Learning Spanish was difficult for me. I did basically everything wrong.
I used to think that immersion was the key to learning a language and that by simply being in Spanish speaking countries that I would naturally soak up the language around me.
I thought I was going to be fluent in 6-months, a year tops.
That didn’t happen.
While I eventually did get to a level of Spanish where I could talk about most things comfortably, it took three years of living in eight different Latin American countries.
I honestly believe that if I had used Baselang instead of relying on immersion, I could have reached a higher level of Spanish in 3-6 months instead of three years. In my defense, I don’t think Baselang existed at the time.
It has been a few years since I’ve used much Spanish. I moved to China and have since been focused on learning Mandarin. But, for the purpose of writing this review, I was given the opportunity to try out Baselang and dive back into Spanish.
This review is going to take an exceptionally detailed look at what it’s like to use Baselang. It’ll be split up into the following sections:
What is Baselang?
Baselang is a platform that offers unlimited one-on-one online Spanish lessons for $149 per month.
That’s about all I knew about Baselang before I got started.
There were a few questions that I felt could make this service amazing or could completely ruin it.
- Is it really unlimited?
- Will there be teachers available when I want to take classes?
- Is there any sort of curriculum?
- Are the teachers any good?
- Would a student get enough use out of it?
The short answer to all of these questions is… YES!
I’ll answer these questions and a lot more later on in more detail.
Getting Started With Baselang
Perhaps the best part about getting started with Baselang is that you can try it for only $1 for the first 7-days. With that you can take as many classes as you can handle, try out the curriculum and teachers, and see if it’s right for you.
After getting started, you’ll receive an email with some instructions about what to do next.
Most of this isn’t all that exciting, for example, you’ll need to download Zoom (a platform similar to Skype), set-up your account info, timezone, and a few other quick tasks.
They’ll also send you a link to their Memrise group. This is aligned with their curriculum and it’s one of those little things that Baselang does that is an indicator that they’re serious about getting you fluent in Spanish.
Then, you’re basically good to go to schedule a class. Though, you may want to spend a few minutes looking around and checking out their platform first.
There are two ways to schedule a class – by time or by teacher.
The quickest way is to book your class is by time.
You’ll see a list of available time slots over the next five days. By default, each individual class is 30 minutes. But you can combine classes to be as long as you’d like.
By clicking on the clock option, you’ll be able to see which time slots have the same teacher available for 2 or more classes. All you need to do is select the number of 30-minute classes you’d like to take and go to the next step.
For each time slot, you’ll see which teachers are available. You’ll also see their introduction video, as well as a list of their interests and strengths. You can select the teacher you’d like to work with for each class period.
In this example, I’d be booking a 90-minute lesson with Adik El.
One of my favorite things about Baselang is the option to schedule lessons at the last minute.
There have been several instances where I’ve scheduled a class only a few minutes before it began. No other tutoring platform has that much flexibility.
For someone like me, who hates to schedule ahead, this leads to me taking more classes than I otherwise would have simply because I don’t need to plan ahead to do it. I can be sitting on the couch and think to myself that I should take a Spanish lesson.
More often than not, there was a tutor available within the next 30 minutes.
The other option to book your class is by teacher.
This works well if you have one or a few teachers that you really like to work with and don’t mind planning ahead a bit more.
When you’re completely new to Baselang, booking classes by the teacher isn’t going to be the most convenient option. This is because there are over 100 teachers on Baselang so scrolling by name doesn’t make much sense to do.
However, once you’ve begun taking classes, you’ll be able to start giving ratings to your teachers. After you’ve done this, searching by teacher becomes more useful as it’ll show the rating you gave to each teacher.
One thing that I really love about this is that the ratings are private.
Working with tutors is a very personal thing. The perfect tutor for one person will be the worst one for another. People have vastly different learning and personality styles.
For most people, if they use a service like italki or Verbling to find a tutor, they’ll end up giving everybody a 5-star rating. It makes sense to do so. Nobody likes giving a bad rating just because your personalities didn’t match.
This private rating system is a great way to mark your favorite teachers and remember which ones you didn’t mesh with particularly well. This is especially important since, given the unlimited nature of Baselang’s lessons, you’ll likely end up talking with a lot of different tutors (if you want to that is).
