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
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:
- Interactive Audio
- Language & Culture
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
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
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.
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?
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.
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!
Further Resources for Learning Japanese: