Gritty Spanish Review: A Program to Learn How Native Speakers Really Converse
As a Spanish student, you can spend years learning pleasantries and polite phrases for interacting with strangers.
But how do actually converse with Spanish speakers on a more social or intimate level?
And what do you say in Spanish when someone insults you, curses you out, shouts at you or tries to rob you?
This is where Gritty Spanish comes in.
But before we begin: This post contains affiliate links. By using these links to check out and purchase the program, you’ll be helping to fund more great content for our blog. Thank you!
- A Brief Overview of Gritty Spanish
- Gritty Spanish Features
- The Pros of Gritty Spanish
- The Cons of Gritty Spanish
- How Gritty Spanish Compares to Other Programs
- Verdict: Gritty Spanish Review
- And One More Thing…
A Brief Overview of Gritty Spanish
Gritty Spanish is a learning program for Spanish students who want to know real-life Spanish, uncut and unfiltered. The focus is on listening and reading.
Each Gritty Spanish program is laid out in a series of audio conversations between native speakers from different countries along with PDF transcripts with side-by-side Spanish and English versions of the dialogue.
“Gritty” means these aren’t the polite conversations you usually learn in class or from a textbook. You’ll be exposed to social situations to see how informal language, slang and curse words are used in action.
Gritty Spanish Features
Four Levels to Choose From
With Gritty Spanish, you have four different options to choose from based on your level:
• Beginner to low/mid intermediate: Gritty Spanish Basics ($29.99)
• Mid/high beginner to intermediate: Gritty Spanish Beginnings ($34.99)
• Intermediate to advanced: Gritty Spanish Original ($44.99) *censored version available
• Intermediate to advanced: Gritty Spanish Parte II ($49.99)
You can buy them in combo packs to save money. Each level comes with 28 to 36 lessons and 1,000 to 2,500+ multiple-choice quizzes to test what you learn.
Rather than paying for a subscription, your purchase of a Gritty Spanish series gives you lifetime access to the material available via their app for iOS devices or the web app.
Over the past week, I’ve had a chance to try out the advanced combo pack, which includes Gritty Spanish Original and Gritty Spanish: Parte II.
Episodes Covering a Variety of Situations
Once you select and purchase your version of the program, you’ll be able to access all of its episodes through the app. You can also try the first two or three episodes before buying the whole series.
I found the episodes to be nicely varied to cover different situations you might actually find yourself in. The Basics and Beginnings versions cover situations like shopping, visiting a bank, talking about a movie and visiting a doctor.
The more advanced versions cover things like gossiping with friends and taking a taxi home after a night out. They also cover some more adult matters like road rage, visiting a strip club and a cheating boyfriend.
The audio files are all super clear, and the dialogues are spoken evenly and cleanly, even when slang and accents abound. You can listen to some audio snippets on the Gritty Spanish website to get a taste.
The audios also have ambient background sounds to make the whole experience more realistic. If the conversation takes place on a subway train car, then you’ll hear the train brakes squealing, the conductor making announcements and passengers murmuring in the background.
In addition to the main audio, each episode comes with:
- A version of the audio that has been slowed down 30%
- A version of the audio that omits the background noise
- A PDF transcript of the dialogue in Spanish and English
- “Lyrics” that appear when you listen to the audio file on your Android or iOS device (so you don’t need to pull up the PDF to read along)
The interactive PDFs present each dialogue with a brief synopsis, a list of characters and where they’re from and the transcript in Spanish and English.
In the Spanish version of the dialogue, you’ll see that certain words and phrases are linked so you can click on them to read more about them.
In the Basics and Beginnings series, this includes grammar explanations and verb conjugations for phrases like “estoy disfrutando,” while in the more advanced series, they’re typically country-specific slang and expressions like “¿Quihubo?”, a Colombian way to say “What’s up?”
While it means you’ll be doing a lot of clicking back and forth between the dialogue and the explanation section, I found this feature super useful for better understanding the meanings and learning new words and phrases in context.
The “Say That Again” Button
As you’re listening to the audio, there’s a handy button you can click to rewind it two seconds back. If you double-click it, it rewinds four seconds back and so on.
This is really convenient when you didn’t quite catch something and want to hear it again without losing your place in the audio, or if you want to practice your pronunciation by repeating the word or phrase.
Diverse and Realistic Spanish
The Gritty Spanish dialogues are spoken by native speakers from different Spanish-speaking countries, so you can get exposed to a variety of accents and dialects, including region-specific slang and curse words.
While this program is a good peek into the grittier things that Latin American Spanish speakers say, it’s especially relevant if you’re living in New York City or another area where you’ll hear different dialects together in one place.
Pay attention to the nationalities of the speakers noted at the beginning of each transcript. If you’re going to be traveling throughout Latin America, listen to them all. But if you’re only visiting one or a few countries, start with the episodes featuring speakers from those regions.
The Pros of Gritty Spanish
Appropriate for a wide range of skill levels
Gritty Spanish offers four options for different skill levels. For each of these levels, it can help fill the gaps that formal language courses and Spanish textbooks leave behind—gaps that typically only real-world experience can fill.
Even if you’re at an advanced level and have the grammar down, you may never have learned how to curse properly or struggle to understand informal Spanish spoken with a heavy Dominican accent.
Great for conversational Spanish
This program is ideal for improving your conversational fluency (your ability to speak and understand Spanish during conversations) because:
- Tons of listening practice will get your ears attuned to the sounds of Spanish.
