Spanish

Best Way to Learn Spanish – 7 effective ways to fluency quickly!

As one of the most widely spoken languages in the world, there is no shortage of options for those who want to learn Spanish.

When it comes to the most popular of the romantic languages, the problem is actually that there are so many Spanish resources and learning methods out there that it can all seem a bit overwhelming.

In this article we’ll take a look at seven of the best ways to learn Spanish, share our recommended resources, and answer common FAQs that Spanish students often have.

1) Immerse yourself in a Spanish language course

The best way to learn Spanish is to immerse yourself in the language as much as possible. This means learning vocabulary and grammar rules in the context of daily situations or larger conversations. This helps you learn Spanish quickly and effectively than with other language learning methods.

Immersion doesn’t necessarily mean throwing yourself into a full speed conversation with the first native speakers you meet, or turning on a telenovela and expecting to magically absorb Spanish. This is what typically comes to mind when people think of language immersion, but for the complete beginner it’s unproductive and overwhelming.

You want to gradually immerse yourself in Spanish based on your level in the language. A good Spanish course will allow you to do this through speaking practice, or listening and reading. One of the best courses for learning Spanish this way is the Story Learning course, which takes you from a beginner to intermediate Spanish speaker by using real Spanish stories.

2) Download a language learning app

One of the biggest factors for success in language learning is consistency. You want to interact with the Spanish language as often as possible to help reinforce what you’re learning. This is what makes language learning apps so powerful. They allow you to learn Spanish wherever and whenever you want!

Pimsleur is a great app for learning Spanish because it uses a special call and response technique to teach you conversational Spanish. It’s a great way to practice speaking Spanish anywhere using just your phone.

3) Subscribe to a Spanish learning podcast

Podcasts are a great way to learn Spanish because they are essentially bitesized language lessons. They also help take the pressure off of the language learning process with quick, fun, and engaging Spanish practice sessions.

Spanishpod101 is one of our favorite podcasts for learning Spanish because it uses actual conversations to help you study Spanish.

4) Practice with native speakers

Sooner or later you have to take the leap and start practicing Spanish with a native speaker. This could take the form of a language exchange partner or maybe a Spanish conversation club. Check meetup.com for local Spanish clubs. My Language Exchange is great free online language exchange. There you’ll find a lot of Spanish speakers looking for native english speakers to practice with!

5) Watch Spanish movies and tv shows

Listening to Spanish music or watching a Spanish movie are both fun and effective ways to use your target language. It’s also a great way to dip your toes into Hispanic and Latino culture. Depending on your language level you may want to watch movies with Spanish subtitles or read along with the lyrics of a Spanish song.

FluentU is a great resource for learning Spanish through video. The app lets you easily switch between Spanish and English subtitles. You can even click on a word and instantly see its definition and pronunciation. Lyricstraining is another great tool you can use to practice Spanish using music.

6) Visit one of the many Spanish speaking countries

For many Spanish students, visiting a Spanish speaking country is one of the main reasons why they want to learn a foreign language. Visiting a country like Spain or one in Latin America can help solidify your Spanish speaking skills in a way that no course or program can.

We recommend traveling abroad to a Spanish speaking country only after you have a solid foundation in the language. This will make your trip more fun and effective!

7) Hone your Spanish skills with online lessons

One on one lessons with a Spanish teacher will help you with more difficult grammar rules and vocabulary. A good teacher will help you identify your weak points and provide you with practice and assignments to address them.

If you ever feel stuck while learning Spanish, then consider booking an online lesson with a Spanish tutor or teacher. Baselang is a great site that connects language learners with teachers from across the Spanish speaking world.

What no one told me about learning Spanish

It wasn’t that long ago I was sitting where you are now, glued to google searching for the best way to learn Spanish online. And like you I was overwhelmed with ads and reviews all claiming to be the best way to learn a foreign language.

Taking the bait, I downloaded language apps, listened to Spanish podcasts, and forked over my hard earned money for an expensive language course or two. I even started taking virtual lessons with a few Spanish teachers online.

The end result? Besides burnout and the fact that I used less than half of all the resources I bought or downloaded; after several months I discovered that despite my best efforts I still couldn’t speak Spanish.

I felt frustrated and discouraged. I spent money, and I practiced Spanish as much as I could. But at the end of the day I struggled to understand even short Spanish expressions. I definitely couldn’t come up with any Spanish sentences on my own.

My language learning journey hit a brick wall and I started to wonder if it was even possible for me to learn a foreign language at all.

Then I realized that all the methods I was using to learn Spanish were essentially the same. They all used a translation first approach. These courses taught Spanish vocabulary by simply giving me a list of words or phrases in Spanish, and then giving me the English translations.

There was no context for the vocabulary I was learning. If grammar rules were taught they were taught solely through example sentences. Most of these sentences were so basic and odd that they were pretty much useless when it came time to talk in real life situations.

I went back to the internet and searched a little deeper than the flashy ads and dime a dozen review sites. It took some digging but I discovered that other Spanish learners shared my experience. Even better, I found some Spanish language resources that deviated from the traditional translation first approach.

These language courses emphasized Spanish immersion. They taught Spanish in an effective and practical way. The end goal of these courses was to get me ready to interact with Spanish speaking people in the real world. Here’s a quick list of the effective resources I found and used to learn how to speak Spanish.

Best way to learn Spanish fluently

StoryLearning

Of all the ways for learning Spanish, StoryLearning is one of the most unique and effective. Spanish learners should be warned before taking this course, it’s way different than traditional Spanish courses or apps. There are no tests or quizzes. True to its name, StoryLearning focuses on teaching through stories, not Spanish grammar lessons or vocabulary lists.

The main idea behind this course is that learners immerse themselves in a Spanish story before diving into the nuts and bolts of the language. These stories are carefully crafted at each level to be difficult enough to stretch your skills but not so difficult that you feel lost or overwhelmed.

In StoryLearning you read and listen to a story in Spanish multiple times to immerse yourself in the language. Only after your brain has been wading in the story do you start to learn the grammar and vocabulary being used.

This kind of contextual learning is powerful because you learn Spanish words in the context of the story. Your brain has a lot more info to latch onto when trying to recall what a particular Spanish phrase or word means.

