Review of Rocket English

November 20, 2013

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.

audio lessons are downloadable
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.

There are repetition tests at the end of each lesson.
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.

Progress Tracking Dashboard
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.
97% of its users find it useful.

In summary:

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!

Sources:

http://www.rocketlanguages.com/english/premium/general.php
http://www.englishpractice.com/reviews/rocket-english-review/

8 Ways To Learn Languages Online

April 19, 2012

learn languages online

Languages connect people


Learning a language is a skill that can be highly rewarding, not just for school children and students traveling abroad but for anybody looking to make the most of our multicultural world. So many countries have duel languages and citizens who are at least bi-lingual, so the chance to learn languages online is worth taking. The question is which option should you take? Here are eight examples that people use to help you decide.

1. Can you really learn a language from an online translator?

online translatorLet’s begin with the most simple and ineffective of them all. Some people would say that using an online translator is all they need in order to learn languages online; you simply type in a word or a phrase and the computer gives you the result – no fuss, no cost no problem. Well, actually there is a problem, by simply being given a set of words on a screen and an automated pronunciation you are not really learning anything at all. There are much better options to consider.

2. Learning to speak a new language with an online phrase book

phrasebookOnline phrase books are a great alternative to buying their printed counterparts because they provide a quick an easy guide for free. SmartPhrase.com categorizes useful phrases by language and subject for simplistic access, however there is no indication of pronunciation. Lingvozone.com, on the other hand, provides audio with the translation but is difficult to navigate. These sites are fine for people looking for simple phrases and basics for a holiday but cannot provide the detailed, comprehensive understanding required for learning a language.

3. Immersing yourself in the online world of foreign cinema and television

learn languages with youtubeThis is an option where pronunciation definitely is not an issue because you are watching and listening to native speakers using the language naturally. This is a brilliant, if slightly unconventional tool for learning languages, because not only can you hear the language as it is meant to sound, you can enjoy some of the country’s culture at the same time and there is a wealth of free material out there thanks to the increasing numbers of free streaming websites and of course the universal Youtube. The downside to this option is that is it not recommended for beginners, only people with a good, basic grasp of the language should attempt to aid their education this way.

4. Engage with other amateur and native speakers on forums and other communities

forumsForums and other social, online environments are perhaps a more beneficial way to learn from native speakers if you are a beginner. Talking with people online through chat-rooms provides the opportunity to test your phrases and spelling on those more familiar with the language, and you can do so at your own pace. Alternatively, you can use video chats to engage with them and practice your pronunciation. Again this option is more of a tool to use alongside a language course than a method to be used on its own, but it can be rewarding and speed up the learning process.

5. Make some worthwhile purchases at your app store

learn spanish app storeIt’s true what they say, there really is an app for everything and the ability to learn languages is one of them. Many language sites and software makers have brought out mobile versions of the product and convenient, fun to use phrasebooks to make learning a language for your holiday easier, and also mean the resource is right at your fingertips for those tricky situations abroad. With so many people taking advantage of this new market, there is a lot of choice so users need to beware of the quality of what they are purchasing. It may be the case that the best apps with the most useful content are also the most expensive.

6. Take part in some free, online lessons

online lessonsThe key word that has captured your interest here is undoubtedly the word free. There are websites on the internet that offer people lessons in languages with no charge, and before you assume that they are sub par because of the cost it is worth noting that reputable brands and companies – such as the BBC – are offering this opportunity. Of course the lack of a fee and on-going tuition does mean the knowledge gained is a little limited, but it could provide a great starting block for further study.

7. Enrol to a course with an online school

language studyDistance learning is a popular way of earning a degree or other higher form of qualification these days, because the courses allow people to study and earn at the same time, and there are a number of institutions that offer options in languages. Learning a language this way can provide the best in tuition and formal understanding of your chosen subject, but there are other considerations to bear in mind. Cost, commitment and time are big factors of online education, you may get a formal qualification for your efforts but you will have to invest a lot of time and money before you achieve it.

8. Invest in some language software

language learning softwareThe final option, and one that has become increasing popular in recent years, is using software from companies such as Rosetta Stone or Rocket Languages. This method is a recommended way to learn languages because it provides many different learning tools and forms of support for a fraction of the cost of distance learning. These companies and many others provide learning tools, access to native speakers and interactive quizzes as part of their comprehensive package and offer it for either a course fee or a monthly rate. Rosetta Stone is one of the more popular because of its reputation and wide range of languages, however it is criticized for its lack of written material and teaching of grammar. Citing following review: Rocket Languages may have fewer languages to learn at the moment but it does look at grammar, has a greater range of materials, provides certification equal to a European A’ Level and is better value for money – therefore making it the better option.

Reviews

Rosetta Stone: http://www.languagelearningsoftware.com/reviews/rosetta-stone/
Rocket Languages: http://www.languagelearningsoftware.com/reviews/rocket-languages/

There is a whole world of languages on the internet waiting to be discovered

As you can see, there are many different options available dependent on your budget, commitment and reasons for wanting to learn. No one method is perfect for everyone, but the software programs – in particular Rocket Languages – can provide the most convenient, cost effective and rewarding language learning experience of them all.

Happy language learning to everyone!

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