When we start learning Spanish, we are often searching for the best programs that will help us learn fast. We are looking for the best online course or a mobile application. But in the beginning, we don’t realize that there is no one single resource that can teach us Spanish solely. We need the right combination of different resources to really get to know and understand Spanish or any other language.
These days there are a lot of online resources to help us learn language at home. Even though the best resource is always a good teacher, you might combine having lessons with a tutor and using some other great programs to learn Spanish online.
Being a beginner, you might struggle with finding the right materials due to a wide variety of options. But don’t you worry, in this article, I am going to share some of the best programs and tools that I believe will help you to master your Spanish skills.
Best apps to learn Spanish
Duolingo is the king of language learning apps. It’s the most popular one, and it’s free. Around 300 million people all over the world use Duolingo.
This tool is great to learn new vocabulary when you are a complete beginner, but if you are at an intermediate level, then Duolingo might be too easy for you.
Differences with other apps:
- The lessons are created in a game mode, and this is something that developers got right because this keeps learners to stay motivated.
- You can earn badges, collect lingotos and then use them to buy cute outfits to dress your mascot or you can unlock specific materials like Spanish pick-up lines
- The best feature for me is that you can invite friends to compete with them. Whenever they reach more points than you – you will get a notification on your phone. It is pretty cool because it keeps you stay motivated.
- The main disadvantage of Duolingo, in my opinion, is that it does not explain the grammar rules. It teaches you by example.
- While it is excellent to teach you basic vocabulary, it will not make you fluent or at least conversational in Spanish. Therefore, I would definitely suggest supplementing Duolingo with another method.
Babbel is one of the most popular programs to learn Spanish. If you searched for any language learning related content in Google or Youtube – then you probably have seen the ads for Babbel.
It offers a web app and mobile apps where you can log in to learn and practice Spanish at your own pace.
Similarities with other applications:
- Babbel, similarly to Rosetta Stone or Duolingo, will give you a good base if you are just starting to learn Spanish. It’s particularly useful for beginners who want to learn new words and improve sentence structures. It has the same gamified mobile application with a large selection of the content to learn basic Spanish.
- Similarly to Rosetta Stone and Duolingo, the lessons include a mixture of flashcards, fill in the blank tasks, and multiple-choice questions.
Differences with other apps:
- Before you start using this application, you will have to pass a short test to establish your level in Spanish.
- What is different from some other applications is that Babbel allows you to jump from lesson to lesson, if you feel that you need to change the level of difficulty. Duolingo, for example, doesn’t allow to skip the lessons, you will need to pass each lesson to unlock the next.
- Another difference with Duolingo is that Babbel has a more structured approach to language learning. It contains explanations regarding grammar and vocabulary differences between Latin Spanish and European Spanish.
- You also get listening sections with native speakers pronouncing a sentence or a short dialog. And the task is to answer a question about what you just heard.
- You can choose different types of courses according to your skill level, starting from a newcomer course up to advanced. Or particular topics such as Business Spanish course, Countries or Traditions course, Mexican Spanish course, and more. And once you pay for a subscription, you are not tied up in any particular direction. You can change whenever you feel like.
- Babbel does not offer any live lesson experiences or interactions with native speakers for conversation improvement.
- Not highly engaging. Some learners claim that it is not easy to stay motivated with this app.
Before you buy a membership, you can try several lessons for free, but you won’t be offered enough lessons to keep you learning for long.
- One month subscription cost $12.99
- Three months – $25.99
- Six Months – $44.99
Pimsleur is another popular tool used by many Spanish learners.
Their courses and methods are unique and have a strong academic background. It is an audio course organized by levels and made up of 30-minute lessons.
Difference with other apps:
- Pimsleur is a purely audio-based course. It does have a bit of the reading section, but it is given to work on pronunciation.
- The unique method of this application is based on one of the most effective forms of learning, ‘Spaced Repetition System’ (or SRS). The SRS means that the new words will be repeated with an increasing gap until you remember them.
- The lessons are built around conversations. Before the conversation, the English narrator will describe the situation, the location, and all the particular details of what is happening. After the discussion, the narrator will break it down to explain word by word.
- This method works even for visual-spatial learners, who can better remember things by seeing them. The trick is that the presenter gets you to imagine scenarios. The visualization stimulates the remembering process even more than reading the text.
- Another unique thing is how the pronunciation of words is presented. The narrator pronounces the words backwards, syllable b syllable. This technique helps you to associate sounds with mental images, and those mental images help to remember what we hear.
- The course doesn’t teach you to think or how to build your sentences in Spanish. Therefore, the phrases and the situations that you learn within the lessons is all you will know if you don’t combine it with other learning tools. If you are not in those narrow situations, you might feel lost.
The first lesson is free, so it is great that you can try it before subscribing.
Monthly subscription is $14.95
Busuu is a super well-organized online course with two tiers of service: free and paid subscription. It is one of the best programs you can find to learn Spanish, and I really recommend it.
