Forum Your input wanted! Suggestions to improve Play it!

Your input wanted! Suggestions to improve Play it!


Hi all
We are going to be doing a workshop specifically on the Rocket Reinforcement activity,  Play it!, and would like to field suggestions from members about ways that we could improve it.

Feel free to post your ideas and comments here!

Remember to make sure you specify which language you are using and your device, if you think it's relevant!


Thanks for the opportunity to give feedback. I think that responsiveness to user experiences is a great way to make Rocket Languages even better. I do apologize in advance that my feedback is negative, but here it is.

For me, Play It is the least useful feature of Rocket Languages. The first level is simply reading and speaking the narrative, which is an additional opportunity to practice speaking. Levels 2/3 are probably the most helpful, since they require "filling in the blanks" with a little bit of time pressure. But by the time one gets to level 5 it is simply an exercise in rote memorization, which is not very helpful to me. It is figuring out how to express something, not memorizing a set of sentences, that helps me improve my Spanish. In honesty, the only reason I go through Play It is so that the system knows I have finished a particular lesson and closes it on the main menu. If not for that I would not spend the time on it.

All that said, this morning I was working on Lesson 18.2 and encountered this phrase:

Puede que para ustedes sea entretenido burlarse de mí
which translated as
It may be fun for you guys to make fun of me

"entretenido burlarse de mí" didn't make logical sense to me, and I know I will have trouble with this phrase. I thought that Play It would be more helpful if that phrase was blanked out in the context of the rest of the sentence. But I don't know how you would do that, since I may be in the minority of people who have problems with it. I can just put it into one of my flash cards on Anki and learn it that way.

Again, I am sorry to be negative. Maybe I just don't understand or appreciate the best way to use it. Perhaps others may learn better through memorization than me, or may really like "Play It" as a way to practice speaking, so I am not suggesting you drop it. Nor, I am sorry to say, do I have any realistic suggestions for improvement. Its just my "dos centavos." 



I have a bit of a different perspective from my esteemed colleague Dan (which no doubt reflects the strength of the course in that people get different things out of it at different times). I have been going through the Spanish Travelogue course (multiple times now) and “Play It!” is an essential part of my routine. Let me explain how it fits in.

I first go through the course trying to say as much of the dialogue as possible (multiple sentences at a time without looking at the text) which forces me to think meaning – otherwise my mind gets lazy and mimics phrases without thinking through what I’m saying. Doing this has coincided with a jump in my fluency level. It’s also by far the hardest part of my routine.

Then I go through “Know It” (skipping the other sections) which is usually pretty easy to do by the time I get to that point in the lesson - but it is helpful in me getting down the expressions exactly.

Lastly I go through the “Play It”. I only do this on the “Easy” setting (voice recognition off) but I look away from the screen and pretend I’m in a real conversation. I’ll glance at the screen when I get stuck. I’m currently concentrating on saying the phrases exactly as they’re written as they really are useful. In a later go around I intend to do straight improvisation.

Regarding the voice recognition, until the system can respond in real-time, I don’t see this as being particularly useful in “Play It!” as the pauses kill the conversational aspect of the exercise.

A future enhancement I would find useful would be to have a playback (with pauses) which varies the conversation but still uses the set phrases from the lesson. Having the scrolling text would be nice but not essential.



My suggestion would be to let the student start recording manually. I know the pressure of having to respond quickly is part of the test, but when you get to the higher levels the sentences can be quite long and unless the sentences have been learnt as if playing a part on stage, it is hard to compose the sentences quickly enough. 
An alternative would be for the system to wait until the student starts to speak before starting the timer. In a real conversation you do get to start when you are ready even if there is pressure to respond reasonably quickly.
I am studying German.


Hola, I am learning Spanish on a desktop Mac most of the time with Google Chrome. I find the lagging time for the native speaker in Play It! very annoying, and like Sfpugh I find that the timer starting before I'm ready to speak unhelpful. Yet I do like having the voice recognition off in easy! 


I am learning French.  I would like one of the levels to have the whole conversation written in English, but no French prompts at all.  That way I don't have to memorise how the conversation went, but have to find the right French words to use.  I find 'Play It' a very useful exercise.


