Spanish

35 Best Podcasts to Improve Your Spanish at Any Level

Podcasts are an excellent resource for language learning. Not only can they improve your listening comprehension, but you can also use them to practice speaking. Shadowing and the interview method are just two of the many self-study activities you can pair with podcasts to enrich your experience.

You can also enjoy learning two things at once, such as Latin American History or the inner workings of your own mind — all while increasing your Spanish vocabulary.

But, as we know, anyone can publish a podcast. So how do you know which ones are both enjoyable and level-appropriate?

That’s where we come in. Below are our top 35 recommendations for Spanish podcasts, organized by level for your listening enjoyment. Choose one or many to accompany you on your Spanish learning journey.

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Level-Up Your Spanish With 31 Great YouTube Channels

Anyone who has searched “Learn Spanish” on YouTube knows that the list of videos is endless. Some channels have produced two or three videos, others seem to film a new one every day. But which ones should you use to take your Spanish to the next level?

Below are 31 of our favourite YouTube channels for any level. Whether you’re a beginner or almost fluent, we’re sure you’ll find something that will enrich your Spanish studies — all from the comfort of your own digital device.

 

All Levels

Easy Spanish

With Easy Spanish, you can immerse yourself in local Spanish from Latin America, Mexico, and Spain.

Beginner to advanced learners will strike gold with the street interviews. In these high-quality videos, of which there are already more than 200, the interviewer asks questions to random people on the street. With Spanish and English subtitles by your side, the interviews will surely improve your ability to understand real-world Spanish.

Easy Spanish also covers basic grammar, culture, slang, travel vlogs, and crossover episodes with the other Easy Languages channels.

Spanishland School

Spanishland School is an excellent resource for upper-beginner and intermediate learners to grasp the ins and outs of the Spanish language.

In this series, Andrea (from Columbia), does an excellent job of describing nuances between Spanish and English, and within the Spanish language itself. What are five of the many ways to use the word faltar? Which important idiomatic expressions use the word por? And what are the nine mistakes that English speakers always make when speaking Spanish?

With Spanishland School, you’ll find the answers to these questions, plus challenges, grammar explanations, and listening comprehension exercises. If you want more from Andrea, you can tune into her podcasts or become a Parcero member.

Tio Spanish

You’ve been watching videos with expressive Spanish teachers who use props and gestures to get their meaning across, but now you want something a little different. Why not try learning from a finger with two eyes and a mustache?

Tio Spanish delivers just that. Its Spanish-only videos are surprisingly creative and entertaining. With the help of other finger characters, this channel teaches vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation, conversation, and culture for all levels.

The videos provide an excellent review or introduction to different topics, usually in under five minutes. The mustache-finger character also gives you dictations and other exercises for your learning enjoyment.

Dreaming Spanish

Whether you’re a total beginner or have been studying for years, Pablo and his team are ready to immerse you in Spanish.

Dreaming Spanish produces comprehensible input videos for every level. The theory is that through listening, you will be able to naturally develop vocabulary, grammar, speaking abilities, and comprehension. In the beginner videos, Pablo uses gestures, drawings, and objects to help you follow along. As you advance, you will watch interviews, tour around different countries, or tag along for a bike ride. The best videos are led by Pablo, but you can check out other presenters to hear a variety of accents.

If you go to the Dreaming Spanish website, you can sort videos by dialect, presenter, and topic. The website also keeps track of how many minutes you have cumulatively watched.

Spanish Around

You may have been sad when Juan left Easy Spanish to focus on his own projects, but here he is again! Juan, Fer, and Baruch, the original Easy Spanish production team, now produce high-quality videos for all levels on their channel, Spanish Around.

They typically produce several videos per month with subtitles in both Spanish and English. You’ll learn colloquialisms, slang, filler words, and tips to improve your Spanish. You’ll also be able to familiarize yourself with a variety of Spanish accents through their street interviews.

Support them on Pateron to get PDF vocabulary lists, worksheets, and transcripts.

Maria Español

Unlike many YouTubers who use gestures, skits, and images to provide comprehensible input to Spanish learners, Maria uses more oral explanations and text. But, her explanations are clear and varied, so it’s still a good resource to get more information about various grammar concepts.

She has over 350 videos with interviews, listening comprehension exercises, vocabulary quizzes, grammar explanations, and notes on colloquial Spanish.

Her most recent videos were filmed specifically for her YouTube audience. The earlier ones, however, are hour-long recordings of online classes that cover a specific topic — from levels A1 to C1. You may enjoy following along with real students as they interact with Maria’s lessons.

 

Beginner

Spanish Playground

Spanish Playground is constantly producing short videos for beginners to improve their Spanish. Even though everything is 100% in Spanish, the presenters make sure to speak slowly, using objects and gestures to help you understand them.

You’ll experience the Spanish language through conversations, games, skits, and listening exercises. They also have videos for kids, and a 4-season series, Buena Gente, for beginners. Most of the episodes have Spanish subtitles that you can add to help you follow along.

Their website has free comprehension questions for Buena Gente, plus tons of other material for learning Spanish (though mostly for kids).

