Spanish With Paul, the premium course made by a Youtube channel with the same name, claims to teach Spanish more comprehensively than anyone else.
In this review, we’ll explore Spanish With Paul and dig into how it works. We’ll also look at why we weren’t impressed and what the service could do better, so you know what you're getting into before you start the course.
Spanish With Paul has excellent grammar descriptions and clever course structuring, but the monotonous video format turned us off. The lack of opportunities to actively use the language within the course put us over the edge.
Spanish With Paul may work fine if you’re starting Spanish from the beginning, and you enjoy watching and listening to endless hours of repeat-after-me video. It’s also great if you prefer excellent grammar breakdowns or don’t want to worry about writing the language much.
For the rest of us? We think you can do better.
TL;DR Spanish With Paul Review
Here’s a quick summary of our Spanish With Paul review, if you’ve only got a second.
- Some of the best grammar descriptions available anywhere
- Extremely high-quality audio of a soothing and encouraging voice
- The course structure is innovative and effective
- You can do the whole course passively (while working out, doing the dishes, etc.)
- Hundreds of videos, all the same basic format: a fancy slideshow of words, yawn.
- There's not much practical application of what you’ve learned
- Audio is not of a native speaker; most pronunciation is excellent, but not 100%.
- Hard to jump in if you already have experience with Spanish
What is Spanish With Paul?
Spanish With Paul is an online Spanish-learning video course taught by Paul Nobel. He regularly posts videos (essentially excerpts from the course) to his free youtube channel, so if you’d like to get a feel for the course yourself, check that out.
So, what’s the paid course like? Let’s dive in!
What Can You Do On Spanish With Paul?
The short answer?
Watch videos. Lots (and lots) of videos.
The entire course is essentially a subdivided playlist of videos where Paul steadily takes you through Spanish in a logical, well structured (if boring) sequence. All of the videos follow essentially the same pattern, with Paul voicing over some words on a blank slide.
While I appreciate minimalism as a discipline, just words on a neutral-coloured slide put me to sleep, personally.
To tackle the long answer, let’s break it down into a few sections.
Paul starts you out with lots of English cognates (words that are very similar or the same) and builds you out from there. I found this approach quite effective, especially for beginners. Working from words you already know quickly gives you access to a vast vocabulary that needs very little modification. That’s great!
As the course progresses, you go further into typical Spanish vocabulary. I liked that Paul stuck with very accessible, everyday vocab instead of making you learn a lot of words you’re unlikely to use just because they fit in a particular category.
There are also workbooks to follow along with the videos if you want, though they’re pretty basic.
I have to say, Paul’s grammar lessons are truly next-level in terms of depth and accessibility. He has put a lot of time and thought into explaining complex concepts as thoroughly and concisely as possible, and it shows.
If you’ve struggled with Spanish grammar in the past, Paul may fit your needs quite well! I would recommend checking out some of his free videos on his youtube page (e.g. The Present Perfect) to get a sense of how he teaches.
After most lessons or lesson blocks, you’ll find a review video that encourages you to test what you’ve just learned. It makes sense, right?
Sadly, this is more memorisation test than comprehension; convincing yourself you aced it when you can’t quite remember a conjugation or vocab word is easy, and there’s no feedback. It’s just a video, after all.
No Written Notes (!?)
On the website, Paul brags that “Speaking a Language is a verbal & mental task, so we never take notes or write anything down in the course.”
Taking a step back from the reams of research that show how effective taking notes is, true to his promise, Paul won’t ask you to take notes during any of his videos.
While that may sound like a benefit, it also means that the course may go somewhat slowly for those used to taking notes and studying them afterwards, as you'll be asked to do more repeat-after-me exercises and the like.
Lacking Practice Opportunities
Perhaps the most disappointing part of Spanish With Paul is the lack of real practice opportunities for what you are learning. While Paul does encourage you to think about the language and find ways to incorporate it into your everyday life, there isn’t much time spent in the course going over these sort of activities.