Hi all - Thanks for your feedback. Very interesting stuff.

From what I am reading I get the feeling that some of the Levels may not be as useful as they could be, and that if, as Nicola mentions, we have a Level with just the English (blank Target language) then that is probably better.

And secondly, having voice recognition on may not be the best way for effective learning (although that can currently be disabled).

Brittany - Can you expand on what you mean by "lagging time"?

Feel free to expand upon these thoughts!


Actually I really like the way the levels build up from easy to difficult and I also like having the voice recognition, so would be disappointed if this disappeared as an option. 

An alternative or addition to my suggestion above would be to have the all the words written in the target language only, when the recording is speaking; and all the words written in English only, when the student is expected to speak.  My reasoning for this is as above: teaching myself to be able to recognise what a French speaker is saying and being able to recall the words to say what I want to say, without having to memorise how the conversation went.

Thank you - I'm enjoying using the course.


(Spanish, Laptop. Chrome)
I  like the Play It feature in most lessons, and I do find it helpful most of the time.  
I do prefer it in smaller chunks, rather than too large of segments of the conversation.   (The sentences and dialogues were getting a little out of hand in Level 3, for instance, but now I'm in the Travelogue, and they are much more manageable in length and difficulty).  
The only issues I have with it are the problems with voice recognition.  Having played around with several language learning courses, I know that these are just common problems with the technology.  
Still, I get caught up trying to get that 100% recognition, in spite of myself.   Someday  I'd like to test a native Spanish speaker in the voice recognition program to see if they have the same problems I do.  =)  
Overall, though, I do like the feature.  


(Spanish, Laptop, Chrome)

I really enjoy "Play It" - I use it as a "reward" after doing the harder work of the lessons.  I have fun bouncing around different "Play It" Lessons to see if I can still "beat the timer" on filling in the words, it shows me if I have forgotten vocabulary and need to have a quick brush up, but I agree with Dan, the last level requires total memorization of the sentence, and I am simply not spending that amount of time on "Play It" to memorize the sentences, especially the long ones - as Yadamas pointed out, they get a bit unwieldy in level 3. 

But I do find the feature very helpful and enjoyable - a few tweaks here and there could improve it, sure, but I too would be very disappointed if it went away.

Thanks for asking our input!


re: yademas's comment about trying out speech recognition with a native speaker.
I tried out German speech recognition with a  German  friend and they didn't get 100%. Possibly they spoke too fast, the speech recognition does seem to like you to speak fairly slowly and distinctly.  My friend was quite annoyed that they didn't get a perfect score. :-)


Hi all - An update on Play it! We had a workshop on it and quite a few simple fixes came out of it that we will implement soon.

The big change will be that the current Level 1 difficulty will be shown by default. We will add a settings icon, similar to the FlashCards, that lets you decide on what is shown or hidden. Selecting to, say, only show the English will change that for all instances of Play it! throughout your course.

There are a few design and coding issues that need sorting out, so I won't give a definitive time-frame on when this will happen, but it will happen!

Regarding the voice recognition, it works off a 3rd party Google system, so over time it should get better. There are very few that our native speakers can't get given the right environment, and when we do come across those we change the example.



Jason on the speech recognition, at least in German there are occasions where it seems to be impossible to score 100% because the speech recognition returns something that is technically correct but doesn't match the form in which it was written.

Here are a couple of examples although there are quite a few more.
From module:17.2
Ein guter Freund, Alexander, hat mir gerade eine SMS geschickt, dass er uns hier treffen wird um viertel nach sechs. (original)
Ein guter Freund Alexander hat mir gerade eine SMS geschickt dass er uns hier treffen wird um 6:15 Uhr. (the time is interpreted correctly but doesn't match)
A good friend, Alexander, has just sent me a text that he will meet us here at quarter past six.

Bei einem Notfall wählst Du eins eins zwei, die kostenlose Euro Notrufnummer. (original)
Bei einem Notfall willst Du 112 die kostenlose Euro Notrufnummer.  (here the number is correctly interpreted but doesn't match.  wählst - It is possible but very difficult to get this right)
In an emergency you can dial this free European emergency phone number, 112.

