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The Best Spanish Lessons

Who Offers the Best Spanish Lessons?

Have you always wanted to learn Spanish? Or have you learned some, but really want to improve your skills in order to be able to read Spanish newspapers or talk with native speakers? Do you have business associates or neighbors who speak Spanish, or have you wanted to talk in Spanish with the locals on your next trip? There are 460,000 people who are native Spanish speakers right here in the US, and 20 countries that have Spanish as their official language. No matter why you want to learn it, the question is which Spanish lessons are right for you.

With so much of our life going digital, from many of us doing our job remotely, to video chatting with our family or internet shopping, it's natural to want to explore online options for learning Spanish. There are many programs available online and through apps, and we can help you sift through them.

Monday, October 18th

2021 Spanish Lesson Reviews

Top Consumer Reviews Best-In-Class Blue Ribbon Award Busuu Review 5 Star Rating

Busuu

5 Star Rating
  • Placement testing
  • Uses the standards for CEFR
  • Goal setting for motivation
  • Useful topics in their lessons
  • Writing and speaking exercises corrected by native speakers
Top Consumer Reviews Best-In-Class Blue Ribbon Award

Busuu is a unique platform that offers quite a bit of personalization without actually being in class. They offer the typical flashcards, vocabulary words and phrases, and grammar, but they have the uncommon offering, with the Premium-Plus plan, to have a real person grade and offer suggestions on your speaking and written work. What's more, you, too, can offer to give back by doing the same for those taking classes in your native language!

Busuu has a placement test

If you're not new to Spanish and would like to know where to start, Busuu offers a placement test for Spanish. The placement test is created by a well-known education company to determine your fluency in regards to the CEFR: Common European Framework of Reference, the known European determination of fluency in a language. These levels are from A1 through C2. Other language-learning companies create their own definition of fluency or mastery levels like beginner, intermediate, or advanced, which may not transfer to anyone else's definition of such.

After the placement test, you still have choices

Once you take the test and determine your level, you'll also choose what your purpose is for learning the language: simply asking for directions, or holding meaningful conversations; and you'll tell them how much time you plan to commit daily to learning Spanish. Busuu will then make a curriculum based on that level, along with your communication goals and time allotted. Or, you can choose grammar lessons based on your language goals: Spanish for Travel, Spanish for Business, and more. So that you can get accustomed to working on your daily lessons, Busuu can send you a notification when it's time to study. You can set an alert for every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday at 7 pm with a 20 minute lesson, for example. This way, time is always blocked out for you.

Costs

  • Basic: Free
  • Premium: $9.99 per month
  • Premium Plus: $13.99 per month

Finding the pricing and refund policy can take some effort

Encountering the price via the website can be a bit tricky. Sometimes the main pricing is listed in euros, which isn't too bad with a conversion calculator. Upon more clicking, we wanted to find prices for each of the programs, but only the "Limited Access," or "free" membership popped up. When we clicked on the "learn more" button, we were given the choice of the three programs. Make sure to get the pricing options for 1 month, 12 months, and 12 months, as the rates are discounted if you pay a year or two in advance. Note that the satisfaction guarantee is for the first 14 days after purchase. If you purchase for the 1- or 2-year plan, and decide more than two weeks in that Busuu isn't for you, you won't qualify for the refund.

The Basic plan

With the free, Basic program, you'll have limited access to Spanish lessons, which basically includes vocabulary flashcards for practice. You'll get Spanish-English flashcards, true/false questions, word matching, comprehension checks, and more to reinforce the vocabulary. You'll have dialogs to show how your vocabulary is used in context and a complete transcript of the dialog where you fill in the missing words. What's nice is they explain why words and phrases work a certain way, to help you understand the framework of the language. Although these many features are offered, you need to know it's still based only on vocabulary flashcards. We've found that if you want to be fluent, or really progress, the flashcard-plus method isn't enough.

The Premium plan

With the Premium plan, you'll have full access to the Spanish lessons, the AI-powered review, grammar lessons, and you can learn offline, when on the website. You'll also have online-only access with the Apple or Android app.

The Premium Plus plan

You can unlock all 12 languages, to learn multiple languages at the same time, which is a turn-on for polyglots (or polyglot wannabes). You can input your fluency goals and how much time you want to dedicate daily to your language learning. Busuu will then tell you when you will meet your goal if you stick to the plan. You will also receive certification from a nationally-known education company which provides you with the CEFR testing materials. Their certification indicates your perceived CEFR level of fluency. In addition, you'll have access to a community of native Spanish speakers for correction or advice on your written or spoken work.

Best Spanish Lessons

Busuu's lessons are well organized

Sometimes your writing or speaking exercises are longer and are submitted to a group of people Busuu calls "friends" , who will offer suggestions or corrections. These people may even offer helpful cultural tidbits regarding what you're writing about! This is a great and unique feature, as there are other Spanish lesson programs out there that only correct your words and any small error is just counted as wrong, without any feedback or hints. In addition, your word order may still be correct, but not how the answer key had it typed in. That is also counted as wrong, with no hints, and that can be quite frustrating. Busuu's offering of a real person providing corrections, suggestions, and perhaps some culture, is invaluable.

