Interactive Audio Section Continued
I hit play, and on came the two hosts of the course, Alex and Maria. Right away, from their language and tone, I got the sense that this course was going to be very user friendly. My sense was right. Forget about old-school programs with dull and “professor-like” recordings. The Rocket Italian hosts are fun, friendly, and helpful.
In this chapter, after a short greeting, Alex came on and explained our lesson goal, which was to become fluent enough in Italian to use the train system in Italy. Before we jumped into that, though, we had a “Rocket Review,” where we went back to the previous lesson and practiced what we had learned the day before.
For example he came on and said, “How do you say, there is?” Then there was a pause, so you could answer the question. Then he came back on and said, “Did you say, Che?” These types of reviews are present in every lesson, and they are a huge reason why this program provides such a great learning experience.
After the review, Alex came on and set up the situation for today’s lesson, which was that we had just arrived at large train station in Italy. Then we jumped into our lesson. It starts with our two hosts acting out a scene, all in Italian. When they are finished, Alex comes back on and, in English, explains what was going on. He was playing the part of the tourist, and Maria was playing the part of a ticket vendor.
Then Alex tells us that the first thing he said was, “I would like,” or “Voray” in Italian. Then Maria modeled the pronunciation, after which I had a chance to repeat the phrase. This word is pronounced with a “rolling R,” so Maria, the native italian speaker, gave us some tips on how to perfect the sound. Then, once again, she modeled the pronunciation, and I was given a chance to repeat her. We went through each word and phrase in this manner. The system works like this. You learn. You listen to pronunciation. You speak. Then you get follow up advice. You listen again. You speak again. You do this for each word and phrase in the dialogue. You repeat the process several times.
Interactive Audio Section Summary
Things They Got Right
- friendly and helpful hosts
- very effective learning process
- highly interactive
- fun and entertaining program
Things They Could Improve
- More practice speaking the full dialogues
Interactive Rocket Record
The Rocket Record feature is a feature where you can record your voice and then compare it to that of a native Italian speaker. I started by hitting play and listening to the recording of the Italian speaker. I did this several times. Then I hit the record button and spoke myself. When I did, a waveform giving a visual representation of my pronunciation appeared. I could then compare my waveform to the native speaker’s. I could also play my recording and the recording of the native speaker at the same time, listening for differences. I have used this type of feature with several different software programs–they seem to be very popular these days.
How does the Rocket Italian recording stack up to its competitors? It’s as good as any of the other recording features out there. The problem, however, is that I just don’t really like the concept of learning pronunciation with my eyes. Seeing a visual “waveform” of my voice just doesn’t help me much. I learn “by ear” much better. I listen to a native speaker and then repeat after him or her. While I am speaking, I can tell whether or not my pronunciation was correct–I don’t need a visual representation of my voice. That being said, I can’t blame the people at Rocket Italian for including this feature. Their competitors have released similar features–with much enthusiasm from consumers.
Language and Culture Section
The second feature under the “My Course” tab is the Language and Culture Section. Each language and culture lesson corresponds to an Interactive Dialogue lesson. The Interactive Dialogue lesson I reviewed above was 2.2 Train Station, so we will now look at its corresponding Language and Culture lesson, “Telling time, Asking Prices, and What Would You Like.”