Movie Review: Spanish in One Month Documentary by Connor Grooms

Is it possible to learn a language in one month? How far can one get? This is the premise of a new language learning documentary by Connor Grooms, whom I recently had the chance to interview on the podcast. Read on for my thoughts on the documentary.

Giveaway

Before I go into the movie, let me just remind you that you can win a free return flight to anywhere in the world by signing up to Connor's giveaway. He started it to help build buzz and publicity for the movie. All you have to do to win the flight, plus some language learning goodies, is to enter the give-away here. Good luck!

My thoughts on Spanish in one Month

One of my favourite things to follow in language learning is when people show me the actual working process. Benny over at Fluent in 3 Months used to do this a lot and I've also done it myself with putting my tutoring and Memrise sessions on YouTube.

Connor decided to move to Medellin, Columbia without speaking 10 words of Spanish so the documentary follows his intense mission to try and learn it in one month. According to himself he's an all-or-nothing kind of person and he felt it suited him better to do a large chunk of work upfront rather than spreading it out.

On this I find myself very similar. I struggle with regularly putting in small efforts, but instead go crazy for days or sometimes weeks – working way harder than normal.

The verdict

I greatly enjoyed watching the film. The first reason for this is that the film was extremely well made. It's easy to tell that it's not a high budget or professional film, but the editing and shooting is all done very, very well. There's a nice storyline to it and we get to see not only the highs, but also the lows.

I particularly enjoyed during the middle of the project where Connor is matched up against a native speaker to test his progress and the guy is just ruthless! He speaks super fast and it's fun to see Connor stumble around a bit. Perhaps because the situation is all too familiar for most of us.

Spanish in One Month

Native speaker putting Connor to the test around half-way of the project.

During the film he also consults familiar faces in Benny Lewis, Idahosa Ness and Brian Kwong on language hacking, pronunciation and accountability/motivation respectively.

Without adding any more spoilers I'd say this is a very enjoyable film and I cannot believe how Connor actually found time to record and plan it at the same time as he was trying to learn a new language in just one month.

What did you think of the movie? Let me know in the comments below

Watch the movie on Youtube

PS. I was mentioned in the credits! Super happy to see that. Thanks Connor for making the movie and I'm happy I could contribute with a spoonful of inspiration for such a great project.

Screenshot 2015-12-01 08.19.04

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  • Thanks for the review Chris 🙂

    I’ll be around the next few days everyone to answer questions (after you’ve seen the film, of course!).

  • Dan Rooney says:

    I’m surprised to see you host this. I’ve followed your podcast for some time and you have had a reasonable selection of guests but I think you’ve made a mistake here. I watched the video and made a post on his youtube channel (subsequently deleted by him) and have to conclude that this is all total rubbish.

    He claims to have reached B1 in 150 hours, when the normal estimate is 3-400 hours. This is someone who speaks no related languages and has no experience of language learning so one would immediately think, “Hmm. That’s quite something…if it’s true.” Unfortunately there is no evidence that it is. He hasn’t taken an exam and says (on a reddit thread which he started) “I didn’t take any exams, and frankly don’t give a shit what the official levels are.” That’s a peculiar thing to say when you’re claiming a world record in second language acquisition, don’t you think? When I posted on his youtube channel, I asked him about this (i.e. what he had done to confirm his incredible achievements) and he simply pointed back to his video as evidence of his being B1. My response was that in the absence of anything official, the ‘smell of horse shit is overwhelming, I’m afraid’ but that if he wanted to, he could always test his oral abilities by taking the DELE right there in Medellin. Some time later, all my comments were deleted. Now, perhaps my use of the word ‘shit’ had him clutching at his pearls, fearing for the delicate sensibilities of his youtube subscribers. It’s possible, I suppose, but there are much more likely explanations.

    So why care? The world is full of narcissists who make ridiculously overblown claims about what they have done and we can’t worry about more than a tiny fraction of them, even if we wanted to. Two reasons. (i) The language learning world is already infested with people like this and the last thing anyone who cares about language learning should want is yet more of them and yet more of this nonsense. (ii) More significantly, this man is starting a company offering Spanish teaching online and since this video will no doubt be part of the marketing to support that, potential clients should not be subject to this kind of deception.

    • Hi Dan,

      I’m assuming you are Lost_in_Lanna from reddit? Until your two comments last night (the first one complaining about me deleting your comments), you actually had not commented on YouTube – your comments were all on Reddit. I’m not deleting your comments because they “expose my giant scam” (which doesn’t exist), but because they don’t add to the discussion – they are just inflammatory, and as I treat my comments like my living room, I won’t tolerate people calling me a lier, a scammer, and trying to convince people of things that aren’t true.

      The reality is, I don’t claim B1 in the documentary (only on the AMA so I didn’t have to explain long-hand what my level was). This is because what the “official levels” are isn’t really that relevant in the real world. The girl you meet dancing salsa doesn’t care that you passed the DELE, she cares that she can talk to you normally.

      As for BaseLang – look at our site. We make no claims about results students will get – we promise a service, and we say that the service aligns with the philosophy and style people could see in the documentary.

      Now, I know that you are going to respond with vitriol, and that’s fine. This is the internet and I expect that. But I won’t be responding, and where I have the control, your comments will be deleted.