Practice what they suggest or what you want

After each lesson, there are activities to practice your reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills. The dashboard lists what's available, and you can choose what you think you need most. For example, you could focus just on speaking if you're working on your accent, or give your writing extra attention as desired. A nice feature of Busuu is that it lets you know how long each activity should take, so you know how much you can work in with the time you've given yourself that day.

Busuu's feedback on your work is from a live person!

Sometimes your writing or speaking exercises are longer and are submitted to a group of people Busuu calls "friends" , who will offer suggestions or corrections. These people may even offer helpful cultural tidbits regarding what you're writing about! This is a great and unique feature, as there are other Spanish lesson programs out there that only correct your words and any small error is just counted as wrong, without any feedback or hints. In addition, your word order may still be correct, but not how the answer key had it typed in. That is also counted as wrong, with no hints, and that can be quite frustrating. Busuu's offering of a real person providing corrections, suggestions, and perhaps some culture, is invaluable.

Speaking of culture...

How many times have you used your high school textbook phrases, only to be told, "That's not how we say it" ? For example, high school textbooks may have drilled that "Me llamo" (My name is) is the way to introduce yourself. Not necessarily so. Busuu might tell you that this phrase is too formal, and we usually say, "Soy" (I am) before our names, to introduce ourselves. Another example is that Busuu will also tell you that you don't have to say "yo soy" , or "tu eres" (I am, you are), you can omit the yo and tu, as most native speakers do. This gives you the confidence as a learner that people really may understand you and you're not using words and phrases that are awkward and mostly found only in textbooks.

You, too, can be of help to others

Just like you'll get help from native speakers of Spanish, you'll be invited to help those who are learning English! It can be fun and motivating to help others learn a language, and can help keep you motivated to continue studying Spanish.

A few small downsides

What's missing with Busuu? We'd like a little more. More opportunities to practice speaking - is there ever enough, if you want to be fluent? And more variety in the review sections. This is a common complaint of many of the online Spanish lessons, and definitely is a complaint here as well. To get the most out of Busuu, you'll definitely need the Premium or Premium Plus memberships.

It's a winner for us

Busuu doesn't make you guess what level to start at, as it has a placement test. It also tells you your level of fluency on the scale of the European language fluency system. The lessons are scaffolded to get you to your goal of fluency, and they'll even tell you when you'll get there. The learning program is straightforward and has good technology to get you there, including real people to offer suggestions to your writing and speaking answers. We believe goal-oriented people will love and appreciate the program. For all of these reasons, Busuu earns our first-place ranking among providers of Spanish lessons.

Memrise Review 4.5 Star Rating

Memrise

4.5 Star Rating
  • A large range of content, especially for beginners
  • A plethora of video content
  • Videos of native speakers in their settings, feels like you're travelling
  • Interactive lessons
  • Unique method for showing your improvement

Is Memrise actually different? Yes, it is! And these differences are not only attractive, motivating, and fun, but they are designed to help you actually retain the material included in your Spanish lessons.

Clear audio for each word and phrase

When you see a vocabulary word or phrase, you can click on their standard male voice or female voice. This is great for consistency, as you hear the same person's voice and can learn clear pronunciation throughout all your lessons.

Real people, authentic settings

The fabulous part is that there's also a quick video of a native speaker in their country saying that word or phrase. There may be a bit of background noise or the person may be at a comfortable distance, which is the way you would hear the person in any conversational setting. This may sound confusing at first, but it's ideal for travel and natural conversations. In real life, you may talk to more than one person. You'll be in different settings with various noises around you. Because you're "conversing" with people while they're in their own country, it's almost like you are there, and it makes you want to learn more so that you can communicate with that person. The video of an actual person feels much more intimate and motivating than a drawing or still image.

Innate gestures

You'll also see the person with the natural gesture they would use for this phrase. For example, if you're out to coffee with someone and you ask how they are doing, maybe they're not feeling well or had a bad day. They may grimace or shake their head while saying "No muy bien." Gestures can vary slightly from country to country, so these quick videos subtly teach you cultural nuances as they teach you the phrases.

Are your skills growing?

When you are in the beginning of a lesson, you have the icon of a seed. When you water the seed with your lessons and exercises, the seed grows and turns into a healthy plant. Your learning plant grows, and it requires consistent study to have the plant grow. That's how Memrise helps you visualize your progress: gentle, yet motivating.

What if I already know some Spanish?

Perfect! You can advance to upper levels of Spanish. If you know a good amount of Spanish, the upper levels may have content you know, as well as idiomatic phrases you either didn't know or may have forgotten. These phrases also include some of the more advanced grammar skill sets. If you want to have fun while working with your current skills and improving some, you'll probably still find activities in Memrise to improve or fortify your Spanish. However, if you're looking to be super advanced in Spanish, you'll want to find a different source of Spanish lessons or just practice conversation with native speakers.

