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Announcing a fantastic new testing tool! Play it!

jason-oxenham-ceo March 26, 2014, 2:37 am

Bonjour tout le monde (Hello everyone)

After over 6 months of development, I am excited to announce a brand new learning tool that has been added to your Rocket Languages course. You are probably already familiar with the Testing section, and the tests like Hear it Say it!, Write it! and Know it!. Well, now we have a new test for the Interactive Audio Course (IAC) Lessons... Play it!

Play it! utilizes the role play tracks from the IAC lessons in a way that is designed to get you speaking out loud and get you really thinking on your feet. What's more, once you have used Play it! for a while, you will notice that your conversational ability will increase markedly. Over time the sentence structures and the ability to recite those common phrases become second nature.

I would like to send a thank you to all of our beta-testers. We enlisted quite a few existing Rocket Languages members to act as beta-testers, and their suggestions have made Play it! much better than we originally had it.

In fact, here are some comments about play it! from one of those beta-testers, Cathy...

Play it is an enhancement to the other Tests currently in use by Rocket languages as teaching and learning tools. What this test does is to enable the student to immerse him or herself in conversation. Immersion is a proven way to really internalize a language. By repetition, we become more and more confident... more and more able and willing to actively participate in role playing thus acquiring the accents, and inflections of the native speaker..

It is a self paced format. No one is over our shoulder pressuring us  or criticizing us. We are our own judges of our competency level. The grammar and vocabulary used have been consistently taught throughout the course. We are now able to find pride at the ease with which we see ourselves fully understanding the sentences.

From my own personal experiences in learning  a foreign language prior to Rocket Languages, I found that immersion coupled with extensive knowledge of grammar and vocabulary allowed me to become a native speaker very quickly.

Play it! is in this school of thought. We are immersed in conversation. We are using the vocabulary and grammar learned previously and we are now able to reap the fruits of our efforts with Play it!. We are playing the role of a native speaker. We can fall back at any given time on the recording to adjust our accents and inflections. All in the privacy of wherever we choose to be at any given time. Best of all as I have mentioned with no pressure. It simply cannot get any better  than that!

Kindly

Cathy W 

So, as you can see, our beta-testers loved the concept. So, what are you waiting for? Just head into any Interactive Audio Course lesson and give it a go!

Actually before you go, a couple of words of warning!

1. You will need a headset/headphones to use Play it! properly

2. We currently use Flash to drive Play it! And the Flash set up is different to that used in Rocket Record. So, if you have any issues using Play it! please click the green "Help" button in the Play it! section.

All the best with your language learning

Jason Oxenham
CEO
Rocket Languages

Announcing a fantastic new testing tool! Play it!
naomi-t2 March 26, 2014, 3:18 pm
I like the addition, it does really get you into the conversation. My only problem is I can't record right now and don't have headphones. I'm just seeing how far I can go.
Thank you all!
Announcing a fantastic new testing tool! Play it!
jason-oxenham-ceo March 26, 2014, 7:05 pm

Hi Naomi - Thanks for the feedback. Remember that the Flash settings need to be set for Play it! when you do get recording. Just use the green "Help" button.

Announcing a fantastic new testing tool! Play it!
grahame-r March 27, 2014, 10:20 am
Love this new addition.
On first looking at this lesson it did seem a little daunting, but as I progressed into each level I found it getting surprisingly easier which is quite amazing!
I think the only draw back is you need to spend more time in this lesson, with work commitments etc. But as your beta tester Cathy says 'no pressure'. Keep up the good work.
Ciao.

p.s. It works without the headphones for me, I have a built in microphone, I don't know if this helps but I just needed to activate the application for RL to correspond to my speakers..
Announcing a fantastic new testing tool! Play it!
T_Henry March 27, 2014, 4:18 pm
Well, darn... All those lessons I thought I had completed are now unfinished. Just kidding! All kidding aside, the review of past lessons can do nothing but good and this new testing section will, I'm sure, strengthen the "absorption" of each lesson's content.

I look forward to trying out this new tool!!
Announcing a fantastic new testing tool! Play it!
jason-oxenham-ceo March 27, 2014, 6:55 pm

Thanks for the feedback guys.

It is possible to use Play it! without a headset BUT depending on the computer/mic/headset set up you may get audio feedback. And because there are so many combinations, it can make it difficult to troubleshoot any issues from a customer support perspective. Hence, headsets are recommended!