The images your brain crafts as you imagine the plot, and the emotion you attach to the characters, all of it plays back into helping you understand and remember Spanish more effectively than you would with traditional classroom learning.

StoryLearning leverages the human brain’s natural inclination to remember and interact with stories to full effect. The full course will take you from absolute beginner to an intermediate level, including reading skills, Spanish comprehension, and most importantly speaking skills!

Olly stands by his course so much that he allows users full access to the course for seven days for free. Even after you purchase the course you can request a no questions asked full refund within a full 365 days. No other language learning course offers such a long money back guarantee.

See our Super-Detailed StoryLearning Review

Easiest way to learn Spanish

Pimsleur

Pimsleur takes a similar approach to immersion as Story Learning. But where Story Learning uses stories, Pimsleur uses role play to teach Spanish. Pimsleur is largely an audio course. Each 30 minute lesson introduces new Spanish words and phrases. In the beginning of the program you learn Spanish words solely by listening and repeating them syllable by syllable, word by word, and eventually whole phrases at a time.

Once you have some basic Spanish vocabulary to work with, Pimsleur turns up the immersion. You are then prompted to answer and ask questions using the vocabulary you’ve practiced. You have a short amount of time to respond before the correct response is given.

This kind of approach essentially reprograms your brain to think in Spanish versus simply translating from English in your head. Pimsleur is one of the few Spanish audio courses that does this.

Pimsleur is our first choice for the easiest way to learn Spanish because all that’s required of you is to listen to a lesson and respond to the prompts. No other program for speaking Spanish features such a simple and effective layout to walk you through a new language step by step.

But make no mistake, your brain will feel tired after a Pimsleur lesson. Each lesson replicates the same pressure and difficulty you feel when talking with native speakers in real life. This makes the program more exciting and memorable than your average Spanish course. Pimsleur is easy in the sense that everything is laid out for you, but the lessons will stretch you (as any good Spanish lesson should).

See our Super-Detailed Pimsleur Review

GET 1 WEEK FULL ACCESS TO PIMSLEUR FREE

Best way to learn Spanish online

Spanishpod101

Spanishpod101 is both a language learning app and website. It’s less a Spanish course or program, and more like a massive library of Spanish podcast lessons and learning resources.

There are over 1000 Spanish podcast lessons available on the site. Each one covers a dialogue between real Spanish speakers. They’re sorted by difficulty level and each lesson comes with full transcripts, pronunciation training tools, and the ability to easily add new words to the site’s online flashcard system.

Every podcast also has two hosts, who are essentially your personal Spanish teachers. They introduce each dialogue and help explain any new material. They often share cultural facts about Spanish speaking countries too. The hosts speak English in the beginner level episodes. As you work through the lessons they start to use more Spanish until finally the entire podcast is in Spanish.

In addition to the podcasts you’ll also find a Spanish to English dictionary, grammar guides, conjugation charts, and tons of monthly free downloadable resources.

GET A FREE SPANISHPOD101 LIFETIME ACCOUNT

Best way to learn Spanish for free

FSI Spanish courses

The US Department of State’s Foreign Service Institute(FSI) released its language learning courses into the public domain. This means these materials are free to download and use for anyone. These programs were used to teach State department personnel foreign languages before they were stationed to work abroad for the US government.

The FSI Spanish courses follow an immersion style method for learning. Every lesson covers reading, listening, speaking, and pronunciation. There’s a lot of parroting at first, a speaker will say a word or phrase and you will repeat it. Then you’ll be prompted to answer and ask questions from the phrases you know (similar to Pimsleur). The lessons are dense and take awhile to work through (for me it was about 1.5 hours per lesson).

The only drawback of these courses is that they are very dry and dull. Lessons are long and you’ll have to stick with the course for a while before you see any results. That being said, the results will come. These are effective ways to learn Spanish if you’re willing to stick with it.

Best way to learn conversational Spanish

Gritty Spanish

One of the hardest parts of learning languages is picking up slang and informal speech. Ask any Spanish learner and they will tell you that there’s a big difference between what you learn in a course or textbook and the Spanish spoken on the street in everyday life.

Gritty Spanish is one of the Spanish courses I know of that specifically teaches informal conversational Spanish. It uses lifelike dialogues to teach you useful Spanish words that you’re unlikely to learn anywhere else.

True to its name, Gritty Spanish even teaches Spanish curse words. But there’s also a family friendly version that simply focuses on informal phrases and less offensive slang.

What I like most about this course is that you are working with long Spanish dialogues that take place in true to life situations. A lot of the phrases you learn work perfectly well in actual conversations. Just be careful if you decide to start using the bad words!

GET 12 GRITTY SPANISH DIALOGUES FOR FREE

Tips on the Best ways to learn Spanish

Practice with native Spanish speakers

Once you have some basic Spanish phrases under your belt I high recommend you try using them in the real world. Talking with native speakers for the first time is often one of the most nerve-racking steps when learning Spanish, but it’s also one of the most rewarding.

Nothing cements a new Spanish word in your brain like using it in a conversation. Practicing with native speakers also adds a relational (ie human) element into the learning process. At the end of the day Spanish is a language, and languages are used to connect people.

No matter how many words you do or don’t know, get out there and start making some human connections in your new language. You won’t regret it!

What is the fastest way for me to learn Spanish?

Consistent study using an immersion based method is the fastest way to learn Spanish. Your Spanish skills will develop faster the quicker you can speak in your new language without having to translate from your native language.

Can I become fluent in Spanish in a year?

The Foreign Service Institute estimates that a native English Speaker will need 23-24 weeks to learn Spanish proficiently. This assumes 575-600 hours of study during the 23-24 week period, which comes out to around 25 hours of study and practice each week.

Long story short, yes it’s completely possible to become fluent in Spanish in a year. It could take as little as six months depending on how much time you dedicate to learning Spanish.

How much Spanish can you learn in a month?

This largely depends on how much time per day and week you are able to spend learning Spanish. Assuming that Spanish is your first foreign language, and you’re able to consistently spend at least an hour a day learning the language, you could expect to have simple conversations by the end of the month.

