I’m a language learner and teacher, and I have just finished trialing the French Uncovered language course created by Olly Richards. I was essentially a beginner in French, but I’m comfortable speaking Spanish and Italian at an advanced level. So, I know a bit about the language learning process!
In this French Uncovered review, I will first break down the structure and methodology of the course, the course contents, available materials, and that all-important subscription cost.
I will then give my honest feedback about the best aspects of French Uncovered and the things I think could be better, based on my personal experience working through the language course.
By the end of this article, you will be familiar with:
👍 The key components of this course
👍 How Olly’s “story learning” method is a gamechanger for language learners
👍 How beneficial the course will be for anyone keen to learn French grammar
Let’s get started!
How's it going? I'm James, a lover of travel and languages. So much so that I blog about them on this site. I hope you find this information useful! 😊
My Ratings for French Uncovered
Value for Money
|4.0 out of 5.0 stars||4.0 out of 5.0 stars|
|Excellent resource for Spanish grammar and overall comprehension.||Good value for money with one-time payment.|
Ease of Use
|5.0 out of 5.0 stars||4.5 out of 5.0 stars|
|Modern dashboard with access to learning material.||Not limited to most popular European languages.|
|👍 Proven, Effective Method|
👍 Free Trial Available
👍 Long-term Study Choice
|👎 Not Cheap|
|French Uncovered is unique in the online language learning market. Its focus on grammar, new vocabulary and structure makes it a well-rounded option which leads to inevitable language progression.|
French Uncovered Review Summary and Key Takeaways
French Uncovered offers you, as an absolute beginner, the chance to build your French skills until you are comfortable using written and spoken language to communicate and have a good level of comprehension with listening and reading.
The course claims that by the end it will have you talking at an intermediate level.
⚠️ ATTENTION: You will not be speaking fluent French by the end of the course. HOWEVER, this is a massive stepping stone and a great point to begin your language learning journey or develop your French.
This is one of the most unique beginner courses for learning a new language that I have ever come across.
The story learning methodology is an innovative way to teach languages and immerses complete beginners in a new language.
What Is French Uncovered?
French Uncovered is a creative and unique online language course that teaches French through a story.
This is a great way to absorb French pronunciation naturally, as taught by a native French speaker, as well as grammar and vocabulary.
There are no other courses quite like it, and if you are looking for a course you can trust to teach you a language, then this is it.
Learners are immersed in the language by reading and listening to a tale entirely in French. This is followed by exercises in grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation, writing, and speaking.
This online course can be completed independently and at your own pace. French Uncovered claims to take learners to an upper-intermediate level within 100-150 hours of study time.
There are currently five languages available in the Uncovered series. In addition to French, there is also German Uncovered, Spanish Uncovered, Japanese Uncovered, and Italian Uncovered.
Developed by Olly Richards, a self-taught polyglot from London, French Uncovered is a comprehensive French language course for beginners and upper beginners of the French language.
Olly speaks 8 languages and has authored 16 language books, which makes him something of an expert in language learning.
Featured heavily on the course alongside Olly is Diane Sbihi, a language coach and expert in the language learning field.
French Uncovered Course Structure
The French Uncovered course is structured around a story called ‘L’homme au chapeau‘, which means ‘The Man in the Hat’.
The story has 20 chapters and each chapter is one module of the course.
Olly wrote the story himself based on a language learning methodology he invented, known as “story learning.” So, it is structured specifically to optimize your language acquisition.
The idea is that you immerse yourself in this French-language story and that you will want to return to your studies every day to see what happens next.
Consequently, you find that you are learning French naturally while you progress through the book.
Each chapter of ‘L’homme au chapeau‘ was written with specific language points in mind.
After you have read and listened to the chapter, you can watch a video lesson by Olly and do exercises to learn the lessons from that chapter.
The “Story Learning” Methodology
French Uncovered was designed based on the principle that you can learn French authentically through exposure to the French language.
This is achieved through immersion in a French story read aloud by a native speaker.
Olly claims that story learning works in as little time as 30 minutes per day. For faster results, you can engage in story learning for 60 minutes a day.
Story learning is a method that relies on your brain’s natural learning.
We all used to learn from stories when we were children. Our brains like to absorb languages naturally, for instance, when a native speaker learns French as a child just by listening to their parents talk around them.
Learning grammar and vocabulary in an authentic French-language context is far more natural and beneficial than learning them isolated.
This methodology is designed to help you speak French with confidence and by taking part fully in conversations with native speakers.
By the end of the French Uncovered online course, you will have read, listened to, and understood an entire book. This is a huge achievement for complete beginners.
You will cover a range of topics, grammar points, tenses, and vocabulary with French Uncovered.
As stated by the French Uncovered 7-day free trial order page, the course comprises the below-listed items.