The free account has many limitations, but it is good enough if you only need to practice basic vocabulary.
Difference with other apps:
- Busuu is exceptionally well structured. It has a dashboard where you can see where you are during your course. It will show what you will learn today, what you are expected to learn by now, and what you will discover next.
- With the premium account, you will have access to grammar exercises, quizzes, and feedbacks from native speakers on written and spoken lessons.
- You will also be able to download lessons on your mobile so that you can study when you are offline.
Why I personally prefer this app:
- It doesn’t ask you to translate, much more than that, it asks you to think. You will have to do things that you will actually have to do when you come to speak the language for real.
- At the end of every unit, you are asked to answer an open question, such as introduce yourself, describe what you see on the picture, etc. You can either write your answer or record, using a microphone and you can be as creative as you like. Then native speakers that use the application will receive your answer and reply to you with their feedback.
Free users can try the first set of lessons for one language as a trial.
The 1-month premium subscription costs $12,99
If you pay 6 months upfront, the subscription is $10,83
And for one-year subscription, they currently offer a discount 50%, so it is $3,50 per month ( Please check if the offer is still valid )
Best flashcard apps
If you like to learn a new vocabulary with flashcard apps, check out my other article about the 5 best flashcard apps to learn Spanish.
You will find out why flashcard apps are so effective in language learning and will find a review of the following apps:
Spanish Tutors & Lessons online
A very effective way to learn Spanish is to find a native speaking Spanish tutor online. You will have a one hour Skype lesson with a qualified teacher without the need to leave your home. It is as effective as having a lesson in person, because you will go through the various materials, practice speaking and in the end, will be given homework to do.
My personal choice is Live Lingua. When I started lessons with my teacher from Peru, I saw a drastic improvement in my conversational Spanish.
Difference with other tutoring sites:
- The price per lesson is already predefined by the website. Therefore a lesson with any teacher will cost the same amount.
- You can pay per lesson, no need to invest a significant amount of money to obtain the course.
- You can choose a teacher by the location, depending on the accent you like. There are many teachers from different Latin American countries and Spain.
- Live lingua offers specialized courses, such as Spanish for tourists, Spanish for business, etc.
First lesson is free
If you buy from 1 to 9 lessons, you will pay $16.
From 10 to 19 lessons, you will pay $15.
More than 20 lessons, $14.
Preply is a platform that offers lessons for any budget. You will be able to use the filtering system to choose your ideal tutor.
Differences with other tutoring sites:
- Preply connects students with over 4000 Spanish teachers.
- On every teacher profile, you will see how many active students the teacher currently has and how many lessons had he given on Preply.
The teachers set their rates that start at as little as 3$ per lesson.
Italki is one of the most popular places to find a tutor to learn Spanish. They have a considerable number of teachers offering Spanish classes to students. As a beginner, you will be able to find a tutor that best fits your learning style and your schedule.
Difference with other tutoring sites:
- The biggest platform where you will find 869 Spanish teachers.
- There are two types of teachers: Certified Professional teachers and Community tutors to have a conversational practice with.
- You can write about any topic in Spanish in a special notebook. Then, native speakers will read your writing and make corrections.
- You can find language partners, and you don’t need to pay for it.
Teachers set their own prices and make their own schedule.
The prices vary from as low as $4 and as high as $60 per hour. Most fall somewhere near the $10 per hour.
Best tools to find Spanish conversation partners
One of the most effective ways to improve your language skills is to find a conversation partner. The biggest problem when people are learning a language on their own is how to practice speaking. It is not always possible to travel, but luckily there are many platforms where you can meet people and practice Spanish completely free.
I have tried using Tandem to find a conversation partner to practice speaking.
While you are registering your profile on this app, you will have to write what are the topics you enjoy discussing and some information about yourself. You will have to wait a couple of days for your application to be approved. Or skip the line by paying for the premium subscription $6.99 per month.
There are three sections in the app:
- Community, where you can find new conversational partners.
- Tutors section, where you can book a lesson.
- Chats section, with the history of all your conversations.
A free platform to find conversation partners all over the world. Once you register your profile, you can start looking for Spanish native speakers, or just wait, because many Spanish speakers are looking to improve their English, and a lot of people will be getting in touch.
Usually, people will send you a message with a short introduction and will share their contact details to keep the conversation going.
If you live in the US, take advantage of its significant Spanish-speaking community. Sites like Meetup always have Spanish groups, which you can join.
Or you can simply register and create your own group “Spanish-English exchange group” or “Practice Spanish” group. Once your group is created, likeminded people will start joining, and the group will be growing on its own.
You can create your own event, choosing your favorite venue where you like to go for a drink or a cup of coffee and meet with people from your group for real Spanish practice.
Spanish podcasts to practice listening
It’s not easy to find a good podcast that suits your taste with so many offers that are currently on the market. That’s why I wrote a detailed review of the following 5 FREE Spanish podcasts for beginners here:
You can either check them out on your own or save your time and read this article to know what you will find in each podcast’s channel.