Spanish and Go

Spanish and Go teaches practical travel Spanish that you won’t find in your textbook. In many of these videos, Jim (from the USA) and May (from Mexico) tour you around Spanish-speaking countries. With them as your guides, you can experience real-life interactions before you encounter them on your travels.

After each interaction, they break down each line of dialogue to translate or explain how you can start using the language on your own. Some videos take place with locals at a store, hotel, or restaurant, while others are short skits in random locations.

When you’re not exploring different cities, you will learn travel tips and expressions that will help you blend in. This channel uses a lot of English and is mostly for beginners — intermediate learners can tune into their Podcast, which is entirely in Spanish.

Butterfly Spanish

Ana from Butterfly Spanish is a linguist and a native Spanish speaker. She uses a whiteboard and her wealth of knowledge to teach Spanish vocabulary, pronunciation, expressions, and grammar. Her dynamic personality inspires learning, even when dealing with lists of verb conjugations.

Beginner and intermediate learners need not feel intimidated by the wall of writing that usually starts each video. Ana uses English to ensure that you fully understand each topic, providing lots of examples and extra enthusiasm for the tricky bits.

Spring Spanish

Spring Spanish publishes five videos each week to help beginners learn Spanish without memorizing grammar rules or word lists. To do this, each video uses Lukas Van Vyve’s method of Conversation Based Chunking, which trains you to develop fluid speech using four steps: first, listen to native speakers; second, identify speech patterns (chunks); third, memorize these patterns; and lastly, use these patterns aloud.

You’re not completely off the hook for verb conjugation tables and grammar explanations in these videos, but the point isn’t to memorize them. Your goal is to practice speaking aloud with the sentences that are highlighted on the screen and start making connections with the sentence patterns.

The co-founder of Spring Spanish also offers free Spanish training to practice the Conversation Based Chunking method. You can also watch this video to get a better idea of how to use the method with movies.

SpanishPod101

Spanishpod 101 may send a lot of spammy emails, and they may be heavy into advertising, but they also provide a ton of free videos to improve your Spanish learning journey. Many of them teach the language itself, others give you cultural information, and the rest provide tips to improve your language learning process.

Though there are several listening exercises for intermediate and advanced learners, beginners will probably get the most out of this channel. But, like in their paid podcast, you will have to sort through the playlists to find videos and themes that work best for you.

If you’d like to learn more about SpanishPod101, you can read our full review here.

Spanish After Hours

Watching Spanish After Hours is like having a fun conversation with a Spanish friend. From day one, Laura has produced impressively dynamic videos to teach Spanish. Her channel is a combination of comprehensible input, language learning tips, and explanations about the language. The videos are currently for beginner and intermediate learners, and most of them are entirely in Spanish.

Laura intersperses her enthusiasm with good-natured sarcasm. She will teach you how to make a brownie in a cup, train your listening comprehension with stories, and answer your questions about the Spanish language. There’s even a video that shows you how she and her friends interact during a game of Among Us.

Español con María

Español con María, not to be confused with María Español, produces a mixture of vlogs and Spanish lessons for beginners and intermediate learners. In her beginner videos, you can listen to her translations between both Spanish and English. This may benefit learners who want to start listening to lots of Spanish right away, but don’t have the foundation to understand full sentences.

María teaches pronunciation, customs in Latino culture, vocabulary, and grammar. If you’re more in the mood for exploring Colombia or other countries, you can listen to her vlogs where she narrates her travels in clear and easy Spanish.

The videos seem a little more disorganized than in other channels we recommend, but she still provides a lot of helpful information. She also provides courses for listening, speaking, and pronunciation on her website.

Practiquemos

It may not seem apparent at first, but Cata gets quite creative with her explanations on this channel. The videos are entirely in Spanish with Spanish subtitles, but she dresses up, acts out different scenes, and uses gestures and facial expressions to communicate with her audience.

Beginners and lower-intermediate students will probably have some “aha!” moments with Cata’s fresh perspective on a variety of grammar topics. Her authenticity and passion for teaching Spanish make up for the sometimes slightly out-of-date graphics. But, it’s not clear if she plans to continue producing videos.

 

Intermediate

Espanol Con Juan

There are very few things that Juan can’t offer to improve your Spanish. Really, he does it all: he writes graded readers, produces online courses, records podcasts with free transcripts, and has his own YouTube channel. What’s more? It’s almost all free.

Juan uses his experience as a former Spanish professor at the University College London to help you advance your Spanish. From levels A1 to B2, he immerses you in the Spanish language with personal anecdotes, interviews, stories, and of course, grammar. With his gestures, props, and animated personality, Juan will surely take your learning to the next level.

You can also check out his free course for learners transitioning from A2 to B1, or all of the previously mentioned resources that he so expertly provides.

Spanishpodcast.net

SpanishPodcast.net makes both of our lists for the best YouTube and Podcast channels to learn Spanish. Their 10-15 minute Spanish-only videos provide lots of examples of how to use different grammar concepts and vocabulary words in context. Alex, your host, calmly and clearly teaches idioms, grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation. You can also enjoy listening to Alex’s stories and tips to improve your Spanish.