And, yes, a few Dashboards will look a little different but we thought the new tool was worth the (hopefully) minor inconvenience!

Announcing a fantastic new testing tool! Play it!
Aurora Hemminger March 28, 2014, 11:49 pm
"Play it" is awesome. I went back to the beginning lessons. I found out that I was memorizing them without a lot of effort......Thanks, Aurora
Announcing a fantastic new testing tool! Play it!
Ian-J10 March 30, 2014, 5:36 pm
Another great revision tool AND it encourages me to spend more time speaking. (I have skipped those opportunities to play a part in the conversations in the past.) Now I have to ensure that after each lesson the 'P' is the same color as the other sections of the testing.
The 'Write' and 'Play' tests are great additions to the course.
Thank you! Anne
Announcing a fantastic new testing tool! Play it!
jacinda March 30, 2014, 5:50 pm
Just echoing the others in saying that this is a great addition. As someone who has always found with traditional languages courses that my speaking / listening ability lagged my reading / writing ability, I love the emphasis Rocket Languages puts on interactive speaking and listing.

Also, the fact that you're constantly adding these features, incorporating user feedback and improving the site really makes me feel like I'm getting my money's worth!

I do miss the old testing section though. It was nice to be able to identify gaps where I might have forgotten things from an older lesson.
Announcing a fantastic new testing tool! Play it!
jason-oxenham-ceo March 30, 2014, 6:57 pm

Hi all - Thanks for the feedback. Play it! is definitely a great learning tool.

Hi Jacindas - The section tests will be coming back but we have a few other enhancements to get finished before that one.

Announcing a fantastic new testing tool! Play it!
Robert-C7 March 31, 2014, 1:40 am
I have grown to like the new "Play It" test better and better. It is really useful at building up vocabulary before moving to the "Know It" tests.

Regarding "section tests", I would propose adding a section after every major section shown on the Dashboard. For Rocket Chinese, the first section test would be after completing 1.4, 1.9 and the Tones Survival Kit. One of the things I would like to see is for all of the unique phrases and words to be included into a big giant "Say It", "Write It" and "Know It" and also a comprehensive quiz.
Announcing a fantastic new testing tool! Play it!
J742129 March 31, 2014, 5:20 pm
For Rocket Japanese, I absolutely love the new feature, but one recommendation:

For the easy to the medium sections of the test, could it be possible to add the Romaji? I understand that having kana only is essential, but for first time learners, having the Romaji would be useful and make the Play It! test not quite as daunting.

Thanks!
Announcing a fantastic new testing tool! Play it!
jason-oxenham-ceo March 31, 2014, 7:21 pm

Hi Robert - The section "Rocket Tests" will be after each section. With regards the idea having one giant Test series; most courses have around 3,000 unique words and phrases. At this stage I think it would be too unwieldy. Nevertheless i will add it to the discussion list for future development.

Hi Fred - That's a good idea. I will see whats possible!

Announcing a fantastic new testing tool! Play it!
Robert-C7 March 31, 2014, 11:00 pm
Actually, I was suggesting a series of comprehensive "Hear It Say It", "Write It", and "Know It" for each major grouping. The first grouping would from Rocket Chinese would be 1.0, 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4; 1.5, 1.6, 1.7, 1.8, 1.9. The total number of unique phrases from each such grouping is probably more on the order of 200-300. I think this is what you mean by section.

Also, in "Play It", I would like to see an option where the display text is Hanzi instead of Pinyin. This would help us learn to read it. If you do this, you should consider allowing this option to be "rated" separately as completing "Play It" with Hanzi display text will be much more challenging.
Announcing a fantastic new testing tool! Play it!
Linda-F6 March 31, 2014, 11:17 pm
Play It appears to be greyed out on my screen, any comments would be appreciated. I am using an ipad.
Announcing a fantastic new testing tool! Play it!
jason-oxenham-ceo April 1, 2014, 12:54 am

Hi Robert - The Rocket Test for each section will cover a selection of the medium to hard words/phrases as determined by where they rank from overall member ratings.

Play it! Hanzi is coming in a separate section! As is Play it! Kanji for Japanese members.

Hi Linda - Unfortunately iPads don't work well with Adobe Flash, which we use for Rocket Record and associated Tests. In fact Apple does not support Flash at all. Eventually we will be able to use a workaround but that's not likely any time soon. The best thing to do is to wait a few more weeks for the new app, or use a PC!

