Brian

27 Best Online French Courses: We’ve Tried Them

the best online courses for learning french banner

If you’re interested in learning French and are looking for the perfect online course, you may have noticed that it’s not an obvious choice. Fortunately, the numbers are on your side — there are more online French courses to choose from every day. There are so many, in fact, that sifting through them can quickly become overwhelming. 

We’ve taken the time to go through the extensive list of resources we’ve tried, and some we haven’t, to find the best of the best and highlight what makes them so special. Only the resources that we’ve rated at least 3.5 stars have made this list.

There’s simply no one-size-fits-all course that will be best for all learners. Your learning style, interests, past experiences, and goals all have a say in what course will work best for you. This is exactly why we’ve created this list, to provide learners with the best information to get started in the right direction.

(more…)

Best Apps for Learning Hindi


In India, a country where hundreds of languages are spoken, Hindi stands out as the one with the most native speakers. In fact, it’s the third-most spoken language in the world. For anyone that wants to be able to communicate with this massive portion of the world’s population or wants to deepen their relationship with India and its people, learning Hindi is a fantastic undertaking.

The number of ways in which you can study Hindi is constantly growing. Language-learning apps are becoming more prevalent every year, and quite a few cater to learners of Hindi.

Unfortunately, it can be difficult to sift through all of the available apps to find one that’s most worth your time — the quality, price, and area of focus all vary widely. In this post, we’ll list our favorite language apps for learning Hindi by what they do best, hopefully making your search easier.

(more…)

30 Best Online Spanish Courses: We’ve Tested Them

Finding the right resource for learning Spanish is often a daunting task. With courses becoming more accessible and numerous every year, your options are seemingly endless. Many of the online Spanish courses out there are fantastic, quite a few are awful, and even more are probably best for some learners and not for others.

Whether you can’t find exactly what you’re looking for or are overwhelmed with choice, we’re confident that the right resource for you is out there — and this post will help.

We’ve taken the time to comb through our enormous library of reviews to single out the best online courses for learning Spanish and have detailed them in this list. Only resources that have received at least a 3.5/5 star rating on our site have made the cut.

We recognize that no two learners are exactly alike. Learning style, budget, skill level, and motivation all have a huge impact on what makes a resource right for you. That’s why this list doesn’t assume there’s one course that’s best for everyone. Instead, our aim is to provide you with enough information to reliably point you in the right direction. Happy hunting!

Sort By:

4/5
Price: $297
I Will Teach You A Language Logo
Learn Spanish Through Stories

This course comes from Olly Richards, the creator of the I Will Teach You a Language blog. It’s designed for the beginner learner, but don’t expect it to start off slowly and ease you into things. Instead, you’ll jump right into reading a story. Interacting with somewhat lengthy texts right off the bat is part of the resource’s guided discovery learning method and is as challenging as it is rewarding.

While exercises in PDF format may not sound overly exciting, stories can make for enjoyable engagement as well as provide plenty of examples for how the language is used in context. Other perks of this course are clear instructions and grammar explanations that err on the side of being overly informative. You’ll also have the option of choosing between learning Castilian or Latin American Spanish.

Spanish Uncovered isn’t exceptionally cheap, and it will surely appeal more to some learners than others, but if you’re up for a challenge, are self-directed and enjoy stories, this course should provide you with a fantastic start.

Pros

  • The stories are engaging
  • Clear instruction
  • Plenty of practice opportunities

Cons

  • There’s sometimes too much grammar information
  • PDF activities aren’t super exciting
  • The review quiz is too short
4.5/5
Price: from $149/month
An Excellent Curriculum and Unlimited 1-1 Classes with Tutors from latin America

Baselang does an impressive job of marrying a thorough curriculum with the flexibility and personalization afforded by lessons with a teacher. It’s available for a monthly subscription that offers an unlimited number of online lessons with teachers — yes, unlimited!

This is especially noteworthy considering how easy it is to schedule lessons. You’ll be able to schedule lessons at any time of day, often with only a few minutes of advance notice. This makes it quite easy to take advantage of the subscription model and take as many lessons as you can comfortably fit into your schedule.

For anyone that’s serious about getting fluent in the shortest amount of time possible using one primary resource, Baselang is hard to beat.

Pros

  • Unlimited classes
  • Flexible scheduling
  • Well-structured curriculum
  • Quality teachers

Cons

  • No teachers from Spain
  • Occasional internet problems
  • You’ll need enough time to take advantage of the unlimited lessons

You can try baselang out for one week for only $1. If you sign-up using the link below, you’ll get $10 off your first month.

If you end up purchasing a plan and later decide that it’s not for you, Baselang will pay you $20 as an apology for wasting your time.

4/5
Price: $14.95 or $19.95/month
High-quality audio lessons that encourage active participation

Pimsleur courses have been around for quite a while, and they make a great solution for the right type of learner. Instead of dwelling on the intricacies of proper grammar usage or spending time teaching students how to read and write, Pimsleur places a heavy emphasis on developing aural and verbal skills.

The core lesson material is all delivered via high-quality audio — there’s a narrator that guides you through the lesson and multiple native speakers that teach pronunciation. You’ll also get to participate in conversations by frequently responding to the recording when prompted. There 

is both a Castilian and Latin American course to choose from.

Lessons progress logically and build on each other well, and there are some extra supplemental activities that provide practice in reading and recalling word definitions. This course is best for learners that want to get listening and speaking practice right away, but it won’t be the best option for those that have trouble learning with aural material.

Pros

  • Great lesson structure
  • Variety of native speaker voices
  • The platform is visually appealing and easy to navigate

Cons

  • Not ideal for visual learners
  • Lessons may progress too slowly for some learners
4/5
Price: Free audio lessons, $104 per season
A casual podcast-style course that offers a lot for free

Following along with Coffee Break Spanish lessons is a bit like listening in on a private class. The mood is fairly casual, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t some seriously good instruction to be had here. The lessons feature Mark, the host and teacher, and a student that is learning with him. While the course supposedly contains a variety of Spanish meant to help you navigate any Spanish-speaking country, it’s worth noting that Mark has an accent you’d hear in Spain.

You will be provided with lots of translations, explanations, and examples of useful phrases throughout the lessons, but you won’t find the kind of interactive exercises you might in other online courses, especially if you’re listening to the free audio lessons. Paying for the extra materials means you’ll get videos to supplement the audio, which visual learners will likely appreciate.

The 15-20 minute lessons are ideal for convenient practice that takes about as long as a coffee break, and they build on each other nicely. There’s an emphasis on language that’s practical and likely to be immediately useful, which makes for a rewarding experience.

Pros

  • Lessons progress logically and build on each other nicely
  • Content could appeal to both aural and visual learners
  • Audio lessons are free
  • Plenty of examples and explanations

Cons

  • You’ll need to look elsewhere for speaking and writing practice
  • There aren’t any interactive exercises
  • Full access to the courses is fairly expensive
4.5/5
Price: Private classes are $119/month, Group lessons are $49/month. Monthly prices drop for longer subscriptions.
Unlimited online classes and personalized study plans

SpanishVIP offers a huge amount of value for the right learner. A subscription to the platform unlocks up to six private lessons or unlimited group lessons per week with a qualified Spanish tutor. The tutors that work with SpanishVIP are very good at what they do, which is a significant draw, but note that they’re all from Latin America. If you’re bent on learning from a teacher from Spain, this won’t be the right platform for you.

What makes SpanishVIP different from an online tutor marketplace like italki or Verbling is that it offers personalized courses to learners. SpanishVIP is constantly developing new material and sharing with its teachers, and you’ll be able to get material that is specifically tailored to you and your learning goals.

Naturally, the value of unlimited lessons depends quite a bit on scheduling flexibility. Private lessons are scheduled weekly, meaning you won’t be able to schedule last-minute lessons like you can with group lessons. In our experience, scheduling difficulties would likely only cause potential problems if you live in certain time zones, as SpanishVIP tutors are located in the Americas.

Pros

  • If you’re able to fit enough lessons into your schedule, the value is amazing
  • Excellent teachers
  • Personalized courses

Cons

  • Some students could experience scheduling limitations

Mention ALR to get a free month of group classes with any private class purchase.

4.8/5
Price: $22.90/month
Much more than current events narrated at a slow pace

News in Slow Spanish does a little bit of everything, which is partly why it’s one of our highest-rated courses. It’s also entertaining and fun to use. There’s material that caters to the student of Latin American Spanish as well as those studying the Castilian variety, and there’s material for beginners, intermediate students, and advanced learners alike.

The course gets its name for lessons centered around news stories. The language in these lessons is level-appropriate, both in complexity and narration speed — understanding a news article even with a low level of Spanish is rewarding!

In addition to interesting news stories, there are plenty of grammar-focused lessons and those that teach useful expressions. The beginner material might not be ideal for absolute beginners, but it should quickly elevate your language skills. The intermediate level is where News in Slow Spanish really shines, expertly bridging the gap from beginner to more advanced material.

The advanced level might not be as impressive as at the other two levels, but the variety of practice activities, quality materials, and great lesson flow make this a resource worth considering.

Pros

  • Engaging material
  • Useful variety of lesson types
  • Excellent lesson progression

Cons

  • The advanced level isn’t as impressive as the other levels
4.2/5
Price: $12.95/month, less for longer subscriptions
A reliable course with solid structure

Babbel covers a lot of bases. For learners that don’t want to involve a bunch of complementary resources, Babbel could be a good place to get lots of practice in a variety of skills. Then again, it isn’t the flashiest resource out there, and it won’t be the perfect option for every learner.

The lessons in Babbel are well structured and include lots of useful explanations. Speaking and pronunciation practice happens through a voice recognition system and an exercise in which you get to listen to and take part in a conversation happening between native speakers. The voice recognition isn’t perfect, and the conversation activity is no substitute for actually speaking with someone, but it’s still valuable practice.

The activities might get repetitive with Babbel, and there might not be a whole lot of exciting practice to be had with the resource, but its no-nonsense approach does feel efficient. It’s certainly worth considering for learners that don’t need any bells and whistles in a course and want to get as much out of one resource as they can.

Babbel offers some additional materials and articles on the Latin American Spanish, but the main course teaches Castilian Spanish.

Pros

  • The material is well thought out and practical
  • There are plenty of explanations and examples
  • It’s easy to use

Cons

  • The exercises could get repetitive
  • Opportunities for grammar review are limited
  • Voice recognition isn’t the best way to learn pronunciation
3.8/5
Price: $8-$47/month
A podcast-style course for extensive listening practice

Most of the SpanishPod101 material is catered toward beginner learners, though there is material for learners at all levels. There’s also some attention paid to both Latin American and Castilian Spanish, though the majority of the material in SpanishPod101 is in Latin American Spanish.

Audio lessons mean that there’s the potential to get lots of listening practice with this resource, and the accompanying transcripts, lesson notes, quizzes, and vocabulary lists fill out the platform nicely. Lessons are centered around a dialogue that you’ll get to listen to before hearing the hosts break it down and then get to practice yourself. The model works well for presenting the language in context and getting learners used to hearing it.

The core material in SpanishPod101 is pretty useful, but there are also a bunch of extras that aren’t really worth much. You’ll also have to locate the most useful lessons yourself, as there isn’t a clear structure to the course.

Pros

  • There’s a ton of content at lower levels
  • Lessons are entertaining
  • You’ll get cultural information on a variety of different countries

Cons

  • There’s less material for intermediate and advanced learners
  • The website uses a lot of spamming techniques
  • There isn’t a clear lesson progression
3.3/5
Price: $9.99/month for Premium, $13.99/month for Premium Plus
A respectable course with a nifty social feature

Busuu has got quite a bit in common with courses like Babbel, Lingodeer, Fluencia, and others: its well-structured courses offer practice in a variety of language skills and should be able to provide beginners with everything they need to advance to an intermediate level. 

The Busuu Spanish course makes an attempt to cover the differences between Latin American and Castilian Spanish, though there may be a slight, negligible lean towards Castilian Spanish in terms of pronunciation.

One of the most exciting features in a Busuu course is the language-exchange function. Learners have the chance to submit their answers to questions for feedback from the Busuu community. You can either submit a written answer or a recording of yourself speaking — this is a great way to get meaningful feedback from real people, and this feature is free to use.

A potential drawback is that Busuu has less thorough grammar practice than similar resources. Our rating for this resource would be higher if it only considered the Spanish course, but the low quality of the Busuu Mandarin course forced us to lower the overall rating.

Pros

  • The language-exchange feature is great
  • The platform is visually appealing and easy to use
  • Conversation lessons provide good practice

Cons

  • Grammar practice isn’t the best
  • Some review activities could have been designed better
3.8/5
Price: $99.95-$259.90
A comprehensive course that could be right for some

The Rocket Spanish course teaches Latin American Spanish through audio lessons and very repetitive practice activities. The highly repetitive review activities and well-structured lessons mean that you’ll likely retain the majority of what you learn and you won’t be without useful explanations.

The biggest drawback of this course is probably that it can get extremely boring. You’ll review the concepts you learn in each lesson many times, which is good for retention but potentially bad for motivation. If you can make it through these lessons, you’ll probably learn a lot. Then again, some people may even enjoy the lesson activities.

The audio lessons provide good chances to listen to native speakers and practice listening skills, even if there is some cheesy English banter in them (especially at lower levels). You’ll also get some cultural lessons that expound on elements of life in Latin American countries, though it’s a shame they don’t do a better job of looking more closely at individual countries.

Pros

  • Well-structured, comprehensive course
  • Quality native speaker audio
  • There are lots of prompts to practice speaking

Cons

  • Lessons can be boring
  • Review activities are overly repetitive
  • The culture lessons aren’t very well done
4.2/5
Price: From $38.58 for three months
OUINO Language Learning Black Friday Discounts
A high-quality course with lots of practice

One of the great things about Ouino is that its material may appeal to both visual and aural learners: lessons are presented in text form as well as read aloud, and important words are color-coded. In addition to this, practice activities incorporate both pictures and sound.

The 500 lessons in the Ouino Spanish course take an academic approach to language instruction. The resource isn’t very gamelike — instead, the lessons are more in-depth and are part of a detailed curriculum.

This resource might appeal more to serious language learners that are looking to get lots of focused practice or to those that already have some experience learning Spanish. You can jump around from one lesson to another out of order, which could be disorienting for a beginner, but is an advantage for learners past the beginner level.

Pros

  • Material that will appeal to both aural and visual learners
  • You can take lessons in any order that suits you

Cons

  • You’ll have to judge your own pronunciation performance
  • The lesson structure doesn’t vary much and can become overly repetitive
3.8/5
Price: $16 – $21/hour
Live Lingua Logo
Live lessons and specialized courses

Live Lingua is a little bit different from other online tutor platforms in that its service is more specialized. Before you’re hooked up with a tutor, you’ll have a chance to communicate your goals with a personal class coordinator. You also have the chance to choose between several different Spanish courses, including standard lessons, exam prep, Spanish for priests, and more.

The majority of tutors seem to be from Mexico, but there are teachers from nine different countries, meaning you’ll be able to get practice in whatever flavor of Spanish interests you. The teachers are all native speakers and receive extra support and training from Live Lingua.

The platform doesn’t offer the same level of scheduling flexibility you might find on other online tutor platforms, and it’s a little more expensive than similar options, but the extra personalization and course focuses might make it worth it from some learners.

Pros

  • You should be able to find lessons that meet your specific needs
  • Tutors are from a variety of different countries

Cons

  • Lesson scheduling happens via email
  • Limited flexibility in choosing a teacher
4/5
Price: Group classes from $56/month, Private classes from $132/month
The structure of a course with the guidance of a teacher

The majority of online courses have something in common: they fail to provide much in the way of real communication practice. Some employ simulated role-playing activities and speech-recognition technology to get around this, but these are still inadequate substitutes for the practice you can get with a real person. 

Lingoda, on the other hand, addresses the communication practice problem by getting real tutors involved. Lessons on the platform take place in either private or group classes where you’ll get a chance to speak aloud and get real-time feedback from a tutor. Tutors are from a variety of different countries, so you’ll get exposed to Spanish as it’s spoken in Spain as well as in Latin American countries.

With over 600 lessons, there’s content that should be suitable for just about every type of learner, and there’s no need to complete them in a linear fashion. This course could be a good option for learners that appreciate the structure afforded by a course but are also interested in practice with a native speaker tutor.

Pros

  • Tutors are from a variety of countries
  • There are lessons for many different levels
  • Tutor scheduling is flexible

Cons

  • The lesson materials are all fairly similar
  • Group lessons may not be ideal for everyone
4.3/5
Price: $14.95/month, less for longer subscriptions
Carefully crafted lessons for the dedicated learner

At first glance, Fluencia may appear to have quite a bit in common with popular apps like Duolingo or Lingodeer. Take a closer look, however, and it quickly becomes apparent that the Fluencia material was designed with remarkable care and is quite capable of providing exceptionally thorough instruction and practice.

Where other language apps take a gamified, casual approach, Fluencia is a full-on course that was designed specifically with Spanish in mind. For learners looking for a resource that’s a little bit more challenging, Fluencia could be a good fit. It’s certainly not an app that’ll enable idle time wasting.

While Fluencia offers in-depth grammar explanations and quality practice opportunities, it’s true that you may want to supplement your listening and speaking practice with other resources. Also, keep in mind that discounted monthly prices are available for longer subscriptions.

Pros

  • Instruction is very clear and detail oriented
  • Activities are appropriately challenging
  • Audio recordings are sourced from native speakers with a variety of accents

Cons

  • You may need to supplement speaking and listening practice with other resources like tutors or podcasts
4.3/5
Price: $11.99/month, less for longer subscriptions
Quick and convenient practice for beginners

Lingodeer could be ideal for learners that prefer gamified, bite-sized activities. While the complete Spanish course teaches the language as it’s used in Spain, the Lingodeer Latin American Spanish course is in beta development and available to users that already have a premium account.

Gamelike, short activities can sometimes be equated with a lack of in-depth instruction or courses that are otherwise rather poorly put together — that isn’t the case with Lingodeer. The lessons are quite thorough in their use of explanations and examples, and a variety of activities make for engaging practice in multiple skills. The native speaker audio is also good with Lingodeer and helps to make the course more valuable.

Some drawbacks with the Lingodeer course are that it doesn’t provide much in the way of speaking practice and that the material doesn’t always progress in the most natural way. For example, you may come across some words early on that aren’t very important for a beginner to learn. 

Overall, Lingodeer is a pretty solid resource for anyone looking for something that’s easy and fun to use.

Pros

  • There’s a wide variety of activity types
  • Grammar explanations are detailed
  • Quality audio
  • It’s fairly priced

Cons

  • You’ll need additional resources to get sufficient oral communication practice
  • The content doesn’t always progress in a logical manner
4.3/5
Price: Free
Learn to think in Spanish for free

The most notable things about Language Transfer are probably that it’s completely free to use (no catch!) and that it takes a unique approach to language instruction. Instead of drilling vocabulary and grammar rules into your head, the course places an emphasis on the relationship between English and Spanish. By pointing out patterns, similarities and differences, the course gives learners the tools to think their way through Spanish.

The format of the course is similar to a podcast in that the materials are purley audio lessons. You’ll listen along to someone else being taught Spanish by the host and creator of Language Transfer, Mihalis Eleftheriou. He even urges learners to just listen and refrain from taking notes.

This course would really only be valuable for beginning learners that speak English, and it won’t be ideal for visual learners, but a remarkable amount of care has been put into this free course. The host in the Spanish course has an Argentinian accent, and you won’t learn the vosotros form used in Spain, but the material should otherwise be useful for learners of either Castilian or Latin American Spanish.

Pros

  • It’s completely free
  • The course structure is well thought out

Cons

  • Visual learners may struggle with the audio-only format
  • Other than responding to cues in the audio lessons, there are no activities to work through
  • There are no native speakers in the course
  • The untraditional learning method won’t appeal to everyone
4.3/5
Price: Free, €49, €60
Quality courses with videos and quizzes

The founder of 1001 Reasons to Learn Spanish is Juan Fernández, an ex-professor of Spanish at the University of London who now dedicates himself to creating quality resources online. Juan is from Spain, and so his courses use and teach Spanish as it’s spoken in Spain, but the lower level material will be mostly relevant for all learners.

One of the greatest-value courses on Juan’s website is the Repaso 1 course. It’s designed to help learners make the transition from the elementary (A2) to pre-intermediate (B1) level by practicing for 20-30 minutes for 30 days. This course is totally free and makes use of videos and quizzes in the daily lessons.

Juan is an animated, skilled teacher, and he’s produced a ton of content for Spanish learners, including two other courses, a podcast, YouTube videos, and a graded reader series. His teaching is all in Spanish, but he uses props and gestures to make material that’s suitable for learners of all levels. 

Our impressions are based on the free content; we haven’t tried out any of the paid courses yet.