Need a reminder?

We all get busy. Remembering a new task on your to-do list, such as taking your Spanish lesson, might be easy to forget at first. You can go to your Memrise settings and set reminders. How often do you want to be reminded to take your lesson: once a day, specific days of the week, a certain time of day?

Best Spanish Lessons

How challenged do you want to be?

Are you busy, so you just want Memrise to go easier on you? Are you intent on learning a lot of Spanish in a shorter period of time, or somewhere in between? Set your pace and intensity accordingly.

Costs

  • Free Plan:
    • Free access
  • Pro Plan:
    • Monthly Plan: $8.99 per month
    • Annual Plan: $7.50 per month or $89.99 per year
    • Lifetime Plan: $139.99 one-time fee

Which plan is best for you?

Memrise only offers two plans: Free and Pro. What can you expect with each one?

  • The Free Plan includes:
    • Courses for 23 languages
    • Video clips of phrases used in real life
    • Quizzes in the form of games
    • Personalized review plans
    • Program to sync across your devices
  • The Pro Plan includes:
    • All of the above
    • Access to all learning features
    • No advertising
    • Offline learning via the app

30-day money-back guarantee

Memrise certainly has plenty of material available in their free program. If you choose to have access to more of their learning features without the hassle of advertising, you'll want to check out their subscription program. Use it all you want, but decide within 30 days if you want your money back with the annual or lifetime plans. There is no refund for the monthly plans.

Additional Memrise Pro learning features

Although the free version has plenty of lessons and can be sufficient for language learning, Memrise Pro has added features that really help solidify the learning process. Pro has a ton of content: much was created by Memrise people, plus they have added material from Memrise users! Memrise Pro, unlike the free version, uses the videos of people in actual settings. Memrise Pro also allows you to see the statistics on how you're learning. It may be helpful for you to visualize how they analyze your progress.

Speech recognition

Memrise Pro has speech-recognition technology, which isn't available with all online Spanish lessons. Here you can talk and record, and the speech-recognition technology tells you how well you might be understood by others. A unique feature to Memrise Pro is what they call "mems." Mems are mnemonic devices, or a way to help you remember certain words you just can't seem to get right. These mems are designed to help you commit those tough words to long-term memory.

We love it!

Memrise, especially Memrise Pro, is super addicting. The videos of people talking in their own locale are phenomenal for learning conversational Spanish and motivating to want to talk with people in real life. Its content is vast, so you don't run out of activities. Memrise is one of our favorite resources for learning languages, and we highly recommend their Spanish lessons.

Babbel Review 4.5 Star Rating

Babbel

4.5 Star Rating
  • Conversational phrases that are meant for real-life use
  • Grammar explained clearly
  • Appropriately-challenging content to learn at a good pace
  • Clear audio
  • Speech-recognition technology
  • Babbel Live has live instruction in classes of 6 or smaller

Babbel is a well-known language learning program that has done much research on language acquisition. They don't teach by flipping flashcards and quizzing you with games that look appealing but don't commit the subject to memory. Their lessons stick, and they even have speech-recognition technology to help with your speaking skills so you can be understood when you actually converse with a live person.

The Babbel approach

Babbel is based on communication. They start with beginning conversational sentences, such as asking how someone is. That's what we want to know when conversing, right? We want to know how to greet people and ask how they are, not translate the words ball, red, and later tell someone that the ball is red. Probably not the first sentence you'll use when travelling. Babbel also uses spaced repetition. Words and phrases are periodically repeated to reinforce, which is a proven technique to commit them to memory. There are also practice activities to build your listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills.

Speech recognition

There aren't many language-learning apps or online programs that use speech recognition technology. Babbel has it, and it can be helpful. After you say a word or phrase, the program listens to you and lets you know where you were understood correctly and where you should improve your speech. In addition, the voices you hear are of native speakers from various Spanish-speaking countries, so you'll learn slightly different accents and pronunciations, and can practice these with your speech recognition program. Because speech recognition is relatively new for language programs, it's not a perfect science. Still, we think it's a good feature to have.

Babbel uses English as a tool

Most of us have already learned English and mastered it. Therefore, Babbel uses our knowledge of English as the building blocks to understand Spanish. The words that Spanish and English have in common are usually omitted or don't have lengthy explanations. It's definitely helpful to have this program use English as a guide.

What if you've already had some Spanish classes?

There's a placement quiz to find out where you're at to choose the best course for you. Babbel, like many online language-learning programs, has a plethora of material for beginners, then wanes down for intermediate and has little for the advanced learner.

Best Spanish Lessons

Activities in the lesson

When you select your lesson, you're ready to speak when you set up your mic for the speech-recognition program. First comes the presentation of the material. To practice, you'll do exercises like fill-in-the-blank, matching words with images, and repeating words and phrases into the microphone. There's a review bar at the bottom of the screen so you can give previously-learned vocabulary the once-over.

