Spanish Uncovered (StoryLearning) Review: My Own Experience
- Written byJada Lòpez
- Read time1 mins
- Very comprehensive course content
- 100+ guaranteed hours of material
- Detailed grammar explanations
- Native Spanish phonetics expert coaching
- Teachable platform
- Primarily a literacy-based course
The Spanish Uncovered course extends on the extremely popular StoryLearning method by Olly Richards, applying a story-based teaching methodology that comprehensively covers Spanish up to an intermediate level. The course is ideal for those who enjoy a literacy and grammar-heavy approach, but may not be as enjoyable for other types of learners.
Overall, Spanish Uncovered is pricey but it offers great value.
If you’re learning Spanish, you may have heard about Spanish Uncovered | StoryLearning by Olly Richards (formerly I Will Teach You A Language).
Well I decided to use and briefly review this popular course recently.
Spanish Uncovered offers over 100 hours of content from absolute beginner up to (CEFR) intermediate. It’s an impressively comprehensive Spanish course in scope, covering pretty much every pertinent topic of Spanish for new learners, and it also includes video lessons by a native Spanish speaker and phonetics expert.
Olly’s taken a very unique approach to teaching based on story comprehension. The gist is that you’ll work through a simplified short story in Spanish, covering various grammatical topics as you go, with the end result being that you’ll have read an entire story in Spanish by the end of the course.
Frank opinion: This course style will suit people who enjoy a literacy, grammar-heavy approach (it’s very thorough with its explanations), but it may not be ideal if that’s not something you enjoy.
Many learners (myself included) prefer to learn through conversation/use, which this course unfortunately lacks.
The only other aspect of Spanish Uncovered that bothers me is the Teachable platform, but that’s a purely aesthetic issue.
Overall, Spanish Uncovered is excellent value - a little pricey for sure, but it’s a one-time payment ($297) rather than a recurring subscription (there’s also the option of 3 x monthly installments).
There are alternative online Spanish courses available too worth checking out.
I signed up for Spanish Uncovered after reading all of the glowing reviews. I took advantage of the summer discount of $100 off the normal price of $297.
As the review notes above, the course consists of a number of videos and PDFs – each of the 20 modules has a video on cognates, vocabulary, grammar and pronunciation and then there are PDF worksheets to fill out. In terms of video content I reckoned there was about 18-20 hours of video altogether, including the main story that the course is based on, which is around 45 minutes (audio only). I think that’s worth mentioning because a typical in person class for A1 and A2 Spanish would probably be around 150 hours of teaching, and then of course homework on top of that.
Purportedly the course will take you through A1, A2 but as far as I could ascertain it probably doesn’t go much further than A2. For example, I couldn't find anything on grammar topics such as indirect objects or reciprocal verbs which I believe are more at the B1 level, although direct objects are covered. There are no interactive exercises at all or any voice recognition. For speaking exercises a worksheet is provided that you can give to a teacher who will use it as a framework for conversational exercises. So even though it is a computer-based course, it really doesn’t utilize any technology in teaching the class in the form of interactive exercises or voice recognition of the kind you find with Duolingo and probably most computer-based courses nowadays.
The quality of instruction in the videos is really excellent and this is what the course does best; Olly Richards does seem to have a knack of clearly explaining complicated grammar concepts. Of course his “gimmick” is that this is a story based class which is supposedly designed to be more engaging and that by taking the class you will “read a book in Spanish” as you take the class (in reality I would say it's more of a short story than a full novel-sized book). It's a great concept and I like that even in Module 1 you get exposed to real Spanish that isn't dumbed down or overly simple, and is spoken not too fast, but not too slow either.
I liked some aspects of the course, but I just found it too passive for me. There are quizzes at the end of each module but I thought they were quite simple, and they are just multiple choice. I think part of the problem is that the platform they are using (Teachable) really doesn’t lend itself to interactivity.
For me there were two sticking points for me, and were the reasons I asked for a refund. One is the lack of any focus on speaking, other than a worksheet which you have to give to a teacher (at additional cost). I felt that was insufficient. I think at the very least they could create some videos in which some conversations are simulated (perhaps Pimsleur-style). The second is the price. A lot of reviews say it is expensive, and it is (even with the discount). Like many learners I use a variety of different tools so have to watch what I spend, and in the end I just couldn't justify the price. I think had it been priced around $75-100 I think that would have been about right. That’s especially so since it seemed to me this only covers mostly A1 and A2, so you are then going to have to spend more money to buy the more advanced classes such as Grammar Hero. For about the same price I could buy Rocket Spanish which goes up to at least B2 and has considerably more content and is fully interactive. It's true it's not story based and I do see the value of that approach, but I think the other features would make up for that.
This isn’t to say it’s not right for some people (with deep pockets). I think if I hadn't already had a year of Spanish behind me, I think this would have been a great fit. But I think it does go to show that finding the right language course is very much a personal thing and that one should be wary of the glowing reviews and to be sure to test things out as much as possible before committing to a product. But Spanish Uncovered's credit, when I asked for a refund I received in just a couple of days, which is more than most big corporations do, so that was very welcome.
So I hope they improve the product and add more features (especially a focus on speaking) and maybe I'll take a look at it again in the future, because I do like the story based approach.
Hi, Jada. Thank you for this review. I'm curious: Why is the Teachable platform a negative thing? There doesn't seem to be anything much better when it comes to building and hosting courses yourself. Is it because Teachable has no good mobile app or TV app? BTW, even though Teachable's quizzes are pretty basic, the course creator can add custom HTML to spice things up. (I don't work for Teachable. I'm just looking for a platform on which to create a course)