Pros

  • The Repaso 1 course is free and full of value for learners at the right level
  • Plenty of additional study materials on the website
  • Instruction is entirely in Spanish, videos and podcasts include transcripts
Cons
  • Doesn’t cater to learners specifically interested in Latin American Spanish

FSI and DLI

4.3/5
Price: Free
Dated but thorough courses

The Foreign Services Institute (FSI) won’t be winning any awards for exciting material or fun-to-use content, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a more comprehensive course for free. The courses were originally created to help diplomats quickly reach professional working proficiency in foreign languages. They’re now available for free on a number of different websites.

There are several different Spanish courses created by FSI, some with material specific to Spain and some with a Latin American focus. They’re all very thorough and include audio recordings and activities to complete. You’ll get plenty of practice with listening comprehension and will have opportunities to practice speaking by responding to audio prompts.

Similarly, courses developed by the Defense Language Institute (DLI) are extremely thorough but not exceptionally engaging. They also place more of an emphasis on military terminology at higher levels.

Pros

  • Courses are well structured and comprehensive
  • They’re free

Cons

  • The courses are dated and not very exciting courses 
4.3/5
Price: Free
A free, comprehensive introduction to Spanish

Destinos is an award-winning Spanish video course made up of fifty-two 30-minutes episodes. It was produced in the 1990s, so the production value is a bit dated, but the subject matter is engaging — you get to follow a lawyer as he investigates a family secret.

The video series should prove useful to a variety of learners, as videos contain accents and cultural information from Spain, Argentina, Puerto Rico, and Mexico. The episodes are 100% in Spanish, meaning beginners will be exposed to more than they understand, but this is all part of the method — learners should be able to follow the story well enough from context clues and the exercises that accompany each lesson.

More experienced learners might not get a ton of useful practice out of Destinos, but it could potentially make an excellent, free introduction for beginners.Learners in some countries may have to play the videos on YouTube or KET Education; the relevant activities are available through the Annenberg Learner site, where the videos are also accessible in some countries.

Pros

  • It’s free
  • Videos cover accents and cultural information from a variety of countries

Cons

  • It isn’t suitable for more advanced learners
  • The videos are dated
4.2/5
Price: Free podcast, courses start at $97
Free podcast episodes and an intuitive teaching method

There are hundreds of free, downloadable podcasts on the Unlimited Spanish website, all with useful transcripts. These podcast episodes provide a lot of value and serve as an introduction to the teaching method that Oscar, the founder, uses in his courses. There are four of these courses available for purchase, separate from the podcast.

Instead of using a traditional textbook-esque method of teaching a language, Oscar helps his students learn to think in Spanish. Podcast episodes include short stories with accompanying exercises that you can respond to while listening. Lesson narration happens at a slower-than-natural speed, but there is still vocabulary that would likely be new even to upper-intermediate learners. 

While we haven’t had the chance to test them out, the Unlimited Spanish courses appear to be of high quality. There’s a 30-day crash course for beginners, courses that intermediate learners can use to improve fluency, and a course that can help learners having difficulty with verb tenses.

If you’re concerned about interacting with Spanish from a particular country, note that Oscar is from Spain.

Pros

  • Podcasts are free and come with transcripts
  • The intuitive learning method may appeal to some learners

Cons

  • You’ll need to look elsewhere for practice speaking to other people
4/5
Price: Freemium, $8.99/month
Fun flashcard platform with official SPanish courses

Memrise offers two main types of courses: free, community-created courses and official Memrise courses. While the free courses do provide some quality SRS-assisted vocabulary practice, the official courses are where you’ll get the most learning opportunity.

Official courses still offer a lot of content for free, and they include bonuses like videos of native speakers, quality audio, and some grammar explanations. There are seven levels in the Spanish (Spain) and Spanish (Mexico) courses, and some advanced material is covered, but learners at lower levels will probably get the most out of the Memrise courses.

There are also a bunch of specialized courses among the community-created material covering everything from slang phrases to exam prep vocabulary. In short, you’ll need more than a Memrise course to become fluent in Spanish, but there’s certainly some value to be had for free.

Pros

  • Lots of free content
  • SRS makes for efficient practice
  • Videos of native speakers are engaging and informative

Cons

  • You’ll need to supplement with other resources to get well-rounded practice
4/5
Price: €49.90 for Spanish e-course
assimil logo
Phrase-based learning in a well-structured course

Known for its Sans Peine (With Ease) language courses, Assimil has long been a popular resource for learning languages. Originally offered as a physical book with accompanying CDs, the company now offers e-courses that don’t require any physical materials. Note that Assimil teaches Castilian Spanish, though most of the material will be applicable to any Spanish learner, especially at lower levels.

The Assimil course has a great structure and teaches the language in the context of useful phrases and conversations. The layout of the e-course is also intuitive and enjoyable to use. All of the practice you’ll get is based on translating between English and Spanish, which may not be ideal for getting you to think in Spanish, but you will get lots of listening practice, grammar explanations, and some handy extra features.

It’s likely that you’ll need to incorporate some extra study materials to reach the advertised B2 level with an Assimil course, but it’s one of the more comprehensive options out there.

Pros

  • Great audio quality
  • Culture notes add value to the course
  • There are lots of grammar explanations without becoming overwhelming

Cons

  • Exercises aren’t especially engaging
  • The pronunciation feedback isn’t amazing
  • The mobile app isn’t very intuitive
4/5
Price: $10.99/mo, less for longer subscriptions
Bite-sized lessons with a clear curriculum

WLingua seems to have quite a bit in common with apps like Duolingo and Lingodeer. Namely, it provides practice via short activities that are part of a clearly laid out course plan. This makes for focused, convenient practice that’s easy to pick up whenever you’ve got a few free moments.

One nice feature in the WLingua Spanish course is that it offers support for learners studying Lating American Spanish as well as those interested in pronunciation and vocabulary specific to Spanish as it’s spoken in Spain.

Unlike Duolingo, WLingua doesn’t offer all of its content for free and requires a paid subscription for full access. That said, you will still be able to get quite a bit of practice for free. WLingua also has some pretty great grammar practice — something you won’t find so much of with Duolingo. Though we haven’t had the chance to fully test the course, this grammar practice matched with the resource’s spaced repetition and logically progressing lessons make it worth considering.

Pros

  • Native speaker audio includes a variety of accents
  • Clear course structure
  • Quality grammar practice
  • Short activities make for convenient practice

Cons

  • Lack of speaking and listening practice
4/5
Price: Free
Convenient, gamified practice for beginners

It’s hard to think of a language resource that’s more popular than Duolingo. Its Spanish course is based on the way the language is used in Mexico and is available for free to anyone with an internet connection.

The highly popular Duolingo app provides practice in the form of engaging, short activities and quite a bit of gamification. It’s easy to pick up whenever you’ve got a spare moment, and the use of points and leaderboards don’t make it feel like study time at all.

If you’re struggling with motivation and are mostly interested in picking up some basic vocabulary in Spanish, Duolingo could be just what you’re looking for. That said, it’s good to be aware that the audio isn’t the best, the course teaches some sentences that likely won’t be useful to anybody, and you’ll need to look elsewhere to get good speaking practice.

Pros

  • It’s convenient and fun to use
  • The gamification element can be motivating
  • It’s completely free

Cons

  • You never get to create your own sentences
  • Audio quality is sometimes low
4/5
Price: $408 for the full course, $187 per level
A thorough, academic approach with video lessons

The Fluenz courses (one for Latin American Spanish and one for Castilian Spanish) simulate the experience of having a private dedicated tutor through the use of recorded video lessons. These lessons might not offer the personalization or real-time feedback you’d get with live lessons, but they’re surprisingly thorough. 

Fluenz isn’t the most exciting course out there: there aren’t really any gamification elements to speak of, and the lessons can feel repetitive. The tradeoff is that you’ll get lots of explanations that are specifically relevant to English speakers learning Spanish and practice in a variety of skills. 

The relatively slow pace and high price mean this certainly isn’t the right resource for everyone. If you prefer an academic approach, don’t need study time to feel like a game, and appreciate a course with solid structure, Fluenz might be worth looking into.

Pros

  • Concepts are explained thoroughly
  • Video tutorials contain a lot of good information
  • Great course structure

Cons

  • Relatively high price
  • Activities can become repetitive
  • The course has a fairly slow pace
4/5
Price: $34.99/month, less for longer subscriptions
Not the most exciting course, but lots of solid material

Learners getting started with Lengalia can begin by taking the resource’s placement test, which is one of the better free ones out there. Once you’ve received placement test results, you can choose from one of the many courses offered by Lengalia. They’re organized by level and subject matter, and there are courses appropriate for learners at any level.

Though it isn’t explicitly stated on the Lengalia website, the material in the core Spanish courses seems to place an emphasis on Castilian Spanish. There are, however, podcast courses available on the culture and language of Spain as well as of Latin America.

One unique feature of the Lengalia platform is that a subscription grants learners access to tutors that are available for consultation. This seems to be like a customer support service that can also help with language queries.

Activities can get repetitive in the Lengalia courses, the interface isn’t very visually appealing, and some learners may find the activities to be quite boring, but there’s some high-quality practice to be had for those that are willing to put up with this. Purchase of a yearly subscription unlocks access to all Lengalia courses.

Pros

  • Quality content for learners at all levels
  • Lessons are well-structured
  • The built-in translation tool works well

Cons

  • Practice activities can get repetitive
  • You’ll have to look elsewhere to practice oral communication skills
  • We noticed some mistakes in the material
3.8/5
Price: $99.95-$199.95/year
Low entertainment value but high instructional value

The video lessons that make up the Spanish With Paul course are chock-full of useful information — they just aren’t super engaging. For some learners, thorough grammar explanations that help them better understand how Spanish works is entertainment enough; for others, the rather bland aesthetic may be a turn off.

There are over 80 hours of video lessons teaching Spanish in this course, and they’re taught with the perspective of someone living in Mexico, but Paul stresses that the foundation you’ll learn in his course is applicable to Spanish anywhere.

If you enjoy video courses and are looking for a course that goes to great lengths to thoroughly explain grammar in a way that’s specifically useful for English speakers, this course could be worth checking out. Just keep in mind that it may not be the most engaging course you could find.

Pros

  • Quality in-depth grammar explanations
  • Logical lesson progression
  • Lessons teach you how the language works

Cons

  • Video lessons aren’t very engaging
  • You aren’t required to produce much Spanish
  • The course doesn’t feature any native Spanish speakers
3.7/5
Price: From $23/month
Live lessons and self-study combined

Chatterbug’s multiple subscription plans offer different numbers of one-on-one lessons with teachers. You can choose from 1, 4, 8, or an unlimited number of lessons each month, and these lessons will happen in tandem with the platform’s self-study material. You’ll progress through lessons with a teacher that are based on your progress through the Chatterbug curriculum.