The videos are simple, but they highlight key concepts with images or words. Alex often breaks down each video into separate topics, so you can skip around to find what interests you. Upper beginner students might want to turn on the Spanish subtitles to follow along or find the full, free transcripts on spanishpodcast.net

Spanish Like a Pro!

Spanish Like a Pro! proves that something can feel both retro and modern at the same time. Julio Foppoli, a Spanish teacher from Argentina, started this channel to provide both fun and practical material for Spanish learners. This is probably the quirkiest of our suggestions: instead of watching Julio’s face, you’ll watch hand puppets acting out entertaining — and sometimes absurd — scenes.

His videos include in-depth listening comprehension exercises with mini-dialogues. He also simplifies complex topics and relates current events with interactive activities. The videos for beginners don’t seem as enjoyable as in other channels we have suggested, but intermediate learners will surely enjoy the content that Julio has to offer.

Why Not Spanish?

María, a Spanish teacher from Colombia, doesn’t just teach grammar and vocabulary; she will also keep you up to date with pop-culture through memes and songs, and introduce you to several Spanish-speaking friends. You may choose to refine your comprehension and recall through a variety of quizzes, games, dictations, and other exercises, or just enjoy one of María’s casual vlogs.

Although most of the recent episodes are Spanish-only, beginners can enjoy the mixture of English and Spanish in the earlier episodes (or check out María’s courses).

Spanishbylourdes

Lourdes’ contagious smile and enthusiasm will get you motivated to learn Spanish — and brighten your day. Her explanations may not be as comprehensive as in other channels, but she is a great resource for you to review important concepts.

Her intermediate videos cover pronunciation, vocabulary, common expressions, and grammar. She also has lots of videos intended to train your listening comprehension.

But really, you won’t find many channels that are as consistently energetic as in Spanishbylourdes!

 

Intermediate/Advanced

Spanish with Vincente

Spanish with Vincente features none other than Vincente: an experienced Spanish teacher, YouTube personality, and DELE examiner at the Instituto Cervantes. He uses his deep understanding of the Spanish language to help you gain insight into nuances and expressions in the Spanish language.

Instead of simple lectures for common grammar points, Vincente provides numerous examples of grammar and vocabulary being used in everyday situations. He uses skits, gestures, and objects to make his explanations clearer, and gets creative with on-screen text to highlight important concepts.

This is an excellent channel for intermediate learners to expand their understanding of Spanish. If you want more from Vincente, check out his Academia de Español Online. It includes courses, activities, podcasts, PDF transcripts, and exercises.

Curiosamente

Curiosamente is actually an animated science and culture channel for native speakers. But, the engaging animations and information make it an excellent resource for practicing listening comprehension and expanding your vocabulary.

If you’re someone who is curious about physics, philosophy, history, technology — or anything really — this is the channel for you. It publishes new episodes every Sunday, and there are already well over 300 videos to choose from. Though some of the titles are in English, all of the videos are in Spanish.

Erre que ELE

In these immersive Spanish videos, Lucia uses props, skits, and drawings to clarify each topic. Her pleasantly sassy personality shines through the characters in her skits, and it’s helpful to see her play the part of both the student and the teacher to highlight common mistakes.

In her day-to-day life, Lucia is a Spanish teacher in China. Her goal is to teach about the language and culture of Spain and help Spanish learners understand how Spanish people think.

Though the channel is relatively new, Lucia seems to update it semi-weekly. You can find free transcriptions and exercises for the videos (and her podcast) on her website.

FundéuRAE

FundéuRAE is a non-profit organization that promotes the “proper” usage of Spanish in all forms of media. You won’t learn any slang or everyday colloquialisms on this channel, but it is an excellent resource for intermediate and advanced speakers who want to refine their Spanish for academic purposes.

Here you can find alternatives for Spanish anglicisms like ‘gym’ or ‘backpacker’ (or rather, ‘begpacker’), or the multiple ways to describe ‘fake news’. You will also learn about proper word usage, the Spanish ‘word of the year,’ and how to pronounce the names of notable people in the media.

The videos are often between 30 seconds to 2-minutes long, but they also have hour-long videos of debates from the Seminario Internacional de Lengua y Periodismo.

 

Advanced

Casi Creativo

Fred Lammie, an animator and creative director in Barcelona, produces weekly animations in Spanish. You’ll be sure to keep up to date with the latest slang while enjoying these engaging videos.

The short clips may be for native speakers, but sometimes he focuses on common grammatical errors that native speakers themselves make. When Fred is not dramatizing the effects of poorly spoken Spanish, he produces random videos whose only connecting thread, other than the occasional ‘friendship’ theme, is the animation style.

Learn about starting conversations, types of doctors, and StroopWafels with these 2-3 minute clips — or enjoy a song with Fred’s surprisingly skilled vocals.

Magic Markers

Take your Spanish a level up from Curiosamente with Magic Marker — a channel that professionally explains things. Their videos use animation, paper figures, and drawings — all of which are clearly designed by professional artists.

