Grammar Hero Overview
Grammar. For many language learners, this word evokes nervousness, fear, and probably straight-up annoyance.
It’s the hardest and most frustrating part of language learning; constantly slowing our progress and making us feel like true fluency will never happen.
If you’re nodding your head in understanding, then you’ve come to the right place. I have often thought of grammar as my language learning nemesis, but thanks to Grammar Hero, I’m feeling like it might finally be time to defeat my foe.
That is a bold statement, I know, but this program is truly different from any of the other methods that I have tried when it comes to tackling difficult grammar. Instead of memorizing long lists of rules and agonizing over how to properly apply those rules, Grammar Hero allowed me to experience grammar in a nearly painless way through the power of stories.
Before I get too far into the explanation of how this is done, here is a quick list of pros and cons, just to give you an idea of what this program has to offer.
Likes And Dislikes
Grammar Hero pricing:
Grammar Hero is $197 for each language you want to study.
You can also get Olly’s English Grammar Primer for $37 with the purchase of any Grammar Hero program. It can be hard to master grammar in your second language if you’re not truly familiar with the grammar terms used in your native language. This extra program is designed to give you the best foundation on which to build your new language skills.
The Creator of Grammar Hero
Whether you are a major polyglot or a brand new language learner, chances are you are already familiar with the creator of this program: Olly Richards.
Olly is one of the most famous modern polyglots. Not only because he speaks more than 8 languages, but also because he has worked hard to share his knowledge and learning methods with all of us. He has written books and blogs, given seminars, and, of course, produced several language learning programs including the popular StoryLearning.
StoryLearning is exactly what the name implies: language learning through stories. Olly’s method is based on the idea that memorizing lists of words and rules will never allow you to speak your chosen language comfortably. By focusing too much on the rules, you rob yourself of the joy of expression.
With this in mind, StoryLearning instead teaches you vocabulary through stories. This allows you to experience your new language in a more natural way, much like how we learn our native language.
It has been a few years since I first encountered Olly’s work, but I remember being quite impressed. I was so impressed that when Grammar Hero came across my desk, I knew I had to check it out.
Getting Started With Grammar Hero
This program offers a super simple startup. Basically, all you have to do is choose your language, provide minimal personal information (name, email, and credit card details), and you are ready to start!
Side Note: If you’re not super interested in knowing the full history of how Olly came to design his teaching methods, don’t bother reading all the material on the opening page for each program. If you make it to the end of this article, you’ll already know all the details you need to get started.
If you do want to read the program details in the creator’s own words, skip down to the middle of the opening page for your chosen language. You’ll find a section titled: How Grammar Hero Works. This is where you will find more program-specific information.
The Program Breakdown Of Grammar Hero
Now it’s time to dig into the actual program!
Each language offers 15 lessons. I know what you’re thinking, $197 for only 15 lessons? But hold off on passing judgment. These lessons are packed with useful material that will keep you busy for hours.
One of the features that I found the most interesting is that each language program comes with different stories. Why? To keep you entertained if you want to learn multiple languages? Well, yes, but also because each language has its own unique grammar struggles. For example, for the Italian Grammar Hero, your focus would be these rules:
But if Japanese is your chosen language, you would be focusing on:
Each story is unique, created to showcase the particular needs of the language being taught. Best of all, the stories are actually interesting and entertaining. They feel significantly more natural than many of the reading lessons I have encountered over the years.
Each lesson is broken down into four parts:
This section will introduce you to the central story in your chosen lesson. For the first step, you will simply read through and listen to the story with minimal distractions. The only notation is a small line under the grammar point you will be focusing on. Don’t worry about fussing too much about it just yet. This is the time when you should simply enjoy the story.
Not only is the initial story free of grammar notations and rules, but it is also free of translations. This is the main reason I would not recommend this program for beginners or even lower intermediate students.
The language used in these stories is definitely intermediate to upper-intermediate, so the lack of translations can be a bit intimidating at first. Not to worry, each lesson does come with a list of the most difficult words and their translations so you can refer to that later.
Take your time, read through the story, maybe even a few times, before moving on. If you’re like me, you will likely find that you learn more than just the main point of the lesson. Every time you experience content in your new language you have the opportunity to improve. With these stories you can practice your listening and reading skills while learning grammar, it is a win-win situation throughout!