Costs

  • Babbel app and online courses:
    • 1 month: $13.95 per month
    • 3 months: $9.95 per month
    • 6 months: $8.45 per month
    • 12 months: $6.95 per month
  • Babbel Live
    • 1 month: $99 per month
    • 3 months: $69.67 per month
    • 6 months: $59.83 per month
    • 12 months: $49.92 per month

Babbel Live

Babbel's newer feature is Babbel Live. With your subscription, you can take unlimited classes per month in a live class with six students or fewer. The classes range from A1 (Beginner) to C1 (Advanced), and is based on the European method of fluency for these level designations. You can customize your plan by choosing the number of classes you want per month. Between 70 and 80 Live classes are held daily. You can take notes and review the material, and there is no assigned homework or tests to study for. In addition to having access to Live classes, you'll also have access to the Babbel app and online classes of the regular Babbel program. Please note that the students of Babbel Live must be 16 years of age or older.

20-day refund policy

Regardless of which plan and payment plan you select, Babbel offers you a 20-day satisfaction guarantee. It's nice to know that with Babbel, you have more than two weeks to decide if the Spanish lessons are right for you. This return policy is for both the online/app lessons and Babbel Live as well.

Great choice for Spanish lessons

Babbel offers a wide variety of affordable lesson plans and learning games from beginner level to advanced. Their programs are available through either their online courses or their phone app. And for those learners who prefer engaging with people in real life, their Babbel Live program fits the bill. With thousands of happy students, it's easy to see why Babbel earns such high marks in our review.

Ouino Review 4 Star Rating

Ouino

4 Star Rating
  • Your fluency is their goal
  • Differentiates your learning path to meet your own learning goals
  • Simple to navigate
  • Interactive games and quizzes
  • Track your progress
  • Earn trophies

Ouino Spanish lessons offer a unique approach to language learning. Most language programs go in a linear fashion: from most basic to most complicated. Ouino doesn't believe in that. They realize that one doesn't have to be in an intermediate or advanced Spanish lesson just to talk about what they did yesterday. Or what they will do tomorrow. Why do most classes spend so much time on only the present tense when actual conversations don't? If you've ever asked yourself that question, we say welcome to Ouino.

Dialogs

Like many online or other Spanish lessons, you'll hear dialogs with native speakers. With the approach of not presenting only one tense or grammar concept at a time, the dialogs don't feel as limited or artificial as others might. On the free trial, you'll hear a dialog about having a friend over. You'll hear present, past, irregular verbs in the past, commands, and conditional (what you "would" do). This conversation doesn't feel forced. It's natural since Ouino doesn't limit the dialog to only one tense and only certain vocabulary words.

More fun than a textbook

In the traditional language classroom, the textbook goes in order, and that's the order you would learn. If you skipped a chapter to learn more fun things, you lost out because the chapter you chose included information from the chapter you missed! You feel punished for moving ahead. Not with Ouino. They set up their Spanish lessons so that you can choose the vocabulary lessons you want in any order. You can even do the same with the grammar lessons: choose any order. Ouino doesn't call it grammar, though, as that word can be daunting. They call it Building Blocks. But what if you don't like choosing your own path, and you want the experts to do it for you? Then you follow the "recommended path." You can stay on the recommended path, or veer on and off of it at will.

Gender, for example

Spanish words have gender. El burrito is a masculine word, and la casa is feminine. English doesn't have gender, so when we learn languages that have gender, it can be confusing. Ouino uses great mnemonic devices! A male reads masculine words, and a female reads feminine words. And the masculine words are written in blue, while the feminine words are written in red.

Costs

  • 3 month subscription: $12.99 per month
  • 6 month subscription: $9.99 per month
  • 12 month subscription: $6.99 per month
  • Lifetime subscription: $95.76 one-time fee

Subscriptions

You can subscribe to Ouino's Spanish lessons for 3 months ($38.97), 6 months ($59.94) or 12 months ($83.88), or sign up for lifetime lessons ($95.76). Rather than feel the pressure to learn as much as you can in a limited amount of time, the lifetime subscription takes the pressure away and is a good deal for the price.

  • Limited subscriptions include:
    • 30-day satisfaction guarantee
    • 440+ lessons
    • 1,200+ exercises
    • Allow for multiple users and devices
  • Lifetime subscription includes:
    • 60-day satisfaction guarantee
    • Adds personal language mentoring
    • Includes lifetime upgrades

Goal: fluency

First, they want you to learn the core. The core material is the nuts and bolts of the language, such as grammar and vocabulary. But that's where a lot of us dropped off and got bored in the old-school classes. Ouino's Spanish lessons add what they call external sources. They are readings, videos, and with the lifetime subscription, you can talk with native speakers. Practice Spanish using all four skills: listening, reading, writing, and speaking! Put it all together, and use it. That's what it's all about, and Ouino puts it into practice.