The chance to get real speaking practice with a teacher is great for improving oral communication skills, and the structure of the course content makes for focused practice and measurable progress. This concept is amazing, but we weren’t blown away by any of the extra features. The live lessons were certainly a highlight of the resource.

Potential drawbacks to studying with Chatterbug include a cluttered interface, limited reading and writing practice, and some mistakes in the reading material. Chatterbug Spanish tutors are from a variety of countries, so you’ll be exposed to several different accents.

Pros

  • Live lessons are well structured and engaging
  • Scheduling live lessons is easy
  • Tutors are from a variety of countries

Cons

  • The interface is cluttered and not easy to navigate
  • Reading and writing practice are limited
  • We noticed some mistakes in the reading material
3.5/5
Price: $7.99/month for one language, $17.99 for all languages
Course with a slick design for beginners

It’s important to note right away that a subscription to Mango Languages won’t be of much use to learners at the intermediate level and beyond — there’s just not that much content for more advanced learners. If you’re just starting out with Spanish, however, you should be able to get some quality practice with useful words and phrases that you’ll be able to start using right away.

There are two Spanish courses to choose from: Latin American and Castilian, each of which provide plenty of practice drilling useful bits of language. The Mango Languages platform is slick and easy to use. Lessons progress in a practical order and build on each other, but you can also skip around if you like.

Other notable features of a course with Mango Languages are language-specific cultural notes, grammar notes, and lots of drilling. The drilling will get you used to producing phrases rather quickly, but it can also feel repetitive.

If you’re interested in Mango Languages, be sure to check whether it’s offered for free in your local library.

Pros

  • It’s easy to use and has a nice design
  • Explanations and cultural notes are presented well
  • Lots of drilling means you’re likely to remember what you learn

Cons

  • The constant drilling can become overly repetitive
  • There isn’t much material for upper-level learners
  • Grammar explanations and practice are somewhat lacking
4.8/5
Price: $22.90/month
Much more than current events narrated at a slow pace

News in Slow Spanish does a little bit of everything, which is partly why it’s one of our highest-rated courses. It’s also entertaining and fun to use. There’s material that caters to the student of Latin American Spanish as well as those studying the Castilian variety, and there’s material for beginners, intermediate students, and advanced learners alike.

The course gets its name for lessons centered around news stories. The language in these lessons is level-appropriate, both in complexity and narration speed — understanding a news article even with a low level of Spanish is rewarding!

In addition to interesting news stories, there are plenty of grammar-focused lessons and those that teach useful expressions. The beginner material might not be ideal for absolute beginners, but it should quickly elevate your language skills. The intermediate level is where News in Slow Spanish really shines, expertly bridging the gap from beginner to more advanced material.

The advanced level might not be as impressive as at the other two levels, but the variety of practice activities, quality materials, and great lesson flow make this a resource worth considering.

Pros

  • Engaging material
  • Useful variety of lesson types
  • Excellent lesson progression

Cons

  • The advanced level isn’t as impressive as the other levels
4.5/5
Price: from $149/month
An Excellent Curriculum and Unlimited 1-1 Classes with Tutors from latin America

Baselang does an impressive job of marrying a thorough curriculum with the flexibility and personalization afforded by lessons with a teacher. It’s available for a monthly subscription that offers an unlimited number of online lessons with teachers — yes, unlimited!

This is especially noteworthy considering how easy it is to schedule lessons. You’ll be able to schedule lessons at any time of day, often with only a few minutes of advance notice. This makes it quite easy to take advantage of the subscription model and take as many lessons as you can comfortably fit into your schedule.

For anyone that’s serious about getting fluent in the shortest amount of time possible using one primary resource, Baselang is hard to beat.

Pros

  • Unlimited classes
  • Flexible scheduling
  • Well-structured curriculum
  • Quality teachers

Cons

  • No teachers from Spain
  • Occasional internet problems
  • You’ll need enough time to take advantage of the unlimited lessons

You can try baselang out for one week for only $1. If you sign-up using the link below, you’ll get $10 off your first month.

If you end up purchasing a plan and later decide that it’s not for you, Baselang will pay you $20 as an apology for wasting your time.

4.5/5
Price: Private classes are $119/month, Group lessons are $49/month. Monthly prices drop for longer subscriptions.
Unlimited online classes and personalized study plans

SpanishVIP offers a huge amount of value for the right learner. A subscription to the platform unlocks up to six private lessons or unlimited group lessons per week with a qualified Spanish tutor. The tutors that work with SpanishVIP are very good at what they do, which is a significant draw, but note that they’re all from Latin America. If you’re bent on learning from a teacher from Spain, this won’t be the right platform for you.

What makes SpanishVIP different from an online tutor marketplace like italki or Verbling is that it offers personalized courses to learners. SpanishVIP is constantly developing new material and sharing with its teachers, and you’ll be able to get material that is specifically tailored to you and your learning goals.

Naturally, the value of unlimited lessons depends quite a bit on scheduling flexibility. Private lessons are scheduled weekly, meaning you won’t be able to schedule last-minute lessons like you can with group lessons. In our experience, scheduling difficulties would likely only cause potential problems if you live in certain time zones, as SpanishVIP tutors are located in the Americas.

Pros

  • If you’re able to fit enough lessons into your schedule, the value is amazing
  • Excellent teachers
  • Personalized courses

Cons

  • Some students could experience scheduling limitations

Mention ALR to get a free month of group classes with any private class purchase.

4.3/5
Price: $11.99/month, less for longer subscriptions
Quick and convenient practice for beginners

Lingodeer could be ideal for learners that prefer gamified, bite-sized activities. While the complete Spanish course teaches the language as it’s used in Spain, the Lingodeer Latin American Spanish course is in beta development and available to users that already have a premium account.

Gamelike, short activities can sometimes be equated with a lack of in-depth instruction or courses that are otherwise rather poorly put together — that isn’t the case with Lingodeer. The lessons are quite thorough in their use of explanations and examples, and a variety of activities make for engaging practice in multiple skills. The native speaker audio is also good with Lingodeer and helps to make the course more valuable.

Some drawbacks with the Lingodeer course are that it doesn’t provide much in the way of speaking practice and that the material doesn’t always progress in the most natural way. For example, you may come across some words early on that aren’t very important for a beginner to learn. 

Overall, Lingodeer is a pretty solid resource for anyone looking for something that’s easy and fun to use.

Pros

  • There’s a wide variety of activity types
  • Grammar explanations are detailed
  • Quality audio
  • It’s fairly priced

Cons

  • You’ll need additional resources to get sufficient oral communication practice
  • The content doesn’t always progress in a logical manner
4.3/5
Price: Free
Learn to think in Spanish for free

The most notable things about Language Transfer are probably that it’s completely free to use (no catch!) and that it takes a unique approach to language instruction. Instead of drilling vocabulary and grammar rules into your head, the course places an emphasis on the relationship between English and Spanish. By pointing out patterns, similarities and differences, the course gives learners the tools to think their way through Spanish.

The format of the course is similar to a podcast in that the materials are purley audio lessons. You’ll listen along to someone else being taught Spanish by the host and creator of Language Transfer, Mihalis Eleftheriou. He even urges learners to just listen and refrain from taking notes.

This course would really only be valuable for beginning learners that speak English, and it won’t be ideal for visual learners, but a remarkable amount of care has been put into this free course. The host in the Spanish course has an Argentinian accent, and you won’t learn the vosotros form used in Spain, but the material should otherwise be useful for learners of either Castilian or Latin American Spanish.

Pros

  • It’s completely free
  • The course structure is well thought out

Cons

  • Visual learners may struggle with the audio-only format
  • Other than responding to cues in the audio lessons, there are no activities to work through
  • There are no native speakers in the course
  • The untraditional learning method won’t appeal to everyone
4.3/5
Price: Free, €49, €60
Quality courses with videos and quizzes

The founder of 1001 Reasons to Learn Spanish is Juan Fernández, an ex-professor of Spanish at the University of London who now dedicates himself to creating quality resources online. Juan is from Spain, and so his courses use and teach Spanish as it’s spoken in Spain, but the lower level material will be mostly relevant for all learners.

One of the greatest-value courses on Juan’s website is the Repaso 1 course. It’s designed to help learners make the transition from the elementary (A2) to pre-intermediate (B1) level by practicing for 20-30 minutes for 30 days. This course is totally free and makes use of videos and quizzes in the daily lessons.

Juan is an animated, skilled teacher, and he’s produced a ton of content for Spanish learners, including two other courses, a podcast, YouTube videos, and a graded reader series. His teaching is all in Spanish, but he uses props and gestures to make material that’s suitable for learners of all levels. 

Our impressions are based on the free content; we haven’t tried out any of the paid courses yet.

Pros

  • The Repaso 1 course is free and full of value for learners at the right level
  • Plenty of additional study materials on the website
  • Instruction is entirely in Spanish, videos and podcasts include transcripts
Cons
  • Doesn’t cater to learners specifically interested in Latin American Spanish

FSI and DLI

4.3/5
Price: Free
Dated but thorough courses

The Foreign Services Institute (FSI) won’t be winning any awards for exciting material or fun-to-use content, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a more comprehensive course for free. The courses were originally created to help diplomats quickly reach professional working proficiency in foreign languages. They’re now available for free on a number of different websites.

There are several different Spanish courses created by FSI, some with material specific to Spain and some with a Latin American focus. They’re all very thorough and include audio recordings and activities to complete. You’ll get plenty of practice with listening comprehension and will have opportunities to practice speaking by responding to audio prompts.

Similarly, courses developed by the Defense Language Institute (DLI) are extremely thorough but not exceptionally engaging. They also place more of an emphasis on military terminology at higher levels.

Pros

  • Courses are well structured and comprehensive
  • They’re free

Cons

  • The courses are dated and not very exciting courses 
4.3/5
Price: Free
A free, comprehensive introduction to Spanish

Destinos is an award-winning Spanish video course made up of fifty-two 30-minutes episodes. It was produced in the 1990s, so the production value is a bit dated, but the subject matter is engaging — you get to follow a lawyer as he investigates a family secret.

The video series should prove useful to a variety of learners, as videos contain accents and cultural information from Spain, Argentina, Puerto Rico, and Mexico. The episodes are 100% in Spanish, meaning beginners will be exposed to more than they understand, but this is all part of the method — learners should be able to follow the story well enough from context clues and the exercises that accompany each lesson.

More experienced learners might not get a ton of useful practice out of Destinos, but it could potentially make an excellent, free introduction for beginners.Learners in some countries may have to play the videos on YouTube or KET Education; the relevant activities are available through the Annenberg Learner site, where the videos are also accessible in some countries.