- Reading along with the PDFs and using the program’s various learning features will push you toward greater comprehension of spoken Spanish.
- Casual Spanish, spoken in a variety of regional accents, will give you experience with how natives usually speak.
While watching Spanish TV shows and movies can expose you to authentic dialogue, this program simplifies it down to the listening component with support from the transcripts so you can tune your ears and focus on what’s being said without getting distracted by visuals.
Teaches you how to express yourself naturally
The type of authentic Spanish you’ll learn through this program will help you express yourself the way you do in your native language. So you won’t have to sound like a polite robot and give away that you learned your Spanish from a textbook.
For a long time living abroad, I felt like my Spanish-speaking friends didn’t really know me unless they’d heard me (and could understand me) speaking in English. Eventually, I learned to express myself with the colorful slang and colloquialisms of the language.
Using Gritty Spanish would have helped me with this from the beginning. The program lets you find your own special brand of Spanish, allowing you to finally sound like yourself and unleash your true personality.
Prepares you to socialize with Spanish speakers
Most language-learning programs cover basic situations like asking for directions and ordering at a restaurant. But Gritty Spanish goes way beyond that to cover social situations like chatting with friends at a club and going on a first date.
If you want to go beyond pleasantries and transactions with Spanish speakers and actually make friends, this program will help build your familiarity with the language needed to understand and connect with them on a more social level.
That means you’ll understand when a guy is talking about hitting on a girl at the club, or when a couple is having an argument about some social media drama.
The Cons of Gritty Spanish
Lacks writing and speaking components
This program is all about the audio: listen and learn. The transcripts add a reading component, and the explanations for the Basics and Beginnings versions include some grammar explanations, but without activities for you to practice using the grammar.
While you can pause the audio and repeat what the speaker says, generating the language organically isn’t part of this program. This is what’s often lacking in language programs, so we recommend pairing them with a language exchange with a native speaker.
Not ideal for true beginners
The language can be a bit complicated in places, so I’d recommend this program for intermediate learners and above. However, the program does have features—like the clickable transcripts with notes and the slowed-down audios—that make the dialogues approachable at an upper-beginner level.
If you know the basics and have been focusing on conversational Spanish, you should be okay. In earlier stages of learning, you can use Gritty Spanish as a supplementary tool in addition to a more formal learning program.
Teaches vulgar language
Anyone interested in using Gritty Spanish should be aware that the two more advanced versions of this program (Original and Part II) include some explicit language and situations that wouldn’t be appropriate for kids.
While this is actually a positive for many people who want to learn real Spanish, it might turn others away. It’s important to note that the Original version has a censored option, so even more advanced learners who want to keep it PG can enjoy most of the program.
If you choose the uncensored version, just remember that some of the language might be inappropriate or offensive in certain situations and with certain people.
How Gritty Spanish Compares to Other Programs
In general, Gritty Spanish is a pretty unique language-learning program. It includes the real, unfiltered speech that many programs like Pimsleur and Babbel leave out. This makes it great for more advanced learners who are living in a Spanish-speaking country and want to understand and use stronger language.
However, it lacks some of the more formal teaching elements and gamified learning tools that programs like Duolingo and LingoDeer. You don’t earn points or prizes, and advancing to the next levels just means you’ve completed one series and then have to purchase the next one. If you need a bit of competition to keep up your motivation for learning, a more gamified program might be better for you.
Lifetime access to the material with a one-time purchase means you can take your sweet time working through the Gritty Spanish program, which relieves the pressure for busy learners. But depending on how fast you get through the material, you might prefer a subscription-based program like FluentU with new material added on a regular basis.
FluentU also includes the video aspect that Gritty Spanish leaves out, which adds an entertainment level that keeps you engaged.
FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
Verdict: Gritty Spanish Review
All around, I’m giving Gritty Spanish two thumbs up.
The program is a refreshing and enlightening method of learning Spanish the way it’s actually spoken by native speakers in all their moods, from pure happiness to disgust and outrage.
It stands out in sharp contrast against the typical, humdrum “Juan and Anita go to the supermarket” kind of learning materials. It’s something bold, unique and unexpected in the world of Spanish learning materials.
Take Gritty Spanish for a spin with its sample materials for interested learners, and you’ll finally see what your Spanish study routine was missing all along.
Now you have one learner’s honest review of the Gritty Spanish program, with its main features, pros, cons and how it compares to other options.
If you’re still unsure, try out the first couple lessons and give the sample audio a listen. You’ll soon know if the program is right for you!
And One More Thing…
If you've made it this far that means you probably enjoy learning Spanish with engaging material and will then love FluentU.
Other sites use scripted content. FluentU uses a natural approach that helps you ease into the Spanish language and culture over time. You’ll learn Spanish as it’s actually spoken by real people.
FluentU has a wide variety of videos, as you can see here:
FluentU brings native videos within reach with interactive transcripts. You can tap on any word to look it up instantly. Every definition has examples that have been written to help you understand how the word is used. If you see an interesting word you don’t know, you can add it to a vocab list.
Review a complete interactive transcript under the Dialogue tab, and find words and phrases listed under Vocab.
Learn all the vocabulary in any video with FluentU’s robust learning engine. Swipe left or right to see more examples of the word you’re on.
The best part is that FluentU keeps track of the vocabulary that you’re learning, and gives you extra practice with difficult words. It'll even remind you when it’s time to review what you’ve learned. Every learner has a truly personalized experience, even if they’re learning with the same video.
Start using the FluentU website on your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or Google Play store. Sign up now to take advantage of our current sale!