This German Uncovered review is up-to-date as of February 12th, 2023. Please note that this review contains referral links, however we only recommend products that we have personally used and think are worthwhile.
Did you know that German is actually the most widely spoken language in the European Union? It’s the official language of Germany, Austria and Liechtenstein (also one of the official languages of Switzerland and Luxembourg). It ranks 11th on the list of the most widely spoken languages in the world.
So you’d like to learn German and you want to know if German Uncovered is right for you? And most importantly, is it worth your time and money?
Luckily for you, you’ve come to the right place. Our editors at Language Tsar have put the German Uncovered language program through its paces. We’ve tested everything out to see if it truly stacks up against the other German courses on the market. Read on for a detailed review of German Uncovered.
Spoiler alert: in our opinion, Story Learning’s German Uncovered is an an excellent program for beginners in German, and one of the most enjoyable and comprehensive beginner language programs available on the internet right now.
What is Story Learning? And Who is Olly Richards?
Olly Richards is the creator of a series of language programs called Story Learning. He runs a very successful YouTube channel, podcast and blog and is a multiple best-selling author of numerous storybooks. Olly jumped into the limelight when he first created his unique Story Learning method and is now on a mission to share his ideas with the world.
He’s been featured in a 5-part BBC documentary called ‘The Superlinguists’, where he explained the exact method he used to learn 8 languages whilst traveling the world. He’s since gone on to work with the Open University, the British Council, and the European Commission.
What is Story Learning?
So what’s causing all the hype? Well, you see Olly isn’t afraid to go completely against the norm when it comes to learning a language. He openly rejects traditional methods that rely upon memorising grammar rules, translation and repetition, and instead has centered his courses around the idea of immersion. Why learn the rules first when you can first see them in action, see the patterns and pick them up naturally? Why learn boring, isolated terms and phrases when you can follow an interesting story that actually motivates you to learn and sticks in your mind without any effort?
Olly’s been developing his Story Learning method for over 15 years, with the idea first coming to him with a near brush with death atop a mountain in Argentina. He awoke in the middle of the night struggling to breath due to the thin air. He didn’t want to go back to sleep so instead started reading a Spanish book that he found nearby. His Spanish was terrible at the time but he found that the next day he could still remember many of the phrases and vocabulary without even trying to learn! And so the Story Learning method was born.
German Uncovered Review: Summary
So what can you expect from German Uncovered?
Olly has broken down the course into 20 distinct modules, with the same structure appearing in every module. First off, you are encouraged to listen to an audio recording of the story, then follow along with the transcript. Next follows a series of video lessons taught by native speaker, polyglot and experienced tutor Kerstin Cable. She does an amazing job of breaking down the new vocabulary and grammar that you’ve encountered in the story, in a very easy and digestible way.
Every module has a wealth of worksheets and self-study materials that accompany it as well as lessons on pronunciation and speaking. Every lesson has a lively comments section at the bottom to ask questions and get to know the wider community of learners. Language expert and polyglot Stefano Suigo is always on hand to answer any questions you have.
The whole course is very thoughtfully crafted using the unique approach of Story Learning. Every module builds upon the last, slowly unravelling the story of Der Mann Mit Dem Hut (The Man With The Hat). It starts off easier and uses more complex language throughout the modules, as you pick up more and more language. This is where the immersion part comes in. At first you find yourself completely befuddled as you face a wall of German text but Olly’s continuous pep talks remind you not to get discouraged, that this feeling is completely normal, and to focus on the language that you do understand.
The lessons are designed to simply nudge you along your way to constructing your own sentences in German as quickly as possible, in a way that is not too dissimilar from how kids naturally pick up a language.
German Uncovered Pros
Pro #1 Very Comprehensive
You can be sure that you’re getting a thorough introduction to the German language with this course. Everything has been meticulously crafted to cover everything you need to know as a beginner. Kerstin is a brilliant communicator and explains everything clearly and concisely, whilst keeping the lessons interesting and engaging.
Pro #2 All new language is contained within the story
The best thing about the immersion method is that you first experience the language in context before even studying it’s meaning. The bane of many language programs is that you often learn new words and grammar points in isolation before getting a proper understanding of how to use it. By immersing yourself in the story first, you become somewhat familiar with the overall language patterns and it’s gist (purely from context) before you even start understanding the nuances, which gives you a huge advantage in terms of recognising and understanding words without having to recall everything from memory.
Pro #3 Expert Pronunciation Training
Every module contains a pronunciation training video that really helps to nail your pronunciation and get you sounding like a native. Kerstin makes it easy for an English speaker by explaining how to produce the sounds in easily understandable concepts. The accompanying worksheets allow you to practice along with her, comparing your sounds to hers until you get it spot on. And, as always, all the words used in the pronunciation videos are fully contextualised with sentences and have been already covered in the story and lesson videos.
Pro #4 Fully downloadable material
A massive bonus! You can download all the worksheets, transcripts and mp3s for offline learning when there’s no wifi. This makes it super convenient to squeeze in extra language practice on a commute, at the gym or whilst chilling in a park.
German Uncovered Cons
Con #1 The teaching method is not for everyone
This method is not a one size fits all. It’s ideal for those who enjoy a grammar-heavy and literacy based approach to learning, but not so for those who learn best through conversation and more interactive means. The immersive nature means that you must be ok with being overwhelmed and confused at first. It takes a bit of time to get used to the way it all works, and to become comfortable with making many mistakes and not being perfect. But once you get into the swing of things, the process works like clockwork and you’ll soon find yourself getting drawn further into the story and eager to learn more. Here’s how one learner on the Spanish Uncovered program described their experience:
Con #2 Limited Assessment & Feedback
Every module has a review quiz to test you on everything you’ve learnt in that module, but the questions are multiple choice and typically only 10 questions long. The progress reports every chapter are not really progress reports at all, but feedback forms for Olly to improve the course. In my opinion that’s not really acceptable for a professional language program and certainly isn’t enough to really check your understanding – a more thorough assessment is necessary, if only at halfway or similar. It can be hard to gauge your own understanding using online courses like this, so I’m glad to see that they encourage you to find a native language tutor to help you alongside the course and give you constant feedback and speaking practice to help you progress.