Pros

  • It’s free
  • Videos cover accents and cultural information from a variety of countries

Cons

  • It isn’t suitable for more advanced learners
  • The videos are dated
4.3/5
Price: $14.95/month, less for longer subscriptions
Carefully crafted lessons for the dedicated learner

At first glance, Fluencia may appear to have quite a bit in common with popular apps like Duolingo or Lingodeer. Take a closer look, however, and it quickly becomes apparent that the Fluencia material was designed with remarkable care and is quite capable of providing exceptionally thorough instruction and practice.

Where other language apps take a gamified, casual approach, Fluencia is a full-on course that was designed specifically with Spanish in mind. For learners looking for a resource that’s a little bit more challenging, Fluencia could be a good fit. It’s certainly not an app that’ll enable idle time wasting.

While Fluencia offers in-depth grammar explanations and quality practice opportunities, it’s true that you may want to supplement your listening and speaking practice with other resources. Also, keep in mind that discounted monthly prices are available for longer subscriptions.

Pros

  • Instruction is very clear and detail oriented
  • Activities are appropriately challenging
  • Audio recordings are sourced from native speakers with a variety of accents

Cons

  • You may need to supplement speaking and listening practice with other resources like tutors or podcasts
4.2/5
Price: $12.95/month, less for longer subscriptions
A reliable course with solid structure

Babbel covers a lot of bases. For learners that don’t want to involve a bunch of complementary resources, Babbel could be a good place to get lots of practice in a variety of skills. Then again, it isn’t the flashiest resource out there, and it won’t be the perfect option for every learner.

The lessons in Babbel are well structured and include lots of useful explanations. Speaking and pronunciation practice happens through a voice recognition system and an exercise in which you get to listen to and take part in a conversation happening between native speakers. The voice recognition isn’t perfect, and the conversation activity is no substitute for actually speaking with someone, but it’s still valuable practice.

The activities might get repetitive with Babbel, and there might not be a whole lot of exciting practice to be had with the resource, but its no-nonsense approach does feel efficient. It’s certainly worth considering for learners that don’t need any bells and whistles in a course and want to get as much out of one resource as they can.

Babbel offers some additional materials and articles on the Latin American Spanish, but the main course teaches Castilian Spanish.

Pros

  • The material is well thought out and practical
  • There are plenty of explanations and examples
  • It’s easy to use

Cons

  • The exercises could get repetitive
  • Opportunities for grammar review are limited
  • Voice recognition isn’t the best way to learn pronunciation
4.2/5
Price: Free podcast, courses start at $97
Free podcast episodes and an intuitive teaching method

There are hundreds of free, downloadable podcasts on the Unlimited Spanish website, all with useful transcripts. These podcast episodes provide a lot of value and serve as an introduction to the teaching method that Oscar, the founder, uses in his courses. There are four of these courses available for purchase, separate from the podcast.

Instead of using a traditional textbook-esque method of teaching a language, Oscar helps his students learn to think in Spanish. Podcast episodes include short stories with accompanying exercises that you can respond to while listening. Lesson narration happens at a slower-than-natural speed, but there is still vocabulary that would likely be new even to upper-intermediate learners. 

While we haven’t had the chance to test them out, the Unlimited Spanish courses appear to be of high quality. There’s a 30-day crash course for beginners, courses that intermediate learners can use to improve fluency, and a course that can help learners having difficulty with verb tenses.

If you’re concerned about interacting with Spanish from a particular country, note that Oscar is from Spain.

Pros

  • Podcasts are free and come with transcripts
  • The intuitive learning method may appeal to some learners

Cons

  • You’ll need to look elsewhere for practice speaking to other people
4.2/5
Price: From $38.58 for three months
OUINO Language Learning Black Friday Discounts
A high-quality course with lots of practice

One of the great things about Ouino is that its material may appeal to both visual and aural learners: lessons are presented in text form as well as read aloud, and important words are color-coded. In addition to this, practice activities incorporate both pictures and sound.

The 500 lessons in the Ouino Spanish course take an academic approach to language instruction. The resource isn’t very gamelike — instead, the lessons are more in-depth and are part of a detailed curriculum.

This resource might appeal more to serious language learners that are looking to get lots of focused practice or to those that already have some experience learning Spanish. You can jump around from one lesson to another out of order, which could be disorienting for a beginner, but is an advantage for learners past the beginner level.

Pros

  • Material that will appeal to both aural and visual learners
  • You can take lessons in any order that suits you

Cons

  • You’ll have to judge your own pronunciation performance
  • The lesson structure doesn’t vary much and can become overly repetitive
4/5
Price: $297
I Will Teach You A Language Logo
Learn Spanish Through Stories

This course comes from Olly Richards, the creator of the I Will Teach You a Language blog. It’s designed for the beginner learner, but don’t expect it to start off slowly and ease you into things. Instead, you’ll jump right into reading a story. Interacting with somewhat lengthy texts right off the bat is part of the resource’s guided discovery learning method and is as challenging as it is rewarding.

While exercises in PDF format may not sound overly exciting, stories can make for enjoyable engagement as well as provide plenty of examples for how the language is used in context. Other perks of this course are clear instructions and grammar explanations that err on the side of being overly informative. You’ll also have the option of choosing between learning Castilian or Latin American Spanish.

Spanish Uncovered isn’t exceptionally cheap, and it will surely appeal more to some learners than others, but if you’re up for a challenge, are self-directed and enjoy stories, this course should provide you with a fantastic start.

Pros

  • The stories are engaging
  • Clear instruction
  • Plenty of practice opportunities

Cons

  • There’s sometimes too much grammar information
  • PDF activities aren’t super exciting
  • The review quiz is too short
4/5
Price: $14.95 or $19.95/month
High-quality audio lessons that encourage active participation

Pimsleur courses have been around for quite a while, and they make a great solution for the right type of learner. Instead of dwelling on the intricacies of proper grammar usage or spending time teaching students how to read and write, Pimsleur places a heavy emphasis on developing aural and verbal skills.

The core lesson material is all delivered via high-quality audio — there’s a narrator that guides you through the lesson and multiple native speakers that teach pronunciation. You’ll also get to participate in conversations by frequently responding to the recording when prompted. There 

is both a Castilian and Latin American course to choose from.

Lessons progress logically and build on each other well, and there are some extra supplemental activities that provide practice in reading and recalling word definitions. This course is best for learners that want to get listening and speaking practice right away, but it won’t be the best option for those that have trouble learning with aural material.

Pros

  • Great lesson structure
  • Variety of native speaker voices
  • The platform is visually appealing and easy to navigate

Cons

  • Not ideal for visual learners
  • Lessons may progress too slowly for some learners
4/5
Price: Group classes from $56/month, Private classes from $132/month
The structure of a course with the guidance of a teacher

The majority of online courses have something in common: they fail to provide much in the way of real communication practice. Some employ simulated role-playing activities and speech-recognition technology to get around this, but these are still inadequate substitutes for the practice you can get with a real person. 

Lingoda, on the other hand, addresses the communication practice problem by getting real tutors involved. Lessons on the platform take place in either private or group classes where you’ll get a chance to speak aloud and get real-time feedback from a tutor. Tutors are from a variety of different countries, so you’ll get exposed to Spanish as it’s spoken in Spain as well as in Latin American countries.

With over 600 lessons, there’s content that should be suitable for just about every type of learner, and there’s no need to complete them in a linear fashion. This course could be a good option for learners that appreciate the structure afforded by a course but are also interested in practice with a native speaker tutor.

Pros

  • Tutors are from a variety of countries
  • There are lessons for many different levels
  • Tutor scheduling is flexible

Cons

  • The lesson materials are all fairly similar
  • Group lessons may not be ideal for everyone
4/5
Price: Freemium, $8.99/month
Fun flashcard platform with official SPanish courses

Memrise offers two main types of courses: free, community-created courses and official Memrise courses. While the free courses do provide some quality SRS-assisted vocabulary practice, the official courses are where you’ll get the most learning opportunity.

Official courses still offer a lot of content for free, and they include bonuses like videos of native speakers, quality audio, and some grammar explanations. There are seven levels in the Spanish (Spain) and Spanish (Mexico) courses, and some advanced material is covered, but learners at lower levels will probably get the most out of the Memrise courses.

There are also a bunch of specialized courses among the community-created material covering everything from slang phrases to exam prep vocabulary. In short, you’ll need more than a Memrise course to become fluent in Spanish, but there’s certainly some value to be had for free.

Pros

  • Lots of free content
  • SRS makes for efficient practice
  • Videos of native speakers are engaging and informative

Cons

  • You’ll need to supplement with other resources to get well-rounded practice
4/5
Price: €49.90 for Spanish e-course
assimil logo
Phrase-based learning in a well-structured course

Known for its Sans Peine (With Ease) language courses, Assimil has long been a popular resource for learning languages. Originally offered as a physical book with accompanying CDs, the company now offers e-courses that don’t require any physical materials. Note that Assimil teaches Castilian Spanish, though most of the material will be applicable to any Spanish learner, especially at lower levels.

The Assimil course has a great structure and teaches the language in the context of useful phrases and conversations. The layout of the e-course is also intuitive and enjoyable to use. All of the practice you’ll get is based on translating between English and Spanish, which may not be ideal for getting you to think in Spanish, but you will get lots of listening practice, grammar explanations, and some handy extra features.

It’s likely that you’ll need to incorporate some extra study materials to reach the advertised B2 level with an Assimil course, but it’s one of the more comprehensive options out there.

Pros

  • Great audio quality
  • Culture notes add value to the course
  • There are lots of grammar explanations without becoming overwhelming

Cons

  • Exercises aren’t especially engaging
  • The pronunciation feedback isn’t amazing
  • The mobile app isn’t very intuitive
4/5
Price: $10.99/mo, less for longer subscriptions
Bite-sized lessons with a clear curriculum

WLingua seems to have quite a bit in common with apps like Duolingo and Lingodeer. Namely, it provides practice via short activities that are part of a clearly laid out course plan. This makes for focused, convenient practice that’s easy to pick up whenever you’ve got a few free moments.

One nice feature in the WLingua Spanish course is that it offers support for learners studying Lating American Spanish as well as those interested in pronunciation and vocabulary specific to Spanish as it’s spoken in Spain.

Unlike Duolingo, WLingua doesn’t offer all of its content for free and requires a paid subscription for full access. That said, you will still be able to get quite a bit of practice for free. WLingua also has some pretty great grammar practice — something you won’t find so much of with Duolingo. Though we haven’t had the chance to fully test the course, this grammar practice matched with the resource’s spaced repetition and logically progressing lessons make it worth considering.