Generally speaking it seems to be numbers and times of day that cause problems.

There are also numerous example of confusion between "ß" and "ss", because "ss" is often used in the course where ß would technically be correct. This probably reflects  the fact that many Germans don't bother with ß any more.


I personally would leave it as it is and not change it. For me the play it is essential and extremely helpful in regards to Japanese and following their different grammar and sentence structure. I can understand how for others it may not be useful for a European style language, however with Japanese where the language is so remarkably different this module is the most helpful for triggering the right learning to get sentence formulation correct. On all my visits to Japan it is the play it section that has helped the most improve my language skills before going. Flash cards only help people memorise words, the play it section teaches us how to put the words into sentences.

I would be extremely disappointed if it was removed or significantly changed.


Hi Tony - Don't worry, the principle of how it works won't change. It's more making it so that it is more robust and works well on the apps.

Hi Sfpugh - I will look into what's happening there. There was a "number" issue with the voice recognition results but that should have been fixed. I will look into it.


Thanks for that, it is good to know. 


Hola Jason, what I mean with 'lagging time' is that the teacher / native speaker's audio is taking a minute or more to start playing and stopping halfway through then not finishing or waiting several minutes before starting up again.


Hi Brittany - That shouldn't be happening. Have you contacted customer support about it? Are you using an old computer?


Ciao Jason:

What about prompting with thumbnail style pictures (cartoon style) instead of with words? And adding this feature as an additional level (say level 5?) to the Play-it exercises. I appreciate all the 4 levels that exist right now. If I don't think they are useful (e.g. when I go through them for a second time), I simply ignore them. It does not do any harm though to  them at least once. Repetition is important when learning a language, so why skip them?

I am no fan at all of seeing any English in the Play-It exercises as I fear that it will make me translate those sentences rather than start thinking in the foreign language. Pictures would work better.

Further: it would help to add a few exercises (fill in the blanks, etc.) when new (or difficult) sentence structures are introduced in the dialogs. I guess that would reinforce the usage of those structures/sayings quite effectively

A presto.



Hi Sabine - Thanks for your feedback!

Unfortunately thumbnails, or in fact images in general, are difficult to make so that the right context is formed when describing a phrase. We tried something similar in the past but it was a lot of work for what seemed not a lot of gain in learning efficacy.

With the new version of Play it! it will be up to you as to what you see. Instead of the 4 difficulty levels you will have a settings icon, where you can change what you see or don't see when using Play it! These changes will run across all Play it! instances in your entire members area.


Hola Jason. No I have not contacted customer support because I don't remember how; and now I am having the problem of the teacher's audio playing when I hit the recording button or the keyboard shortcut for recording on top of the lagging time with the teacher's audio! No I am not using an old computer. How do I contact customer support?


Never mind! I found out how to contact customer support. Gracias.


Hi Jason

Rocket Italian “Play It”
I only just got round to reading theses comments but I agree with the comment by Dan-H24 (although he is talking about Spanish), regarding the limited usefulness of learning a phrase by heart rather than understanding the meaning.  Your proposal to add difficulty levels and language options sounds like an excellent idea

I notice another contributor suggested:
To let the student start recording manually. I know the pressure of having to respond quickly is part of the test, but when you get to the higher levels the sentences can be quite long and unless the sentences have been learnt as if playing a part on stage, it is hard to compose the sentences quickly enough. 
An alternative would be for the system to wait until the student starts to speak before starting the timer. In a real conversation you do get to start when you are ready even if there is pressure to respond reasonably quickly”.
I thoroughly agree with this and I’m sure that being able to control the pace of the dialogue would be very helpful


Hi Mickyboy - The new version of Play it! will definitely give more flexibility.

As far as pausing recording goes, that is something for us to look at in the future, but it won't be a change in this new version!



Just tried the beta version
Overall the changes seem a very positive refinement

Everything seems much more responsive, (not sure if thats just because its a beta version)
The option to select languages in ”Play It” – very good
Not sure of the usefulness of the 3,2,1 count down
Not sure if moving “play it” up below the “Interactive audio lesson” is a benefit or not

I understand that the ability to pause “play it” isn’t include yet. This isn’t just desirable for recording but could it be designed to prevent the feature where it just moves on to the next piece of dialogue before the student is ready?



