I work as a customer service representative in the Philippines and we work with US companies. This means that we’re supposed to answer our calls and perform customer support in English.
Even though we are taught English in school here in the Philippines, we don’t use it all the time. Only in business or within schools. So when our company had a big multinational computer company as a client, I was nervous. The standards for spoken English were higher, and I had to meet those standards.
That’s why I looked into English classes. First I signed up with a local weekend training school intended for customer service representatives like me. I got it at a discount, but even with all my effort, I don’t think I learned much. It was a lot like going to school again – we were taught grammar, spelling, etc. but I still did not feel confident when taking calls.
This is where Rocket English comes in. My manager said that if we wanted further training that was relevant to our job, the company would be happy to shoulder it. I looked at many English courses online and found that this was the most affordable and came highly recommended.
There were many things that made it easier for me to learn with Rocket English:
1) Emphasis on training your ear.
The “Hear It Say It!” portion of the program was the feature that I was most excited about because it was relevant to my work. My main challenge, apart from pronunciation, is understanding spoken English especially when it’s spoken too fast. This feature was the perfect tool to help me fix that.
Basically what happens is that you use the testing tool to play a random English phrase. You’ll then speak and record that phrase yourself (you need a mic) then compare what you said with the original English speaker’s version. This was really an effective way for me to be objective about my own listening and speaking skills. It’s very rare that you get the chance to record yourself speaking and compare it with a native speaker. You get to see your blind spots and the sounds/words that need more work.
2) Quick learning time.
Rocket English promised to cut my learning time in half. I’m not sure how accurate that is, but I knew I was improving fast. First of all it was very easy to follow through with the program. Everything is outlined and you just have to follow the steps. Second, it was really interactive. With the speaking, listening, and writing exercises I really felt that I was learning better and faster. It’s way more efficient than sitting in a class with 30 people, competing for the teacher’s time and attention.
Since I already have some background studying English, it’s hard for me to say when the benefits of the program kicked in. But let me tell you something, after around 6 weeks I started getting compliments from the other agents about how “authentic” my accent sounded!
3) I could learn anywhere.
One thing that stresses me out about my job is the long commute times. It takes me at least an hour to get to work, and an hour and a half to get home. This means I have a lot of downtime on the road. The Rocket English lessons are mp3-player friendly, and I got to take them with me and listened to them whenever possible. I’m sure this contributed to my fast learning time. Plus, they distracted me from the stress of the commute.
4) Fun points system for checking progress.
I was surprised at how effective the points system and the reward badges were for motivating me. But I felt really motivated and inspired to do better whenever I got a new badge, accumulated points, or advanced a level. Maybe it’s because you can easily visualize what you’ve accomplished vs. how far you have to go.
5) Practical lessons.
Unlike the training school I attended, there wasn’t any time wasted teaching me words that I would never use. All the phrases and words taught are for practical conversation – they are easily the things that I’d have to say to our clients or during reports/presentations.
You’re also taught a lot of casual expressions, which come in handy. There are a lot of phrases that I’ve often heard on TV or heard from callers, but I didn’t really get them until I took this course. I got to learn a bunch of new expressions as well.
6) Dashboard is easy to use.
It’s my first time enrolling in an online course, so at first I was intimidated. Turns out I had no reason to feel this way since Rocket English is super easy to use. The menus are very clear and you know exactly where you’re supposed to go next. It’s much easier to navigate than Facebook, to be honest. And if you get lost or if you forgot where a specific lesson was, there’s a summary “Survival Guide” that’s easy for you to refer to. It makes for a handy reviewer, too.
7) Helpful forum.
The forum is great for practicing – when there’s enough people in it. It’s rare that this happens, but when it does, it really forces you to interact in English. After all, many of the participants are non-native speakers so unless you’re a polyglot, most of you have no choice except to practice your English.
They were also super helpful when I had some grammar questions. They’re very eager to help you out. It’s hard to search Google for some things, especially if you’re not sure how to explain yourself, so I’m very happy that they included a forum for Rocket English.
Overall, I’ve been very pleased with Rocket English. It delivered so much more than I expected, and at a very good price too. My team leader even noticed how much my English as improved and I’ve now been tasked to train the other agents in my team and hopefully I can do justice to the method and lessons I’ve learned from the program. All my effort was totally worth it!