Pros

  • Native speaker audio includes a variety of accents
  • Clear course structure
  • Quality grammar practice
  • Short activities make for convenient practice

Cons

  • Lack of speaking and listening practice
4/5
Price: Free audio lessons, $104 per season
A casual podcast-style course that offers a lot for free

Following along with Coffee Break Spanish lessons is a bit like listening in on a private class. The mood is fairly casual, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t some seriously good instruction to be had here. The lessons feature Mark, the host and teacher, and a student that is learning with him. While the course supposedly contains a variety of Spanish meant to help you navigate any Spanish-speaking country, it’s worth noting that Mark has an accent you’d hear in Spain.

You will be provided with lots of translations, explanations, and examples of useful phrases throughout the lessons, but you won’t find the kind of interactive exercises you might in other online courses, especially if you’re listening to the free audio lessons. Paying for the extra materials means you’ll get videos to supplement the audio, which visual learners will likely appreciate.

The 15-20 minute lessons are ideal for convenient practice that takes about as long as a coffee break, and they build on each other nicely. There’s an emphasis on language that’s practical and likely to be immediately useful, which makes for a rewarding experience.

Pros

  • Lessons progress logically and build on each other nicely
  • Content could appeal to both aural and visual learners
  • Audio lessons are free
  • Plenty of examples and explanations

Cons

  • You’ll need to look elsewhere for speaking and writing practice
  • There aren’t any interactive exercises
  • Full access to the courses is fairly expensive
4/5
Price: $408 for the full course, $187 per level
A thorough, academic approach with video lessons

The Fluenz courses (one for Latin American Spanish and one for Castilian Spanish) simulate the experience of having a private dedicated tutor through the use of recorded video lessons. These lessons might not offer the personalization or real-time feedback you’d get with live lessons, but they’re surprisingly thorough. 

Fluenz isn’t the most exciting course out there: there aren’t really any gamification elements to speak of, and the lessons can feel repetitive. The tradeoff is that you’ll get lots of explanations that are specifically relevant to English speakers learning Spanish and practice in a variety of skills. 

The relatively slow pace and high price mean this certainly isn’t the right resource for everyone. If you prefer an academic approach, don’t need study time to feel like a game, and appreciate a course with solid structure, Fluenz might be worth looking into.

Pros

  • Concepts are explained thoroughly
  • Video tutorials contain a lot of good information
  • Great course structure

Cons

  • Relatively high price
  • Activities can become repetitive
  • The course has a fairly slow pace
4/5
Price: $34.99/month, less for longer subscriptions
Not the most exciting course, but lots of solid material

Learners getting started with Lengalia can begin by taking the resource’s placement test, which is one of the better free ones out there. Once you’ve received placement test results, you can choose from one of the many courses offered by Lengalia. They’re organized by level and subject matter, and there are courses appropriate for learners at any level.

Though it isn’t explicitly stated on the Lengalia website, the material in the core Spanish courses seems to place an emphasis on Castilian Spanish. There are, however, podcast courses available on the culture and language of Spain as well as of Latin America.

One unique feature of the Lengalia platform is that a subscription grants learners access to tutors that are available for consultation. This seems to be like a customer support service that can also help with language queries.

Activities can get repetitive in the Lengalia courses, the interface isn’t very visually appealing, and some learners may find the activities to be quite boring, but there’s some high-quality practice to be had for those that are willing to put up with this. Purchase of a yearly subscription unlocks access to all Lengalia courses.

Pros

  • Quality content for learners at all levels
  • Lessons are well-structured
  • The built-in translation tool works well

Cons

  • Practice activities can get repetitive
  • You’ll have to look elsewhere to practice oral communication skills
  • We noticed some mistakes in the material
4/5
Price: Free
Convenient, gamified practice for beginners

It’s hard to think of a language resource that’s more popular than Duolingo. Its Spanish course is based on the way the language is used in Mexico and is available for free to anyone with an internet connection.

The highly popular Duolingo app provides practice in the form of engaging, short activities and quite a bit of gamification. It’s easy to pick up whenever you’ve got a spare moment, and the use of points and leaderboards don’t make it feel like study time at all.

If you’re struggling with motivation and are mostly interested in picking up some basic vocabulary in Spanish, Duolingo could be just what you’re looking for. That said, it’s good to be aware that the audio isn’t the best, the course teaches some sentences that likely won’t be useful to anybody, and you’ll need to look elsewhere to get good speaking practice.

Pros

  • It’s convenient and fun to use
  • The gamification element can be motivating
  • It’s completely free

Cons

  • You never get to create your own sentences
  • Audio quality is sometimes low
3.8/5
Price: $99.95-$259.90
A comprehensive course that could be right for some

The Rocket Spanish course teaches Latin American Spanish through audio lessons and very repetitive practice activities. The highly repetitive review activities and well-structured lessons mean that you’ll likely retain the majority of what you learn and you won’t be without useful explanations.

The biggest drawback of this course is probably that it can get extremely boring. You’ll review the concepts you learn in each lesson many times, which is good for retention but potentially bad for motivation. If you can make it through these lessons, you’ll probably learn a lot. Then again, some people may even enjoy the lesson activities.

The audio lessons provide good chances to listen to native speakers and practice listening skills, even if there is some cheesy English banter in them (especially at lower levels). You’ll also get some cultural lessons that expound on elements of life in Latin American countries, though it’s a shame they don’t do a better job of looking more closely at individual countries.

Pros

  • Well-structured, comprehensive course
  • Quality native speaker audio
  • There are lots of prompts to practice speaking

Cons

  • Lessons can be boring
  • Review activities are overly repetitive
  • The culture lessons aren’t very well done
3.8/5
Price: $16 – $21/hour
Live Lingua Logo
Live lessons and specialized courses

Live Lingua is a little bit different from other online tutor platforms in that its service is more specialized. Before you’re hooked up with a tutor, you’ll have a chance to communicate your goals with a personal class coordinator. You also have the chance to choose between several different Spanish courses, including standard lessons, exam prep, Spanish for priests, and more.

The majority of tutors seem to be from Mexico, but there are teachers from nine different countries, meaning you’ll be able to get practice in whatever flavor of Spanish interests you. The teachers are all native speakers and receive extra support and training from Live Lingua.

The platform doesn’t offer the same level of scheduling flexibility you might find on other online tutor platforms, and it’s a little more expensive than similar options, but the extra personalization and course focuses might make it worth it from some learners.

Pros

  • You should be able to find lessons that meet your specific needs
  • Tutors are from a variety of different countries

Cons

  • Lesson scheduling happens via email
  • Limited flexibility in choosing a teacher
3.8/5
Price: $8-$47/month
A podcast-style course for extensive listening practice

Most of the SpanishPod101 material is catered toward beginner learners, though there is material for learners at all levels. There’s also some attention paid to both Latin American and Castilian Spanish, though the majority of the material in SpanishPod101 is in Latin American Spanish.

Audio lessons mean that there’s the potential to get lots of listening practice with this resource, and the accompanying transcripts, lesson notes, quizzes, and vocabulary lists fill out the platform nicely. Lessons are centered around a dialogue that you’ll get to listen to before hearing the hosts break it down and then get to practice yourself. The model works well for presenting the language in context and getting learners used to hearing it.

The core material in SpanishPod101 is pretty useful, but there are also a bunch of extras that aren’t really worth much. You’ll also have to locate the most useful lessons yourself, as there isn’t a clear structure to the course.

Pros

  • There’s a ton of content at lower levels
  • Lessons are entertaining
  • You’ll get cultural information on a variety of different countries

Cons

  • There’s less material for intermediate and advanced learners
  • The website uses a lot of spamming techniques
  • There isn’t a clear lesson progression
3.8/5
Price: $99.95-$199.95/year
Low entertainment value but high instructional value

The video lessons that make up the Spanish With Paul course are chock-full of useful information — they just aren’t super engaging. For some learners, thorough grammar explanations that help them better understand how Spanish works is entertainment enough; for others, the rather bland aesthetic may be a turn off.

There are over 80 hours of video lessons teaching Spanish in this course, and they’re taught with the perspective of someone living in Mexico, but Paul stresses that the foundation you’ll learn in his course is applicable to Spanish anywhere.

If you enjoy video courses and are looking for a course that goes to great lengths to thoroughly explain grammar in a way that’s specifically useful for English speakers, this course could be worth checking out. Just keep in mind that it may not be the most engaging course you could find.

Pros

  • Quality in-depth grammar explanations
  • Logical lesson progression
  • Lessons teach you how the language works

Cons

  • Video lessons aren’t very engaging
  • You aren’t required to produce much Spanish
  • The course doesn’t feature any native Spanish speakers
3.7/5
Price: From $23/month
Live lessons and self-study combined

Chatterbug’s multiple subscription plans offer different numbers of one-on-one lessons with teachers. You can choose from 1, 4, 8, or an unlimited number of lessons each month, and these lessons will happen in tandem with the platform’s self-study material. You’ll progress through lessons with a teacher that are based on your progress through the Chatterbug curriculum.

The chance to get real speaking practice with a teacher is great for improving oral communication skills, and the structure of the course content makes for focused practice and measurable progress. This concept is amazing, but we weren’t blown away by any of the extra features. The live lessons were certainly a highlight of the resource.

Potential drawbacks to studying with Chatterbug include a cluttered interface, limited reading and writing practice, and some mistakes in the reading material. Chatterbug Spanish tutors are from a variety of countries, so you’ll be exposed to several different accents.

Pros

  • Live lessons are well structured and engaging
  • Scheduling live lessons is easy
  • Tutors are from a variety of countries

Cons

  • The interface is cluttered and not easy to navigate
  • Reading and writing practice are limited
  • We noticed some mistakes in the reading material
3.5/5
Price: $7.99/month for one language, $17.99 for all languages
Course with a slick design for beginners

It’s important to note right away that a subscription to Mango Languages won’t be of much use to learners at the intermediate level and beyond — there’s just not that much content for more advanced learners. If you’re just starting out with Spanish, however, you should be able to get some quality practice with useful words and phrases that you’ll be able to start using right away.

There are two Spanish courses to choose from: Latin American and Castilian, each of which provide plenty of practice drilling useful bits of language. The Mango Languages platform is slick and easy to use. Lessons progress in a practical order and build on each other, but you can also skip around if you like.

Other notable features of a course with Mango Languages are language-specific cultural notes, grammar notes, and lots of drilling. The drilling will get you used to producing phrases rather quickly, but it can also feel repetitive.

If you’re interested in Mango Languages, be sure to check whether it’s offered for free in your local library.

