This Italian Uncovered review is up-to-date as of October 25th, 2021.
Did you know that Italian ranks as the fourth most studied language in US colleges and high schools? This comes to us as absolutely no surprise…
With over 60% of the world’s art treasures being found in Italy, and with Italian being closest to Latin of all the romance languages, it’s easy to see why everyone is flocking to Italy to study this beautiful language, and get a deeper insight into the ‘cradle of western civilization’.
But it’s not only the culture that everyone’s after – possessing the Italian language opens up job opportunities in one of the top-ranking economies in the world, where many employers are seeking people who speak Italian. The Italian language is also a must if you want to study/research art history, literature, archaeology or philosophy.
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Read on for an in-depth review of Italian Uncovered as we break down its pros and cons, and help you become informed before making a final decision.
What is ‘I Will Teach You A Language’? And Who is Olly Richards?
‘I will teach you a language’ is a series of language programs created by author, polyglot and ‘langpreneur’ Olly Richards. Olly has an impressive background, being a best selling author of 29 short story books and the writer of a very popular blog, youtube channel and podcast. He’s taught himself 8 languages while travelling the world and is on a mission to share with everyone his unique learning method which he calls ‘StoryLearning’.
As you’ll soon learn from this program (and this review), Olly is very opposed to the traditional methods of language learning, and he’s got the experience to back it up. “Move on before you master the grammar” is his mantra. Far from memorising lists of words and learning isolated grammar rules, he’s developed a series of courses from the ground up that are based upon the immersion method, centred around an interesting story. He developed the StoryLearning method from his own experience and has since gone on to create courses (whilst partnering up with native language teachers) teaching beginners how to learn Spanish, German, French, Japanese and more.
Italian Uncovered Review: Overview
The course is structured into 20 distinct modules that each slowly unravel the next part of the story – L’uomo col cappello (The Man In The Hat). You are first encouraged to simply listen to the audio recording of the story whilst attempting to pick out language you may know already and try to figure out the context. Next you can follow along with the transcript, and then finally all the vocab, grammar and pronunciation gets explained to you in depth in the subsequent video lessons, taught by native speaker & tutor Martina Scattolin.
So is it worth all the hype? Well, there’s a ton of Italian language courses out there, all promising to get you to fluency in a short period of time, but nothing quite like this one. Immersion is nothing new to language learning, but weaving an interesting storyline throughout the entire course is certainly something unique. And most of all it works!
You easily find yourself getting so lost in the story that you forget that you’re even learning another language. Stories engage our emotions and imagination like nothing else – our brains are physically altered as if we are truly living the story. The language comes alive and it becomes a part of us.
Most textbooks or courses do have some interesting material and topics but they are often taught in isolation from other units. By having one coherent story throughout all the modules you find that the language is not only more memorable but you develop a greater motivation to continue and uncover the story’s plot.
If you are a complete beginner in Italian then you’ll certainly find Italian Uncovered to be an extremely useful and rewarding resource in your language journey. The content is thorough, well laid out and very engaging. Olly’s courses have helped thousands of people around the world successfully learn a second language.
Intermediate learners might find it a little too easy, but will at least enjoy the story and will still learn a great deal that they probably didn’t know already. The price point is rather steep but do bear in mind that it is a one-time cost, unlike most other language programs which are subscription models. They also offer a 30-day money-back guarantee and all the resources, mp3s etc are fully downloadable within the course.
Italian Uncovered Pros
Let’s take a closer look at what we loved when testing out Italian Uncovered.
Pro #1 Heavy focus on Cognates
Cognates are words that are very similar to other languages, namely English, since they share a common root or pattern. We love how this course dedicates an entire lesson straight away in each chapter for cognates.
This is a brilliant way to give you a lot of vocabulary early on and a great motivational boost, as well as being generally very fascinating. Cognates are an easy way into the language when you are a total beginner since it leverages your existing knowledge of English and trains your brain to find links, and to start recognising meaning in the text.
Since Italian is the closest language to latin you’ll find a whole bunch of words that are very similar to English, and even more similar to the other four languages that latin evolved into – French, Spanish, Portuguese and Romanian.
Pro #2 Comprehensive Content - over 100 hours of material!
This course has everything you need to really get to the core of the language. A huge amount of work and care has gone into producing detailed worksheets for every lesson. These are optional (the videos alone are sufficient) but give you the option of further study to really hit home the concepts that you cover, especially if you learn best this way.
The videos are very comprehensive – some being over 30 minutes long! Martina goes out of her way to explain what you need to know in very simple terms, whilst being incredibly thorough and overall motivating and engaging.
Pro #3 Lifetime access, no subscription required
Once you’ve paid the one time fee you get lifetime access to the course. So you don’t have to worry about getting your money’s worth like with other subscription language courses. You can sit back and take your learning at your own pace without any time pressures or financial burdens.
Pro #4 Fully Downloadable Material
You can download everything from the transcripts to the mp3 files, so you continue learning even when you have no internet access. This gives you the flexibility to study wherever you want – on a commute, in nature, whilst working out, away from all the distractions of wifi.
Pro #5 Bonus Content
Aside from the main core of the program, there’s also some really fun bonus lessons covering such things as travel secrets and Italian hand gestures. It’s a lot of fun and really helps give you an insight into Italian culture as Martina explains all the misconceptions and cultural norms of various hand gestures and travelling around Italy. A must-watch lesson!
Italian Uncovered Cons
Con #1 The Teaching Platform is Very Limited
The course uses the teachable learning platform, which is great in itself and makes a lot of sense for this course given its linear, walk-through nature. However, it does have its limitations. We missed all the interactive features that you get with other language programs.