The company produces content for other organizations, but their YouTube channel is specifically dedicated to topics that interest the creators, such as science, economics, social issues, and more.

If you want to hear more from the director, Santiago, he also collaborates with a producer of Radio Ambulante to publish podcasts on Cosas de Internet.

Enchufe TV

If you’re a fan of the English YouTube channel, CollegeHumor, you’ll enjoy Enchufe TV. This Ecuadorian comedy channel, with over 24 million subscribers, films multiple sketches each week. The stories are often absurd, ironic, and downright hilarious. You’ll watch exaggerated family dynamics, relatable student-life experiences, and humorous depictions of holidays and traditions.

A lot of the videos have both Spanish and English subtitles, which is helpful given how fast the exchanges between the characters can be. There are at least 500 videos already available, with new episodes published multiple times per week.

Vice en Español

Like the English version, Vice en Español highlights underreported stories that cover major topics: culture, art, fashion, social movements, crime, and more.

With the wide variety of Spanish accents that Vice en Español provides, these informative, inspiring, and sometimes controversial videos will provide you with diverse language input.

If you’re looking to practice your Spanish with a dinner recipe, a humorous sketch, or while learning about a current political crisis, Vice has got your back.

Xpress TV

XpressTV is a popular Mexican YouTube channel that explores the curiosities of the internet, movies, animals, and everything else. You’ll learn a lot in a short amount of time, and suddenly have a wealth of fun facts to share at parties.

In these videos, you’ll go behind specific scenes in commercials and movies, learn 30 new facts in 5 minutes (dozens of times), and basically become fascinated by the ins and outs of things that you were never curious about in the first place.

If you like the internet, you’ll probably like this channel. You can also check out Genial, an even more popular channel that has a slightly greater focus on society and the planet.

Luisito Comunica

Travel around the world with the second most famous YouTuber in Mexico, Luisito. With him as your vlogger guide, you can explore Ecuador, Japan, Israel, Russia, China, Turkey, and more, while learning about pop culture and current events.

When Luisito isn’t traveling the world, he still produces content about anything and everything. What is school like in prison? Where does your drinking water come from? What happens to abandoned planes, and what do they look like inside?

You’ll also see him try a variety of products, from the cheapest to the most expensive, making commentaries and comparisons along the way.

Hola Soy German

Chilean YouTube star, German, has over 42 million subscribers and is currently one of the most famous Spanish-speaking YouTubers. Though he has an active channel, the one we recommend is Hola Soy German, which is no longer updated.

With over 140 videos available, you can enjoy topics such as sports, movies, zombies, and more. Many of them are skits he performs with himself as a one-man show, while others are in the style of a vlog.

If you like gaming, you can also check out his other channel, JuegaGerman, where he spends most of the time streaming and commenting on video games.

La Ruta de la Garnacha

Learn about Mexican culture through its street food. Lalo takes you to all of the best locations to eat in Mexico, chatting with locals and passing by gorgeous city structures along the way. Most videos have Spanish subtitles to help you follow along, or you can just enjoy looking at each of the mouthwatering meals.

Lalo will show you where to eat gigantic tacos, hot dogs or churros. He’ll introduce you to words specific to regions in Mexico through conversations with locals. And sometimes, he will take you outside of Mexico for a tour around the world.

You can check out Lalo’s website, Garnacha, to find ratings for all the best street food in Mexico.

These are only a handful of the many amazing YouTube channels on the interweb, but we hope that we have captured some that will enrich your Spanish learning journey.

Let us know in the comments if there are YouTube channels that you think should have made this list.

If you’re looking for something to structure your Spanish studies, you can explore our favorite online Spanish courses. Or, if you want to get away from the screen, we recommend you check out our list of Spanish podcasts.

News In Slow Spanish

Quick Review

4.8 

Summary:

News in Slow Spanish is easily one of my favorite language learning resources I’ve come across. They offer so much more than just current events narrated at a slower pace. It’s a comprehensive, engaging, fun, and effective way to study Spanish. It offers material in three different levels, for beginner, intermediate, and advanced learners, along with lessons using Spanish from either Spain or Latin America.

Quality

I’m super impressed with the quality of their lessons.

Thoroughness

Teaches grammar and expressions in a unique way that’s very thorough.

Value

The amount of value offered makes the price quite reasonable.

Price

7-day free trial, then $22.90/month. You also have the option to prepay for any amount of months at a time, which doesn’t change the monthly price.

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Mondly

Quick Review

2.7 

Summary:

Mondly is a language-learning app that teaches basic vocabulary and grammar structures. It seems most appropriate for learners with little to no exposure to their target language.

The activities mostly rely on passive recognition of vocabulary and phrases, and therefore are not very challenging. However, they are varied enough that you probably wouldn’t get bored with short, daily practice sessions.

Although I wouldn’t recommend Mondly to anyone looking to seriously learn a language, it may be appropriate for individuals studying languages with less available resources, or for individuals who are preparing to travel abroad.

Quality

Both the interface and the course itself could be designed better.

Thoroughness

It’s decent for learning vocabulary, but I thought a lot of the material wasn’t explained very well.