Pros

  • It’s easy to use and has a nice design
  • Explanations and cultural notes are presented well
  • Lots of drilling means you’re likely to remember what you learn

Cons

  • The constant drilling can become overly repetitive
  • There isn’t much material for upper-level learners
  • Grammar explanations and practice are somewhat lacking
3.3/5
Price: $9.99/month for Premium, $13.99/month for Premium Plus
A respectable course with a nifty social feature

Busuu has got quite a bit in common with courses like Babbel, Lingodeer, Fluencia, and others: its well-structured courses offer practice in a variety of language skills and should be able to provide beginners with everything they need to advance to an intermediate level. 

The Busuu Spanish course makes an attempt to cover the differences between Latin American and Castilian Spanish, though there may be a slight, negligible lean towards Castilian Spanish in terms of pronunciation.

One of the most exciting features in a Busuu course is the language-exchange function. Learners have the chance to submit their answers to questions for feedback from the Busuu community. You can either submit a written answer or a recording of yourself speaking — this is a great way to get meaningful feedback from real people, and this feature is free to use.

A potential drawback is that Busuu has less thorough grammar practice than similar resources. Our rating for this resource would be higher if it only considered the Spanish course, but the low quality of the Busuu Mandarin course forced us to lower the overall rating.

Pros

  • The language-exchange feature is great
  • The platform is visually appealing and easy to use
  • Conversation lessons provide good practice

Cons

  • Grammar practice isn’t the best
  • Some review activities could have been designed better

Duolingo

Quick Review

Summary:

Duolingo is a super popular free language-learning app. It’s available for desktop as well as mobile and offers over 90 different language courses in over 20 different languages — there are currently 35 languages with English instruction. The Duolingo approach is gamified and easy to use, but the bite-sized lessons don’t offer much in the way of in-depth practice. The Duolingo tag line is “Learn a language in just five minutes a day.”

Quality

It’s easy and fun to use, but some pronunciation and grammar instruction is of low quality, especially for Asian languages.

Thoroughness

The app works well for learning the basics, but there’s little speaking practice and grammar instruction is limited.

Value

It’s a lot of content for free, but you’ll need to use supplementary resources.

Languages: Duolingo offers 35 language courses with English instruction, three of which are constructed languages. Courses are available in most popular languages, including Spanish, French, German, etc.

Price

Duolingo is totally free. Duolingo Plus offers a few additional features and is available for:

$12.99/month (paid monthly)
$6.99/month (12-month subscription)

(more…)

Rosetta Stone

Price: Subscriptions start at $35.97 for 3-months

Quick Review

2.7 

Summary:

Rosetta Stone is one of the most well-known resources for learning languages. It takes an immersive approach to teaching and is widely used by corporations and individuals alike. High levels of repetition and an absence of translations or explanations are hallmarks of the course.

A Rosetta Stone course could be most suitable for learners that don’t mind repetitive exercises and prefer to learn from pictures and context rather than translations and explanations. It’s probably not a good option for anyone wanting to significantly improve their speaking or writing skills, or those looking for an engaging course.

Quality

The platform is a bit clunky on desktop, but the material is accurate and presented clearly; lesson mechanics are fairly intuitive.

Thoroughnes

Without much opportunity to build your own sentences, I don’t think you’ll reach a conversational level with any notable speed.

Value

I think there are many more efficient and less expensive ways to learn a language.

Languages

There are courses in 25 different languages — popular ones like Spanish, French, German, Mandarin Chinese, and less-studied languages like Greek, Hebrew, and Swedish.

Price

A three-month subscription to one language is $35.97, which works out to be $11.99/month.

A year-long subscription to all language courses is $179, which is $14.92/month. Both of these subscriptions are automatically recurring.

Lifetime access to all Rosetta Stone language courses is available for $199.

(more…)

SpanishVIP

Price: Starting at $49/month

Quick Review

4.5 

Summary:

SpanishVIP is a service that connects students and teachers of Spanish for online video lessons. It offers an “unlimited lessons” model for a monthly subscription and could be extremely cost effective for learners that take several lessons per week.

It’s best suited for learners of Latin American Spanish at any level that want to improve their listening and speaking skills. It might not be the best fit if you’re mostly interested in Iberian Spanish or if you live in an Asian time zone.

Quality

The teachers are well trained and the materials are of high quality. 

Thoroughness

You can really study whatever you like; the teachers are focused on helping you achieve your own specific goals.

Value

If you can take enough classes each week, the price is excellent.

Languages

Spanish

Price

In total there are six different subscription options with SpanishVIP: three for group classes, and three for private classes. Group classes come with a 7-day free trial, though you’ll still have to provide payment information upfront.

Group Classes

1 Month: $49
3 Months: $129
6 Months: $229

Private Classes

1 Month: $129
3 Months: $399
6 Months: $699

Mention ALR to get a free month of group classes with any private class purchase.

Visit SpanishVIP

(more…)

Pimsleur

Price: Subscriptions start at $14.95/mo

Quick Review

Summary:

Pimsleur is one of the most popular and longest-standing resources out there for learning a foreign language. Its courses place a strong emphasis on aural and verbal communication skills, paying less attention to grammar explanations and reading or writing skills. There are over 50 language courses available with Pimsleur, and the bulk of the material is taught with audio lessons.

Quality

The platform is extremely well designed and easy to use. The content seems to be of high quality at all levels.

Thoroughnes

Timely repetition and active practice work well, and lessons build on each other nicely, but the “intermediate fluency in 30 days” claim may be a stretch.

Value

The subscription option provides good value for some, but there may be more efficient ways to learn some languages.

Languages

There are courses in over 50 languages; you’ll find popular ones like German, Spanish, and Mandarin Chinese alongside less common languages like Albanian, Finnish, and Haitian Creole.

Price

Subscriptions of either $14.95/month or $19.95/month are available for courses with at least 60 lessons. Prices otherwise range from around $20 to over $500. All purchases come with a 7-day free trial.

What is Pimsleur?

Frankly, it’s an institution. The name comes from linguist Paul Pimsleur, author of many books on language acquisition and applied linguistics, and developer of what is now known as the Pimsleur Method.

Dr. Pimsleur wrote the first Pimsleur Language Program in 1963, and the courses were first available on cassette tapes and books before becoming available digitally.

Given that the lessons are largely audio-based, the Pimsleur courses are often advertised as a convenient way to study a language while completing chores, cooking, driving, or doing anything that doesn’t require all of your attention.

The courses consist of core 30-minute audio lessons as well as some extra practice activities that touch on a variety of skills, but there’s a heavy emphasis on speaking and listening skills.

 

The Pimsleur Method: An Overview

There are four main pillars in The Pimsleur Method. The first, Graduated Interval Recall, works just like a type of spaced repetition system (SRS). It’s an effective method for committing new terms to long-term memory in an efficient manner.

Where it differs from other SRS platforms like Anki or Memrise is that the intervals in which you review words are time based rather than performance based. The method seems to work well in conjunction with the active role listeners take in the audio courses.

The second is what they call the Principle of Anticipation, which means that there are frequent pauses in the audio lessons that allow you to work through scenarios on your own before hearing the correct response. This makes active participation an integral part of the Pimsleur Method.

The final two mainstays of the method are Core Vocabulary and Organic Learning. These concepts essentially mean that learners are only exposed to the most necessary vocabulary words and that learning happens in the context of relatable, usable conversations.

How We Did this Review

With the aim of achieving a more comprehensive perspective for this review, I teamed up with All Language Resource’s very own web manager, Hunter.

Hunter:

“I’ve always considered myself an aural learner so I was really looking forward to trying Pimsleur. It seemed like something I would really benefit from. I tried the beginning levels of Spanish to see what I could learn and the advanced levels of French to see how far the course could take someone.”

Brian:

“I was excited to try out the Pimsleur course to see if the audio lessons worked for me. I don’t consider myself to be much of an aural learner and typically gravitate toward resources with an interactive or visual bent. I tried the beginning levels of the German and Japanese courses as well as the advanced Spanish lessons to see what I could learn.”

Quick Opinions

I think it’s safe to say that, overall, Hunter and I are both fans of Pimsleur. We both agree that it’s something we would recommend to beginners that are interested in an aurally focused course. Generally, we found it to have high-quality audio, well-structured lessons, and a nice design.

My biggest gripe with the platform was the lack of visual content, which is hard for me to deal with. Meanwhile, Hunter found himself wishing that lessons would progress at a faster pace, especially at the lower levels.

Here are our individual overall ratings of the platform:

Hunter: 3.8/5 Stars

Brian: 4.2/5 Stars

Overall combined rating: 4/5 Stars

Try a free 7-day trial of Pimsleur

First Impressions

It’s hard to deny the slick, premium feel that permeates the Pimsleur platform. Both Hunter and I came away with similar things to say about our initial impressions of the resource.

Pimsleur Interface

We agree that the design quality inspires confidence in the efficacy of the resource and that it made us excited to use it. The audio quality is also immediately recognizable as excellent.

I found myself wishing very early on that there was a transcript to follow along with, as I’m prone to spacing out when there’s only audio to focus on. Hunter seconded this wish, even though he identifies as an aural learner.

A Pimsleur Course Overview

Core Audio Lessons

These 30-minute lessons are where most of the learning happens in a Pimsleur course, and we think they’re done really well.

Audio Lesson

This is what you’ll spend most of your time doing with Pimsleur: listening to audio lessons. The Pimsleur Method strongly suggests doing one per day, and this method works nicely if it fits into your schedule. Anyone with a commute that’s longer than 30 minutes, for example, could find that these lessons are easy to add to the routine.

Note, though, that these lessons can require quite a bit of concentration. Passive, distracted listening isn’t going to work very well.

The audio lessons are very interactive, meaning you’ll get to participate in the conversation. The narrator offers some explanations and guides the lesson, and you’ll get plenty of opportunities to practice your pronunciation with male and female native speakers.

The lessons also build on each other exceptionally well, especially at the beginner level. Each lesson provides sufficient review for the previous lesson, and you’re constantly building upon what you’ve already learned.

Explanations

Hunter mentioned that he thought the explanations in the audio lessons were exceptionally well done, and I have to agree — the location of explanations within lessons feels very intuitive. In our experience, you aren’t kept in the dark for very long at any point — an explanation seems to appear just as you start wishing for one.

It could be nice, we both agree, if there was something more in the way of grammar explanations. This isn’t to suggest lengthy explanations or taking away from the practical focus of the lessons, just that a little bit of grammar support for those that prefer to think things through would be helpful.

Practice Activities

These activities certainly aren’t the main show in a Pimsleur course. They’re simple, quick, and not required.

I found myself enjoying the opportunity to actually see the language I was learning and thought that, though basic, the exercises were engaging enough to keep me interested.