The type of content is high quality but it follows a consistent style throughout – video lessons with accompanying worksheets. Whilst this method may be very effective, it does get rather boring, and might be a turn-off for learners who need a lot of stimulation and varied content. Having said that, the videos are very engaging and binge-worthy, plus having a simple layout prevents you from getting distracted and falling for ‘shiny object syndrome’.
Con #2 Same Teacher Throughout the Course
Most other language programs, for example ItalianPod101 have a wide range of native speakers presenting the lessons. Unfortunately Italian Uncovered has the same teacher giving the lessons throughout, with Olly dropping in every now and again for encouragement and guidance on how to study.
Whilst Martina is an absolutely brilliant teacher it would be nice to see other native speakers taking the helm to provide some variety. Since the course is rooted so heavily in immersion it’d be nice to be exposed to some different speaking styles and accents.
Con #3 It’s Expensive
Coming in at $297, Italian Uncovered is certainly not cheap, especially since you have just one text. Other courses expose you to a wide range of authentic content to see as much of the language in action as possible. However, the central story is very detailed, and a really great story! It features lots of dialogue and useful language that you can start using straight away.
The full audio file is over 40 minutes long – as long as a stand-alone audiobook. Overall, given how comprehensive the course is and how everything just seems to fit together perfectly, we believe the price is justified for the amount of value you’ll receive. It’s quite possibly the best beginner’s Italian course on the market right now and definitely the most innovative and distinctive approach to learning a language (that really works!).
Italian Uncovered Features
Besides the intro lessons and bonus content, every module has the exact same structure. Let’s take a look at what you can expect.
Read & Listen
The first thing you are prompted to do is to simply listen to the audio and try to identify any language you may know already. You are not expected to understand much (if anything) at this stage.
The course focuses quite heavily on cognates, with the next lesson featuring a lengthy video outlining and going into depth on all the words that share common roots to English and sound the same. This is an excellent way to build up a lot of vocabulary quickly and to start training your brain to form meaning in the text. It’s also really fascinating.
Next you’ll get onto the real vocabulary. Martina teaches by annotating the sentences you’ve already encountered in the story and breaking down the meaning in context. Each of these lessons come with detailed worksheets that are there for some optional language practice (if you learn best this way).
After the vocabulary & cognates lessons, you’ll get a thorough breakdown of some grammar. You’ll find that some things are deliberately left out, so you can first experience them in context before having them explained to you. You’ll soon start developing the skill of knowing if something ‘sounds right’ or not.
A video lesson that simplifies the italian sounds, how to make them, and a bunch of examples for you to speak along with and compare your pronunciation to Martina’s.
Since this is an online course, the speaking section consists only of a worksheet that gives many different speaking activities and instructions to your language tutor on how to best help you. If you don’t have a language tutor or speaking partner yet then don’t worry, they have a resource in the bonus section that covers exactly how to find a language tutor as well as a recommended list that they’ve already vetted and can personally recommend.
Lastly, you’ll find a multiple choice review quiz at the end of each module to test yourself on what you’ve learnt. Every worksheet also includes an answer key at the back.
Who Would Benefit From Italian Uncovered?
We feel that those who would get the most value from Olly’s course are those who:
Who Would NOT Benefit From Italian Uncovered?
This language program might not be the best fit for those who:
Italian Uncovered vs. The Competition
ItalianPod101 vs Italian Uncovered
These two courses are very different in terms of both the teaching platform and learning style. ItalianPod101 is your more flashy, ‘new kid on the block’ type language course that boasts a massive library of incredibly varied content for you to pick and choose and therefore customize your own syllabus from scratch.
ItalianPod101 also has a bunch of really cool features that Italian Uncovered lacks such as the ability to record yourself, a word bank, flashcard function, the 2000 most common words etc.
However, many learners have felt that the content can be quite shallow with no real structure. All the features, but not enough substance. You can easily find yourself getting lost in all the clickbaity content and feel like you aren’t making any real progress in the language.
Italian Uncovered is at the other end of the spectrum, with a thoroughly thought-out syllabus that ties everything together that you’ll need to know as a beginner in Italian. Whilst it may not be as flashy or varied in topics, it certainly ticks the box for comprehensibility and effectiveness, which ItalianPod101 seems to lack in many areas.
Duolingo vs Italian Uncovered
You may have used Duolingo in the past for other languages. It’s a well-known free app that quizzes you on different topics, incentivizing you to maintain a study streak and earn ’ingots’ that can be traded in for bonus levels.
Whilst Duolingo is a fun and harmless way to get a bit of extra vocab under your belt, it’s really not recommended for serious students since the sentences are not actually proofread or constructed by native speakers. It’s very common for awkward sentences to slip in undetected. And the translation & testing methods (the core of its platform) are already widely known to be an ineffective way to learn a language.
Cost of Italian Uncovered
Italian Uncovered will cost you a one-time payment of $297 upfront for a lifetime membership, giving you access to all 20 chapters including the bonus content, downloadable worksheets mp3s and transcripts. If for any reason you are unsatisfied with the product, they offer a full refund within 30 days of purchase.
Italian Uncovered 7 Day Free Trial
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Italian Uncovered Review Summary
Overall, Italian Uncovered exceeded all our expectations in terms of the content quality, amount of content, and the sheer level of thought and care that’s gone into the course. It feels like everything just fits together nicely as you are ushered along, with everything being meticulously explained and provided for you, allowing you to truly enjoy the learning process without worry or stress of missing out on any important language points.
Without a doubt, Italian Uncovered is the best option for those looking to learn Italian at a beginner level. It’s the most comprehensive program out there right now. Olly’s StoryLearning method is a real game-changer, teaching you how to assimilate the language naturally, based on the latest research in neuroscience and cognitive psychology. If you are serious about learning Italian and aren’t afraid to put the work in to achieve real results, then Italian Uncovered is for you.
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.