Don’t try cramming in your Spanish learning by spending 8+ hours a day studying and expect to be fluent in a month. That’s nothing but a recipe for burnout and discouragement. It’s much more beneficial to think of learning Spanish as a lifelong hobby or adventure, and not simply a task to master as quickly as possible.

How can I learn Spanish by myself?

There are tons of language learning tools available for those who want to learn Spanish by themselves. Many of them have already been discussed in this article. If you’re a self learner just make sure you’re using an immersion based approach and getting a healthy does of grammar and vocabulary.

Keep in mind though that if your end goal is to speak Spanish you will have to eventually practice speaking with other people.

Is Babbel or Duolingo better for learning Spanish?

When it comes to the Babbel versus Duolingo debate I tend to opt for Duolingo because it’s free (mostly). Both apps follow a similar method. They teach you basic grammar rules and vocabulary through translation exercises and then quiz you on what you know.

Neither is my first pick for Spanish learning due to the fact that both Babbel and Duolingo follow a translation first approach. It’s also important to note that these two apps do little to prepare you for Spanish speaking.

Is Babbel or Rosetta Stone better for learning Spanish?

Babbel would be my pick here, mainly because it’s cheaper than Rosetta Stone. As I just mentioned Babbel’s language learning method that depends heavily on translation exercises and quizzes.

Rosetta Stone on the other hand follows a completely different approach. With Rosetta Stone you learn a new language entirely through pictures and audio. There are no grammar lessons or explanations in Rosetta Stone. The idea here is by learning through pictures you pick up the language in the same way that native speakers learned Spanish when they were children.

By using only pictures you cut out the translation step and immerse yourself in the language. While this method sounds good on the surface it stops being practical the moment you start learning intermediate Spanish. You’re not likely to pick up difficult concepts like verb tenses or the difference between ser and estar by using only pictures. Sooner or later you will need an explanation for how Spanish grammar differs from English.

Is Duolingo good for Spanish?

Duolingo Spanish is good if you want a quick or novel way to learn or practice basic words and grammar. Even if you work through their entire Spanish course, you won’t be fluent if your only Spanish learning tool is Duolingo. There’s very little pressure in Duolingo to produce your own phrases in Spanish. Which means that if you want to speak Spanish you’ll still have a long way to go after working with this app.

Duolingo also isn’t the best way to practice listening comprehension. While there are some listening exercises in each lesson, they are short and pretty easy to guess. These exercises to little to prepare you to understand fast spanish speech.

All that being said, Duolingo is still a nice way to learn the basics, and it will also help you learn to read and write in Spanish.

Am I too old to learn Spanish?

If you’re alive and breathing then you aren’t too old to learn Spanish. It’s true that small children have some language learning advantages that adults don’t. Small kids don’t have much to worry about in their day to day lives so their minds are a lot freer to learn a language.

Kids also aren’t afraid to learn mistakes and the people around them are constantly speaking with them at their level of understanding and giving positive feedback.

But adults also have some advantages that the younger Spanish learner doesn’t. Adults learning Spanish as a second language have at least one language (their native language) already under their belt. Adults also have more information about the world around them and will have an easier time understanding situational conversations.

So don’t worry if you feel like you’re past your prime when it comes to language learning. The most important parts of learning Spanish are consistency and enjoying the language for its own sake. Cover those two bases and you’ll be speaking Spanish before you know it!

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. Let us help you find the best program to learn Spanish!

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. Spanish programs can include a variety of aspects that help different kinds of learners. Foreign language courses can be hard to stay consistent with, but if you know what kind of learning works for you, then maybe it can be more fun than you ever thought it would be. 

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 for foreign langauges. 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!

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

Pimsleur online language 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: $297
Learn Spanish Through Stories

This course comes from Olly Richards, the creator of his famous StoryLearning 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.

4.2/5
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
  • Very low return rate – users love Ouino and stick with it

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: $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
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: $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
4/5
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: 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.

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
4.3/5
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
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
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
4.8/5
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
4.3/5
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. Perhaps this could be considered a gold mine for high school students who need that extra push for their high school credit in Spanish class! The full Spanish instruction helps students who have some knowledge in the course and need a bump in their progress. 

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 may not be the most intensive Spanish course online, but that doesn’t mean its not fun and convenient. 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. This can be considered a great option for online Spanish classes online for adults. 

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

Lingoda

Quick Review

Summary:

Lingoda is an online language learning platform where you can take private or group classes at any time of the day. They offer lessons in Spanish, German, French, and English. There are a large number of lessons available for everyone from absolute beginners to more advanced levels. It’s a good option to get the structure of a course with the guidance of a teacher, at an affordable price.

Price

There are lots of different plans available.

For group classes, it is $380 a month, which gives you access to 40 class subscriptions.

For private classes, the plan is $760 a month.

There are also “marathon” plans for three, six, or twelve months that offer lower per-class rates and a chance to earn cashback if you attend 90% of your classes.

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Speechling

Quick Review

4.3 

Summary:

Speechling is a website and app that makes it easy to improve your speaking skills in several languages. The free version is an incredbily valuable resource that makes it easy to practice mimicking native speakers. The Unlimited Plan provides unlimited corrections of your recordings by a teacher.

Quality

Speachling makes it easy to improve your speaking rhythm and pronunciation.

Thoroughness

Lots of different ways to practice speaking.

Value

The free version is better than most paid resources and the paid version provides outstanding value.

Price

The Forever Free Plan is complete free. A monthly subscription to the Unlimited Plan costs $19.99 per month.

Click the link to save 10% on Speechling’s Unlimited Plan.

Languages: American English, British English, French, Latin American Spanish, Castilian Spanish, Chinese, German, Russian, Italian, Portuguese, Korean, and Japanese.

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The Best Apps To Learn Spanish – We’ve Tested 40+ Of Them

 

Learn Spanish AppS

There’s an absurd number of apps available for studying Spanish, and searching through the options in the Apple or Android app stores can be overwhelming. The apparent quality of a lot of these apps, however, can be discouraging.

Luckily, a quick scroll through the app store doesn’t accurately represent the quality of Spanish learning apps available today. There are actually a lot of excellent apps out there that can teach you nearly every aspect of the Spanish language – though it does take some mix and matching. 