Con #3 It’s not cheap
At $297, German Uncovered is certainly not the cheapest language program on the market, especially given the lack of bonus features and range of texts. We do feel however, that this course makes up for the fact that it contains only one text, because the text is very high quality – it’s long (over 45 minutes) and contains a wide range of dialogues and useful situations for daily life. You won’t find any other course like it with such a long and varied text running through it all. It’s really quite a feat to achieve this, with all the grammar and vocab coming from a single source.
Con #4 Not enough bonus lessons
One thing we absolutely loved were the bonus lessons that came with the course. You’ll get a really interesting insight into German dialects and a workshop on German ‘travel secrets’. And our personal favorite was the ‘Golden 100’ – a bulletproof collection of the most useful and common words in the German language. However, we’d like to see more. It’s always great to have some lighthearted bonus videos to return to in case you get bored throughout the course. We’d love to see some more cultural-type videos on food , for example, as well as study tips and general info about learning languages.
German Uncovered Features
Right from the beginning, you’ll be guided through each video step-by-step and taught exactly how everything works. You’ll meet your tutors, get a in-depth explanation of the Story Learning method and an overview of the syllabus and how everything is laid out. It feels very satisfying to see just how logically and carefully the lessons are structured. It feels like you are being taught and guided along by a close friend, and you’ll feel a real sense of progression and encouragement from both Olly and Kerstin.
The next thing you’ll see is a series of bonus lessons that you can come back to whenever you like. Then you’ll finally get into the real meat of the course – the 20 chapters, with the story providing the central theme throughout, a playground for you to see all your new knowledge in action. Let’s take a look at each part in turn.
Read & Listen to the story
You are first encouraged to listen to the audio of the story without the transcript, trying to recognise any words you might know already and pick up on the overall context. You are then prompted to repeat this several times whilst following along with the transcript. The English translation is also provided.
You are then given a detailed video lesson on the cognates you might have already identified from the first activity. You’ll get a fascinating insight into where specific words come from and pick up on short-cuts you can use to fast-track your learning. A short quiz tests your understanding.
Through the vocabulary lesson you start to build up a better understanding of the most important and useful words that appeared in the text, allowing you to enjoy the story and unlock the plot. Martina’s explanations are really on point, incredibly clear and concise. She breaks down the story bit by bit, annotating the key vocab and giving her perspective from a natives point of view. She’s well versed in English culture and uses modern teaching methods to get her points across in easily understandable concepts.
Pronunciation & Speaking
The speaking lesson does not include a video but rather a worksheet full of exercises to be completed with a language tutor. There’s instructions to inform your tutor exactly how they can help you, and the speaking activities are really fun covering such things describing a painting that you like and various different dialogues.
Finally, there’s a review quiz to test your understanding.
Who Would Benefit From German Uncovered?
Those who would find German Uncovered to be most useful are those who:
Who Would NOT Benefit From German Uncovered?
This program might not be for you if you are are someone who:
German Uncovered vs. The Competition
GermanPod101 vs German Uncovered
These two courses are very different from one another. If you prefer to customize your own syllabus or are looking to learn some basic German purely for travel then we’d recommend checking out GermanPod101. Otherwise, if you are looking for a comprehensive course that’s guaranteed to improve your level fast in a structured way, then German Uncovered is for you.
Duolingo vs German Uncovered
Duolingo exploded in popularity in the last five years with its engaging user interface and learning style. It works by continually testing you through a series of exercises until you answer everything correctly. Whilst it might be fun and not a bad way to get some extra vocab under your belt, it’s unfortunately not an effective way to learn a language.
Many users report to have forgotten what they’ve just learned shortly after completing a level, and the syllabus is very random and at times completely misleading, with lots of sentences having been directly translated rather than taken from real-life native speakers. After all, it is free, and as a free tool it’s great, but not as a serious learning platform
Cost of German Uncovered
German Uncovered is available only through a single payment of $297. Whilst it may sound pricey, bear in mind that most other language programs work off a subscription model that pressures you into getting your money’s worth. By paying a one-time fee, you are free to learn on your own time, without the stress of trying to get your money’s worth. You’ll get a lifetime access to all video lessons, transcripts, mp3s etc. throughout the course (all downloadable). Also, Olly also offers a rather generous 30 day money back guarantee if for any reason you feel like the program is not for you.
German Uncovered 7 Day Free Trial
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German Uncovered Review Summary
It’s rare to come across a language program that goes against the norm quite like this one. Unfortunately most language courses out there are generally run by large companies who rely on flashy software and teaching algorithms to sell their programs to the masses, rather than real teaching. It’s refreshing to experience something for a mass audience that’s created from the ground up, from someone who’s personally used the method to learn 8 languages and help thousands of other people to do so too.
With German Uncovered, you won’t have a bunch of flashy features. You won’t have flashcards. You won’t have all the bells and whistles. But what you will have is a personally crafted comprehensive beginners course that’s made with love and care, and will keep you interested right to the very end. A new method that’s endorsed by well-known language learning experts and has proven to be both enjoyable and very effective – Story Learning. Why not give it a try?
Josiah is a digital nomad with a passion for language learning and adventure travel. He’s taught English as a foreign language for many years and is currently learning Georgian, French and Chinese.