So, I did a thing last year. Maybe you read about it? I completed a three-month Spanish mission.
I went from zero Spanish to a 15-minute conversation after just 90 days. It was a blast!
Since then, lots of people have asked me what resources I used.
I’ve found when language learning, it’s a good idea to have one main resource to guide you. For Spanish, I used Olly Richards’ Spanish Uncovered.
Have you heard of Olly? He’s a language learning expert who speaks nine languages. Here’s his long list – English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, Arabic, Cantonese, and German. Impressive, right?
I was curious. Does his expertise translate to a successful online course for the rest of us?
In this article, I’ll give you a sneak peek at Spanish Uncovered with sparkly screenshots. You’ll get the down-low on what worked well in the course and what I didn’t like. And oh yeah, I’ll include my Day 0 and Day 90 videos. More on that in a moment. Time to dive into the review!
About My Learning Style: I’m the Han Solo of Language Learning
“Look, your worshipfulness, let’s get one thing straight. I take orders from just one person: me.” – Han Solo
Before I get into the review, I want to tell you a bit about my learning style.
That’s right. I’m a rebel. I take orders from just one person: me. If only I had a tall, dark and hairy sidekick, I’d be flying around the galaxy reluctantly helping the good guys.
I’ve never followed an online course as a beginner. And I have been known to sneak out of grad school lectures that I found boring. Life is short. I’m not going to waste my precious time staring at some dreary professor for two hours.
So when Fluent in 3 Months asked me to review Spanish Uncovered, I was not delighted, to say the least. I was snarky. I was cynical. That was my starting point.
That said, I’d previously had one good experience with Olly’s language teaching. I read one of Olly’s beginner French books and found it helpful in learning how to read a new language for the first time. But keeping my interest with an online course was a different matter.
Olly had his work cut out for him. And I wanted to keep it a little bit professional.
How did Spanish Uncovered do? I’ll start by sharing how it works:
Spanish Uncovered Review: What Is Spanish Uncovered?
Spanish Uncovered in a multi-layered approach to learning your target language. This online course guides you from an absolute beginner to intermediate in 20 sections.
Olly calls the sections “chapters” because the course is built around a short story he wrote in Spanish. But the word chapter doesn’t do each section justice.
Here’s What Each Section of Spanish Uncovered Includes:
- Chapter of his book written completely in Spanish with an English translation
- Audio recording of the chapter being read by a native speaker
- Video lesson on cognates and how to spot them
- Video lesson focusing on the vocabulary in that chapter
- Workbook with vocabulary exercises and additional course material
- Video lesson about grammar
- Workbook with grammar exercises and additional grammar explanations
- Practice sheet to share with your tutor or language exchange partner
- Video lesson on pronunciation with a native speaker
- Chapter quiz
How I Tested Spanish Uncovered Before Writing This Review
For this review, I committed to 15 hours of using Spanish Uncovered. During that time I tried out all the available features.
I leaned heavily on the course material during the first three months of learning Spanish. I continued to use the course for ten months. At the time of this writing, I’m finishing up Chapter 16 of 20. I tend to lose steam with long courses but Spanish Uncovered is keeping me engaged. I look forward to working with it each week.
I do one online lecture per week. My baseline commitment is 15 minutes per week of study with Spanish Uncovered. That’s usually my gateway into one to two hours of language fun with the course material.
Spanish Uncovered focuses on six areas of learning:
- Making grammar easy to understand
- Growing your vocabulary
- Learning how to recognize and remember cognates
- Building a strong foundation in your target language
- Creating a learning routine that works for you
- Improving your pronunciation
You can work through the course by yourself or with the support of a tutor. Olly recommends getting a tutor sooner than later. I do, too.
There are currently five languages available: Spanish, French, German, Japanese and Italian.
I also took a peek at German Uncovered. It is taught by my favorite polyglot podcaster, Kerstin Cable. Her presence alone makes me want to try out the German version. There are even a few bonus videos in the German course. Very cool!
Spanish Uncovered: My Starting Point
I used Spanish Uncovered to learn Spanish.
My level of Spanish was that of an absolute newbie when I started. Here’s a video of me showing off how little I knew.
I have spent two years successfully learning French after failing to learn a language 10 times. This means I know that works and doesn’t work for my personality. Thankfully, Olly did not insist I use flashcards. If he had, this entire review would have been about how much I abhor flashcards.
So what did I think of Spanish Uncovered?
Spanish Uncovered Gets a Big Thumbs Up
My opinion before jumping into the course was nothing more than a shoulder shrug. Can I really get much out of lectures, grammar exercises and a few workbooks? The answer came back, “Heck yea!”
I was elated by the intricate puzzles that Olly created. I had no idea this polyglot knew so much about how to teach in an interesting way. Every 15 minutes or so, I was doing something different in the course. He organized the course in a way that keeps the student interested.