The apps will be loosely organized into categories, based on what they do best. A lot of them could fall into a few different categories, so I’ll try to put them into the section that makes the most sense.

Let’s see what we’ve got…

GENERAL COURSES available as apps

Best for Oral Communication Skills: Pimsleur

Best Lessons in the Style of a Podcast: SpanishPod101

Best for Finding a Tutor: italki

Best Lesson Structure: Babbel

apps for READING AND LISTENING practice

Best Latin American Listening Practice: Lupa

Best Reading Content: LingQ

Best Free Reading Content: Manga Method

Best for Side-By-Side Reading Practice: Beelinguapp

Best  Audio Course: Pimsleur

apps for SPEAKING AND WRITING practice

Best for Feedback on Writing: italki

Best for Feedback on Pronunciation: Speechling

VOCABULARY AcQUISITION apps

Best Dictionary App: SpanishDict

Best for Easy Vocabulary Practice: Memrise

Most Customizable Vocabulary Practice: Anki

Best for Free Practice in Context: Clozemaster

Best for Learning Words in Context: Lingvist

apps for TUTORS AND LANGUAGE EXCHANGES

Second-Best for Finding a Tutor: Verbling

Best for Language Exchange: HelloTalk and Tandem

Top overall spanish apps

Pimsleur

PimsleurPimsleur is an old-school course that began long before apps were even a thing. 

My favorite thing about the course is that it gets you speaking Spanish right away. The lessons mostly ignore the written language and grammar, focusing on listening and speaking instead.

This means that students who use Pimsleur’s courses will almost certainly develop oral language skills more quickly than with other resources. Considering most people studying Spanish want to be able to use it in conversations right away, that makes it pretty appealing. Review.

Visit Pimsleur

SpanishPod101

SpanishPod101 could potentially belong in the general courses category because it offers practice in a variety of skills. I’ve put it here because the lessons are mostly audio and the course structure isn’t completely linear.

The app contains a ton of content — there are nearly 2000 lessons ranging from absolute beginner to advanced levels, though the majority of content is designed for learners at a lower level.

Lessons are presented in a podcast-style format. Two hosts discuss and translate a dialogue, providing plenty of grammar notes and cultural information. There’s quite a bit of English happening at the lower levels, but this phases out as you progress to more advanced material. Review.

Save 25% on a subscription by using the coupon code ‘ALLLANGUAGERESOURCES‘.

Visit SpanishPod101

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!

Visit FLUENTU

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!

Visit ITALKI

 


A few of the resources mentioned in the video aren’t available as apps, but can be found in our post about the best Spanish courses. Be sure to subscribe and stay tuned for the second video where we cover 12 more good apps and courses for learning Spanish.
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How to Learn Spanish at Every Stage of the Journey

Spanish language learners are often confronted with a host of difficult questions: Are some people just naturally good at languages, and others aren’t? How long does it take? Can adults even learn languages? Do you need to move to Spain to learn Spanish? What exactly did the people who have learned Spanish actually do?

Language learning is a personal experience at its core, and what works for some simply might not work for others. In this post, we aim to shed light on the Spanish-learning process: practical tips, solid strategies, quality resources, and effective advice.

First, we’ll take a look at some of the internal processes involved in learning a new language: goal setting, mindset, and study habits. Then, we’ll explore some popular theories related to language acquisition and how you can use them to improve your Spanish right away.

Finally, after identifying specific challenges and solutions at every level of Spanish, we’ll detail some handy self-study techniques and tools that you can use to reach your Spanish goals.

Learning Spanish is a long process that’s anything but straightforward. But with the right tools and a realistic perspective, it’s absolutely within reach. Read on to learn more about how you can reach your Spanish goals.

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All the Free Resources You Need to Learn Spanish

When you think about learning Spanish, do you see images of textbooks and classrooms or premium software that arrives in a shiny box? If so, you might also see dollar signs — there’s no doubt that learning a language can cost some serious money.

Fortunately, times have changed — and language learning along with them. At ALR, we’ve tried out hundreds of resources both good and bad, many of which are free. The number of available free resources is a definite advantage to the frugal-minded language learner.

This post will explore the idea that it isn’t necessary to spend any money on your Spanish-learning journey. If you’ve got an internet connection and the motivation, you’ve got all you need for practice with all language skills: speaking, listening, reading, and writing.

Read on to discover an incredible number of worthwhile, free language tools.

Choosing the Right Resources

The variety of resources out there may be daunting at first glance, but choice is a good thing. Some of the most effective resources are those that specialize in one specific skill, and different types of study methods will appeal to different learners.

We’ve organized some highly effective free resources by type below — whether you’re after a structured course, reading materials, videos, podcasts, or someone to chat with, we’ve got you covered.

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Irakaslea

3.4 
Price: Free

Resource Image

Looking for listening comprehension activities in Spanish and Basque? Irakaslea, which means teacher in Basque, has two podcasts dedicated to this: Comprensión oral – Castellano and Ahozko ulermena – Euskera.

Each channel features short, slowly spoken narratives in the target language: stories, mock news broadcasts, and more. The tone is humorous but at times cynical. Unfortunately, there aren’t any transcripts, but the text is slow enough that it’s fairly easy to identify what is being said and look it up in a dictionary.

Many of the episodes are targeted at children in primary school aged roughly 5–11, and the audio quality can vary, so Spanish learners might find that they prefer other channels. For Basque learners, however, this podcast could be a useful addition to their study routine.

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Oxford Dictionaries

4.2 
Price: From free to €16.99, depending on the language

Resource Image

Oxford Dictionary has published numerous bilingual dictionaries over the years, many of which are not designed to be comprehensive. While some are “complete” dictionaries, others are called “mini”, “concise”, “essential” or even “shorter”.

Even the smaller ones are pretty thorough, however. The Oxford Mini Greek dictionary contains 40,000 words and phrases, many of which also contain multiple translations. It’s a lot shorter than the Oxford Hindi dictionary, at 100,000 entries, or the New Oxford American English Dictionary at 350,000 – but it’s still got a wider vocabulary than the average English speaker.