Practising (specifically extemporaneous speaking) in a new language is crucial for truly learning it. While Paul does teach you how to make sentences and stitch them together into stories you already know, you're not really asked to come up with things on your own or to hold up a side of a dialogue.
For this kind of practise, you'll need to look elsewhere.
What Other Features does Spanish With Paul Have?
Soothing, Encouraging Voice
I have to say: I found Paul’s voice both incredibly soothing and very motivating. The audio sounds very high quality, and paul comes across like a caring friend, gently guiding you through the tricky waters of Spanish grammar and vocab.
On the other hand, the voice was almost too soothing at times! I nearly nodded off during some of the longer videos, and it seems easy to just let his tone fade into your subconscious and get distracted by almost anything else.
Stories and Conversations
Later on in the course, the focus shifts to understanding Spanish in the story and spoken language contexts. This is great; learning via stories is highly effective. If learning through stories suits your learning style, we'd highly recommend checking out Spanish Uncovered.
On the flip side, you could get essentially the same experience on a service like LingQ, and there you’d also have access to 18+ other languages, not just Spanish, for a similar price. Check out our LingQ review here if you’re interested.
No Matter Your Level, Start from Lesson One
Because Paul doesn’t follow a more traditional course structuring, it’s a lot harder to jump in midway if you already know a decent amount of Spanish.
All of the later lessons make heavy use of the specific vocab and sentence structures you’ve learned earlier in the course. Paul does not recommend jumping in midway through, and I have to say I agree with him.
What Does Spanish With Paul Look Like?.
The truth: the website and videos are pretty basic.
If minimalism is your thing, maybe that’s a benefit. Coming from more slick interfaces like Duolingo or Busuu, this just didn’t seem to measure up.
The course is, in essence, a long playlist that you'll work your way through over time.
Who is Spanish With Paul Best For?
I would recommend Spanish With Paul for those who prefer passively viewing videos as their primary form of instruction or those for whom a soothing, encouraging voice explaining things in simplistic terms makes the most sense.
How Much does Spanish With Paul Cost?
Paul doesn’t offer a free plan on his website per se, but you can try any of his free content on youtube to see if his method works for you.
Check out his channel here.
For full access to all 80+ hours of his course, you’ll need to part with $99.95 for the year.
Let’s say you spend four months studying the language with Paul, roughly 5 hours of video per week. At $25 per month, this isn’t the most expensive course ever, but it’s not the cheapest by far, either.
If you double the yearly price, you’ll get access to the man himself, Paul Nobel. Basically, you can email Paul if you’re having trouble, and he’ll give you one-on-one advice. I’d probably invest this money into some iTalki tutoring or groceries, personally, but to each their own.
What are the Pros and Cons of Spanish With Paul?
- Great grammar descriptions
- Soothing, high-quality audio
- Excellent course structuring by Paul
- You can do the course while doing low-level tasks.
- Straight-up: the videos get boring quickly.
- Not much practising.
- Audio is not of a native speaker; most pronunciation is excellent, but not 100%.
- Not conducive to starting in the middle.
Are There Any Spanish With Paul Alternatives?
Spanish With Paul vs Fluencia
Fluencia, another Spanish-focused learning program, takes a very different approach to Paul. Instead of hours of videos, you do tons of practise exercises and learn about Spanish speaking countries’ cultures as a vehicle for learning the language. While the audio is nowhere near as good as Paul’s, on the whole, we liked Fluencia’s approach a little better.
A Round-Up of Our Spanish With Paul Review
On the whole, I gave Spanish With Paul 2 stars.
The course does some things quite well, but ultimately I couldn’t watch more than 10-15 minutes of a video without pulling out my guitar or browsing social media–I just found it too dull. I think Spanish With Paul's Youtube channel is a great supplemental resource for learners. As for the paid site? I'll take a pass.