One other cool feature is that you’ll be able to book classes with your favorite teacher 2 days before anybody else can.
Classes are available from 6 am to midnight Eastern US time.
I’ve seen some online language schools that advertise classes being available pretty much whenever you’d like. Often though, this isn’t the case. Typically, most language schools, won’t have enough teachers available. So, if you’ll often find that no teachers are free when you want to take a class.
This isn’t the case with Baselang. I found that it was quite rare that I wanted to take a class and there was nobody free. Usually, someone would be available within a few hours, and more often than not, available within the next half hour.
This is a huge deal. After all, what good is unlimited tutoring if all the teachers are booked. In my experience using Baselang, there were very few instances that I wanted to take a class and someone wasn’t immediately available.
There are a lot of teachers on Baselang. I didn’t take the time to actually count the total number, but I would be surprised if it were under 100.
All of the teachers are from Venezuela.
I think it’s worth taking a little bit of time to talk more about this and what it’ll mean for you. I’ll talk a bit more about the reasons for this and ethical implications later on. I’m sure the vast majority of Spanish learners aren’t planning on going to Venezuela anytime soon.
Does it make sense to take Spanish lessons from a Venezuelan teacher if you’re planning on going to Mexico, Argentina, Spain, or any of the other Spanish speaking countries in the world?
I think it does. I’ve spent between one and nine months in eight different Latin American countries and although I’ve never been to Spain, I have some friends from there.
The Spanish language varies slightly from country to country. Different countries will have different slang and sometimes say things in a slightly different way. In Spain, the difference is a bit larger, but still not that significant.
The vast majority of Spanish from Venezuela is no different than Spanish from anywhere else. If you learn Venezuelan Spanish, you’ll be understood wherever you go. In fact, Venezuelan Spanish is much more neutral than that of most countries.
My recommendation would be to use Baselang to get your Spanish to a high level and worry about the local peculiarities later.
In my experience of traveling around throughout Latin America, it doesn’t take long to pick up the local stuff. Whether that’s using guey and chingon in Mexico, boludo and che in Argentina, or parcero and chévere in Colombia, you’ll pick that stuff up easily.
You’ll likely even find yourself picking up the local pronunciation and accent. I know my Spanish pronunciation became more Argentinian after spending 8 months there.
With so many teachers, there’s quite a bit of variety when it comes to their ages, interests, and strengths.
From my understanding, not all of them have earned teaching degrees, but they’ve all undergone some teacher training.
I think quite a few teachers are university students though there are teachers of all ages on Baselang.
You can search and filter through all of Baselang’s teachers.
Here you’ll be able to see each teacher’s interest, give them a private rating, and watch their introduction video.
Unfortunately, I didn’t really find it that useful to spend much time looking through the teachers in this way. It would be nice if you could see their availability easily in this tab or filter the results to see who’s available on a certain day.
However, the only real way to get much use out of searching teachers like this would be to write down the teachers you think you’d like to have classes with, then use the book class by teacher option, where you’ll need to find their name in the drop-down list of teachers.
It’s not particularly convenient, but seeing all of the teachers here will give you a better idea of the different teachers available.
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.
The classes are completely flexible. They can be whatever you want them to be. A great thing that we’ll talk about later is that Baselang actually has a really solid curriculum to guide you when you don’t know what to do next.
For now, let’s talk about the classes, starting with my first class.
One thing that I really like about Baselang is just how quick it is to actually get in a class and started right away. I spent a little bit of time looking around the platform and then decided to jump into a class starting soon.
This first class gave me a bit of an introduction to Baselang. The teacher asked me a bit about my goals with Spanish, why I was taking classes, and about my interests. She used some of their materials and asked me to answer some questions in Spanish to better assess my current level.
She gave me some good feedback about what I should focus on.
For the first few classes, I kept mixing up Spanish and Chinese. Later on, this got better, at least until someone delivered a package during my lesson and I started talking to him in Spanish.
From then on, I was ready to start jumping into classes.
I didn’t spend much time trying to schedule things out ahead of time (I hate doing that). Instead, I just took classes with whoever was available when I got the itch to practice Spanish.