You can purchase the books themselves, but most learners will prefer the convenience of the apps with their regular updates and learner-friendly features. Search Autocomplete, Fuzzy Filter, Wild Card and Voice Search help you find words you don’t know how to spell. Favourites help you save useful words and phrases, while Word of the Day will introduce you to new words. Some dictionaries also contain audio recordings and thesauruses. And the freemium Oxford Dictionary with Translator will translate words and paragraphs to and from 14 languages.

For some languages, learners already have plenty of free, thorough dictionaries available to them. Spanish learners, for example, will probably prefer to combine the free apps SpanishDict and Diccionario RAE (Google Play, App Store). Mandarin Chinese learners will likely find Pleco more useful. But for some languages, these dictionaries may well be the most thorough and reliable ones available.

The rating is our best guess, but we haven’t yet had the opportunity to fully test and review this resource.

 

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Lupa

Price: $12/month zero-commitment or $99/year charged in one lump sum

Quick Review

3.8 

Summary:

Lupa is a podcast-style app that helps Latin American Spanish learners improve their listening comprehension. The company has partnered with NPR’s Radio Ambulante to republish fascinating stories and interviews full of cultural insights and natural Spanish. Then, they have added a bunch of learner-friendly features to help you understand what’s being said: variable speeds, partial transcripts and translations, definitions and more.

The stories are what shine here. They represent diverse communities around Latin America, and the recordings are high quality. Most of our testers found their listening comprehension markedly improved after just a couple of weeks.

However, Lupa could benefit from additional features, such as review activities, interactive quizzes and learner pathways. It’s also not suited to beginners, while lower-intermediate learners may struggle.

Quality

The quality is generally excellent, although the app is difficult to use with a screen reader.

Content

Lupa’s stories are fascinating, if at times heavy-going, but there are no learning pathways and testers struggled to remember vocabulary.

Value

Users found it to be an excellent use of their time but were divided over whether they would pay the subscription rate.

Languages

Latin American Spanish, from Argentina and Chile to Mexico

Price

$12/month zero-commitment or $99/year charged in one lump sum

By signing up via the link below, the cost is $10/month or $84/year.

Listening comprehension is one of the trickiest things to improve as a learner. And the better you get at speaking Spanish, the more likely it is that the person you’re talking with will start using local slang and natural phrasing, like hacer locha (laze about) or revolú (mess).

Enter Lupa, the app designed to improve your listening, give you cultural insights and teach you natural phrases that native speakers really use. You’ll hear “hacer locha” in the episode “No soy tu chiste”, “revolú” in “Juegos de niños”, and lots more in the app’s 100+ stories.

But did it live up to expectations when tested by real Spanish learners? Let’s find out.

Image of woman smiling while using Lupa; text says

How We Tested and Scored Lupa

This is one of our user-tested reviews, which means it was tried and tested by a randomly selected group of 11 intermediate- and advanced-level Spanish learners from our user reviewer database.

The testers tried Lupa out for a period of at least two weeks, during which they periodically filled in surveys about the app: if it offers good value for money, what they like about it, if their listening improved during that period and much more.

At the end of the review period, we entered all the answers to quantitative, numerical questions into our algorithm to get the value, content, quality and overall scores above. (In case you’re wondering how we came up with that algorithm, it’s based on our experiences of reviewing hundreds of resources, as well as studying and teaching languages. And then, we tested it on courses and apps to make sure the scores it produced were fair and accurate.)

Finally, we used Lupa’s scores and the testers’ responses to the qualitative questions to write up this review. And of course, we also tried out Lupa ourselves so we know how it works. Although our personal opinion hasn’t influenced this review at all, we do this to make sure we can write about the resource accurately.

So, now that you know how we reviewed Lupa, let’s take a look at the app. We’ll explore how it works, if it’s effective and interesting, what levels it’s suited to and if it offers value for money.

How to Use Lupa

You can sign up for Lupa online or via the app, but the actual resource is only available via the app. The download and signup process is straightforward.

After downloading it and signing in, you’ll be able to view recommended stories or all stories listed by country, topic, duration or original air date. They range from 5 to 35 minutes in length, so it shouldn’t be too tricky to find one that you have enough time for.

Bear in mind that you won’t be able to find stories ordered by difficulty level. One user said that they would have appreciated “a learner’s track”, explaining that “the first one I clicked on had a really strong accent – I was nowhere near ear-trained enough to get it.”

When browsing by topic, there’s a wide range of alphabetically ordered themes, such as conflict, LGBTQI+, literature, migration, food, music, racism, women’s rights, work, politics, sports and more. There isn’t a drop-down or collapsible menu for the topics, so you have to scroll past all the themes and stories until you find the one that interests you. This can be unwieldy; one tester mentioned that “the long list of stories is a little overwhelming to scroll through.”

Once you’ve chosen and clicked on a story, you’ll see an English-language blurb. If it interests you, then you need to download the story. From there, the story will be split into short chapters that are just a couple of minutes long. Click “Begin chapter” to start.

This is when Lupa really begins to offer something more for users than just access to the free Radio Ambulante episodes. If the story features a more challenging accent or non-standard Spanish, it will start off with some notes to help you make sense of it.

Screenshot of Lupa app with a description of the Argentinian accent and dialect.

Once you’ve pressed play, you can choose how much help you receive from the transcripts and translations. You can opt to listen without a transcript, with key Spanish vocabulary showing from the transcript or while simultaneously reading the English translation of the transcript.

If you choose to see some key vocabulary, you can also adjust how much you want to see. The options are vocabulary, mistakes made by the interviewees, and “tricky bits”. You can also choose to see “passage hints” at the top of the screen, which will tell you in English what’s being discussed. For example, it might say “some of Sandra’s characteristics”.

Regardless of the transcript you choose – even if it’s the blurred-out “no transcript” option – it will automatically scroll so that you can see where you are in the story.

A screenshot of the Lupa app with the Spanish transcript mostly obscured; only important words are shown
A screenshot of the Lupa app with the transcript hidden
A screenshot of the Lupa app with an English-language translation of the transcript on the screen.

You can also vary the speed and click on underlined words and phrases to see the definition. Unless it’s an example of incorrect Spanish, doing this adds the vocabulary to your vocab bank. You can remove it from there without having to leave the story.

