The Rocket Language courses are fairly well-known in the world of language learning. The web-based courses are available in Spanish, French, Italian, Chinese, German, Japanese, Russian, Arabic, Hindi, Korean, Portugese, American Sign Language, and in a number of English courses for speakers of other languages. They’re sold in the form of a one-time payment ranging from $99.95 for access to Level 1 to $259.90 for access to all three levels. There’s also a free six-day trial available for each of their language offerings.
As I’ve been taking various Japanese courses on Memrise for the past couple of years, I took a look at the Rocket Japanese course. The course starts with an audio lesson between a native English and a native Japanese speaker. The lesson has a cheerful and welcoming mood to it, and introduces basic Japanese greetings. After the audio, there’s a transcript written in both English letters and Japanese ones. After that, there are exercises in which you pronounce the vocabulary, write it, record it in Japanese after hearing it in English, and a quiz.
Because of the pronunciation exercises, it’s a good idea to have a headset with a microphone handy before starting this course. Although there are writing lessons later in the course, it would still be a good idea to learn the 46-letter Hiragana alphabet before starting this course, as you’re expected to type in Japanese words starting in the first lesson. There are a number of free online options to do this.
Further lessons in Level 1 include phrases to use at restaurants and the post office, and introduce the days of the week and numbers in Kanji. If you continue to Level 2, there are lessons concerning travel, such as cancelling a hotel reservation, asking for directions, and dealing with lost luggage. Level 2 also has lessons about Japanese holidays. Level 3 seems to deal more with actually living in Japan, with lessons about forgetting your PIN, reporting a burglary, and even dealing with an earthquake.
All in all, Rocket Japanese is a product that I would pay for. It’s a good value in that it offers a considerable amount of language instruction for a fraction of what a language school or college courses would cost. The instruction is also presented in bite-size lessons which are easy to remember, and is reviewed in a number of ways before moving on. I also liked the fact that one of the people on the course is a native English speaker, as it serves as a reminder that English speakers can learn Japanese, even though it’s a very different language.