Value

It’s fairly inexpensive.

Price

There are three plans…
$9.99 per month for one language
$47.99 per year ($4/mo) for one language
$47.99 per year ($4/mo) for all languages

Strangely, I was able to access multiple languages even though I only signed up for one month at $9.99.

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Lang Workbooks

Price: $5.99

Resource Image

For learners of languages that use unfamiliar writing systems, the Lang Workbooks series can be a helpful and practical way to master the intricacies of writing in their target languages. Among numerous other writing systems, the series includes the Korean, Russian Cyrillic, and Armenian alphabets; Persian and Thai script; the Hindi Devanāgarī abugida; Chinese characters; and Japanese Hiragana and Katakana. The series also covers languages that use the Latin alphabet with diacritical (accent) marks, such as French, German, and Portuguese.

Many books in the series have been translated into other languages, such as Italian, French, German, Spanish, and Portuguese. The series also covers writing systems that may have fewer available resources for learners, such as Lao script and the Cherokee syllabary.

Each book in the series presents its featured writing system with suggested pronunciations. The practice pages in each workbook have useful features for each letter, symbol, or character, such as a recommended stroke order, font variations, example words, and a “Trace and Learn” section.

Each workbook is relatively inexpensive. In addition, the publishers of the series have granted teachers and students a license to make photocopies of the workbook pages for personal use, so you can get unlimited chances to practice. Considering the depth of information in each language’s workbook, the books in this series can provide great value for learners.

The current rating is our best estimate. We haven’t had the opportunity yet to more thoroughly evaluate this resource, as we do for our full reviews.

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LingQ

Quick Review

Summary:

LingQ is a language learning platform that makes it easy to read and listen to interesting content at varying difficulty levels. As you read, words will be marked as known and LingQ tracks the total number of words you “know”. The content comes from lots of different places with very little of it being original. They also make it very easy to upload your own content.

Quality

The LingQ reading app is enjoyable in most languages, easy to use, and can expand your vocabulary. However, I found the user content frustrating to navigate.

Thoroughness

With the import function, users can choose to study almost anything they want.

Value

Now that other apps provide similar functions, the monthly subscription may be a bit overpriced. However, the yearly subscription seems fair.

Languages

Japanese, Chinese, Spanish, English, Korean, French, Russian, German, Portuguese, Italian, Swedish, Dutch, Greek, Polish, Esperanto, Belarusian, Latin, Ukrainian. There are also 20 additional languages in Beta.

Price

Premium membership costs $12.99/mo, $71.94/half-year, $107.88/year, $191.76/2-years; single-language lifetime membership costs $199

When I first signed up for LingQ, I wasn’t very impressed. Its seemingly random lesson library, filled with custom cover photos and inconsistent title formats, made me want to click on just about anything to get away from that page.

However, after exploring every function I could find, I realized that the reading tool has several useful functions for anyone trying to learn a language through extensive reading. Most importantly, it makes reading in other languages feel manageable.

The site has three main pages: Lessons, Tutors, and Community. Within them, you can find free and purchasable lessons, coins, an avatar, writing exchanges, a community forum, audio playlists, and challenges.

I mostly used LingQ for reading in Spanish and dabbled in French, Chinese, Japanese, Swedish, and Korean.

Choosing a Lesson

Three of the first articles that appear on the application's homepage with the percentage of unknown words highlighted in red.

Judging by how LingQ advertises learning a “language from content you love”, I assumed that the lesson library was where the gold is. However, I felt like I was looking at a pool of random content rather than curated texts and struggled to identify lessons that sparked my curiosity.

Although LingQ lets you browse the lessons by topic, the lessons didn’t always match the topic I had chosen. I eventually chose a guided course, which consisted of a more organized series of lessons within a specific theme.

Each title in the library displays the percentage of new words within the text plus the number of words from which you have created LingQs (we will get more into that in a moment).

As you read and differentiate between known and unknown words, you will be able to assess which content is most suitable to your level.

You can also see how many people liked the lesson and the level category (although these are determined by whoever uploaded the text, so they are not always accurate).

It seems that users contribute most of LingQ’s content and source it from podcasts, books, magazines, news sites, textbooks, and more. Sometimes I found high-quality lessons uploaded by paid resources themselves to advertise their products.

Although LingQ does its best to delete copyrighted content, they do not seem to be actively filtering through the lessons and courses. Therefore, you may occasionally find plagiarized books or other media on the site.

LingQ has a series of guided beginner courses whose lessons build on one another, introducing a limited number of new words each lesson and continually reinforcing them in each section. Unfortunately, after you go through the basic lessons, you will mostly be on your own to find content appropriate for your level.

Several words in Swedish from a beginner lesson with words highlighted in blue and yellow.

Finally, the “Lesson Store” tab includes paid material. At the time of this writing, they were only available in Spanish and included material by popular products such as Linguaphone and Spanish Stories by Olly Richards.

Importing Your Own Material

Page for importing lessons manually

The best part about LingQ is that they make it easy to import almost any ebook, blog post, news article, YouTube video, and even Netflix subtitles into the app.