First, I downloaded all the audio of each chapter onto my phone. I listened while washing the dishes, taking a walk and driving to the dentist. Then, I read through the first chapter.
Next, I sat down with paper and pen to follow along with his cognate lecture. Let me just say: it was surprisingly enjoyable. I wasn’t a huge fan of language lectures before watching Olly’s videos. He made me a convert.
I’d seen Olly speak via YouTube many times. He’s articulate and organized. Yet, that doesn’t guarantee he’ll be an interesting teacher. Well, I was delightfully surprised. His teaching skills far exceeded my expectations.
What’s more, the lectures became my favorite part of the course. Han Solo approved!
Each chapter was overflowing with useful information. I walked away with more information than a month of my college language courses. I enjoyed my university class in Russian and my grad school class in Mandarin, but the pace was slow. The substance was low.
Spanish Uncovered lectures weren’t whizzing by. The pace was steady. Before I knew it, my 15-minute lecture was over and I had a head full of essential information.
Spanish Uncovered Review: What I Liked
There are three things I particularly liked about Spanish Uncovered:
1. Spanish Uncovered Sets You Up for Success
The structure of this course is phenomenal. Everything is spelled out. Follow Olly’s plan and you will be speaking Spanish. It happened for me. Here’s a video showing my progress after 90 days:
His lectures are fascinating. Olly does not only share what to study. He also shares how to study. In this course, you explore the mind of a multilingual brain. He teaches you how to become fluent. He also gives helpful tips on how to avoid common pitfalls.
One of my favorite tips was in the introduction lesson for Chapter 12. He shares about how he learns languages with concentration and a touch of romance. His specific explanations stick with you long after the lecture is over.
Who wouldn’t want to romance a new vocabulary word?
2. Spanish Uncovered Keeps You Coming Back for More
The exercises are challenging enough to keep your interest. However, they are easy enough for you to get most of them right. That leaves you with the feeling of accomplishment and you end up looking forward to the next session.
The course guides you to think like a polyglot. You are trained to become good at guessing your way to fluency. Exercises focus on one grammar aspect at a time while sprinkling in new vocabulary.
Sometimes you’ll pick up the word simply by context. Other times you’ll realize you don’t need the word to understand the gist of the sentence. Every now and then, you’ll get an itch to look up a new word.
Your brain becomes more comfortable with not knowing everything. This will take the pain out of conversations with native speakers. It’s all about training the brain.
3. Useful Handouts for Your Tutor or Language Exchange Partner
Each chapter offers a PDF file that you can share with your teacher or language exchange partner. This was a game-changer when I was looking for new teachers. Many tutors will ask you what you want to work on.
There’s no preparation involved. I shared the PDF with my tutor and our lesson was neatly organized to review what I learned that week. It was absolute magic as now my teacher knows exactly what words and grammar points I’ve been studying.
Spanish Uncovered: One Bummer
This isn’t a huge deal but it’s worth mentioning. Not all words are translated in the workbook exercises. There are lists of essential words throughout the course. Still, you will need to look up a handful of words with an online dictionary.
I enjoyed answering the questions outside in the sun. I wanted a break from my electronic barnacles. So, I circled the words I wanted to review and looked at them up after my study session. Or not. Sometimes, I let them slide. Captain Solo Cadet 124-239 would have been so proud.
How Do I Rate Spanish Uncovered?
I give Spanish Uncovered five gold stars which is worth about 15,000 Imperial credits. The course is well organized and entertaining. It kept this reluctant rebel willing to battle with the dark side.
Spanish Uncovered: Final Thoughts
I completed my 15-hour commitment of Spanish Uncovered weeks ago. I’m still using it as my Millennium Falcon. After all, I’ve outrun Imperial starships with this course. Why stop now?
This course is filling all the language learning holes I missed when I learned French. It’s nice to play by the rules every once and awhile.
My active vocabulary has exploded. Because we touch the vocabulary repeatedly in different lectures, it gets super sticky.
I find myself nodding along to grammar explanations my tutors throw at me during lessons. Most of the important stuff has already been covered by Spanish Uncovered. I use my lessons in Spanish as a nice review of the material.
My tutor was impressed recently when he gave me a listening comprehension quiz. He couldn’t believe I understood everything the first time. Listening to the Spanish Uncovered audiobook 20 times helped me hone my listening skills.
There you have it, my Stars Wars sprinkled review of Spanish Uncovered. What are you waiting for, you big furry oaf? Try it out for yourself.
Oops, I shouldn’t have been so harsh. It’s not wise to upset a Wookie.
And finally... One of the best ways to learn a new language is with podcasts. Read more about how to use podcasts to learn a language.