As I mentioned before, the classes are scheduled in 30-minute slots but you can schedule as many slots as you’d like and see when the same teacher is available for multiple slots.
One thing you’ll find is that even if it’s a 30-minute class, you’ll usually find it to be closer to 25 minutes. The reason for this is that it may take a few minutes for them to finish their previous class.
You can do whatever you want in the classes.
I really like the option to be able to choose how I spend my class time. Sometimes I may want to focus on grammar or work my way through their curriculum. Other times, I might just want to chat for a while.
Similarly, you can share some of your Spanish writing, ask for help understanding a video, and structure the classes however you’d like.
At the beginning of each class, the teacher will usually ask what you’d like to do in this class. If it’s only a 30-minute class and it’s a new teacher, you may end up just skipping over the introduction part and jumping right in.
This actually worked better than I expected. While I’d always like to get to know my teachers well, sometimes you may just want to jump right into the lesson instead of having the same “Where are you from?” conversation again. I think the teachers did a good job of adjusting to how I wanted to spend the time.
All of the lessons take place on Zoom – a platform quite similar to Skype.
Zoom is easy to use and doesn’t take much time to get used to using. They say that it’s similar to Skype but has a better connection. That seems to be true.
That said, sometimes the internet connection isn’t great. In the lessons I took, there was occasionally a little bit of lag in the video but rarely was it anything serious enough to affect the lesson. Only in one class was the connection a serious problem.
I think it was on the teacher’s side and I made a note to myself not to take classes with that teacher anymore. But, that may not have been fair as it could have easily been a problem with my own internet. I do live in China and occasionally have issues with my internet as well.
When I first heard of Baselang’s unlimited Spanish classes, I didn’t realize they had a curriculum. This takes it from something that would be good value to serious and self-motivated students, to something that I would recommend to anyone learning Spanish (provided they have enough time to make full use of the platform).
Baselang’s curriculum is split into their Core Lessons and Electives.
Let’s first take a look at the Core Lessons.
The following is how Baselang describes their core curriculum.
Each level has anywhere from 6 to 30 lessons. One thing that really impressed me was the quality of their Sounds of Spanish course found in level 0.
In Connor’s (Baselang’s founder) popular youtube video, Spanish in a Month, he focuses on pronunciation early on by using The Mimic Method. It seems like the Sounds of Spanish course was heavily influenced by that. It’s really well put together and something any new learner should try out.
I never put much effort into learning Spanish pronunciation and have the typical gringo accent. I quickly picked up a lot of useful information about improving my pronunciation from Baselang.
Don’t make the mistakes I did with Spanish – work on your pronunciation early on!
The lessons are designed to quickly get you speaking and conversational.
The lessons cover everything. I was seriously impressed by the thoroughness of their curriculum. The content quality is as good, or better than any textbook but it’s not meant to be worked through independently.
That makes sense. There’s not much need to work through the lessons by yourself when you paid for unlimited classes.
I worked through several of the level 6 lessons with a teacher. It worked pretty well. They’d open the slides on their computer and then share the screen during the lesson. You can also go in and preview or review the lessons on your own.
Because I already speak a decent amount of Spanish, I ended up jumping into level 6. I think a better way, and what they recommend those who haven’t studied for a long time to do is to start at the beginning but just fly through the lessons quickly.
I think that would have been a good idea for me as there were some pretty basic things that I’d forgotten, but once I encountered it again, it came right back to me.
Plus, even if the lesson is pretty simple, such as learning some vocabulary that you already know, you can go ahead and expand upon it. For example, if one of the words in the lesson is guardar, you can easily practice forming sentences with it.
As you work through the lessons, you can mark them as complete. You can of course jump around however you’d like. If you want to try a level 8 class or review some basics at level 2, that’s your call.
But, if you want to officially pass a level and have this reflected in your Baselang profile, you’ll need to complete an hour-long verbal test.
I was really surprised by this. Again, it’s one of those things that makes me feel like Baselang is really focused on getting students to become fluent Spanish speakers.
I was also surprised that they start requiring the elective classes to officially pass the level at level 4 as well. Of course, these are optional and you can do whatever you want!
I initially had some mixed feelings regarding the electives. Let’s take a look at those now.