Space to import ebooks into the application

With the LingQ browser extension, it gets even easier — I could import blog posts and news articles in seconds and open the lesson directly from that page.

And that’s not all.

Quick-Import screen from the LingQ Chrome Extension

The LingQ browser extension can also import any YouTube, Animelon, or Viki video with subtitles. Then, it will create a downloadable audio file from the video that you can sync with the subtitles. Sometimes it takes a bit of tinkering to get the audio and text to sync, but the platform makes it relatively straightforward to do.

YouTube video from EnchufeTV with highlighted subtitles

I enjoy watching YouTube videos in Spanish, but I’m often not sure how much I actually understand. My favorite way to use LingQ was to import a video, then read and listen to the subtitles one by one. After several repetitions, I was able to listen to the audio without the text and identify words that I had originally only understood through context. A similar tool is available on Yabla, but it doesn’t let you import your own content, nor does it highlight your unknown words

Lessons: LingQs and Definitions

The first page of El Principito in the LingQ reading tool with all the words highlighted in blue.

The first lesson that you open, whether it be from LingQ, another user, or personal imports, will have a mass of blue words. Your goal is to turn all of those words either yellow or colourless to complete the lesson.

By clicking on blue words or phrases, you automatically turn them yellow and create a LingQ. These LingQs earn you coins and also appear in SRS flashcards for later review. You can then choose a common definition from the community or write your own from a dictionary of your choice.

The Spanish word, náufrago, highlighted in dark yellow The Spanish word, náufrago, highlighted in yellow The Spanish word, náufrago, highlighted in light yellow and underlined The Spanish word, náufrago, underlined

Although there is also the option to identify how well you know the word on a scale of 1-4, this is only relevant if you consistently use the SRS flashcards or if you want to see your words appear in different shades of yellow.

A page of definitions and choices for different dictionaries within the LingQ reading tool

Once you have chosen a definition, you can see a list of common questions about the word or ask a community tutor in the forum.

A series of community questions and a text box to ask your own question

Flipping to the next page will mark all blue words as known, while the arrow in the bottom right-hand corner allows you to review all of the LingQs from the current page through SRS flashcards.

Page with user's chosen definition of a given word

A neat feature in English, French, Portuguese, Italian, German, and Russian, is that verbs will automatically generate a series of tags to identify who is speaking, the infinitive form, and the verb tense. Keep in mind that identifying one verb tense as known does not identify any other conjugation of that verb as known.

Many lessons also include an audio file with adjustable speeds, which will be added to a playlist after you have completed the entire lesson. I found it helpful to listen to the audio after reading the text to test my listening comprehension.

Page from the book,

Of all the functions LingQ’s reading tool provides, I was primarily motivated by watching blue words decrease in frequency as my LingQs and known words increased.

Flashcards

Adjustable settings for flashcard review

There are several types of SRS flashcards that you can use for reviewing LingQs, either with specific words at the end of each page of a lesson or in the vocabulary section at any time. These include regular flashcards, reverse flashcards, cloze deletions, multiple-choice questions, or dictations. They are based on the definitions and contexts from which you chose each word.

A flashcard with the Spanish word, A flashcard with an English definition A flashcard with a word in Spanish and multiple choice options A flashcard with an audio file and a text box to type a response

If you are a beginner or intermediate learner, you may be intimidated by the numerous LingQs that appear for review by the end of a lesson.

Button showing 171 words for review

But, fear not — LingQ explicitly states that the purpose of the platform is to learn words in context, and it is not necessary to go back and review hundreds of LingQs at a time.

Personally, if there were 6 – 7 LingQs on a page I was reading, I reviewed them for extra practice, but any more than that and I moved on.

Lessons in Chinese and Japanese

LingQ’s structure is not necessarily a best-fit for all languages. I found LingQ enjoyable, motivating, and effective for my Spanish studies, but far less so for Chinese.

Unless you want to read as much of your own content as possible, I think that Chinese and Japanese learners will find more specialized support from graded readers. Typically, these provide context-specific definitions and explanations.

For example, The Chairman’s Bao identifies grammar, keywords, and proper nouns, in addition to providing writing practice, stroke order diagrams, and flashcards. Satori Reader for Japanese also identifies key grammar points and vocabulary explanations for how words are used in specific contexts.

Given that LingQ serves so many different languages, it’s understandable that most of these very helpful features are not available on the platform. However, LingQ’s lack of specialization does make it difficult to recommend for these languages.

Other Features

Combined with the SRS flashcards, the reading tool was the only part of the site that I enjoyed using. The rest of the platform seems to mush features from several other resources together, most of which detracted from my overall experience.

Community Features

In theory, it can be motivating to have a community of fellow language learners who interact with the same resource. However, I found LingQ’s approach to integrating these features less effective than with other apps.

There’s a community forum for language learning discussions, a series of language learning challenges, and an area for writing exchange.

I found the writing exchange feature to be less interactive and customizable than those in LangCorrect or Busuu. This could be because users can’t filter the language they want to provide corrections for. Therefore, whether or not you receive a correction may be dependent on if a native speaker is looking to correct someone’s work at the exact moment that your sample appears near the top of the writing feed.