I have tried the beta too and it seems to work well. I think  that both the placement after the lesson and the options are good.
Like the previous poster, it would be nice to control when record starts, but overall a good improvement.


I can't find an update in either arabic or spanish.


I am using a computer that is new so i don't know what it is.


Hi Michael/Simon - We are still looking at the options re letting the user control the start of the recording.

Hi Ramsey - The changes are currently in beta, so not available to most people just yet. At thi stage we are looking at releasing it early next week.


I really like the different options in the new beta version of Play It – much better, thank you.  I would, however, like it even more with the following amendments:
I would prefer it if when you ask for the English words to be blanked out, they are blanked out for the parts spoken by both participants in the conversation, not just the bits being spoken by the learner. 
For new users, it was better with the conversation transcript near the top and Play It at the bottom, as this guided you to practice each separate part of the conversation first, one bit at a time, before tackling the more difficult practice of keeping pace with a conversation.
As others have said, I find the conversation too fast at certain points on my first couple of attempts and, although it is good to have this as a target, I would like to be able to pause it when I need a bit more thinking time.
When you click on the ‘Practice this conversation’ button, the settings menu should appear automatically, as I think it very unlikely that I would only use one setting on each lesson.  I like  to start with an easy option e.g. all words in both languages, and work up something more challenging e.g. words only in English.
Many thanks


I am loving the new changes to "Play It" - much more sleek, I like the placement, the responsiveness of the recording is so much more smooth - the whole new version is 100 times better than the old.

I like what Nicolah suggested, above -

  " I would prefer it if when you ask for the English words to be blanked out, they are blanked out for the parts spoken by both participants in the conversation, not just the bits being spoken by the learner."

I think that would be a great addition to the options,  I feel it would maximize the learning capabilities of the whole "Play It" feature.

I am on the fence about pausing....I see the advantages, but at the same time I always felt the whole point of "Play It" was to test the ability to keep up in a conversation - all of the other sections give us all the time we need to work out what we need to work out in that particular lesson. 
Maybe that is why "Play It" used to be the last lesson option, and why others feel that if the new placement is going to be at the top, a pause option should be included.  This makes sense to me. 

Also, I do like the countdown - I was never keen on the way it was before, just starting when you thought you should - to me, that is why the recordings often cut off too quickly, that maybe I inadvertently wasted time starting my recording due to not being 100% certain when to start. So for me, "3,2,1" is very useful.

Overall - I think the changes are great, I have been comparing them side-by-side on different tabs while the current version is still up and the current version suddenly seems clunky and tired in comparison. 

SO happy "Play It" is being kept in the game, and has been improved, you've done a great job, everyone!

Thanks so much


Hi Nicola/Kelly - Thanks for your suggestions. A couple of those did cross our mind! I suppose this is a bit of a balancing act between keeping the layout/operation simple and having lots of flexibility (which begets complexity).

So, we will store your suggestions and revisit them along with any other feedback from users in a couple of weeks. Thanks again!


HI all - Just letting you know that the changes are live for everyone, and there is a blog post about it here:


I have been working it lately and it seems to work fine and have better speech recognition although it is not 100% perfect with recognition.


 I’ve been enjoying play it. I apologize for not having read 100% of the above comments before posting. 

 I’m on an older PC/iPhone SE and voice rec. works better on my PC  than on my phone whether I’m in Firefox or chrome. 

These are my main thoughts on Play It. 

If I had to click the buttons to make it record during the conversation I would never do it.  I don’t use most of rocket reinforcement for this reason. 

It would be a great help to me if I could turn off all the text for what is being said to me in play it.
For example, if I am playing as Amy I would like to see the English for what Amy is supposed to say, but I’d like to see nothing written for what Mauricio is saying. My reading is better than my listening, but I can’t always remember exactly what Amy is supposed to say. I don’t want to memorize the conversations, but I want to respond in the right way. I hope that makes sense.

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