Rocket Chinese Review: An Honest Look at Pros & Cons
Rocket Chinese is an effective way to begin learning Chinese. The audio lessons provide detailed descriptions and there are many tips to learn the ins and outs of this language. However, the lessons take a long time because they explain everything in English and you don't hear much Mandarin. If you need to learn quickly, there are better alternatives available.
- Easy-to-follow course structure
- Tons of audio clips to hear pronunciation
- Can use online platform, app, or download lessons
- No monthly subscription available
- Repetitive practice activities
- Few additional features
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Table of Contents
Rocket Chinese is a language learning app and online platform that teaches Mandarin. It’s one of the courses offered by Rocket Languages. It has 3 levels that start from the basics of teaching you “ni hao” to an upper-intermediate level. There are 3 types of lessons: Interactive Audio lessons, Language & Culture lessons, and Writing lessons that teach how to write the hanzi characters.
Rocket Chinese is an effective way to start learning Mandarin. The course walks you through the difficulties of the language step-by-step. Because the audio lessons give detailed explanations, it’s easy to understand. Rocket also stresses the importance of speaking aloud during the lessons to practice pronunciation. The course gives you lots of tips and tricks to remember the new words and characters.
Rocket Chinese makes you pay by the level and they don’t have a monthly subscription. Each level costs the same price and there isn’t a discount for buying more levels at the same time. Level 1 costs $149.95. Level 1 & 2 costs $299.90, and level 1, 2, & 3 together cost $449.85. Paying for the level gives you lifetime access to those lessons.
While the price of Rocket Chinese seems expensive, it’s one of the better, and most thorough, options available right now. Rocket also regularly offers discounts which make the levels much more affordable. There’s also the option to pay for 1 to 3 levels in 6-month installments.
It can be difficult to compare the price of Rocket Chinese to its competitors because most use a monthly subscription rather than lifetime access. You can use the Basic subscription to ChineseClass101 for 18 months for the same price as Rocket Chinese. You can use Mondly for 15 months for the same price, and you can use Lingodeer for 10 months.
Rocket Chinese offers a limited free trial for 7 days. You don’t have to enter any credit card information to access the trial. The free trial lets you access 8 lessons in level 1, but only 3 lessons in levels 2 & 3.
Rocket Chinese always offers discounts, so there’s no need to pay full price. When you sign up, you will receive multiple discounts during your free trial. If possible, I recommend buying around a holiday because they have discounts of as much as 60% off on certain holidays.
Getting started with Rocket Chinese was very easy. I only had to enter my email address and create a password. There are no placement tests so you can choose what level you think you are at. The Rocket Chinese platform is easy to navigate. The course is laid out in an easy-to-follow fashion and it was easy to see where to start.
Once my account was set up, I was ready for my first lesson. The U.S. Department of State categorizes Mandarin as a Level IV language, which means it’s a language that is exceptionally difficult for native English speakers. But don’t let that scare you! Learning any new language has its challenges. Let’s see how Rocket Chinese overcomes these common language learning difficulties.
Rocket Chinese is an excellent course for beginners. The audio lessons give a lot of explanations. I don’t always like audio lessons for languages like French or Italian because they are more similar to English, but they were very helpful for learning the intricate details of Mandarin.
I also liked the hanzi lessons. I was nervous about trying to learn the characters, but each lesson only teaches a few so it’s easy to manage. The lessons include videos that show the correct stroke order and let you practice writing them on the screen. They even give tips on how to remember the characters. For example, they tell you to picture the character for “son” as a baby with outstretched arms. I definitely see it!
Rocket Chinese is very helpful for learning vocabulary. Most of the practice activities focus on remembering the new words and phrases that were introduced in the lesson. There are activities to help you hear the words, write the words, and typical flashcard-style memorization. With the flashcards, you can choose if you want to see hanzi characters, pinyin (Chinese words written with Latin characters to help with pronunciation), or both.
Every audio lesson includes a dialogue in Mandarin so you can practice listening and understanding. There’s also an audio clip of the pronunciation of each new vocabulary word so you can hear how to correctly say it and the immitate it to practice.
It’s a little more difficult to practice speaking with an app, but Rocket does have some helpful activities. During the lessons, the teacher will tell you when to repeat what they say so you can match intonation and pronunciation. There is also a dialogue activity that lets you practice speaking in a conversation.
Rocket Chinese doesn’t have a lot of the bells and whistles that other apps use to motivate you to keep learning. There is a leaderboard and you can accumulate points, but there aren’t games or tokens that some other apps like Duolingo or Mondly use. Rocket does offer useful tips to help you make a study routine yourself and stick with it.