Tutors

Anyone can become a community tutor and set a rate for both speaking and writing corrections. Like Verbling and italki, LingQ takes 15% of the charged fee. Unlike Verbling and italki, there don’t seem to be any student testimonials, and I couldn’t see how many students contributed to the tutor’s star rating. Ultimately, I prefer to use iTalki or Verbling, where the application process for tutors and teachers requires more verification.

Avatar

The purpose of the reading tool is to create LingQs, which in turn earns you coins. However, the only way to spend these coins is on your avatar’s clothing and background. Therefore, one might assume that the avatar would be an important feature on LingQ.

Not so much.

Judging by the outdated Comic Sans font in the avatar store, and everything else about it, I don’t think it has been updated in several years.

The way users can interact with the avatar items is limited. Each clothing item is attached to an outfit, so as much as I tried, I could not make my flamenco dancer wear soccer shoes.

Additionally, several background items require the purchase of a previous background item, but these items cannot be used simultaneously.

A small blue creature with feet but no arms A blue creature with arms and legs, flamenco dancer hair, and high heels

I was pretty disappointed that I couldn’t use my LingQ coins for anything useful, or at least enjoyable. Hopefully, LingQ will change this in the future.

LingQ Does Not Provide the Same Support as Graded Readers

LingQ’s approach to providing level-appropriate content is based on the user’s experience using the app and not on pedagogically curated material. Therefore, I would only use it at times when my goal is to read as much content as possible. Otherwise, I would still prefer graded readers or graded reading apps.

Du Chinese, the Chairman’s Bao, and Pleco’s graded readers are still my first recommendation for Chinese.

Beginner and intermediate German learners with Android devices may prefer Readle, which has reading comprehension questions at the end of each level-appropriate lesson.

Although I have not tried Satori Reader, our team’s review paints it as an ideal app for advanced Japanese learners who are nearly, but not yet ready for native speaker content.

Only the Premium Version is Worth It

Given that the best part about LingQ is being able to identify known and unknown words at the glance of a page, the free version is pretty much useless.

It only allows 5 imported lessons and 20 LingQs total — whether or not you delete them from your vocabulary list. Exceeding this limit prevents you from looking up definitions, marking words as known, or identifying unknown words. To me, this completely defeated the purpose of the app.

Text describing how much 1 on 1 conversations, group discussions, and writing corrections cost.

On the other hand, the Premium Plus version at $39.99/mo adds 3000 points each month, which allows you to purchase live classes, writing corrections, group discussions, and lessons from the lesson store. All of these features can be easily replaced by higher quality services, such as italki and LangCorrect.

So, I would only recommend the premium version, which costs $12.99/mo or $107.88/year.

Downgrading to the Free Version is a Pain

One frustrating part about LingQ is that the developers make it very difficult to downgrade to the free membership.

First, LingQ will try to entice you with several different offers to make you stay. One of them gives you 50% off three months. Another offers you the “Vacation Plan,” which costs $2/month to store all of your data. Lastly, it will offer you a lifetime plan for one language.

Once you get to the last offer and click “delete my data,” you will probably encounter a popup that informs you to delete all but 5 of your lessons.

It is impossible to downgrade unless you go back and manually delete your lessons, which is disappointing if you were planning on using them for the remainder of your payment period.

Similar Resources

OPLingo has many similar features to LingQ, including allowing you to import your own text, embed YouTube videos with subtitles, and identify unknown and known words. The free version allows you to look up unlimited words, but like LingQ, it also limits users to adding 20 unknown words.

I am a huge fan of OPLingo because of how they use their subscription fees for international outreach projects, but LingQ currently has a more intuitive and developed user interface.

Readlang also has a similar, limited free function, which allows you to identify words you are learning across texts. It also rates the difficulty of each text in the library based on the CEFR scale (although the accuracy of this is questionable). Unfortunately, it only supports .txt and .epub imports, and it takes far more effort to sync YouTube subtitles compared to LingQ.

Final Thoughts

I found LingQ most effective and enjoyable for Spanish, which I can read at an intermediate level. It was least useful for languages in which I have no background or am mostly fluent.

Although I did not enjoy the lesson library, I’m sure that others would see it as a goldmine for interesting content. I was more than happy to use the import functions for my own material without sifting through community content.

I would not use LingQ for any feature except for the reading tool, but this feature is so useful that it would be worth the subscription price.

The SRS flashcard system is great for reviewing vocabulary on specific lesson pages, but I would never try to learn all of my accumulated LingQs through regular review. I prefer to learn new words through paying special attention to those I had previously highlighted and incorporating some words into writing for correction by my Spanish tutor or the LangCorrect community.

Overall, I have a lot of criticisms about the platform as a whole, but I think the reading tool is great. If you don’t need to look at a fancy user interface or import PDF files, Readlang and OPLingo are fine alternatives.

Our top picks for language resources vary by language — you can find our favourite reviews for the language you’re learning at the bottom of this page.