However, regardless of how much of the transcript you’ve chosen to see, you cannot click on a word that isn’t underlined. If you don’t understand it, you have to try to work it out from the context. One user wrote, “I really wanted to be able to click on any words, not just the ones they thought I wouldn’t know.”

A screenshot of the Lupa app that shows the definition of an underlined word in the transcript

You’re encouraged to listen to each story twice, the second time without the transcript. You can also export your vocab bank, i.e. receive an email with files that can then be imported into apps like Anki and Quizlet.

Once you’ve finished listening to the story, you can mark it as complete and select a new one to listen to. You also gain stars for the number of minutes you spend listening and re-listening to stories, although they don’t seem to serve any purpose beyond making you feel good about your studies.

Is Lupa Easy to Use and Accessible?

Lupa scored an average of 4 out of 5 for being user-friendly, but it’s not all good news, especially when it comes to accessibility.

Lupa has a lot of options designed to help you choose exactly how difficult you want your listening task to be. As such, it can take a few minutes to work out how to toggle them all on and off – to the point that one user described it as “cumbersome”.

Most users agreed that the tutorials helped them, so check out the Studying With Lupa section if you feel lost. As one said, “I was confused about all the functions at first, but I was able to figure them out quickly, and you can easily find a description on the app’s website which is also linked in the app.”

Disappointingly, though, one tester reported that Lupa isn’t as accessible for visually impaired learners and other users of screen readers as it could be. “I am blind and the app isn’t easy to navigate with a screen reader,” they said, adding that “there are no clear paths to follow.”

Another wrote, “I would like to have a desktop version. Because of my rheumatoid arthritis I have difficulty with my fingers and find cellphones challenging to operate.”

Hopefully, Lupa will improve the app’s accessibility in the future. But for now, users with screen readers or who struggle with phones should take that into account when deciding whether or not to subscribe. We recommend making good use of the free trial before committing so that you know exactly how challenging it will be.

Lupa’s Stories: Are They Interesting & Relevant?

Time and again, testers praised the stories as “interesting”, “relevant”, and covering diverse topics. In many cases, they were their favourite thing about Lupa. One said, “[They] are by far the best part. They are so engaging!”. Another wrote, “It’s fun, and I learn. Win-win.”

They also give valuable cultural insights. One tester called them “a true window into the countries of Latin America,” while another said, “I really had little idea of the existence of black Colombians. Or reaffirmation of the presence of Korean Argentines. And… about mate and milonguear. Language and cultural insights are inextricably interwoven.”

However, Lupa’s stories aren’t for everyone. Another tester described them as “heavy”, and lacking “humorous” and “cheerful” ones. They said, “I’d like light-hearted stories. My biggest reason for not using the resource as often as I wanted to was because I knew I was going to have to read a story I wouldn’t particularly enjoy because they’re all so serious.”

If you’re looking for something that’s more El ministerio del tiempo than Ya no estoy aquí, you might struggle to find as many stories to your liking. Many interviewees narrate traumatic experiences, which can make for intense listening. Some episodes start with Spanish-language warnings of graphic descriptions of violence and sexual abuse, but the English-language descriptions do not always mention this.

However, if you’re interested in deep dives and inclusive human-interest stories, you’ll probably find plenty of interesting and thought-provoking pieces among Lupa’s content.

Screenshot of available stories via the Lupa app

Does Lupa Have Content for All Spanish Dialects?

Lupa currently features stories from 15 different Latin American countries, as well as from members of the Latin American diaspora. One user, despite generally not liking Lupa’s content, said, “It’s super useful because it’s done by place, which is interesting and unique as far as language apps go – you often just pick between Spain and ‘Latin America’ as though it’s all the same in Latin America.”

But not all countries are currently equally represented. Another found that, “At the moment the stories are a little tilted towards a few countries. Some have few contributions (e.g. Bolivia), others are absent (e.g. Paraguay, Uruguay).”

Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Pero, Puerto Rico, Brazil, United States: these are some of the countries with the most stories. Others, such as Guatemala and Honduras, only have a couple of stories each at the time of this article’s publication. However, this may change as more episodes are published.

Screenshot of Lupa app with stories organised by country; there is 1 story for the Dominican Republic and 4 for Ecuador

It’s also worth stressing that Lupa is focused on Latin America. One user was disappointed by the lack of Spain-related content along with Castilian Spanish accents and dialects. Although there is at least one Spanish journalist featured in Lupa, it’s not possible to search by the journalists’ names.

It can be hard to find resources that cater for both European and Latin American Spanish. But if you want to learn Spanish as it’s spoken in Spain, scroll down to the end of this article. We’ve listed some recommendations for you.

Will Lupa Improve Your Spanish?

We asked Lupa what we could expect to improve or gain through using the app, and they told us that learners would improve their listening comprehension, learn slang/natural phrases and gain cultural insights.

So what did our testers think? Well, they gave it 4.1 out of 5 for listening, 3.8 out of 5 for slang/natural phrases and 4.4 out of 5 for cultural insights. The last score should come as no surprise, given how informative and interesting most users found the stories to be. But let’s take a look at the other two in more detail.


  • How Quickly Does Lupa Improve Your Listening Comprehension?

Our testers scored Lupa over the course of two weeks, and 90% of them used it either every day, most days or every other day. Nearly all of them reported noticing an improvement in their listening comprehension.

One said, “Listening comprehension is so incredibly difficult for me, and I’m actually getting better! This is semi-miraculous. I am an older learner (60-ish), I have life-long auditory processing difficulties (which impact my listening comprehension even in English, my native language), and I have a serious chronic health issue that comes with massive fatigue and brain fog. So I’m never going to be good at this. But this is giving me a start. A really good start.”

They added, “The sense of accomplishment is tremendously gratifying… every time that I listen to a story at speed and actually hear/understand the words spoken, it feels like a tremendous achievement.”

Some reported that it wasn’t just the extra exposure to Spanish audio that helped them improve, but also the range of speakers and Lupa’s extra features. One said, “I love the various adjustments that can be made to the settings. On the – for me – more difficult presentations, I could work my way up to speed. To hear a variety of voices is also a boon.”