Overall, I think that Rocket Chinese is an excellent course to start your Mandarin-learning journey. The lessons and tools provided are incredibly helpful for learning this language. Mandarin isn’t an easy language to learn, but the lessons break it down into small enough chunks that it’s easy to progress forward without feeling overwhelmed.
I especially liked the lessons to learn hanzi (Chinese characters). There are videos to show you how to correctly write the character, and then you can practice writing the character yourself. They also have little tips to help you remember how to write each character, which I thought was a clever touch.
By following the Rocket method of listening to each lesson twice and practicing the activities associated with the lesson, I thought I was improving and learning a lot. And when I got tired of the audio lessons, I could switch to a Language & Culture lesson or a Writing lesson to have some variety.
Rocket Chinese is a good option for learning Mandarin, but some areas could be improved. I liked the audio lessons, but they can seem a little long. Everything is explained in English, but I wish there was more natural conversation in Mandarin. I might not understand everything as a beginner, but I think it would help to train my ear. An app like Yabla or FluentU is useful because they have give you more exposure to natural speech.
I’d also like a little more variety in the practice activities. Almost all the activities center around learning vocabulary, and there are almost no ways to practice grammar. I do think that flashcards are helpful, but there’s more to learning a language than just memorizing words. Other apps that have a larger variety of practice activities are ChineseClass101 and Lingodeer.
If you think Rocket Chinese isn’t right for you, there are other popular options available. If you’re an advanced learner and want to practice conversation, a platform like italki, Preply, or Verbling can connect you to a Mandarin teacher. If you want to practice vocabulary, Drops or Glossika are good choices. Since Rocket’s price is a little expensive, Mondly, ChineseClass101, or Duolingo are less expensive options. Let’s take a look at how Rocket Chinese compares to some similar language apps.
Rocket Chinese and Mondly have different lesson styles. Rocket Chinese has detailed audio lessons, and Mondly’s lessons are shorter and more interactive. Mondly offers an inexpensive monthly subscription, which might be easier on the budget. Mondly is better if you want to learn on the go or only have a few minutes to learn, but Rocket Chinese is the better choice if you want to have a deeper understanding of the language. If you are interested in Mondly, you can read more about it in this review, or try it for free by clicking the button below.
Rocket Chinese and ChineseClass101 are very similar. They both use audio lessons that feature a conversation between native speakers. Rocket Chinese’s course is more structured and it’s clear to see what lesson you should take next. ChineseClass101 doesn’t have that much of a course structure, but they offer a lot of additional practice material. Since they are so similar, you can use the free trial for both to see which one you like better. You can also read more about ChineseClass101 in this review, or try it for free by clicking the button below.
Rocket Chinese and Drops are very different apps. Rocket Chinese is focused on teaching conversational Mandarin and helping you understand the spoken language. Drops is an excellent app for learning tons of Chinese vocabulary. If you only want one app to help you learn, Rocket Chinese is the better choice because it’s a more complete course. But if you want to increase your vocabulary, I like Drops. You can read more about Drops in this review, or try it for free by clicking the button below.
Rocket Chinese and FluentU both have a big focus on listening and understanding. Rocket Chinese uses dialogues between two speakers, but FluentU uses more authentic content taken from the web, which provides a more immersive experience. FluentU has one of the most expensive monthly subscriptions out there, so paying for Rocket Chinese might be cheaper in the long run. I prefer Rocket Chinese because it’s more structured and is a more comprehensive course. If you are interested in FluentU, you can read more about it in this review, or try it for free by clicking the button below.
Although it’s a little expensive, Rocket Chinese is one of the better apps available to learn Mandarin. It has detailed and thorough lessons that make learning easy. While it’s good for beginners and intermediate learners, it isn’t a course designed for advanced speakers.
Rocket Chinese isn’t free. You can access a few lessons from each level with the 7-day free trial, but apart from this, there is no free content available.
In my opinion, Rocket Chinese works well for learning Mandarin. They use a variety of lesson styles to teach vocabulary, grammar, and hanzi characters. Each lesson is very detailed and explains the topics well so you won’t get lost when learning the language.
There are 3 levels available on Rocket Chinese. Level 1 costs $149.95. Level 1 & 2 costs $299.90, and level 1, 2, & 3 together cost $449.85. Paying for the level gives you lifetime access to the course.
This is an independent Rocket Chinese review, and the company has not sponsored this article. To write this review, I used the free trial to the app and used it for a few hours to thoroughly test its content and features. I also found additional information on the Rocket Languages website to verify my findings.