The elective lessons
There are lots of topics for the electives with a varying number of lessons included. They seem to be structured fairly similarly to the regular core lessons, except they go into much more depth.
By working through the elective lessons, you’ll be able to talk about any of these themes quite confidently. It’s really impressive just how deep some of these lessons go. If, for example, you’re working in a hospital, you’ll be able to learn just about everything you would need to know in their Medicine elective.
While it’s awesome that they go so deep, I was initially disappointed to find out that many of the lessons are locked and require a separate purchase.
I get it though. Not many people would be interested in taking 7 lessons about the Endocrine System. If they didn’t charge for these lessons, I doubt it would make financial sense for Baselang to add this type of lesson.
And, if you’re working in a hospital, paying the $29 to unlock this elective is almost certainly money well spent.
To give you a better understanding of the electives in general, but more specifically the medical elective, check out this video which explains things a bit more.
While electives are required to pass the Baselang curriculum, they offer enough free electives that you would never need to pay. There are a lot of free electives to choose from, so if there’s nothing you’d feel that excited about paying for, then there’s no need to.
My initial disappointment in seeing that some of the electives cost money was replaced by a feeling of, “Oh, that’s pretty cool that they have that.”
They’re also continuing to add more lessons to these electives.
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.
One of the first things you’ll see if you visit Baselang is that they offer two types of classes. The first and most popular one, which is what this article has been focused on is for learning Spanish to use in the real world.
The second option is for DELE exam prep. The DELE is an official certificate issued by the Spanish Instituto Cervantes. It’s the most widely accepted certificate of Spanish proficiency.
Baselang’s DELE exam prep classes cost $199 per month, compared to the $149 for the real world classes.
Their course is designed to take up from A2 to C1 level, so you should already be past the very beginner stage before beginning.
They’ll also include mock exams and homework that aligns with the lessons.
I can’t comment too much on this program as I haven’t tried it. Most students would be best off with the real world classes but this could be a good option if you’re interested in passing the DELE exam.
I’m not an expert on Venezuelan politics and am not going to pretend to be. What I do know is that life in Venezuela is extremely difficult right now.
Inflation is out of control and the prices of everything are constantly rising. Food and medicine are in short supply and Venezuelans are forced to make difficult decisions. You can read a bit more about life in Venezuela in this article by The Guardian.
Baselang’s teachers are living in a country undergoing a major crisis.
It’s fair to wonder, by using Baselang are you helping them or exploiting their situation?
Without a doubt, Baselang’s teachers are much better off because of their job at Baselang. They earn a relatively (within Venezuela) high salary with frequent raises to match the increases in the cost of living and inflation.
The teachers also have the benefit of being able to work from home. To you or I, this might just be a nice convenience perk of a job. But in Venezuela, where it can be dangerous to leave your house, this is a huge advantage.
Every teacher I asked about how they liked working for Baselang responded enthusiastically. They earn the same amount of money regardless of whether or not someone schedules a class with them.
Having said that, the fact that tutors are from Venezuela means that they won’t earn as much as if they hired from Colombia, Spain, or elsewhere. There’s no doubt that Baselang wouldn’t be able to offer unlimited Spanish classes at their current prices if they hired tutors from other countries.
While this may be uncomfortable for some, you are benefitting from the fact that wages are so low in Venezuela.
However, that doesn’t mean you’re exploiting the teachers and their situation.
The teachers are in a much better situation because they’re able to work for Baselang than if they didn’t have the opportunity. Without Baselang, many would be unemployed or earning far less money than they are now. There aren’t exactly a lot of companies looking to hire people in Venezuela.
From everything that I’ve seen, Baselang is doing everything they can to support their teachers and help them out. When some teachers have decided to leave Venezuela for Colombia, they’re still able to continue working with Baselang and earn pesos instead of bolivares.
In the past, they donated 1% of their revenue to educating people from low communities within South America. They’ve stopped doing this but instead are in the process of establishing their own non-profit within Venezuela. This way they’ll be able to use the money more effectively.
The situation in Venezuela is absolutely terrible. But, without a doubt, the teachers are much better off because they’re working with Baselang.
I like Baselang a lot but no product is perfect or couldn’t be improved.
