush, come back and check this information out again sometime in the future if you decide that it’s the right time to commit to learning Japanese.

      Thanks!

      Reply
  8. There is a certain fascination about oriental languages, and in particular Japanese. This is something that i may be considering in the near future as i have been thinking about learning the language for a long time. I have a brief knowledge of Spanish and French and now Japanese looks prominent.

    Reply
    • Yeah, I’ve always thought it would be cool to speak languages that were from opposite sides of the world. So an Asian language, and a Western European language, and a Slavic language, etc.

      But from what I understand, a lot of people who are polyglots (speak about 5+ languages) like to take on an entire language family at one time so that they can add 3-5 new languages at a fluent level within a single year!

      I think it’s a pretty cool thing, although for myself I am only really interested in Japanese right now. Perhaps in the future I’ll also look at another language to learn!

      Reply
  9. Great review on Rocket Japanese! I have been learning different languages for about 7 years now so I am always interested in finding new software that will help me learn quicker.

    How would you compare this program to the free sites like Duolingo?

    One thing that I struggled with when trying to learn Russian and Arabic was learning the different alphabet, does this course go through and explain what the different symbols mean?

    Reply
    • Hey Nicki, that totally awesome that you’ve been studying languages for so long! 

      I’ve tried out the Japanese version of Duolingo, but it was still in Beta mode so it had some glitches and wasn’t really ready for new people to use to learn Japanese. That being said, I also tried out the Italian version and thought it was pretty good.

      The main difference I would say between Duolingo and Rocket Languages is the methods they use to teach. When I used Duolingo there was a feeling of playing a game when you had to match what you heard with the correct picture. 

      However, I felt that the majority of learning occurred during the parts where you were giving a sentence in you native language, and then individual words in the target language, and then you had to piece them together to create the same sentence in the language you were learning.

      It felt like translation work. I personally don’t really like that way of learning because it seemed kind of slow and tedious, but it might be a better fit for other people.

      As for Rocket Japanese, it teaches you words and phrases within the context of a real life sentence, so when you learn, it’s kind of like you’re an actor or actress and you take on the role of the characters. For me, this was an incredible way to learn quickly because you not only see, hear, and then speak the words, but you also visualize yourself in the situation and feel the emotions of the characters.

      It is (in my experience) a much more involved method of learning, and as studies have shown, the more involved you can get during the learning process, the better your brain takes in the new information and the longer you remember it.

      Kind of a long answer, I know!

      Let me briefly answer your last question: Yes – Rocket Japanese teaches you how to both read and write the Japanese alphabet as you progress through the course. By the second level, you are able to read and understand all Hiragana, all Katakana, and a fair amount of Kanji (there are over 2,000 Kanji in total, so it’s a lot!).

      I hope those answers were helpful!

      Reply
  10. Thank you for writing this product review for Rocket Japanese. A 3-hour course in cheap public 4-year institutions is much more likely to cost between $1,500 and $2,000, and that’s with a teacher who can not afford to give you individual attention. Does Rocket have a proposed daily or weekly schedule? I know you said the course could be learned in a year, but I am curious if they put out any guidelines.

    Reply
    • Rocket Japanese doesn’t really have a proposed scheduled per se, but what they do have are two things that help you to create your own schedule:

      (1) – The layout and organization of lessons are setup in a easy to understand and logical way, so that you can clearly see what kind of lessons are ready for you to tackle next, and decided how you want to approach it on a day to day basis. It’s a structured process that allows you to focus on learning, rather than the back-end stuff.

      (2) – They have a points system that rewards you each time you record a phrase, or complete one of the testing methods. What this does is allows you to set a goal (such as 400 points per day) that will then require you to practice a certain amount each day in order to accomplish it.

      So with those two things in mind, you can figure out for yourself approximately how much time per day you want to commit to studying Japanese, and then set the system up to help support you.

      There is also a “daily streak” which goes up when you study each day. It’s a great way to build consistency into your routine!

      Reply
  11. Wow. This is very cool. I have never heard of the Rocket Language courses. I have heard of some other companies but never Rocket. It appears to be a very dynamic program teaching how to really function in the real world of that language. It sounds like this would be a good company to go with for someone like myself who is fluent in only English but would like to learn other languages. How many different languages are currently available for training with Rocket?

    Reply
    • Yeah, that’s also one of the things that I noticed too, that nobody really knows much about them! Even I knew nothing and only stumbled upon them by accident one day. 

      As of now, they teach 12 different languages to people who are fluent in English. They actually teach English to people who speak Spanish and Japanese as their mother tongue, which is pretty cool!

      Hopefully with my work here on the blog I can introduce many new people to Rocket Japanese, and if it’s a good fit then everybody wins!

      Thanks! 

      Reply
  12. This looks like an amazing program. I wonder if it would be appropriate for children? Do you think it would keep their interest?
    Does rocket Japanese have a children’s version? My son of 10 has interest in learning Japanese but I haven’t found a program that teaches all aspects of the language nor one that will keep his interest. What suggestions do you have?

