Rocket Languages vs Duolingo: Which Platform Wins?

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Written By Francesca Stephens

Founder of Linguatics. Passionate multilinguist.

Duolingo is a true celebrity among language learning apps.

But Rocket Languages also rose to fame and became one of the most popular language-learning platforms on the market.

So, for today’s article, we decided to make a comparison: Rocket Languages vs Duolingo.

Who would win in a race? Let’s find out!

*Looking for a quick answer? We think Rocket Languages is the overall better platform to learn a new language, visit their website here!

Rocket Languages vs Duolingo Review

In a way, Rocket Languages and Duolingo are like chalk and cheese.

Yes, they have the same goal: to teach you a new language. But they have quite different approaches.

On the other hand, there are some similarities – and that’s where you can see which platform has more advantages.

Both platforms are popular for a good reason. But there are no tied matches in our comparison articles.

Pricing and Plans

Let’s begin with platforms’ pricing and subscription plans.

Rocket Languages offers three plans. Their usual price is this (we took a Spanish course as an example):

  • Rocket Spanish (Levels 1,2 & 3) for $449.85
  • Rocket Spanish (Levels 1 & 2) for  $299.90
  • Rocket Spanish (Level 1) for $149.95

However, these numbers are not very accurate because Rocket Languages offers discounts very often. For example, they are currently offering a Rocketdeal coupon code; you can purchase Rocket Spanish Levels 1, 2, & 3 for $259.90. That means you would save $189.95.

Each package includes hundreds of hours of lesson time and instant lifetime access to interactive audio lessons, language & culture lessons, and Bonus Survival Kits.

Either way, you can also try their free trial version first. And there’s a 60-day money-back guarantee.

Rocket Languages review

Duolingo is, however, more affordable.

In fact, Duolingo has a free plan. Yes, completely free! You just need to sign up and start learning.

You can also opt for Duolingo Plus. It’s an ad-free version with more features and content.

The free plan is great but Duolingo paid subscription is, of course, much better. For instance, you’ll have unlimited Hearts (you can lose Hearts by answering incorrectly too many times.)

You’ll also have unlimited test outs (you can complete a skill test to jump to the next level.)

And you won’t get distracted by ads.

Duolingo review

All in all, it’s amazing that Duolingo offers its content for free. That makes it more accessible. But when you realize that the paid version has a lot more benefits, you’ll probably start to notice all the flaws of the free plan.

Nevertheless, Duolingo is more budget-friendly than Rocket Languages. 

But that also raises the question: what exactly are you paying for?

Structure and Features

As for the Rocket Languages platform, purchasing one of its packages is definitely worth it.

Rocket Languages offers a ton of content, but it’s well-structured and easy to navigate. Their program is comprehensive and focused on the development of all main language skills: reading, writing, listening, and speaking.

In short, the Rocket Languages program is a mix of audio lessons, interactive exercises, and useful study tools.

It’s designed to take you from beginner to advanced level.

And it’s very interactive, effective, and easy to follow.

You’ll learn practical vocabulary, important grammar rules, and cultural facts. And thanks to its speech recognition system, you’ll work on your pronunciation.

Rocket Languages vs Duolingo

Audio lessons include casual conversations between two native speakers. Every once in a while, the moderator will explain what you just heard. So, you’ll get clear explanations and detailed grammar instructions.

You’ll also get questions. In a way, these lessons are something like a guided conversation. They are based on active participation and they will certainly keep you focused and interested.

Then you’ll move on to culture & language lessons. They will tell you how the language you’re learning works. And they will give you interesting cultural insights.

Furthermore, Rocket reinforcement activities will help you test and strengthen your knowledge.

So, the program includes short drills like speaking exercises, flashcards, quizzes, and writing drills.

In some languages, there’s also a Travelogue section that will take you on a virtual tour to a foreign country.

Speaking of languages, Rocket Languages currently offers 14 languages to choose from (including English and sign language.) You can learn Arabic (Egyptian), Chinese, French, German, English, Italian, Spanish (Latin American), Japanese, Korean, Portuguese (Brazilian), Russian, and Hindi.