Best Spanish Lessons

Prizes

Ouino tracks your progress. They help you remember which Spanish lessons you did well, and which lessons were more challenging or took you longer to complete, advising that you may want to take that lesson again to feel more confident. After each exercise, you receive a score. And did someone say prizes? With a high enough score, over 70%, you'll receive a shiny bronze, silver, gold, or fluency medal. You'll also receive a medal after completing 55+ exercises. These medals are displayed on the Spanish lesson, but also on a calendar. You can see your progress as well as your awards on their monthly calendar. Did you skip more days than you had thought? Oops, you can see it on the calendar and now get motivated. You can also see if you have completed 13 reading exercises but only 2 speaking exercises.

Speaking of speaking

You can record your voice, but Ouino doesn't have speech-recognition software which would give you feedback on your speaking and pronunciation. They say that there isn't anything out there that recognizes the voice as well as they would like, so they don't include it. You can record your voice and compare it to that of a native speaker, and you can be the judge of your own speaking. Ouino professes that with practice, your accent will improve because your mouth movements will be more accustomed to a different language's way of pronouncing. However, experienced language teachers would say that is a casual approach to pronunciation development. Language teachers witness that there is a window where pronunciation is improved in beginning lessons, and after much practice, people get accustomed to how they talk. Their accent doesn't greatly improve with time - unless, of course, they are immersed in the language, like living in another country.

Repetitive activities...but with a twist

The grammar exercises can be repetitive: conjugation match, match pronouns to different tenses and moods, and fill-in-the-blank activities. Repetition shows predictability in activities, which is good for consistency, but such activities can also get boring. What makes Ouino Spanish lessons different, though, is a timer. If you aren't comfortable with the material, it can take longer to answer questions. Therefore, you can set the timer to a longer or shorter time period to answer questions. Want to challenge yourself? Allow yourself less time to answer a question! This is a creative idea, since in real life, native speakers can get bored talking to people who aren't comfortable in the target language, and take a long time to do so. Set the timer for less time, answer more quickly, and be more comfortable in authentic situations.

Not enough time

At the end of a Spanish lesson, there's often an exercise where you listen to a phrase in Spanish and then choose the correct English translation of that phrase. First, if you're trying to be fluent in Spanish, you'll want to think in Spanish. Forcing your brain to hear Spanish and then reading four possible English translations, doesn't help you think in Spanish. Second, processing what you hear in the Spanish sentence, reading four full sentences in English, then deciphering in both languages which is correct, takes longer than the 5 seconds given, even if the person doing the activity is a fluent Spanish speaker! It's too much to process in a short period of time. We'd suggest first, not making sentence-to-sentence translation, and second, allowing more time for even a fluent speaker to process. And that's on the "easy" level of the exercise!

Ouino wins a gold medal

Ouino teaches Spanish with a unique method. Practice activities mix the tenses, focusing on the context and not isolating the concept, which is great for fluency. You can go in the suggested order of the lessons, or you can pick and choose your topic interests; having the choice of how to study is unique and works for all types of learners. Although the type of practice activity can be repetitive, we still like the quantity and believe they are useful. We give Ouino a gold medal for ease of learning and the goal of fluency.

Rosetta Stone Review 4 Star Rating

Rosetta Stone

4 Star Rating
  • 3-day free trial
  • Option for lifetime subscription
  • Most recognized language-learning program
  • Fun and interactive

Have you always wanted to learn conversational Spanish? Would you like to make sure your pronunciation is understandable to those talking to you? And are you tired of the traditional textbook method of language learning? Due to its longevity and reputation for excellence, Rosetta Stone's Spanish courses are usually the ones that people compare other language courses to. "Is it as good as Rosetta Stone?"

How it began

Rosetta Stone's founder, Allen Stoltzfus, struggled to learn Russian through traditional methods. He sought a different approach to language learning in the mid-1980s: the natural method, which is how people learn their native language with sounds and images in context, not direct translation. In 1992, Allen and his brother created lessons via CD-ROMs, and named it Rosetta Stone, after the artifact that broke the code for understanding the Egyptians' hieroglyphics. Allen liked this name as both "Rosetta Stones" unlock the code for learning language.

Wide range of lessons

Rosetta Stone has lessons for beginners, intermediate learners, and those who want to hone their skills. Once you select the level of Spanish you may already speak, you choose a category of lessons. Are you interested in Spanish for work, travel, communication with family, or just lessons without a category? Rosetta Stone is available for individuals, schools, and businesses.

Rosetta Stone's method is paramount

Rosetta Stone is the method to which people compare other learning methods, especially competitors' online lessons. Spanish lessons here take the natural approach, which is a huge draw for the person who was frustrated with translation in their other virtual language learning lessons or in-person classes. Fans say they learn to speak quickly and with a good accent as the technology offers native speaker voice recordings and immediate feedback on students' speech exercises.

Listen and speak right away

In the beginning lessons of Rosetta Stone, you'll get to hear a Spanish word that's associated with a picture representing that word. If the picture-sound combination's meaning is confusing to you, you can click on an arrow that shows you the English translation for your word. You also have the opportunity to hear a native speaker say words for you, and you get to repeat them back. You learn to speak Spanish with meaning right off the bat.