Another described Lupa as “hugely helpful” for listening comprehension, explaining how they adjust the audio speed, increasing it over time, and also use the transcript tools to challenge their listening. “I love how you can cover up the transcript and just ‘click’ for tricky words that you miss,” they said, “so you’re not focused on reading but you still get the full story.”

Screenshot of the Lupa app with the story Yo, nena


  • Does Lupa Teach You Slang and Natural Phrases?

Lupa definitely introduces you to plenty of slang and natural phrases, but whether or not it teaches you them is another matter.

One user said, “There are so many pieces of slang in each story, it’s sort of info overload; I would have to use another system to supplement to memorize all of those… You just get 30 new phrases and 30 more in the next story and so on. Because it’s so much, I don’t know if I could actually use any of the phrases I heard.”

They felt that if Lupa had learner pathways that introduced you to a series of stories using the same slang, they might have remembered them better.

Another reported remembering the phrases – but it was because they listened to each story multiple times. “There are native speakers talking all the time so the material is full of phrases and slang which is explained and translated in the resource so you can learn. And because I listen to each section several times I am actually starting to recognize some phrases.”

And another tester had a more balanced perspective. “Some natural phrases – that I didn’t get from formal learning resources – crop up all the time, across multiple stories. Those have been easy to absorb, and give a very pleasing sense of familiarity with the natural rhythms of the language… However, many of the slang/dialect phrases occur only once in a single story, so they aren’t going to stick with me unless I work at learning them.”

Screenshot of Lupa app and the story No soy tu chiste

Ultimately, Lupa helps you to understand the stories and improve your listening comprehension, but it has limited review activities. Numerous users mentioned wanting more in-app drilling opportunities for the vocabulary. Other features they would have liked included comprehension quizzes, writing activities based on the story or vocabulary, and a way to save snippets of audio to review later.

How much of an issue this is depends on your goals. If you want to learn lots of vocabulary, you’ll need to use Lupa in tandem with another resource (and we’ll talk about some of those later).

If, however, you’re happy just picking up the odd piece of vocabulary here and there, you might find Lupa works well for that. Since it introduces them in a natural way, you’re more likely to find them meaningful. As one user reported back, “The ‘natural phrases’ also give insight into a people. How was I to know that lechuza isn’t only an owl. Could be a funeral director or a snoop. Wonderful!”

Sign up via the link below to get a discounted price. 

Visit Lupa

What Level Is Lupa Suited To?

Lupa has plenty to teach you, but you’ll always learn best when a resource is targeted at the right difficulty level. Too difficult, and you’ll find yourself demotivated and overly reliant on the translations. Too easy, and you might find it’s not worth your time – although nobody reported finding Lupa too easy.

Most testers agreed that Lupa is well-suited to upper-intermediate and advanced students. One said, “It’s targeted to intermediate and advanced learners, and that’s exactly right. The material is more than half professional ‘radio voices’ which are easier for intermediate learners to parse and understand, and then a mixture of clips of ordinary people speaking with accents from all around the Spanish-speaking world. So there’s stuff to challenge more advanced learners, too.”

Another, however, struggled to find content at the right difficulty level and pointed out that the app’s lack of pathways can make it frustrating. “Perhaps there are easier stories, but the stories aren’t labeled (that I’ve seen) by fluency level,” they said. “They’re only labeled by subject matter.”

One thing is for certain: Lupa has plenty to challenge you. You’ll be exposed to a wide range of native speakers, many of whom have different accents, dialects and backgrounds. As one user said about the interviewees, “[the] mumbling is realistic but can be frustrating.”

You’ll also likely be introduced to new vocabulary. Another tester, who considers themselves an advanced Spanish speaker, wrote, “Content is comprehensible while providing new/unfamiliar words and expressions.”

Even though Lupa can be challenging, it won’t leave you floundering. There are sufficient features that, with a bit of hard work, anyone should be able to follow the story. One user said, “It’s definitely tricky, but with the transcript, adjustable speeds, and translations, it makes it a lot easier.”

You can also start with more familiar accents and move on to ones that offer more of a challenge, although it may take some experimentation at first to work out which accents you find easier.

And despite the difficult content, our testers still enjoyed using Lupa. In fact, they gave it an average of 4.2 out of 5 for how much they were enjoying it, with only one person scoring it lower than 4. And several mentioned that the app’s challenging nature made seeing their progress very rewarding.

In short, Lupa isn’t an easy app, but the dialogues are realistic. Upper-intermediate learners will likely find it a sufficient challenge, with Lupa’s student-friendly features essential to following the story. Advanced users may find the narrators’ voices easy to understand, but they’ll likely discover new phrases, and listening to the interviewees could require some concentration.

Screenshot of Lupa app with description of the story Laurinha quiere jugar

Does Lupa Offer Value for Money?

We define value as being a good use of both your time and money. So, what did our user reviewers make of Lupa?

They gave the app an impressive 4.3 out of 5 for being a good use of their time, but not all of them were convinced by the price. In fact, when asked “how happy would you be to pay for it?”, the average score dropped to 3.2 out of 5.

Before you assume that Lupa is overpriced, however, it’s worth mentioning that this question had one of the biggest median ranges on the survey. In other words, some people were very happy to pay that price – but others weren’t at all.

And despite the price, nearly every user reviewer said they would recommend Lupa. Confused? Let’s unpack the answers a bit more and explore whether Lupa is worth paying for.

The biggest point of contention was whether it was worth paying for a resource that, while high quality, had a very specific focus. One user said, “It’s solely listening, and I would be uncomfortable to pay $12 [the monthly subscription rate] and have to buy other resources to supplement other areas like speaking.”

This was a common refrain. Another user said, “This app is doing an excellent job of teaching listening comprehension, and that is one of the hardest aspects of language learning. So, maximum value-for-dollar if I consider just that single focus. At the same time, it’s only one aspect of the process. It doesn’t address all my language learning needs, and with a limited budget, that means juggling which paid resources I am using at any given time.”

Among those who were willing to pay for it, there were two main groups: those who would prefer the annual plan and those who would sign up for a month at a time. One person said, “I would take the yearly subscription. For the cost of a coffee a week, I am getting a good deal.”