Announcing a fantastic new testing tool! Play it!
scallop44 April 5, 2014, 4:11 pm
Awesome update! "Play It!" adds another learning dimension to this great website! Thanks!
Announcing a fantastic new testing tool! Play it!
Daniele-L April 21, 2014, 8:54 pm
how will we be notified when we will be able to use Play It on the iPad
Announcing a fantastic new testing tool! Play it!
jason-oxenham-ceo April 21, 2014, 9:16 pm

Hi Daniele - I will write a post about the new version of the app on here. It looks like the Android version will be within the next week or so. The iOS version may take a little longer.

Announcing a fantastic new testing tool! Play it!
Daniele-L April 21, 2014, 9:57 pm
Looking forward to this...I have the iOS version, so have to wait a bit longer.
Hopefully it won't be much longer.
Announcing a fantastic new testing tool! Play it!
Fran-N April 26, 2014, 7:12 am
Thank you thank you for this addition. The one thing I don't have is some one that I can speak with regularly and this addition certainly fills the void. I find myself really listening and thinking of what I need to say. By the time you reach the "native" section, I found that I had it pretty well down packed. Thanks again for your continued commitment to this program.

Fran N
Announcing a fantastic new testing tool! Play it!
Marise-R May 2, 2014, 5:52 am
Play It is a long overdue addition, and so relatively simple to use! I love it. I am busy learning to speak in reply to a native speaker - puts the pressure on, just like trying to do it with a real person. Love the levels within the Play It. Excellent formative exercise building to thorough fluency. I also enjoy using "Write It" as it certainly trains me in correct orgthography. Both great additions in the last 6 months.
Announcing a fantastic new testing tool! Play it!
dmkfpmgr May 11, 2014, 6:06 pm
Have not managed to get this to work yet tried Chrome, internet explorer and firefox without nay joy won't record my voice.
Announcing a fantastic new testing tool! Play it!
dmkfpmgr May 11, 2014, 6:09 pm
unable to get this to work at present although I do think its a great addition to this product, have tried it with Chrome, firefox internet explorer on the mac and windows PC just does not record my voice.
Announcing a fantastic new testing tool! Play it!
jason-oxenham-ceo May 11, 2014, 8:26 pm

Hi Dmkfpmgr - Have you tried the FAQ/Help button on Play it! itself? If that doesn't help then please email customer support with as much technical detail as possible. The technical team should be able to help.

Announcing a fantastic new testing tool! Play it!
diranu May 11, 2014, 9:09 pm
I kind of felt that "Darn it, I thought I was done with level 1" also but I know from previous experience that review is the best way to "drive it home". This is a great addition to help jog the brain into conversing. As I'm going thru all the Play It sections in level 1 I can really notice how much I have progressed since I started RL.
Thanks for this great addition!
Announcing a fantastic new testing tool! Play it!
Robert-C7 May 13, 2014, 12:19 am
>Play it! Hanzi is coming in a separate section! As is Play it! Kanji for Japanese members.

I just started Japanese and would also suggest a "Play it! Romaji" for Japanese in addition to Hiragana and Kanji.
Announcing a fantastic new testing tool! Play it!
maha266 September 24, 2014, 7:20 pm
I loved that tool is my favorite part of the test part after quiz but its kind of too fast for me sometimes
Announcing a fantastic new testing tool! Play it!
T_Henry September 24, 2014, 10:10 pm
Yes, I think "Play It!" is a really helpful tool. Sometimes it does take me a LOT of repetitions to get the dialog down smoothly and up to speed (to fit the other role-player's pace), particularly at the Harder and Native levels. But it's good practice!

I only fear that it may be forcing me (consciously or unconsciously) to memorize the dialog rather than thinking about what I am trying to say and learning to "think as I talk" about what to say next.
Announcing a fantastic new testing tool! Play it!
Byron-K21 September 24, 2014, 10:36 pm
For sure it will do that. Except for the longer phrases I find that after I've mastered the first two levels I've memorized the text and don't need to refer to the test dialog to respond to the remaining levels. So really then, the hardest level is no more difficult for me than the medium level. That may change as I get further into the lessons and the phrases are longer and more complicated.
Announcing a fantastic new testing tool! Play it!
jason-oxenham-ceo September 25, 2014, 2:44 am

Hi all - Funnily enough we have just been reviewing Play it!, so it is timely that there is some new discussion around it. What we are proposing to do is to increase the "silence" gap by, say, 25%. We are going to do some testing at our end to see if that is too much or not enough. If anyone has any thoughts on that or can offer other improvements then now is the time to put it forward!

