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Learning New Languages: Have we been doing it wrong?

I am so excited to write this blog addressing one of our most common reader requests: how to learn new languages.

If you’re anything like me, perhaps you grew up learning (or attempting to learn) a second language in school. I did French in school from grade 4 to grade 10, but never during that time did I get to a conversational level, much less retain enough of what I learned to be anywhere near conversational today.

My kids are in French immersion so I have had an opportunity to reinvigorate my French and use what I know to help them with their homework and reading. I understand the rules and have a rudimentary understanding of the language and I would probably do okay on a written test. But when it comes to speaking it or comprehending what someone else is saying? Nope, not a chance. My brain is way too busy in translation and conjugation mode for that.

My husband has had a similar issue using Duolingo to try and learn Spanish. His review is basically the same as what I mentioned above – there’s a lot of rules and word learning but it doesn’t seem to follow a natural progression and is missing the conversation aspect. And I think that’s where a lot of people end up when they try to learn a new language. The focus on “rules” keeps us stuck in the theoretical, unable to transition to real world exchanges with real people.

And you don’t have to take my word for it. A study by The Guardian in 2014 found that 8 out of 10 language students could do no more than understand basic phrases, so, clearly, when it comes to learning languages, we are doing something wrong.

Introducing a better way to learn

And that is what is so exciting about the language programs I am going to share with you today – they completely transform our traditional understanding of how to learn new languages. With Spanish Uncovered, Grammar Hero and Conversations you will learn through stories in a natural, almost passive way. Pretty different philosophy than drilling word lists and grammar rules, huh?

Spanish Uncovered (Beginner)

Introducing Spanish Uncovered, our top selling language course and a must-have for any current or potential expats looking to check out life in Latin America.

Spanish Uncovered is a comprehensive online course designed for beginner Spanish learners or what are dubbed false-beginners, who are people who have learned some Spanish but haven’t reached conversational fluency. I’d probably put myself and my husband in that category for our French and Spanish, respectively, and I would guess many of our Escape Artist readers find themselves in a similar boat!

What is really cool about Spanish Uncovered and why it is so different is that it focuses on what its creator, Olly Richards (no relation), refers to as Story Learning. Story Learning is the process of learning a language through stories, just as we learned to speak our native language growing up.

This is in contrast to what Olly calls the “Parrot Problem”, which is how most of us learned in school with memorization of various words, rules and phrases. We commit it to our short-term memory and repeat it as needed, but it never really sticks and you are definitely in no position to be using it in an actual conversation. Most current Spanish-language courses and apps (looking at you, Duolingo!) still use that method today.

Spanish Uncovered is based around a 20-chapter story in simple Spanish, and includes everything learners need to go from the complete beginner level to intermediate level Spanish. The course includes dozens of video lessons and exercises to help learners improve every aspect of their Spanish, including:

  • vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation
  • listening, speaking, reading, and writing

With Spanish Uncovered you will learn to speak Spanish naturally through the power of story and finally feel empowered to go out into the world and start using your new language skills. My husband and I can’t wait to get started with our courses to help further prepare us for our offshore plans!

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Oh, and one more thing I almost forgot to mention, not only do you get a 7-day FREE trial period to check out the ENTIRE course, but there is also a 365-Day Money Back Guarantee. I don’t know about you, but that definitely gives me peace of mind when I’m about to delve into something new!

Go get Spanish Uncovered today and start learning with us!

Grammar Hero (Intermediate)

Once you have completed Spanish Uncovered, or if you are someone that already has intermediate level Spanish, you are definitely going to want to check out Grammar Hero.

One of the most frustrating parts of learning another language is that when you actually go to speak it, you are constantly translating things in your head in real time. If you’ve ever used Google Translate, you know that means your grammar will often miss the mark because you are thinking in English, not in Spanish, and it is not a straight-across translation from one to the other.

And this is where Grammar Hero comes in. Grammar Hero helps learners stop translating in their heads and focuses on helping them internalize grammar.

Like with Spanish Uncovered, there is a focus on story learning for a more natural learning process. There are 15 stories written for an intermediate level Spanish-speaker, so it meets you where you are without being too easy or too difficult.

Going through the Grammar Hero course will give you a more innate understanding of the language, enabling you to speak with authenticity and communicate with freedom, without having to constantly be translating in your head.

This is a great add-on once you have completed Spanish Uncovered. Check out Grammar Hero if you are ready to take your Spanish communication to the next level!

Conversations (Intermediate)

Finally, we have the Conversations course. One of the complications that can arise when using your newfound language prowess in the real world is that native speakers tend to speak FAST. Like, REALLY FAST. You may be completely ready and able to communicate, but that is tough to do when the other person is speaking so quickly you can’t even pick up what they are saying!

This is where Conversations comes in. Conversations is a ground-breaking online course that helps you understand fast, spoken language, so you can take a fuller part in conversations yourself and reach your true language learning potential.

As with Spanish Uncovered and Grammar Hero, Conversations uses story telling to help you learn.

Conversations’ aim is to help you understand authentic, rapid speech and transform your listening skills in less than 90 days. How insane is that? This is an issue across the board for language learners and I have never heard of a language course that addresses it directly. Definitely a great option to solidify your ability to converse with native speakers and gain confidence in your daily interactions.

Level up your listening and conversation skills with Conversations!

Start learning a new language today!

Whether you are looking at creating your Plan B, want to more confidently travel the world or just love learning new languages, a second (or third, or fourth!) language is an invaluable skill to have. Check out some of the testimonials below to see how Olly Richards’ courses have helped people successfully learn a new language.

(Note: In this article our focus has been on learning Spanish, but these courses cover tons of other languages, too. Check out the Escape Artist store for more language courses from Olly Richards and keep an eye out for even more courses coming soon!)


LisaLisa is an aspiring expat from Canada who is working to put together her Plan B with a young family in tow. She is excited to pair her lifelong love of writing with her passion for offshore strategies and outside-the box investments in her weekly articles for Escape Artist readers. Follow this “rebel with a cause” as she walks the path less traveled and shares her experiences along the way.
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