Once you’ve absorbed the story, it is time to tackle step two: Learn.
This is where Grammar Hero starts to feel a bit more like your typical language textbook.
First, you will find a full description of the grammar rule followed by a variety of examples that will help you define when and where this rule applies. I have to tell you, this part made me a little nervous. When my eyes fell on those definitions and charts, I felt my heart start to sink, but then I remembered Olly’s opinion about memorization in language learning.
He theorizes that focusing too much on memorization turns you into a parrot. You can repeat back the proper words and phrases, but you have no more understanding than a parrot. Instead, he encourages you to read the definition of the rule so you can have a general understanding, then simply move on to learning how the rule applies in a realistic sense.
This is where these extra examples really come in handy! I found the examples to be much more helpful than the definitions because I was instantly able to apply the knowledge to real-life situations.
For step three, you will go back to the story, only this time you’ll be given a little more explanation.
In the margins, you’ll be able to see where the grammar rule applies as well as an explanation of why it was used. If you went over the story a couple of times in the beginning, you may notice an important detail here. Not every instance of the grammar rule will be highlighted.
This may seem odd at first, but it is helpful for a couple of reasons. Firstly, you would not want to read the same rule repeated over and over again. We all know that makes our brains go numb.
Secondly, this gives you the opportunity to try spotting where this rule applies on your own. Once you get used to it, you will likely find yourself spotting these instances in your other language learning resources, even when you’re not focusing on grammar.
This section sounds a little more impressive than it actually is. It is basically your homework for the lesson. For good or bad, it is also the most difficult part of the lesson.
The Activate worksheet is split into multiple sections with different types of practice exercises to help you solidify what you’ve just learned. These exercises can include activities such as translations where you’re given a paragraph and asked to translate it into your native language. Then, without looking at the original text, translate it back into your new language.
You’ll also be given texts that contain errors, so you can practice correcting common grammar mistakes. Other activities include multiple-choice questions and even full compositions. As you can see, none of these practice exercises are groundbreaking, but they are all useful when it comes to Olly’s main object which is to practice these grammar rules instead of just memorizing the definition.
This brings me to my least favorite part of every review: the drawbacks. There are no perfect language programs, so it stands to reason that Grammar Hero would have its pitfalls as well.
Firstly, I wish this program had a beginner option. I know that many people struggle with grammar early on in their language journey and I think resources like this could really help.
Olly wants to encourage language learners to understand that you don’t have to drown in grammar rules to learn a new language, but it would be nice to offer beginners the option if they want it.
Secondly, the cost could certainly be a hindrance for some. With all the free material out there, I can understand where some people may find it hard to justify the cost of this program.
Lastly, the Activate section leaves a bit to be desired. There are answer keys for the multiple-choice, error corrections, and translation activities, but there isn’t any way to check your freeform activities through the program. It would be nice if they had a way of integrating some form of review system for these more complicated activities.
One of the best things about Grammar Hero is that there aren't too many other programs quite like it. As I mentioned, you can find plenty of material about grammar, in any language, all over the internet, but Grammar Hero's presentation is unique.
If you like the idea of learning through stories, but you’re still a beginner, you should check out Olly’s primary program: StoryLearning. This program is available in 16 languages and has lessons from beginner all the way to master.
If these programs are a bit outside of your price range, you might want to try something a bit more flexible such as italki. StoryLearning may offer the best reading lessons, but italki offers the best way to become conversational fast. Offering 1-on-1 lessons with native speakers, italki gives you the chance to practice your new language in real time. They have lessons with professional tutors as well as regular people who just want to help you reach your language goals.
For language learners who are looking for an even more budget-friendly learning resource, there are plenty of options for you as well! There are many language learning apps, such as Drops, Duolingo, and LingoDeer, that offer free options that are great if you’re just getting started.
Grammar Hero Review: Final Thoughts
My final thoughts on this program can be summed up pretty easily: it is awesome! Even though there are drawbacks, I would certainly recommend it to anyone who is ready to master all the tricky grammar details of their new language. With the addition of Olly’s English Grammar Primer, you can brush up on your grammar overall, making it easier to master even more languages.
That being said, I know this one might not be for everyone. Just remember that there are thousands of wonderful language programs out there, so don’t give up on your dream of becoming bilingual. Check out some of our other reviews to help you find the right program for you. And as always, Happy Learning!