Founded in 2005, Rocket Languages is a learning app that currently offers courses in 13 languages, including French. Rocket French is incredibly thorough, covering French vocabulary, listening, speaking, grammar, and culture.
But is Rocket French the best app to learn French? I’ve spent several days trying out Rocket French’s different learning levels. Here’s what I discovered.
What is Rocket French?
Rocket Languages’ French offering, Rocket French can be used as a web app (meaning you can access it on your computer as well as on a mobile device, like French Together) and as a mobile app (meaning you can use it on a mobile device). It covers beginner to advanced levels of French – roughly from the CEFR A1 to B2 levels.
Rocket French has three learning levels, and users who’ve purchased all three can move between them easily – a real advantage for someone who wants to go back and review or skip ahead to find a lesson about a particular subject. Each lesson has a nice, short summary that explains what’s covered. Modules are divided into two types of lessons: audio and grammar/culture, which are in English with French vocabulary and examples.
While its look is fairly simple, Rocket French stands out from other language apps by being what is probably the most thorough offering currently out there. You’ll practice and learn vocabulary, grammar, listening, and speaking skills. Sure, many other language learning apps offer all of these to some degree, but add to this extensive culture lessons, including helpful footnotes in other lessons, like grammar.
What’s good about Rocket French?
The fact that Rocket French covers so much ground means that it could be a great solution for learners with lots of different goals. You can use it if you want to learn French for an upcoming trip but also to help you with your French at school or if you want to really become fluent in the language.
No language learning app can make you fluent on its own, but Rocket French has a lot of helpful explanations and lessons that would definitely help boost the other materials and resources you’re studying with.
I also really like that Rocket French didn’t just compartmentalize its culture lessons. As you read through its very long and thorough grammar lessons, for instance, you’ll come across little information windows that warn you about a false cognate or explain that a certain word or term might have another meaning, including an obscene one. Instead of just teaching le chat and la chatte, for instance, Rocket French adds a note about the other meaning of la chatte, which is crucial to be aware of if you’re studying contemporary French.
Rocket French’s lessons have a really friendly tone, despite all the material that’s covered in such a rigorous way. The audio lessons are especially great. They take on a podcast-like format and easily integrate and explain different concepts as they go along.
What’s both good and bad about Rocket French
Generally clocking in at around 25-30 minutes each, Rocket French’s lessons are very long compared to most other apps’. In some ways, this is great, but in others it can be hard to pay attention for the entire time, especially when there’s a lot of repetition or repetitive exercises. And of course, even if they might want to, not everyone may have that much time every day to practice French, or to focus only on app in addition to the other ways they’re studying French. At least the app lets you stop the lessons and come back to them easily, so it’s not impossible to set your own pace.
What’s not good about Rocket French?
Rocket French has been around for a while and has a lot to offer. But I was surprised and disappointed that its web app version couldn’t recognize the microphone either on my laptop or on my phone. Apparently, this isn’t just a one-time bug, since the app’s FAQ is full of instructions about what to do if your mic isn’t being picked up. Unfortunately, even when I followed these instructions, that didn’t fix the problem. Since a good deal of Rocket French’s exercises involve speaking, it meant I had to skip those. (Fortunately, the mobile app did recognize my phone’s microphone and I was able to try them out that way.)
Missing out on some of Rocket French’s exercises is an even bigger issue than it might be with some other apps because while the app’s lessons are long and heavy on explanations and examples, I found it surprisingly light on exercises. This is my biggest complaint about Rocket French. I would have liked to see a lot more ways to practice. Instead of 50 flashcards that I can passively look at, give me 50 fill-in exercises or a longer quiz or something.
I think the kind of motivated, dedicated students that Rocket French might please the most will also have to look elsewhere to get more practice. On this note, I also think that the barrage of info you often get in a single lesson could have been broken down into separate, shorter lessons, with exercises of their own.
It also felt weird to me that there are no final quizzes or checkpoints when you reach the end of a learning level. For an app that teaches so much, it would have been incredibly helpful to really be able to check that a learner has gotten down the essentials.
The best and worst things about Rocket French
To sum it up…
Here’s what I liked most about Rocket French:
• It’s probably the most thorough French learning app out there, covering vocabulary, grammar, listening, speaking, and culture. Grammar explanations are especially extensive.
• It offers great listening practice, with audio lessons in a friendly, podcast-like format that integrates ideas and new concepts nicely as it goes.
• I love that as you read grammar lessons, Rocket French’s creators take the time to mention things like false cognates or words with obscene meanings/connotations.
• The summary that appears when you click on a lesson is very helpful.
Here’s what I didn’t like about Rocket French:
• There are not enough exercises, especially compared to all of the things you’ll learn.
• Rocket French’s web app couldn’t connect to the mic on my computer or on my phone.
• The “Know it” exercises expect you to know entire phrases you might have only read or heard once before in the midst of a long lesson.
• There’s no final quiz or checkpoint to see what you’ve learned after each level, and the quizzes at the end of each lesson are disappointingly short compared to everything you’re supposed to have learned.
Can Rocket French make me fluent in French?
If you’ve read some of our other app reviews, you may know the answer to this question already: No language app can make you fluent in a language on its own. No, not even French Together.
For one thing, like most, if not all, language learning apps, Rocket French relies on set vocabulary rather than exposing you to variations. You’ll have to expose yourself to French in other ways to learn these.
A specific issue with Rocket French is that while it offers extensive lessons in grammar, vocabulary, and culture, as well as listening and speaking, there are comparatively few exercises and quizzes that will allow you to practice and review what you’ve learned.
Ideally, if you choose to use Rocket French, it’s a good idea to look up exercises covering different things you’re learning along the way, to be sure you know them well. One way to do this could be to use Duolingo as well. Its phrases and vocabulary aren’t always as accurate as Rocket French’s, but overall it could be a good way to review. If you’re prioritizing correct French and grammar, online exercises are also a good idea. Just do an internet search for “free French [whatever you want to practice] exercises”.
In addition, as with any app, it’s a good idea to supplement what you’re learning by reading, watching, and listening to things in French. This will help you learn even more about French culture, as well as practice your French skills in different ways.
Finding a French conversation partner is also a great idea, since it will let you practice what you’ve learned with a real native French-speaker.
Since Rocket French’s scope is so large, you may also want to supplement it with another app that focuses on an aspect of French learning that’s particularly important to you. For instance, if you want even more practice with contemporary conversational French, the French Together app could be a great choice.
How much does Rocket French cost?
As of this writing, you can get lifetime access to all three levels of Rocket French for $259.90, which is 42% off its regular price of $449.85 (check your localized version of Rocket Languages’ website for prices in your currency).
You can also purchase just levels 1 and 2 for ($249.90, marked down from $299.90) or level 1 for $99.95 (marked down from 149.95).
With lessons that cover vocabulary, grammar, speaking, listening, and culture, Rocket French is an extremely thorough French learning app. I just wish there were more exercises and quizzes to help you practice and review the many, many concepts the app can teach you.