Not ideal if you want everything translated

In the beginning lessons, there's a small icon to select for translation of the vocabulary word. Once the lessons are a bit more advanced, there's no option for translation. If the phrase is long and confusing, and you only have a photo to match the phrase, translation might help. Yet, no sentence translation is available at this stage. This is the biggest complaint we've seen on this product: no translation, even if you're desperate. Rosetta Stone's answer to that is to look at context cues in the matching photo, use the words you do understand to help out, and don't feel you have to understand every word to understand the sentence. This is how we learned our first language as children, and it's also how they recommend learning as adults. Still, it can be frustrating to have no option for translation when all else seems to fail.

Best Spanish Lessons

Stories with culture

Once you have some vocabulary words and phrases learned, enjoy putting your language to use and catch some culture, too, by choosing a short story. You can read the paragraph with culture in its setting, listen to a heritage speaker read it, or read the story out loud. When you read the story aloud into the microphone, their speech-recognition software will tell you what it heard you say correctly, what it didn't hear you say, and if it heard you say words or phrases differently than how they said it.

Lots of topics to learn

There are twenty units per language, with real-life topics like shopping, travel, friends and social life, professions and hobbies, style and personal wellness, business and industry, emergency situations, and arts and academics.

But wait, there's more!

If you want to watch videos, or if you'd like an actual coach or live lessons, those options are available for an additional cost. Sometimes, there's nothing like an actual person helping or teaching you.

Costs

  • 3 months: $11.9 per month, $35.97 total
  • 12 months: $7.99 per month, $143.88, total; on sale for $95.88 total (save 33%)
  • Lifetime, unlimited languages: $299, on sale for $179 total (best value)

The natural method works

All in all, Rosetta Stone seems to have thought of everything. We're all pretty successful in our first language, right? How we learned our first language, the natural method, is the method Rosetta Stone uses to teach languages. They also offer readings, speech-recognition feedback, optional videos, and optional tutors and live lessons. Their main drawback seems to be lack of translation. Because we're not infants, we already know at least one language. Being adults, and having more mature processing skills than infants, sometimes translation can be helpful for us. All things considered, Rosetta Stone has a high track record for success and is held in high regard; it remains one of our preferred sources for learning Spanish.

The 3-day free trial is beneficial

By simply giving them an email address, you can have access to Rosetta Stone for three days. You choose your current level of Spanish as well as your purpose for taking lessons: travel, family, work, or "basics and beyond." Rosetta Stone then sets you up with a plan. If you instead decide to jump in and purchase a membership, you should know that the "natural method," which Rosetta Stone uses to teach its students, is a tried and true method. By already knowing a language, some students decide they are more comfortable with a program that uses some translation, so you should definitely dabble in Rosetta Stone during the 30-day money-back guarantee time period.

Mondly Review 4 Star Rating

Mondly

4 Star Rating
  • Reasonably priced
  • Optional 41 languages to learn
  • Innovative technology in their AR and VR apps
  • Speech-recognition technology
  • Attention on lower-level learning

Mondly uses fun, interactive, game-like lessons to keep students interested, excited, and learning. The free version is quite limited in scope, but the lifetime subscription has a reasonable price, and you can switch from Spanish to any of its 41 languages any time you want. Mondly is a good bang for the buck.

Use the free trial as there are no refunds

Yes, the free trial has quite limited access, but it's worth it to see if Mondly is the right fit for you. Once you subscribe, that's it; there are no refunds.

Polyglot friendly

Attention all polyglot wannabes! Mondly teaches Spanish and 40 other languages. With the lifetime subscription you can change languages at any time. And if English is not your first language, you can choose something different as your instructional language. It's fun for language-learning nerds to switch teaching languages, too!

Improving skills

The Spanish lessons are in categories of beginning, intermediate, and advanced. There are many beginning-level Spanish lessons. We've found that the intermediate and advanced lessons don't actually go much beyond aren't much more advanced than beginner. So, if you're looking to build your skills and not just vocabulary, you might choose one of our higher-rated Spanish-language programs. The audio is spoken by native speakers, but there's no opportunity to slow down the audio to get a better grasp.

Daily practice

Mondly has short, daily Spanish lessons and practice. Its fun lessons are like games and there are rewards for hitting another level. This motivates the learner to try to get to just one more level. Mondly has a similar format to other popular online lesson brands. In fact, many critics notice the similarities, adding that while rivals' lessons may be offered for free, Mondly has a fee; so which is better? Mondly has so much more than meets the eye!

It uses chatbots

When having a virtual conversation via the app, you can fill in your next line of the conversation. You have a prompt to guide you to the correct answer, but it accepts other replies as well. This allows the learner to say something that they might say when having a conversation while traveling, and not feeling the pressure to give the "textbook" response. Just be aware that sometimes Mondly won't recognize your free-form answers and might tell you that it's having trouble "hearing" you.

Best Spanish Lessons

AR technology and speech recognition

This technology has a huge appeal. Create a CGI teacher and design their surroundings. The digitized teacher presents a fun lesson and then, using their speech-recognition system, gives you feedback on your pronunciation! Some Spanish lesson programs expect you to evaluate your own pronunciation, but Mondly does it for you.

