Hello, hello! Having given a sort-of history of my path to learning German so far, my goal for today is to dig a little deeper into German Uncovered by Olly Richards and Kerstin Cable and also give a broad picture view of how I’m using this and other resources together to maximize the quality of my learning. This should be the introductory type post, and from here on out I’ll start documenting more specifics of my goal setting and achieving, what I’m learning, and how it’s all getting shoved into every single day.
As I said before, I stewed over German Uncovered for several weeks before taking the plunge and purchasing this program. It does come with a pretty hefty price, and a few years ago I had fallen prey to an expensive Italian program that made romantic promises of fluency in 3-6 months. Turns out, it wasn’t much better than (free) Duolingo as far as content. That said, I am willing to pay for language learning resources, and I highly value the knowledge, experience, and time content creators put into building their programs. With German Uncovered, I wanted to make sure it would be right for me as a valuable asset. As one does, I watched and read numerous reviews on the program, and I really liked what I found. Specifically, the reviews weren’t unanimously gleaming and free of criticism. Because of this, I was able to gain a pretty solid idea of 1) how the program is structured (which, by the way, is exactly as advertised, so no surprises. A+); 2) how it’s different, better than, and not as good as other programs; and 3) what I can reasonably expect as a goal when finishing the course (“fluency” is not the answer!). In addition to all the very useful reviews, I also took advantage of the free mini course that’s available in order to get a feel for how German Uncovered and I may get along. I tested the mini course for less than 10 minutes before my intuition said, “Do it! And do it now!”
I’m really fighting the desire to write an overview and review of German Uncovered, but I’m still at the beginning stage, so I must hold off until I get further along. What I will say, though, is it is exactly as advertised in every way, so buyers can be confident in what they’re getting. The key, though, is knowing how you work the program, not how the program will work for you. For example, I know I get really bored with flashcards and grammar drills. I like homework (yea, I said it), but I don’t enjoy the monotony I’ve found with other language learning programs. With its story-based teaching method, I have yet to get bored of German Uncovered’s content and delivery method. The story and supplementary videos are designed such that users discover the language and grammar in a more natural and relaxed manner than the standard classroom methods. So far, this is working out very nicely for me. I’m completing about one chapter per week, and no two days are the same. Some days I listen to the story and then read along. Other days I review vocab, grammar, and pronunciation videos. Two mornings a week I spend some time practicing via the vocab and grammar worksheets provided. And yet another day will be focused on speaking practice, either preparing something with the given prompts or speaking with an iTalki tutor. I love the variety!
Though I spend a lot of time with German Uncovered, it didn’t become my only resource. Here’s how I’ve categorized my resources in order to evaluate when and how I use them:
- German Uncovered – main learning resource, completed when husband is at work and kids are at school so I can properly focus.
- Take notes of Kerstin’s vocab and grammar videos in my GU binder
- Useful vocabulary words put into Anki
- Hand-write vocab and grammar exercises in GU binder
- Anki – main flashcard resource, with one deck being completed every morning (sometimes a second one later in the day)
- Duolingo – secondary learning resource
- Make notes in German notebook
- Add useful vocab to Anki
- Complete 2-3 lessons a day, which can be done in the evening when husband and kids are around as it doesn’t require as much focus
- Nicos Weg – secondary learning resource
- Add useful vocab to Anki
- Work through a lesson at my own leisure (can be done while others are home), watching each video several times as needed
- Listen to longer video on YouTube when folding laundry or cleaning house
As of this writing I’ve kept this type of learning structure for 3 weeks, and it’s going well. One thing I really like about this particular mix of resources is the variety of things I’m learning and then the crossover between them. For example, one week in German Uncovered I focused on verbs (conjugating, modal, and separable), clothing vocabulary in Duolingo, and numbers in Nicos Weg. Each has a different method of presentation, so I didn’t get bored or feel overwhelmed. Smaller vocab things I picked up on in one (like prepositions), I could naturally review in another. And in a very short period of time my ability to put together correct (!) sentences improved tremendously, especially as compared to if only using one of these resources.
So this is my current battle rhythm, if you will, with German self-study. I’ve enjoyed German Uncovered so much that I signed up for Olly’s 30-day Italian Challenge this month because I haven’t been spending a lot of study time with the language, and I want to keep myself accountable to smoothing out my current level of Italian without cutting into my German time. More on that in a few weeks when I hope to report that my time management skills a have stayed on point. I’m really excited to see how I progress in both languages this month, and I can’t wait to finally start documenting my growth – mistakes and all – via this blog. Until next time…tschüss!