Duolingo, on the other hand, currently teaches 19 languages. Some of those languages are fictional, though. But let’s not devalue Dothraki or Klingon language. You never know when you’re going to come across a group of friendly Klingons 🙂

Also, popular courses are available for speakers of a variety of languages – you can learn English from 21 different languages.

And as for the structure of Duolingo, in a way, the app is somewhat similar to Rocket reinforcement activities. It includes all kinds of drills and short exercises.

Duolingo lessons are also very short and simple. Each lesson is only about 5 to 10 minutes long. 

Duolingo interface

But how does Duolingo work?

Well, Duolingo drills include fill-in-the-blanks, matching pairs, listening drills, and so on. And as we’ve already mentioned, everything is very quick and simple. In a way, using Duolingo feels like playing a game.

One thing is for sure: Duolingo is definitely more game-like than Rocket languages. Although Rocket does have some gamification features (Leaderboard, points, etc), Duolingo has levels, badges, previously mentioned Hearts, and XP points.

All things considered, Duolingo is a very fun app that will keep you interested and motivated to learn more.

It’s great for learning vocabulary. But you can also work on your pronunciation (you can listen and repeat sentences.)

However, Duolingo doesn’t much care about grammar. You’ll learn a few grammatical concepts at each level. But the app doesn’t elegantly intertwine it with other elements as Rocket Languages does.

If you want to build solid conversational skills, Rocket Language would be a much better choice.

The thing is, Rocket Languages will force you to actually use the language. You will respond to a native speaker in a dialogue simulation. That will help you master communication skills and feel more confident.

But how much will you actually learn with each program?

Levels and topics

Well, Rocket Languages promises to take you from beginner to advanced level. However, levels vary per language.

Generally, Rocket Languages has three levels: beginner, intermediate, and advanced.

Of course, you will start with basic things like greetings and the most popular expressions. You’ll learn to introduce yourself, order food, and so on.

Rocket French

As you progress, you’ll get into more complex yet casual topics.

For example, Rocket Italian Level 3 covers the following topics:

  • Socializing
  • Food
  • Relationships
  • Italian culture
  • Travel destinations
  • When things go wrong

All of these lessons include practical vocabulary. But you won’t only learn how to say friendship in Italian. You’ll also learn how to use it in a sentence.

In other words, Rocket Languages will teach you how to talk about common topics and prepare you for real-life situations.

Duolingo also covers different topics, as you can see in the picture:

Duolingo categories

However, Duolingo is based on translations and vocabulary. Therefore, you won’t actively work on your speaking skills.

When it comes to levels, Duolingo is actually based on completing levels. You go up a level every time you earn a certain amount of experience points (XP.)

Also, at some point, Duolingo introduced Crown Levels. Crown Levels give you tougher exercises at higher levels.

So, now each skill begins at the introduction level (level 0) and when you complete all the bite-sized lessons, the skill is leveled-up and the next row of skills is unlocked. And when you complete a level, you gain a crown.

Nonetheless, the point of the leveling-up system is to allow learners to see more challenging content without forcing them to go through it. Or at least that’s how the Duolingo team claims. But everything is actually quite simple once you start using the app.

And what happens when you complete all levels in Duolingo?

Well, if you think you’ll reach fluency, you’re mistaken. Yes, you’ll know a bunch of words and you’ll be able to express yourself to some extent. But if you’re not able to have a fluid conversation with another person, you can’t become a fluent speaker.

But the Duolingo app will definitely help you develop language skills. And if you combine it with another learning source or online classes, you might be on the road to fluency.

What about design?

Duolingo doesn’t only feel like a game – it also looks like one.

It features awesome animations though. And visual aids and representations will help you remember new words more easily.

And we can all agree that Duo the owl is the main star of the app.

Duolingo owl Duo

On the other hand, Rocket Languages looks very simple and more serious.

But good design isn’t only about colors and fonts. It’s about functionality – and both Rocket Languages and Duolingo tick that box.

Rocket Languages doesn’t have that many animations, but it features photographs and visual aids. 