MOST RECOMMEND RESOURCES BY LANGUAGE

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OPLingo

3.5 
Price: Freemium, Premium Subscriptions cost $6.99/mo, $60/Year

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OPLingo is a community-oriented, non-profit language learning site. It essentially combines the functions of LingQ, LangCorrect, Readlang, iTalki, and HelloTalk.

The free version gives you limited access to some functions, but by paying for a membership you support ethical causes — such as building a primary school in Tanzania.

You can browse user-contributed texts or easily import your own YouTube videos, articles, or ebooks into the Reading Tool. OPLingo has also developed hundreds of audio conversations in several languages, including Tagalog, Cebuano, Thai, Swahili, and Russian.

Within each page, you can read a transcript and get definitions and pronunciations of unknown words. By identifying which words you don’t know, the next passages you read will highlight the number of known or unknown vocabulary words.

In their Write & Correct section, you can write in over 100 languages and exchange corrections with other users, although Spanish, French, and English learners have a better chance of receiving corrections than other languages at the moment.

You can also practice a language by texting with fellow community members, or by hiring a teacher in your target language.

OPLingo has a lot of potential and is a good alternative to LingQ, but it needs a community of learners to help it grow — so check it out!

The current rating is our best estimate. We haven’t had the opportunity yet to more thoroughly evaluate this resource, as we do for our full reviews.

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AmazingTalker

2.5 
Price: From around $10 per 50-minute class

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AmazingTalker is an italki and Verbling competitor that lets you book classes with language teachers and academic tutors of your choice. It has a lot of attractive features for students, but teachers complain about high commission rates and lack of support.

It boasts a 3% acceptance rate for teachers and a 100% satisfaction guarantee. If you’re not happy with your class, they’ll rebook you another one for free. There are lots of teachers to choose from, or you can also use their AI Matching Service to find a tutor. The teachers’ profiles include videos, reviews, and their résumé.

However, AmazingTalker doesn’t seem a great choice for teachers. It charges English and Japanese teachers astonishingly high commission rates of up to 30%. While these rates fall as teachers earn more through the site, they have to make $1,500 a month before the commission reaches levels comparable to italki and Verbling. Making it worse, there’s an additional 8% fee for payment processing and tax that all teachers have to pay, no matter what language they teach. 

There have also been complaints on Reddit from teachers claiming to have been harassed by students and fellow teachers. However, we cannot corroborate these.

Given all this, we’d recommend trying italki (review) or Verbling (review) first. Alternatively, check out our guide to the best platforms for online language classes.

The current rating is our best estimate. We haven’t had the opportunity yet to more thoroughly evaluate this resource, as we do for our full reviews.

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Verbling

Quick Review

4.6 

Summary:

Verbling is an online language-class marketplace where you can take lessons with teachers of your choice. It has some student-friendly extra features, including a built-in online classroom, flashcards, homework calendar, and a filing system for lesson materials. There are also useful but disorganized forums where you can discuss languages, share writing for critique, and do free language drills and exercises.

The lessons are generally high quality and well structured, plus the filters make it easy to find teachers who specialize in everything from accent reduction to interview preparation. 

However, it can be slightly pricier than alternatives, so if you’re on a tight budget, you may want to look elsewhere. It also has fewer languages than some of the bigger competitors, so it might not be a good choice if you want to study Azerbaijani, Khmer, or Yoruba.

Teacher Quality 

There are some less experienced teachers, but I found the lessons to be more consistently high quality than on italki.

Platform 

The classroom technology, flashcards, and filing system are fantastic for learners and easy to use.

Value

Some teachers charge more than on italki, but you get better classroom technology, more privacy, and fewer disorganized teachers.

Languages

Verbling lists 65 different languages on their platform, from Spanish and Mandarin Chinese through to Twi and Berber. Not all of them have available teachers, however.

Price

Prices are set by the teacher and range from $5 to $75 for an hour-long lesson. You can get discounts for buying packs of 5, 10, or 20 lessons with a teacher. Every student gets one free trial lesson, after which they’re $6 each.

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Olly Richards 101 Conversations

3.7 
Price: Kindle books cost $0.99

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Olly Richards, the creator of I Will Teach You A Language, has written a series of books for beginner and intermediate learners to improve their conversation skills in several languages. He also has a Short Stories series, but this review focuses on 101 Conversations.

His 101 Conversations series has a beginner and intermediate book for every language, though both books are appropriate for level A2 on the CEFR scale. You will learn natural phrases that you can use in everyday conversation through following the story of six people. Each chapter has a dialogue between some of these characters, which you can engage with through the practical learning methods that Olly outlines at the beginning of each book. While the first chapter in the first book may have one-sentence exchanges, the characters get chattier and the grammar becomes more complex as you continue reading.

Overall, Olly’s 101 Conversations series is fun to follow, particularly because each book sets out to solve a mystery. They are less expensive than his Short Stories series, but also contain less content (there are no comprehension questions or summaries at the end of the chapters, but there are short vocabulary lists). Nevertheless, both are probably a good investment to advance your conversational Spanish abilities.

The current rating is our best estimate. We haven’t had the opportunity yet to more thoroughly evaluate this resource, as we do for our full reviews.

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