Announcing a fantastic new testing tool! Play it!
Steven-W15 September 25, 2014, 1:39 pm
I would not recommend this unless you can make it variable under user control (e.g., slow, normal, fast). I remember it being a bit challenging when "Play It!" first came out (though I should note that I had already been through the course more than once). Now I find the timing perfect - and I can tell it's really helping my conversational skills.

In starting to go through a previous level of Rocket Spanish, I find the "Play It!" pace to be unbearably slow to the point of being absolutely tedious.

A variable control for "Play It!" would be best. Otherwise I think it's better to keep the bar high - as with everyday conversations - and work your way into it over time.
Announcing a fantastic new testing tool! Play it!
Byron-K21 September 25, 2014, 2:13 pm
I'm going to go with Steven on this. I believe he is right. There is knowing all the words and then there is being able to speak them smoothly and with the correct accent (in so much as that is possible for a non native speaker). Although after about 5 repetitions I've pretty much memorized the dialog, at least for the level 1 lessons, there is an advantage to repeating over and over again at a conversational pace.

I think play it is a great tool. Like Steven, I've already been through all 3 levels but before Play it was available, so now I'm going back through and doing that part of the testing.

I have found that the pacing in RG is a bit inconsistent. For example, I think in many ways, the second level is more difficult than the third.
Announcing a fantastic new testing tool! Play it!
Robert-C7 September 25, 2014, 6:46 pm
I second Steven's comments on Play It. I like the fact that it runs at conversation speed. With enough practice, I am able to keep up. Yes, that often means I need to memorize the dialog but that is all good. As others have suggested, maybe RL can provide a speed option for those who want it to go slower.

It would be really helpful if Play It could be incorporated into the Language & Culture lessons as well as the Survival Guide lessons. I don't know how you would do that except by adding tabs with a short dialog using phrases from the lesson.
Announcing a fantastic new testing tool! Play it!
jason-oxenham-ceo September 25, 2014, 7:40 pm

Hi all - I appreciate the feedback. We have had a lot of feedback from absolute beginners who just find Play it! far too hard/fast. So much so that some people wind up not using it. Perhaps a 2-speed option would work, although technically that may be tricky to do. I will look into it!

Announcing a fantastic new testing tool! Play it!
Byron-K21 September 25, 2014, 10:51 pm
Jason, maybe what you could do is pick up the pace as you advance through the lessons. Start out slow and perhaps the first level never reaches conversational speed, but by the time you get to the third level, the exercises should be pretty much at normal conversational speed. This is what I meant earlier when I said the pacing wasn't even or graduated throughout the levels. Level 1 is generally slowed down a bit except for the language and culture sections which are pretty fast. Level 2 is pretty fast especially Sandra. Then Level 3 slows down almost too much. I'm talking about RG. I don't know about the other languages.
Announcing a fantastic new testing tool! Play it!
Robert-C7 September 26, 2014, 12:44 am
Well, if you can slow down "Play It", it should not be too hard to add a control this keeps the current speed. If you do have that option, I will probably find it useful to work on the more advanced levels (hard, harder, hardest, etc.) at the slower speed before working to get to the faster speed. The thing I find valuable about Play It (particularly Play it in Hanzi [Chinese]) is that it forces me to be able to recall and say it at real speeds.
Announcing a fantastic new testing tool! Play it!
Steven-W15 September 27, 2014, 6:21 am
Jason - should the 2-speed option prove tricky to implement, a low-tech approach such as inserting a Pause/Resume button into the "Play It!" section could meet the need of slowing down the conversation for beginning students. I would find this option useful in that I am more often than not interrupted by phone calls and it would be nice not to have to replay the conversation from the beginning every time that happens.
Announcing a fantastic new testing tool! Play it!
jason-oxenham-ceo September 28, 2014, 9:18 pm

Hi guys - Thanks for the feedback. I think the most straight forward option will be to add a little more time to the early lessons and then leave the rest as they are. In the future we can look into the various options discussed here and put them onto the product development roadmap.

Announcing a fantastic new testing tool! Play it!
Steven-W15 September 29, 2014, 8:18 am
Thanks for leaving the more advanced lessons at normal speed!
Announcing a fantastic new testing tool! Play it!

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