Costs

  • Monthly: $9.99, one language
  • Yearly: $47.99, one language
  • Lifetime access: $89.99, all 41 languages

Subscribing

We've found the lifetime subscription price to be quite reasonable, and it lets you choose among 41 languages. Some people who have chosen the monthly subscription have found that Mondly has automatic renewal each month, which can be a turn-off. When these monthly subscribers have contacted Mondly to stop the auto pay and to stop the subscription, they have found it quite difficult to do so. Mondly also offers limited free access, which sounds enticing, but it's not. It seems like it's meant to give the seeker a peek into the Spanish lessons and program, but you can't gain much Spanish knowledge from this sneak preview.

Virtual reality!

The VR app is intended to complement the main Mondly app. You can have conversations with virtual people in different parts of the world. When you have a shopping lesson, you'll be in a store. Many of us want to travel and practice our new Spanish skills, and if we can't get there right away, virtual reality is a pretty nice option.

Kid friendly

Mondly is fun, entertaining, and kids stay involved with fun Spanish lessons. In the premium children's version, there are 11 topics and 77 Spanish lessons. There are also 400 words they can learn with the flashcards. Mondly has native speakers in their audio, so the kids can catch on quickly to authentic accents and pronunciation.

Highly recommended

Using modern technology like speech recognition, chatbots, AR, and VR, Mondly delivers fun and innovation! If you want to stretch your language practice to additional languages, Mondly has 41 to choose from. Unfortunately, when you "advance" to intermediate and advanced lessons, Mondly's curriculum doesn't offer as much. We hope to see more challenging content added in the future, which would bring these Spanish lessons even higher in our rankings. Overall, though, Mondly is a great product and we encourage you to give it a try.

Rocket Languages Review 3.5 Star Rating

Rocket Languages

3.5 Star Rating
  • Plenty of audio for listening
  • Unique and accurate speech-recognition and assessment program
  • Complete, understandable lessons

Rocket Languages has a platform with unique features such as an accurate speech-recognition program that assesses your speech and pronunciation. It has plenty of audio for you to hear. This is great because when we learn a language it's so we can understand others, right? Their audio can help with that as there is quite a lot to listen to. They even have something they call a Survival Kit: a section with additional vocab and phrases that are helpful for conversing with others.

How does it work?

First choose your level, from 1-3. The lowest level, for example, has 8 modules, or units, with 134 hours of lessons. Each lesson provides about 15-30 minutes of audio instruction time. You'll then choose between three tabs: Interactive Audio, Grammar and Culture, or Survival Kit, which are additional helpful words and phrases.

Event-themed lessons

In the Interactive Audio tab of the lesson, the lessons are event themed, like concerts, unforgettable moments, or cyberspace. Here you can read and listen to a dialog, then test yourself with flashcards, write the word you hear, read the Spanish and repeat aloud, and quiz yourself.

Grammar and culture combined

In the Language and Culture tab of the lesson, the lessons are grammar themed, like por/para, preterite, and words that change meanings. Here again, there's a lesson, and practice throughout, reinforcing what's taught. At the end of the lesson, there's a cultural component such as coffee in Latin America, or how to make small talk. The Language and Culture tabs also have practice for listening, speaking, reading, and writing the material, along with a quiz at the end.

Useful phrases and vocabulary

In the Survival Kit section, there are additional vocabulary and phrases. The free trial locked us out of all these activities, but other users have reported that these phrases are without context, and are in the same format as the other lessons: listen, repeat, read, write. It would be more attractive if this section were more exciting.

Best Spanish Lessons

Improve your pronunciation!

Play it!, the interactive listening and speaking activity, is intended to prepare you for conversation. Listen to the word and speak it back. Rocket Languages will analyze your speech and give you a percentage score on your speaking! They'll also give you a transcript of what they hear, and mark your accuracies and inaccuracies in red or green font. It's a great feature, and we've found it works pretty well! You can also play the conversational dialog, line by line, repeat the lines, and listen back, also receiving feedback. We've found the assessment feature to be more accurate with single words, and less patient with sentences. It will stop listening, even if you're not done, and then give its assessment, albeit incomplete.

Costs

  • Free trial when you give them your email
  • Free 60-day trial, but only with a paid subscription
  • Lifetime access to Level 1 for $149.95, sale priced at $99.95 with coupon code
  • Lifetime access to Levels 1, 2 for $299.90, sale priced at $249.90 with coupon code
  • Lifetime access to Levels 1, 2, 3 for $449.85, sale priced at $259.90 with coupon code

Which package should I choose? And what level?

In Rocket's pricing, all packages include Level 1. If you're not a beginner, and don't want to purchase Level 1 lessons, you can contact the company to purchase levels individually. Whichever route you go, expect to pay anywhere from $100 to $450 as a one-off cost, depending on what discounts are in place at the time you buy your Spanish lessons. It's always nice to have complimentary access to Spanish lessons, but Rocket Languages doesn't offer much for free. You can have a no-cost trial when you give them your email, but you will be getting many emails filling up your inbox.

