Rocket Spanish is a pretty good Spanish course, but it’s not my personal favorite. Although I find the lessons tend to be very boring, the content is well structured and fairly comprehensive. There is a good mixture of listening, speaking, grammar, and review activities.
Reverso is a translation and spell check app. Its features primarily target French and English learners, although it also translates into a handful of other languages.
Compared with BonPatron, Reverso’s spell-check function (available only for French and English) is less attuned to general mistakes, such as capitalization or inappropriate commas. Reverso only catches some of the errors related to inappropriate accordance of genders or numbers from “The House of Être” verbs. Nevertheless, it does a decent job of catching obvious mistakes, and it will provide you with synonyms to enrich your writing. You are encouraged to use the spell check function at each stage of the writing process because when you correct one error, the program may identify new ones. The free version allows you to check 1200 characters at a time, and upgrading to a premium version will allow you to check unlimited characters.
The Reverso Contexto dictionary is an excellent resource for most of the available languages. While Linguee takes examples from relatively formal sources, Reverso Contexto provides example sentences professionally translated from movies, dialogues, official documents, websites, and newspapers.
Other resources include Reverso’s dictionary (which is usually from Collin’s) a verb conjugator, French and English grammar articles, a thesaurus, and a document translator.
Lingualia is an online language-learning app targeted toward learners of English and Spanish. It utilizes artificial intelligence and its “exclusive Adaptive Learning method” to offer a learning experience that’s somewhat personalized. Practice happens through interactive activities that cover a variety of skills and have an element of gamification.
The free version of Lingualia could make a good option for intermediate or advanced learners that want a casual, convenient way to keep their English or Iberian Spanish skills sharp. It probably isn’t the best option for beginners, those looking for a one-stop-shop resource, or students of Latin American Spanish.
Open Learn offers an entire section dedicated to language learning, with beginner, intermediate, and advanced content for German, Spanish, and French. You will also find some basic courses for Chinese, Welsh, English, and Italian.
The courses seem to emphasize understanding the culture that the language originates from, and will teach you vocabulary through specific topics (like food and drink for beginner Italian, or ‘getting around’ for beginner Spanish). This may feel a little over the top when you end up studying holiday plans for 20 hours, but at the same time, you will probably feel quite confident in your abilities by the end of the course.
Most of the beginner courses, other than Chinese, German, and Welsh, seem to be for false beginners. You will probably need to develop a basic foundation of your target language (maybe a section or two of the Duolingo tree, or the introductory courses on Coursera) before diving in, unless you want a challenge.
Overall, Open Learn language courses are good for improving your language skills on specific topics, but you may not feel fulfilled in the area of practical conversation. Moreover, the user interface is not as attractive or easy to navigate as other resources, like Coursera.
For some other free options that may give you more practical language skills, check out Coursera, edX, Deutsche Welle (German), TV5 Monde (French), Duolingo, HelloChinese, or Language Transfer.
Like Coursera, many of edX’s courses were developed by accredited universities, and you can obtain certificates of completion at the end of your studies. Unlike Coursera, edX’s courses are all free to audit, non-profit, and open-source. It was originally founded by Harvard and MIT, and since then has been joined by universities around the globe.
The Spanish and Italian courses in particular have many activities to reinforce your learning, including writing, reading, speaking, and listening activities. The Chinese course is less comprehensive, but could still teach you the basics if you don’t mind watching lots of videos — although, the Peking University courses on Coursera may be a better option. The Steps in Japanese series also includes lots of videos, but these videos are interactive and quiz you on the material.
Overall, Coursera seems to have a better platform than edX, and their courses may be more intuitive to navigate. However, that shouldn’t stop you from trying out what edX has to offer, especially considering that you can get most of it for free. After you have learned the basics, you can enrich your knowledge through Open Learn’s free language courses.
Ella verbs is a Spanish conjugation app for mobile devices. It supports both Latin American and European Spanish.
When you first enter the app, it will ask you to identify your confidence level for a series of verb tenses, then it will place you in one of thirty levels. Each level explains a specific verb tense, then adds conjugation, translation, and timed multiple-choice activities. There is also a free conjugation dictionary — with a subscription, you can quiz yourself on each verb or create a custom quiz.
Conjugation guides will pop up when you answer questions incorrectly, and the quizzes are designed to test you on previous mistakes. Only the first six levels are free, but there is a three-day free trial if you would like to test the whole program.
If you don’t want to pay for an app, both SpanishDict and Conjuguemos are free options for Spanish verb conjugation activities. However, these resources won’t record which verbs you had difficulty with, so they are not as personalized.
María Danader Graded Readers
María Danader’s graded Spanish readers are based on everyday dialogues and expressions. Each book has accompanying audio recorded by native Spanish speakers, a chapter summary in English and Spanish, vocabulary lists, grammar notes, and reading comprehension exercises.
Unlike in Paco Ardit’s books, whose vocabulary use at the C2 level feels more appropriate for B1 and B2 learners, María Danade’s vocabulary words become more specialized as the levels progress — you will see words that you may not have considered learning, such as ‘baldosa’ and ‘trastienda’. The storylines may not be as complex as in Read It! And ESLC’s series, but they all involve a mystery that will probably engage you long enough to increase your comprehension and reinforce your current vocabulary.
Overall, María Danader’s readers seem like a good investment for your Spanish reading journey.
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.
uTalk is a software program and mobile app offering learning material in over 140 languages. Its approach is based on learning keywords and phrases through gameplay. It covers a wide range of phrases, each spoken by a female and male native speaker, consequently offering listening and pronunciation practice.
uTalk is most useful for beginners who want to get started in a language by learning key phrases. It could also be useful for intermediates looking to fill gaps in their vocabulary and pronunciation, but it does not offer any in-depth language instruction or grammar explanations.
It’s also worth mentioning that for some languages, such as Basque, the occasional overly literal translation leads to small errors and unnatural phrasing creeping in. However, we haven’t seen instances in which this would result in you being misunderstood, and there’s no denying uTalk’s value for languages with fewer learning resources.
HiNative is a Q&A app for language learners that want to have questions answered by native speakers. It’s available for iOS, Android and desktop, and it has over three million registered users. A free version is available that offers the basic features of the app.