What you get by subscribing to French Uncovered:
A complete 20-module French course to learn to speak French with confidence
60+ video lessons with Diane Sbihi and Olly Richards
Learn the secrets Olly used to learn 8 languages and how to use them yourself
In addition, you will receive:
A fully downloadable program so you can learn French anywhere
Complete French learning material, including an audiobook, translations, and printable worksheets
Expert pronunciation training videos with a zero-risk free trial
With a 7-day free trial, you can experience French Uncovered for 7 days, without any financial risk or commitment.
The Modules: What You Will Learn
Each module of French Uncovered is designed to teach you some specific vocabulary or grammar naturally.
👍 How to tell the time in French and explain basic plans
👍 How to introduce yourself and others.
Each module is broken down into the following structure:
At the very beginning of each chapter, there is a chapter syllabus.
This is a very brief description of the chapter’s contents and what you will learn. In other words, this is where the target language for the module is set out.
Listening and Reading
This is where you listen to the audio recording of the chapter in French and then read the transcript in French.
You can also read the transcript in English afterward if you feel the need for clarity.
A great feature of French Uncovered is that you can choose to listen to the chapter in regular French or in French Canadian.
You can do this depending on which is more suited to your language learning and personal situation.
In the vocabulary lesson, you will watch a video lecture and then do exercises that are designed to help you retain the vocabulary you have learned in this chapter.
Cognates and Translation
Cognates are words in different languages with the same roots, such as the French word créatif and the English “creative” or banque in French and “bank” in English.
In fact, sometimes two languages use the same words, like the French and English word ‘secrets’. Spoiler alert: the English language is made up of thousands of French words. But I digress…
Anyway, cognates can be very helpful when you are learning a foreign language. But look out for false friends! There are many false friends in French and English that you need to be aware of.
In language learning, false friends are words that you would think mean the same thing but do not.
For example, the French word joli(e) does not mean “jolly”, but “pretty”. Another example would be the French journée, which means “day”, not “journey”.
In the cognates and translation lessons, you will first identify the cognates in the chapter and then read the English translation.
This is a useful activity, as you will see that even before you read the English transcript, there are many words that you can understand.
The grammar section is important, even though it might not be a favorite aspect of learning a language for many French students.
But grammar rules are the building blocks of a language. The better you understand them, the easier you will be able to learn French.
French grammar is similar to Spanish and Italian.
So, if you have studied one of these languages before, this will be an asset. If not, don’t worry, Olly makes grammar lessons accessible and straightforward for language novices.
Each French Uncovered module has target grammar points to learn. In addition, the French Uncovered lessons reference the text and explain why grammar works the way it does in context.
This is a key aspect of learning French for when you start speaking.
In the course, you will view a video lesson and hear a native French speaker, Diane, going over the pronunciation of key sounds and words.
Hearing someone speak their native language is a brilliant way to get comfortable with the sounds in a language.
By doing so, you will learn how to use these sounds naturally.
Diane says in her first pronunciation video that seeing her face while she speaks is an important part of learning the sounds in French for a complete beginner.
Finally, there is a quiz to end each chapter and a comprehension check. Moreover, chapter 5 has a progress report to ensure you are on track and moving forwards.
If, at any point, you find that you have forgotten a grammar point or you are struggling to comprehend the story, use the reviews and revise previous modules.
French Uncovered Review: What the Course Includes
The first modules ease you into the course by introducing you to your first basic words in French, and the very important verbs être (to be) and avoir (to have).
You will also learn how to use articles in French.
As the lessons progress, you will cover many other aspects and nuances of the French language, such as:
French Grammar Basics
Verbs in the present tense and how to make a negative sentence
How to form the past tense in French
Words indicating the future and how to form the future tense,
And finally, that all-important…
Subjunctive mood in French
Useful French Vocabulary
Numbers and colors, and telling the time,
Question words, like the English words who, what, where, when, and why,
Describing a face, talking about your interests, and asking someone to do something
French Uncovered Course Materials and Exercises
The video lessons
Video lessons are a big part of the French Uncovered online course.
They function like classroom lessons with a real teacher. Instead, you have the luxury of pausing and repeating sections that you need to hear again.
Each cognate, vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation lesson is in video form, followed by exercises.
For instance, a grammar lesson will ask you to use the digital flashcard game provided to test yourself and familiarize yourself with the grammar learned in the video.
The pronunciation lessons are followed by worksheets.
Vocabulary and Grammar Exercises
When you complete the vocabulary and grammar lessons, you are presented with a fun pop-up game called “make everything disappear!”
You have a short amount of time to match up the French phrases on digital flashcards with their English translations.
This game helps you to think fast and trust your language learning instincts. It is a great confidence booster.
After chapter 10 there are several additional resources.