Rocket Languages lessons

Nevertheless, both Duolingo and Rocket Languages keep adding new features. They are constantly changing and growing.

For example, the latest Rocket Languages 2022 edition is more intuitive and streamlined. They also added a setting that lets you slow down the tutor’s audio on Rocket Record.  

Duolingo has also changed a lot in the past few years. They added more content and improved the overall learning experience.

In 2019, the company launched Duolingo Stories. There’s also a Duolingo Podcast, blog, live online events, and so on.

That said, it’s clear that both platforms put a lot of effort into maintaining their popularity and ensuring that their users are satisfied.

But we still didn’t tell you which one wins the battle.

Benefits

As you might assume, it’s not so easy to determine which language platform is better. And that’s mostly because it all comes down to your preferences, goals, and learning habits.

If you like simple, game-like apps, you’ll probably enjoy using Duolingo.

The app will provide you with short, bite-sized lessons. That will allow you to fit language learning into your daily routine more easily.

Duolingo also has many extras. Their discussion forum is no longer available though. That will hopefully change in the future because the forum was a nice way to meet fellow learners and exchange experiences.

Duolingo Blog is also very useful and fresh-looking. One of the latest posts is focused on essential phrases for helping Ukrainian refugees. And that was a fantastic idea.

Duolingo blog

All in all, people simply like Duolingo. The app’s design and mascot became iconic, and it managed to become the most downloadable education app.

Although Rocket Languages isn’t as popular as Duolingo, it has many advantages. Maybe even more than Duolingo.

First of all, it’s focused on conversational practice and active participation. And that makes it very effective.

Moreover, it features modern tools and technology that can help you master the accent.

The whole Rocket Languages program is comprehensive and well-rounded. Modules cover different topics, and all of them will prepare you for real-world conversations and situations. And that’s what learning a foreign should be about, right?

All lessons have step-by-step explanations and key grammar points.

Plus, you’ll get cultural insights. And that’s an important part of learning a new language. If you’re planning to travel to a foreign country, you should know certain things upfront.

Either way, learning about a different culture and way of life can only enrich your learning experience.

Another thing we want to mention is how convenient this app is. Since it’s audio-based, you can use Rocket Languages on the go. You can take lessons while you’re jogging, driving, or walking your dog.

The Rocket Languages program is flexible and portable, and that will undoubtedly help you develop learning habits.

Duolingo vs Rocket Languages

Both Rocket Languages and Duolingo will help you learn a new language in an easy way. And they will make sure you learn in a logical, linear fashion.

But you also shouldn’t set unrealistic goals. Sure, the best online language courses are very helpful and effective, but they won’t make you fluent in a month.

In the end, results depend on your persistence and self-discipline. You should practice and use the language as much as you can.

So, all the benefits of Rocket Languages and Duolingo make sense only if you know how to use them well.

What Do Users Say?

But what do users say about their experience of using Duolingo and Rocket Languages?

As we’ve already mentioned, people generally enjoy using Duolingo. They find it practical and easy to use.

However, many users made a complaint about incorrect translations and unnatural sentences. And that can really discourage you for a bit.

Some Rocket Languages users also reported some faulty scores. But they are generally very happy with how it works, especially the new edition. According to the first comments, it’s intuitive, streamlined, and neat.

It’s good to look for users’ reviews. However, you should be careful – people have different expectations and learning styles.

Final Verdict

As you can see, both Rocket Languages and Duolingo have many benefits and are loved by users around the world.

And they are a great option if you want to learn a new language by yourself.

But if you want to build a solid foundation, Rocket Languages will provide you with a more detailed, comprehensive, and well-rounded education.

Duolingo is very practical and simple, but it won’t prepare you for real-life situations. And being to have a fluid conversation in another language should definitely be one of your goals.

Although it all comes down to your preferences, Rocket Languages offers more useful features that will make your learning process more effective. Plus, you can use it on all your devices and learn on the go.

But if you’re looking for a non-expensive and simple solution, Duolingo is a great option too. However, the Duolingo app won’t help you build strong conversational skills.

Rocket Languages is definitely more complete.

So, the gold medal goes to Rocket Languages.