The biggest reason not to use Baselang is if you don’t have enough time or money. For most people, spending $149 per month is a decision worth thinking about.
You shouldn’t use Baselang if you don’t have enough time to really make the most of it.
If that’s the case, there are more suitable Spanish courses that are worth considering.
Some quick math will show that if you’re paying between $8-$10 per hour for online Spanish classes, that you’d need to take 3-4 hours per week to make Baselang better value than the alternatives.
Personally, I’d adjust this down a little to around 2-3 hours of classes per week. The reason being that even alternatives that I like (italki) don’t offer everything Baselang offers. The curriculum is a huge benefit.
Very few teachers will be able to guide your learning as well as Baselang’s curriculum does, and the ones that can likely charge more than $10/hour.
The second reason that I’d adjust the number of classes you’d need to break even compared to an alternative is the convenience. If you truly only have x amount of free time per week and there’s no way to study more than this point won’t apply to you.
But for myself, and I imagine a lot of other people, being able to schedule a class at the last minute makes it very easy to take more classes than you would have otherwise planned to.
Using a platform like italki puts you in a bit of an awkward situation. On the one hand, you want to take more classes to improve your Spanish. But, to take more classes, you have to spend more money. It’s understandable and easy to take fewer classes than would be ideal to avoid spending the extra money or because it’s hard to plan in advance.
Another weakness with Baselang is that there’s only one variation of Spanish – Venezuelan.
I talked about this earlier so I won’t get too much into it here.
Yes, Venezuelan Spanish is different than Mexican Spanish, Peruvian Spanish, Argentinian Spanish, and Spanish from Spain.
However, the differences are relatively minor. Most of the local stuff you’ll pick up quite quickly. Using Baselang to become fluent in Spanish, and then working on the local variations later would be the best way to go.
But, if you already have a very high level of Spanish and want to prepare yourself to move to Chile, it would make more sense to find a Chilean tutor elsewhere.
You may find some minor issues with internet connections.
At some point in your Baselang lessons, you’ll probably have a class where the internet connection makes it difficult. While this probably won’t happen often, you shouldn’t expect it never to happen.
If your teacher is having a connection issue, try turning off the screen sharing or video and see if that helps. If it persists, you may have to cut your losses and consider it a lost class. If it’s a new teacher you’ve never worked with before, it may be best to avoid that teacher in the future, just in case it’s a recurring problem.
I don’t think the internet issue is a bit enough problem that you should be worried about using Baselang.
The biggest, most well-known, and best alternative to Baselang would be italki.
On italki, there are over 800 Spanish teachers. They all set their own prices and hours and you work directly with them. italki is just the platform where the scheduling happens. You’ll find teachers from all over the world with prices as low as $4/hour or as high as $40/hour.
I’m actually a huge fan of italki. There’s no resource I recommend as often to language learners.
However, Baselang is just so good that it makes Spanish the exception. If Baselang ever came out with courses in other languages like French or Chinese, then I’d probably have to start recommending italki less.
That said, if you don’t have enough time to really take advantage of Baselang or want to work with a teacher from a specific country, then definitely check out italki.
A platform that’s quite similar to Verbling, but a bit more expensive and with fewer teachers than italki. Again, I’d recommend Baselang, then italki, and then Verbling in that order.
If you decide that Baselang isn’t right for you and don’t like italki for whatever reason, then take a look at Verbling.
I like Baselang a lot. I wish it was around when I was studying Spanish more seriously. I honestly believe that I could have reached a higher level using Baselang for 4-6 months than I did living in Latin America for a few years.
As I’m currently focused on studying Mandarin, I’m pretty jealous that there isn’t a similar platform available. If there was, I’d definitely become a paying customer.
At some point, I hope to revisit Spanish more seriously and fix up some of my weaknesses. When that time comes, I’ll be signing up for Baselang.
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.
I’m Nick Dahlhoff, the creator of All Language Resources. I’m not a super polyglot who speaks 20 languages. I’m not here to teach you how to learn a language – countless people are more qualified to do that than me. But, I have tried out an insane number of language learning resources. This site aims to be the most comprehensive and least biased place to figure out which language learning resources are worth using. To learn more about myself, the site, or our reviewing process, check out our about page.