These include audio files for listening to the story in standard French or Canadian French. The first option is a single audio file that plays all 20 chapters of the story without stopping.
The second option is a zip file that contains each chapter, so you can download all 20 chapters at once, but play them individually.
French Grammar Worksheets
For each chapter and its corresponding module, there is a worksheet for the target grammar and a separate sheet for the target vocabulary.
These PDFs are very detailed and thorough.
For each chapter, there is a PDF of speaking exercises that involve conversation prompts and useful conversational phrases relevant to the language learned in that module.
As this is an online French course, and you work solo, these speaking activities are a great way to make up for the lack of conversation practice.
Olly recommends that you find a language exchange partner or a personal tutor online, on sites such as iTalki.
How Much Does French Uncovered Cost?
As stated above, you can access a 7-day free trial and cancel any time within 7 days at no cost.
If at the end of the free trial you decide that you would like to continue with the course, you will be billed $297.
This deal comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
This guarantee means that you can try the course for a month, and if for whatever reason you don’t like it, you will get a full refund, no questions asked.
Once you have paid for the course, you have lifetime access, unlike many online language learning courses which require a continued subscription in order to access course materials.
French Uncovered Review: The Best Features
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this course and the available course materials. I had studied French briefly in high school but was essentially a beginner.
The story learning methodology was something I had never experienced before and it was a welcome change from textbook learning.
These were my favorite features of the French Uncovered language learning course:
Comprehensive and Thorough Lessons
On French Uncovered, there are over 100 hours of language lessons that cover all aspects of language learning.
These range from French grammar and pronunciation to useful phrases in different contexts and how to write, read, listen and speak with confidence.
This really helped my confidence as I progressed through the course content. I felt I was getting a thorough immersion into the language and its uses.
Detailed Course Materials
The worksheets and exercises provided for practicing the target language for each module offered me ample opportunities to work on my vocabulary acquisition and understanding of grammar.
It is down to each learner to put the work in. However, the resources are there for those who want to get the most out of the course and learn French.
If you’re like me, you’ll want to get the most out of your money and use all the available materials!
A Unique and Fun Way to Learn a Language
The story learning method was a refreshing change from the traditional methods of rote learning. These include long lists of vocabulary and dull memorization. Instead, it felt like a much more natural way to learn French.
On top of that, it was actually fun and engaging.
A bonus of the story is that it gives a little insight into French cultures, such as French food etiquette, dialects spoken in different regions of France, and which iconic buildings are in which French towns.
Lifelong Access to Materials
One of the best features of this course is that you can keep all of the resources, lessons, and activities for future studying.
There is no need to pay again to re-access the course in the future, as with other courses online.
I know that I will continue to use the French Uncovered course as I continue on my language learning journey.
If you want to try out another language after you have completed French Uncovered, you can try the Spanish version, Spanish Uncovered, for instance, and it will be added to your account’s courses. Be sure to check out my Spanish Uncovered Review.
While you are learning Spanish you can continue to look back over the French course to avoid confusion between these similar languages.
Neither course will expire or disappear.
Areas for Improvement for French Uncovered
No teacher-student back and forth
An obvious downside of learning through pre-recorded video lessons, rather than with an in-person teacher, is that you cannot ask questions throughout the lesson or ask for something to be explained in a different way.
Moreover, the French Uncovered lessons obviously are not personalized to your learning journey but are general and the same for everyone.
This is where it can be beneficial to get your French-speaking partner lined up, so you have someone who can correct you when you speak French, or answer questions you have that aren’t covered in the video lesson.
Minimal speaking practice
This takes me to a possible area for improvement. French Uncovered does not offer a lot of opportunities for speaking practice while you learn French.
It is down to the learner to make the effort to find a speaking partner and work on this language skill.
While I understand that it is hard to incorporate the speaking practice into this kind of online course, perhaps the French Uncovered platform should help to facilitate speaking practice by putting learners in touch with online tutors.
After grammar and vocabulary lessons, you are presented with the “make everything disappear!” flashcard activity.
This game was quite enjoyable for me, particularly at first, but did become a little repetitive.
Some variety in exercises might have been nice.
Nonetheless, this is a great way to test your language acquisition and get competitive with yourself.
Once you complete the game, the course prompts you to try again and beat your previous time.
Would I Recommend French Uncovered?
The short answer is yes, I would recommend French Uncovered.
I found the entire story engaging, and even enjoyed the grammar exercises and accompanying worksheets. It was a rewarding way to begin to learn French.
Each day I spent with French Uncovered, I found that I could see myself learning French slowly but surely. This is not something I can say for other courses I’ve tried online.
Learning a foreign language is not a linear process, and there are days where French learners will feel more or less confident.