I also appreciate the fact that you can get some comprehensive review this way. You can select from as many of your completed lessons as you like when choosing what material to practice.

On this screen, learners choose which lessons they would like to review.

It’s nice to be able to review material that you might not have seen for a while instead of only one lesson at a time.

It might be nice if the platform kept track of which words you repeatedly had trouble with, but the interval recall works well at providing timely review in the audio lessons.

Hunter wasn’t a fan of these activities. As someone that prefers audio lessons, he says he found himself wanting to skip them altogether.

Maybe it’s good that activities using the written form are available for people like me who prefer visual material, but they won’t really get in the way of a learner that’s happy sticking to the audio.

Flashcards

This is the first practice activity you’ll likely engage with, and it’s also the most basic.

Flashcard

Practice is really simple with these flashcards — you can choose whether you’d like to translate from your target or source language, and then you’ll be shown the audio and written form of some material from the current lesson. Don’t expect any extra information like noun gender, verb tense, or word type!

After viewing and listening to the word or phase and then clicking to reveal the translation, you’ll either select “Skip” or “Got it.”

Selecting “Skip,” presumably because you weren’t able to come up with the correct translation, means you’ll see the flashcard repeated at the end of the set.

Quick Match

Despite what the name and description seem to insinuate, there isn’t a timed element to this activity.

Quick Match Title

Instead, it’s pretty much a straightforward multiple-choice quiz: choose the correct translation from a list of four.

Quick Match Activity

Speak Easy

This activity is actually the closest thing to a transcript of the audio lesson. You’ll get to listen to and see the phrases in a conversation, listening and repeating as you wish.

Speak Easy Activity

You can listen to each phrase individually or let the entire conversation play through.

Speed Round

Unlike Quick Match, this activity is aptly named. Words and phrases make their way down the screen in Space Invaders fashion (for the uninitiated), and you’re tasked with selecting the correct translation before they reach the bottom.

Speed Round Activity

There are some satisfying sounds that accompany correct answers, and you can watch the points bar fill up to try and set a new record, but it’s mildly fun at best in my opinion.

Reading Lessons

The reading lessons in Pimsleur start off teaching how to read phonetically. After the sound system has been covered, you begin to see reading comprehension exercises in the course.

Spanish Reading Lesson

The image above shows the first reading lesson in the Spanish Level 1 course. Your job is to read the word aloud and then listen to a native speaker to check your pronunciation.

As you progress, the utterances become longer and more complex. You can view translations at any time by selecting the icon in the upper-right corner.

Spanish Reading Lesson Level 5

This system works fine for Latin alphabets, but it requires some tweaking for Asian languages like Japanese.

For non-Latin alphabets, you’ll have to spend more time learning the individual characters that make up the writing system. In the Japanese course, you’ll cover hiragana in Level 1, katakana in Level 2, and begin with kanji in Level 3.

Japanese Reading Lesson

Japanese Kanji Chart

I think I would’ve liked to see some SRS-style practice for learning Japanese kana, though it’s easy enough to get this kind of practice for free with user-created materials on either Anki or Memrise.

It would probably be best to incorporate some kind of complementary study resource if you want to learn to read Japanese relatively quickly.

You will allegedly be able to read at the same level you can speak after 30 lessons, but the aural and reading lessons are delivered at different speeds.

I see the value in teaching pronunciation separately from reading — especially for languages without highly phonetic writing systems. However, I think I prefer a more traditional method that presents words and their written form in tandem as you’re exposed to them.

I think the big takeaway here is that Pimsleur courses, historically audio-exclusive, still aren’t designed to provide comprehensive reading and writing practice. It’s nice that they provide some practice and exposure that’s certainly helpful in some way, but Pimsleur is best at teaching listening and speaking skills.

Some courses offer Culture Notes instead of reading lessons. In each lesson if you swipe the main image you will find the cultural notes.

Pricing

Pimsleur pricing is complicated; your location and the language you’re studying will both influence how much it will cost. There is a 7-day free trial with all purchases.

It isn’t clear which countries have access to the subscription option, but if you live outside of the US, Canada, Australia or the UK, you’ll have to access it through the Pimsleur app.

Pimsleur Subscription Ad

Subscriptions are available for all languages that have at least 60 lessons, and the recurring price depends on how much content is available. Here are two examples:

Castilian Spanish (2 levels, 60 lessons): $14.95/month

Latin American Spanish (5 levels, 150 lessons): $19.95/month or $149.95/year

In the above examples, the Castilian Spanish course doesn’t offer the practice activities that come in addition to the audio and reading lessons. This appears to be true for all $14.95/month subscriptions.

There are also one-time purchase options that are available for all languages. They range from around $20 for five-lesson bundles to over $500 for all of the lessons in a popular language like French.

In addition to the above variations, what you’ll pay depends on where you live. For a Castilian Spanish subscription, for example, you’ll pay $14.95/month if you’re in the USA, $18.95/month in the UK, and $16.95/month in Australia. These prices are all in USD.

Alternatives to pimsleur

Pimsleur is one of the bigger players when it comes to language-learning resources, but it’s certainly not your only option.

olly (I will teach you a language)

Olly Richards, the creator of I Will Teach You A Language, has written a series of books for beginner and intermediate learners to improve their conversation skills in several languages. He also has a Short Stories series.

Most of the languages use the most common words in your target language, with natural phrases that you would overhear locals using while conversing amongst each other. In the short story lessons, the plot follows the same characters and adventures, with some adjustments for cultural differences.

Rocket languages

The things that Rocket Languages  do well are developing a logical and thorough curriculum and providing ample practice opportunity. Reading, writing, and listening practice with native-speaker audio will get you a bunch of exposure to the language.

ITALKI

italki is the most flexible and affordable place to find a tutor for the language you’re learning. They have a huge number of teachers offering classes to students of over 100 different languages. As a learner, you’ll be able to find a tutor that best fits your learning style, schedule, and personality. Teachers are able to set their own prices and make their own schedule. Check our our full review here!

Babbel

Babbel is similar to Pimsleur in that it’s a major player in the language-learning sphere and that it caters to learners looking for a comprehensive resource.

It differs by providing more of an early emphasis on learning the written language, which some learners may prefer. This makes it potentially more appealing to visual learners or those that are interested in developing their reading and writing skills in tandem with their verbal and aural skills.

Babbel provides listening and speaking practice in conversation exercises that use speech recognition technology to give feedback on pronunciation. This is our full review of Babbel.

FLUENTU

FluentU is a language-learning platform that uses real-world videos and interactive subtitles to create an immersive learning experience. The videos take on a variety of forms, including commercials, music videos, interviews, and more. Accompanying quizzes give users the chance to practice language used in videos.

FluentU offers videos in nine different languages and is available for iOS, Android, and on the web. Most of its content is beyond the beginner level, but it has videos for learners at all levels. Check our full review here!

Final Thoughts

Pimsleur has been around for decades, and that’s no fluke. It’s a quality resource, and it teaches languages well. The fact that it all started with a renowned linguist and author on language acquisition is no side-note, either.

Compliments aside, I don’t think Pimsleur is the right choice for every learner. I wouldn’t even feel comfortable saying it was the right choice for most learners.

Between Hunter and I, the platform seems better suited to his learning style. My preference for visual content means I probably wouldn’t purchase access to a Pimsleur course unless it was for a language without many alternatives.

Even though Hunter prefers audio lessons, he still probably wouldn’t become a subscriber to Pimsleur unless he was an absolute beginner of the language he was learning. He felt that the material sometimes progressed too slowly.

Learning a language doesn’t have to cost money.

Sign-up to get a huge list of free resources tailored to the language you’re studying.

[contact-form-7 id=”11784″]

We won’t send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time.

Lingualia

Quick Review

3.8 

Summary:

Lingualia is an online language-learning app targeted toward learners of English and Spanish. It utilizes artificial intelligence and its “exclusive Adaptive Learning method” to offer a learning experience that’s somewhat personalized. Practice happens through interactive activities that cover a variety of skills and have an element of gamification.

The free version of Lingualia could make a good option for intermediate or advanced learners that want a casual, convenient way to keep their English or Iberian Spanish skills sharp. It probably isn’t the best option for beginners, those looking for a one-stop-shop resource, or students of Latin American Spanish.

Quality

It’s designed well and fun to use, but machine translations aren’t always accurate and the adaptive learning method could be better.

Thoroughness

Practice is varied and the courses cover a lot of material, but it’s doubtful you’d actually reach a B2 level.

Value

Great features and amount of content available for free, but I think the subscription prices are too high.

Languages

Spanish, English

Price

A limited version of the resource is available for free. Access to all features is available for a recurring subscription:

1 month: $25
3 months: $45 ($15/month)
6 months: $59.70 ($9.95/month)

(more…)

Rocket Portuguese

Quick Review

Summary:

Rocket Portuguese is an online Portuguese course made up of audio and reading lessons. The course currently covers one difficulty level, which claims to bring beginning learners of Brazilian Portuguese up to an intermediate level. Interactive audio lessons and repetitive exercises provide learners with lots of practice in a variety of skills, but some may find it difficult to justify the price with how monotonous the course is.

The course would work best for learners at a low level that enjoy both audio and visual content, lots of explanations, and frequent practice activities. It probably isn’t the right resource, though, for those looking for an especially engaging way to learn or those on a budget.

Quality

The interface is clean and easy to use, but the voice recognition could work better.

Thoroughness

The course is structured fairly well, but exercises are overly repetitive.

Value

There are certainly resources that are better worth your time and money than Rocket Portuguese.

Price

Rocket Portuguese Level One is available for a one-time price of $149.95 or $27/month for six months.

(more…)

Magoosh

Quick Review

4.3 

Summary:

Magoosh is an online test-prep company that supports prospective exam-takers primarily through online audio and video lessons. Courses are very thorough, and many include a guaranteed improvement on a previously received exam score. Some of the exams Magoosh helps students prepare for include the IELTS, TOEFL, GRE, GMAT, LSAT, SAT, and ACT.

Quality

The material seems to be mostly very accurate, and the interface is well-designed, but the video lessons could be more engaging.

Thoroughness

Lessons and practice exercises include extremely thorough instruction with plenty of examples and explanations.

Value

It’s one of the more affordable options and doesn’t seem to cut any corners, but watching videos is time-consuming.

Languages

English

Price

TOEFL

One month subscription for $79

Three months subscription for $99

Six months subscription for $149

IELTS

Three months subscription for $69

Six months subscription for $79

Six months subscription + graded essay $99

 

Visit Magoosh IELTS

Visit Magoosh TOEFL

(more…)