      • Dan Rooney says:

        It is normal to use quotation marks to show what someone has said but I never ever written anything remotely close to the quotation which you have attributed to me, nor would I. You seem to be set on bullshitting your way to success but an online language school, however dodgy their marketing material, hardly qualifies as a “giant scam”.

        Your justification for deleting my comments is, it must be said, pathetic in the extreme. None of the comments on your youtube channel “add to the discussion” because there isn’t one. It is simply a collection of pointless “Well done, bro” nonsense. A discussion would be precisely what I posted; whether or not you had achieved what you have claimed to have achieved. You are not B1 in Spanish and, despite your claim to the contrary, it appears to be quite possible to take the DELE in Medellin, should you actually wish to find out what level you are. I think by any measure both these fact would add to a discussion, no? And, yes, the youtube page which hosts the video very clearly states that the video “shows how he learned Spanish to a B1 conversational level in a month.” This is a lie and you know it to be lie, though it is one which you repeat all over the place, not just on Reddit (where in any case, it was explained to you that you are not B1) and since this video, along with its written versions, is obviously going to form a significant part of the marketing for your school, I think the wild over-inflation of your abilities is somewhat important. Even if you drop the B1 part, saying that you ‘learned Spanish in a month’ is hardly an improvement. ‘Learned some Spanish in a month’ perhaps but the idea that someone can ‘learn’ a language in 150 hours is complete crap. Pure, unadulterated, 100% crap. This is why even if you had never thought of running a language school, all this just makes you and your video a particularly irritating example of the kind of absurd claims which proliferate in language learning and you should be called out on it for that alone.

        All that said, I see that making crazily over-the-top claims is something of a tic of yours. 26 pounds of muscle in a month? I don’t know what the motivation for this kind of weirdness is but I find it fascinating to see someone who is so committed to it and who is so reluctant to back down when exposed. What’s all that about, I wonder. But at the same time, the host of this show seems like a decent guy and I don’t think he’s done anything to warrant having his podcast tainted with your bullshit.

    • Kris Broholm says:

      Hi Dan,

      I don’t understand why you are so angry about this. Somebody showed the world a nicely-produced documentary of how someone with the right approach can go from knowing 3 words to actually speaking a language in daily life within 30 days. Yes, the whole thing is obviously part of a launching strategy for his company, which btw. offers unlimited tutoring at a flat rate by native speakers – NOT BY HIMSELF OBVIOUSLY.

      I personally have no problems with that. Here on the show I often feature language entrepreneurs to motivate and inspire others to take the same journey – like Steven Ridout in episode 4.

      I understand some of your criticisms, particularly if Connor claimed to have made B1 at somewhere, but it wasn’t in the documentary and it wasn’t here in my interview with him, so I don’t have a problem with the standard title of “Spanish in a month” which doesn’t have to mean “I learned all of Spanish in a month” btw.

      If you have some genuine reasons why you think I shouldn’t have spoken to Connor, I’m happy to hear them, but I see an extremely well produced documentary with great results in a very short amount of time that is sure to motivate and inspire other people to get working on their own language missions and that’s basically all that matters.

      He obviously produced the documentary with the intention of using it to market his company, but as long as the company offers a genuine service to language learners – what’s the problem?

      • Dan Rooney says:

        You know what? On second thoughts, what the fuck do I care? The world is full of narcissists, chancers, liars, braggarts and conmen. One more or less makes absolutely no difference one way or the other. And if you want to line up with one of them, well, fucking knock yourself out, pal.

  • Kris Broholm says:

    I deleted all the pointless comments in this thread.

  • Jhois says:

    I’ll watch this again, but here are my thoughts after watching it the first time.

    I imagine this video is targeting people thinking about learning their first language because half of the video is listening to three other people talk about language learning instead of him showing the process. For someone that has already started learning languages or has been learning languages this video would be boring. For someone starting out I’m not sure how much entertainment/value they could get out of it either. I would have liked to see a Moses style leveling up which wouldn’t have had to been forced since he was living in Colombia! But not once did we see him leave his apartment to talk to other natives besides his tutor and his tutor’s friend. I understand it was only one month, but dannnnng what a waste of resources.

    • Kris Broholm says:

      Hey there!

      I’m really happy to read your comment – thank you for taking the time to add your opinion.

      Here’s my take on it

      Connor specifically spends a lot of time sharing the information of these proven experts because he isn’t an expert himself – yet!

      He’s not trying to be a guru or pretend that he knows everything, instead he humbles down and shows the process of learning how to learn in the first place.

      You’re probably right that the best audience to gain something technically from this video would be a beginner. However I would say as a strong theoretical expert I always gain motivation and inspiration by watching stuff like this.

      I might not learn something new, but seeing what’s possible is very cool.

      I like your suggestions about including more in-field demonstrations of where his level was at. This is also something I love to see 🙂

      I hope my reply made a bit of sense and I just wanted to say, try not to be too harsh on Connor as this is his first foreign language and also his first movie production! You can’t expect someone to hit it out of the park the first time – although I feel like he did a good job with the Spanish, based on what we saw.

      Thanks again for commenting and have a great weekend!

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