However, with French Uncovered, the continued exposure to natural French really allowed me to immerse myself and go from a (near) complete beginner who had all but forgotten his high school level French, to someone able to understand simple words and phrases very quickly.
Language Learning and Commitment
It is worth noting here that learning French does not only come down to the learning materials, courses, and teachers but to the language learner’s commitment to the journey.
French Uncovered will only take you as far as you are willing to go. It is not a magical tool that will fill your brain with learned French while you are busy concentrating on other things.
For French Uncovered to be a great language learning software, you have to commit to using it daily and engaging in the story and activities.
Only then will you learn French and get the most out of the online French course.
How long does the French Uncovered course take to complete?
Generally, the French Uncovered beginner course is expected to take between 100 and 150 hours to complete. This will depend on how many minutes each day you set aside for the French course and how often you repeat lessons.
Due to the independent study nature of French Uncovered, you can progress through it as quickly or slowly as you would like.
Remember, there is no point in trying to power through the entire course too quickly with only a rough idea of every aspect of each lesson.
When you start to struggle, you should revisit past modules and give yourself the time you need to get comfortable with the new language.
Will I be able to speak french at the end of the course?
As I have noted, French Uncovered does claim to get you to an upper-intermediate level by the end of the course.
Would I say I feel that I am upper-intermediate in French? Probably not, but I can definitely express simple thoughts and questions and communicate on a basic level.
With further study and a commitment to looking back over my French resources from the course, I do believe I will reach a higher level of French and continue to progress at a good rate.
It is very challenging and rare to study a language to the point where you sound like a native speaker.
When you are traveling in France or communicating in French, locals, and natives will not expect you to sound like a native speaker.
The goal is to be understood and be able to express yourself. And to have fun, of course.
Fluency is an end goal for very high achievers but is not necessary for being understood and able to communicate very effectively.
Is French Uncovered suitable for every language learner?
This depends on the type of learner you are and the language level you have currently.
Type of learner
If you are an auditory learner who benefits from conversations and a lot of speaking and listening practice, this might not be the ideal course for you.
This course is designed for French learners at the beginning of their language journey. This means you do not need to know any French before beginning.
If you are an intermediate learner already, French Uncovered is not designed with you in mind. However, Olly Richards does offer intermediate French courses as well.
Whether you know some basic French or you are an absolute beginner, this course is designed to lead you by the hand through simple French vocabulary and grammar.
Are there better ways to learn French?
If you are not living in France, this is one of the best ways that you can still immerse yourself in the French language.
However, you can also try taking part in language exchanges, in person if they are available in your area, or online.
Any chance you get to speak to a French speaker, you should absolutely take it.
Moreover, listening to French music and podcasts, watching French TV and movies, and reading French books, or even news sites, are all great ways to keep your brain accustomed to the language and also pick up on some French culture and current events.
Try to use a mixture of these techniques and you should find that your French language acquisition improves significantly.
Reviews and Testimonies by Other Users
Featured on the story learning website are several reviews of the Uncovered series, including:
“My linguist son recommended Olly Richard’s Spanish course. In one week I’m more confident than I’ve ever been that I can do this! The listening, reading, speaking, and written exercises are balanced, and Olly’s tips for focus are spot on!” – Cindy
“After trying to learn French on & off for 15+ years I was determined never to buy another Programme, App, or Book but then along came French Uncovered – comments section won’t let me rave on so before I get cut off again! IT’S THE BEST!” – Sandra Gissing
“I’m only on lesson 7 but so far the experience has been so much better than any language course I have done before. And I have done a few! All the focus is on enjoying the flow but I am aware of the continual growth of understanding.” – Alex
I always find it easier to trust a course once I have read several good reviews I find that the more transparent a website is about its reviews, the more of a legitimate and trustworthy service it provides.
Check out the other reviews for more information about what people are loving about this online language course.
Final Thoughts on French Uncovered: Excellent but Not Cheap
French Uncovered has been designed immaculately to immerse learners in real French. You will be taught by native or highly proficient French speakers, in a natural way.
I feel that Olly Richards is committed to making the task of learning a language as accessible as possible.
He has a Youtube channel dedicated to language learning, cultural awareness, and his story learning methodology.
You can watch these video series and treat them as bonus-free courses in learning a foreign language.
While I do find French uncovered to be worth the money, I am also aware that it costs a significant sum for some people.
This will make it an inaccessible language learning software for many. However, if you can afford the course then I strongly recommend taking the free trial and testing it for yourself.
James is the founder of travel-lingual.com, and this French Uncovered Review. He is a tutor of English, Spanish, and Italian. Furthermore, he has visited 35 countries and has tried dozens of language courses to date.
He has worked as a language teacher in France, Spain, Argentina, and Costa Rica. His love of languages led him to create this blog, to share best practices in language learning and inspire others to learn!