    Reply
    • Hmm, yeah that’s a really good question. I think this course is really more designed for people who are self-learners, or people with a drive to learn the language. I say that mainly because there is no penalty for missing a day or a week of studying. You truly get to set your own pace for learning the language.

      Based off of the behavior of my siblings, cousins, and other family members that are around the age of ten, I think the hardest thing is (like you mentioned) keeping them interested in the learning material, and also consistent with studying each day. This course might not actually be the perfect thing for them for the reasons I mentioned above.

      Perhaps the best way would be to find something that he’s interested in that is all in Japanese (a video game, a manga, an anime, etc.) and get that for him, and then also get him some sort of study material that he could do for a short amount of time each day (to avoid getting bored) of like, 10-20 minutes.

      That way he can have something good to study with (in this case it could be Rocket Japanese), and also have some fun materiel in Japanese that would be a good motivating drive to keep him committed to his studies.

      So it’s a two pronged attack: 1) – Cool Japanese things that interest and motivate. 2) – Good Japanese materials that educate.

      It’s actually pretty interesting that you ask me this question right now, because I ordered a book of off Amazon last Friday about “Raising Bi-Lingual Kids” since I felt that it was one area of language learning/teaching that I was lacking in knowledge. 

      I’m going to read the book and then come back here to give you some better advice on how to go about it with your son and Japanese. Check back here for a better answer (sorry!) in about a week or so.

      Reply
    • Hey, I wanted to come back and just talk briefly about the book I read about raising bi-lingual kids.

      The book is really designed for parents who already speak more than one language and can be the primary teacher in the child’s education, so it might not contain the kind of advice you were looking for. That being said, there were two things that the author talked about that I think are worth mentioning.

      He said that in order for your kid to learn a second language, there has to be a need for it, and there has to be lots of exposure to it.

      So if you can get a little creative, and find or create an environment where those two things exist, there is a pretty good chance that your kid will work on his own towards learning the language.

      I’m not sure of your exact situation, so I don’t want to take any wild guesses. But keep asking yourself those two questions and see what answers you find.

      1 – “How can I make learning Japanese something that my son feels like he needs to do?” (Remember, it can be centered around fun)
      2 – “How can I provide him with sufficient exposure to the language in both written and spoken form?”

      I hope that helps!

      Reply
  13. Hi,
    This Japanese course seems very comprehensive and they must be very sure of their product with a 60 day money back guarantee as opposed to other providers. It seems very practical for spoken Japanese, but I am wondering how it works for written Japanese if you have never had exposure to Japanese characters or keyboards.
    Thanks.

    Reply
    • Yeah, that’s a valid point. 

      The writing lessons teach you how to both read and write all of the two phonetic systems that Japanese uses (Hiragana & Katanata) and then it teaches you several dozen useful kanji in the more advanced lessons.

      In addition to that, each and every phrase that you learn is presented to you with the audio (of course) and then it is written in several different ways so that you can read it yourself no matter what level you are at. Here is an example of what I mean by that:

      – また おこし ください。

      – またお越し下さい。

      – Mata okoshi kudasai.

      – Please come again.

      So as you can see, the first line is written in just the phonetic script Hiragana, and it includes spaces so that you can easily see each word. Katakana would also be shown here when appropriate.

      The second line is the complete Japanese written system, with all the correct Kanji, Hiragana, and Katakana (when it makes sense) and there are no spaces between words. This is what you will eventually work you way up to with repeated practice.

      The third line is the Japanese phrase, but it is written in the English alphabet so that people who are totally new to learning Japanese can still read along and learn the phrase without any problems.

      And then that final line is the English translation of the Japanese phrase.

      So even though I talked mostly about how Rocket Japanese will teach you the spoken part of the language, you actually do learn the written part as well. 

      I just wanted to focus most of my review on what I believe to be the greatest part of Rocket Japanese, teaching you how to speak it at a normal conversational level and speed, because that is what most students struggle with the most when learning the language.

      P.S. When it comes to typing Japanese characters, it’s actually super simple. All you have to do is activate the Japanese keyboard option on your PC or Mac and then when you type the English letters, they will be converted into the Japanese characters.

      Reply
  14. I’ve used Rocket Japanese in the past and felt it was pretty good. One of the things I liked about it was that you could “favorite” any word or sentence that you wanted to, and then later you could create a custom flash cards deck out of those same sentences. I always had a pretty good sized deck so that I could review everything in one place. It made it really easy.

    Reply
    • Yeah, I totally agree!

      And also, they actually just upgraded the flash cards for the new 2018-Edition of Rocket Japanese. In addition to what you could do before, you can now hear the audio clips for every phrase when they come up. This is nice since you can then mimic the native’s pronunciation.

      One other thing is that you can now upload images to the flash cards, which will help you to visualize what the word or phrase means. So for example, if the phrase was about a dog running, you could go to Google Images and grab a picture of a dog running to put into the flash card.

      Reply

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