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Spanish Resources

Langu
4.2 
Price: Classes start at $10.50, some teachers offer a free trial
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Langu is an italki competitor with some compelling factors in its favor. Just like with italki, you search its online database of teachers to book private lessons with them at times of your choosing. You can read other students’ reviews and take trial classes.

Unlike italki, there are no booking fees and you can purchase in a range of currencies, including euros and British pounds. Langu also boasts its own intuitive, web-hosted classroom software, meaning you don’t have to download a program or give your teacher your contact details. This also means that all shared links, videos, and worksheets are stored on Langu.

The biggest downside to Langu, in comparison with italki, is that you’ll have a smaller choice of teachers and there are no community features (forum, exercise tools, etc.). The classes also tend to be slightly more expensive.

On the other hand, Langu claims that all its teachers are “top teachers” – they have to submit a video application and be approved before joining the website – and offers to give students personal recommendations for specific teachers via email, if needed. While we’ve taken classes with one Langu teacher and were impressed by the quality of the classes, we can’t comment on whether all Langu’s teachers meet the same standards.

Spanish Obsessed
4.2 
Price: Freemium, Premium subscriptions start at $24.90/mo
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Language learning podcasts often have different levels, but they usually expect you to magically advance in the space between them. Lis and Rob, on the other hand, seem to seamlessly transition from level to level. They differentiate between Spanish from scratch and beginner Spanish, and the intermediate level is a realistic step up from the beginner episodes.

You can listen to their podcasts on a couple of different platforms, but listening on their website gives you the advantage of following the podcasts like a course. You can gain access to special courses with a subscription, such as those that focus on pronunciation and vocabulary. Each episode’s page has a line-by-line interactive time-stamped transcript — by clicking on the time stamp next to a line of text from the dialogue, you can jump to that sentence within the recording. You can also see a translation with notes that elaborate on the different phrases or word usage (or correct some of Rob’s speech). Unfortunately, the page does not follow along with the podcast, so you will have to manually scroll down as you listen.

The advanced episodes feel more like upper-intermediate Spanish, so advanced learners may not feel as challenged. However, for the beginner to the intermediate learner, Spanish Obsessed is full of opportunities to improve your skills.

My Language Exchange
4.2 
Price: Freemium, Gold Memberships start at $6/mo
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My Language Exchange has been growing since 2000. Although the website seems out of date, it still has an active community of millions of language-learners who speak almost 200 native languages (including less commonly studied languages).

You can choose a pen pal by reading their bios, or there is a chat room available for you to instantly connect with a language exchange partner — note that if you create a Gold account, you can initiate chats with other users, but as a regular user, you will have to wait to be contacted.

Using the Cormier Method, the website provides tools to help intermediate speakers effectively practice with other learners. It advertises a Chat Companion with lesson plans to accompany your exchange, or lesson plans developed by teachers (although the quality of these resources varies drastically). 

You can also find language teachers on the site, but given that the transactions take place directly between you and the teacher, you may feel safer using a 3rd party platform like italki or Verbling

Although there are outlines on how to participate in language exchanges, how these outlines are followed depends entirely on you and your partner(s). My Language Exchange will help you build connections with other learners, but it’s up to you to plan how to practice. The concepts can also be used with any language exchange platform, such as Lingbe, italki, Tandem, and Amikumu.

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

 

Anki
4.1 
Price: Free
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It is the go-to app for free (except on iOS) Spaced Repetition System (SRS) flashcards. It has a simple user interface with various features that more hard-core users can dive into if they choose.

Your flashcards will appear according to your natural forgetting curve; the app will test you in increasingly spaced out intervals, with more difficult cards appearing more than once in a session, while easier cards spacing out over weeks — or even months and years. An SRS system is the most effective way to drive information into your long-term memory.

The cards can sync between the web, desktop app, and mobile versions to keep your flashcards updated and with you at all times. You can add images and audio clips to your cards and change the text formatting (if you use it on your computer). One feature unique to Anki, as opposed to other SRS flashcard apps, is the “Cloze deletion” function, which allows you to block out parts of your card and create a “fill-in-the-blanks” type card format.

If you want a resource for how to make effective flashcards, check out the book, FluentForever. The author leaves a whole section dedicated to understanding how to use your Anki deck to advance your skills quickly.

Coffee Break Spanish
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Coffee Break Spanish offers some really good free lessons available as podcasts. Additionally, they sell premium courses with extra materials on their website. For most people, there probably isn’t enough extra material included in the premium lessons to make it worth paying for the courses as they’re pretty expensive. This review will look at the free audio lessons, as well as the premium content.

Uncovered Courses
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Spanish Uncovered (and the similar German, French, Italian and Japanese courses) come from Olly Richards, the creator of the super popular blog I Will Teach You A Language. It’s quite a bit different than most courses as it revolves around a story. It can be a bit more challenging than other courses, as you begin reading somewhat long texts right off the bat. Overall, I found it to be a more fun way to approach language learning that will be great for some but not ideal for others.

Fluenz
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Fluenz is a language learning software that is available on most devices and offers offline functionality. Its primary objective is to simulate the one-on-one tutor experience with the use of video tutorials that break down the language you’re learning. There are ample explanations of language concepts in English, and the instruction is very thorough. It’s designed for the user with a bigger budget that’s looking for an in-depth and serious learning experience.

Memrise
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Memrise is a super popular language-learning app available online and on mobile. It functions much like a gamified flashcard app, and it offers a lot of content for free. A lot of the content is user-created, and there is a premium subscription that provides access to additional features. Memrise can be a great tool in your arsenal, but you’ll need more to learn a language seriously.

Lingvist
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Lingvist is a language learning resource that uses spaced repetition and flashcards to help you build your vocabulary in a new language. There are five language courses made for English speakers, and some of these have an extra challenges section with additional reading, speaking, grammar, and listening practice. Lingvist is straightforward, easy to use, and most effective for beginners or intermediate learners.