Others, however, preferred the idea of subscribing for just a few months and using it intensively before moving onto a new resource. Among those, a couple of testers were unsure about whether Lupa would continue offering value by the time they’d caught up on previously published stories.

It’s worth mentioning that this is more likely to be an issue if you use it prolifically and only want to listen to stories from certain countries or about certain themes. Lupa has already uploaded over 100 stories and releases a new one every week. If you signed up at the time of this article’s publication, were happy to listen to everything and averaged three new stories a week, you would run out of material after 11.5 months – or effectively, at the end of a year-long subscription.

So, what does this mean for you? Let’s sum it up: Lupa represents good value for money if you’re happy to pay for a resource that’s focused on one skill set. If you want to work on speaking, writing and grammar, you’ll need to use other resources alongside it (and we’ve recommended some complementary resources for this below).

What’s more, advanced learners who don’t need Lupa’s extra features may prefer to just use Radio Ambulante. As one tester said, “You can look at the transcriptions and translations of the episodes for free on the website.”

And finally, when choosing between the monthly or annual plan, think about how quickly you’ll listen to the stories. If you’re going to use the resource a lot, you might prefer a monthly plan that will allow you to sprint through the episodes and then cancel your subscription. However, if you prefer a slower pace, the annual plan could add up to a significant saving.

Screenshot of Lupa app showing the story Éxodo

Is Lupa Right for You?

Everybody learns differently, which means Lupa will simultaneously be someone’s ideal app and disappoint someone else. So let’s take a look at who Lupa is (and isn’t) well-suited to.

First, Lupa probably isn’t the best choice for you if you want:

  • Light-hearted study materials
  • An all-in-one app that will train you on reading, writing, speaking, grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation in addition to listening
  • Practice activities and learner pathways
  • To use a screen reader

However, Lupa could be right for you if you’re happy with the price and you:

  • Want to improve your listening comprehension with a variety of Latin American accents
  • Would like to gain lots of cultural insights, especially into under-represented communities and cultures
  • Either don’t care about memorising all the new vocabulary you come across or are willing to use Lupa alongside a flashcard-based resource
  • Already have a strong base in Spanish – or relish the idea of being challenged

Lupa is a high-quality resource with a fantastic range of stories for learners to select from. Its student-friendly additional features will help you enjoy material that would normally be too challenging – although it’s focused on helping you understand the material, not remember it. And the app will really push your listening comprehension.

Lupa might not be the right tool for everyone. But for some learners, it will be an excellent choice.

Resources to Use Alongside Lupa

Since Lupa’s focused on listening comprehension, most learners will want to use it alongside other resources. Flashcard apps will help you remember the new vocabulary you come across. Anki is not the most entertaining of apps, but it’s highly customisable and uses SRS to improve your long-term recall. Or for something more interactive and gamified, create your own Memrise decks.

To put this new vocabulary into practice and make sure your speaking skills are as strong as your listening comprehension, you could also take Spanish classes. There are plenty of options for one-to-one classes online. In particular, Baselang (review) and SpanishVIP (review) both offer literally unlimited Spanish classes with Latin American teachers for a monthly fee.

You could also try Madrid-based Aprende Hablando, which has a similar model but also offers European Spanish classes. However, we haven’t a chance to try Aprende Hablando, so we can’t confirm the quality or value.

Looking for some more grammar practice but don’t want to sign up for classes? Babbel (review) is a more serious version of a gamified language app, and it’s got plenty of Spanish courses for you to choose from: beginner up to advanced, business Spanish, travel basics, Mexican Spanish, grammar, vocabulary, listening and speaking, idioms…

Alternatively, Fluencia (review) has well-structured and comprehensive beginner and intermediate-level courses with a strong focus on grammar and vocabulary.

Lupa Alternatives that will Improve Your Listening Comprehension – & More

If Lupa doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, don’t worry: there are plenty of alternative options.

  • If you want something easier…

A recurring comment from our testers was the difficulty of Lupa’s podcast episodes. If you like the idea of the app but want something a little less challenging, try one of these:

News in Slow Spanish (review) started life as a podcast and developed into an array of podcast-esque courses. As the name implies, even higher-level content is slowly narrated.

Spanish Uncovered (review), designed for complete beginner to lower-intermediate (B1) students, is a 20-chapter original audiobook interspersed with lots of Spanish video lessons. It’s pricey but entertaining.

Destinos (mini review) adds some drama to your studies – quite literally. This free, beginner-level video course tells the story of a lawyer investigating a family secret.

  • If you want something with European Spanish…

Lupa will give you almost zero practice with European Spanish. If you want to develop an ear for el acento madrileño, valenciano or gallego, give some of these a go:

News in Slow Spanish (review) has a 100% Castilian Spanish version of all its courses and podcasts. It’s well-suited to beginner and intermediate-level learners.

Lengalia (review) has courses, videos and podcasts for Castilian Spanish learners of all levels, from complete beginners upwards. It’s based on the CEFR levels, so unlike some resources, its advanced levels really can challenge C1+ learners.

iVoox is one of Spain’s most used podcasting sites and apps. Opt for some of the more popular podcasts, like La Rosa de los Vientos, Carne Cruda, La Escóbula de la Brújula or SER Historia. Or browse for something less well-known but no less interesting.

  • If you want something more well-rounded or structured…

Lupa might develop your listening comprehension and introduce you to a wide range of vocabulary, but it’s not very structured. Moreover, there’s limited grammar practice. So if you’re looking for something that’s more like an audio course, try these out:

Coffee Break Spanish (review) has a huge number of well-organised podcast-esque lessons at all levels. They’re relaxed and unintimidating, and lots of the material is available for free. It primarily teaches European Spanish.

Lengalia (review) is as structured as it comes, with courses from complete beginner (A0) up to upper advanced (C2). It’s mostly focused on Castilian Spanish, but there’s also a B2-level Latin American Spanish podcast-based course with lots of accompanying exercises.

Spanish Uncovered (review) offers the best of both worlds: a 20-chapter original audiobook that grows more difficult over time; and an array of grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation and culture lessons. The only downside is the high price.

Sign up via the link below to get a discounted price. 

Visit Lupa

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