60-day refund policy

Rocket Languages offers a 60-day money-back guarantee when you email them within 60 days of making your payment and creating your Rocket Languages account.

Effective, unique features, for a price

Rocket Language's Spanish program has thorough lessons, chock full of grammar and vocabulary in themed units of study. The pronunciation assessment is unique, and offers more than just the student listening to their own words and self-assessing. The dialogs mix up the lessons a bit, rather than just individual vocabulary words and conjugations. If cost is less important to you, Rocket Language's Spanish program is an excellent choice.

Lingoda Review 3.5 Star Rating

Lingoda

3.5 Star Rating
  • Live instruction
  • Instructor is a native Spanish speaker
  • Classes almost solely in Spanish
  • Small class size: 3-5 students
  • Classes available 24/7
  • Placement test provided

Bells and whistles? The most up-to-date technology and special effects? Lingoda doesn't need all that to keep the Spanish learner engaged in the lesson. Rather, Lingoda offers you a live teacher and a small class of two to four other students via Zoom. Small class size, an instructor whose native language is Spanish, a downloadable pdf for the class notes, and nothing else is needed. Take the lessons at your own pace, and you're on your way to learning Spanish!

Beginner to advanced, the European way

While some online Spanish classes create their own definitions for beginner, intermediate, and advanced, it's not easy to know where you stand in their program, or in real life. Is advanced really advanced, or did they run out of material so they just called it advanced? Lingoda, on the other hand, uses the European method of classifying your language level. The CEFR, or the Common European Reference for Languages is the international standard for describing language ability, and goes from A1 to C2. In Lingoda's Spanish, you can start anywhere, and lessons go up to B2 level. Don't be fooled into thinking that B2 won't get you very far; it definitely will. How do you know what level you're at? Take the 15-minute placement test. The test is accurate, and you'll feel confident with where you're placed. And, you'll know the name of the level you're at, as you have the CEFR descriptors.

Sprint or Super Sprint?

There are two different programs in Lingoda: Sprint and Super Sprint. In Sprint, you'll take 15 classes per month, and in Super Sprint, you'll take 30 classes per month. You have to be dedicated to get in this many classes per month! If you are willing to take a Spanish lesson every day or basically every other day, you'll be on your way to conversing in Spanish!

Free trial

You can have a free, 7-day trial of Lingoda. Be aware that after the 7 days, you will be billed for upcoming plans.

Costs

  • Three months of the Sprint program: $650
  • Three months of the Super Sprint program: $1,100

Expensive per plan, not so expensive per class

For the Sprint program, they charge $650 total for three months of classes, and the Super Sprint is $1100 for three months. This is quite costly for three months of classes! However, when you figure that the Sprint program offers 45 classes in those three months, that's $14 per class. Almost nowhere can you get an almost-private lesson for less than $20 per class.

You snooze, you lose

Whichever program you choose, if you don't attend all of the classes for the month, any unused lessons do not roll over to the next month. This is great motivation for keeping up with your classes, and choosing the correct plan for your available time.

Cancelling a subscription

For the Sprint plan, you can cancel within the first 14 days of signing up. The rest of the cancellation policy is vague, and you are asked to read their lengthy terms and conditions section for more information.

Best Spanish Lessons

Flexible schedule

No matter your schedule and available time, no worries! Lingoda's instructors have classes 24/7. When you create your account through Lingoda, you can easily filter to see the availability of the classes at your level. They have the calendar set to your time zone, so no worries if you're not travelling. If you're travelling outside your normal time zone, double check the class start time.

The class you want isn't always available when you want it

Sometimes you'll want a class and it's not convenient for your time zone. Or the class filled up and there's no room for you. Be sure to book your classes as soon as you can to get what you need.

Cash back bonus! Better read the fine print

If you complete all your classes in a 3-month period, you can receive all of your money back. Now there's an incentive to keep up your classes! If you're enrolled in the Sprint, you can receive 50% back if you attend all of your classes, and if you're in Super Sprint, you can receive 100% back for attending all of your classes! There's a 13-page document on the fine print of how to qualify for the cash back. Read it carefully, if cash back is your goal.

The classes have a syllabus, but are easy going

There's a PDF of the objectives and materials for your class, so you'll know what will be covered. You can review the material ahead of time and look up any of the vocabulary words or pre-read the lessons for the grammar instruction. The instructor might linger on an activity that the students are finding challenging, or move lightly over the ones that the class understands. You'll see that the lesson will seem to fly by, and you'll still learn the class objectives.

Are we going to be tested on this?

There are no major tests. After each class, there's an optional, quick, multiple-choice quiz to see if you have mastered the objectives. It doesn't take long, and it's helpful feedback.

World-wide native speaker instructors speaking Castilian Spanish

The instructors are native Spanish speakers, so you'll hear authentic accents. They are from all over the world, so you will hear how people from so many Spanish speaking countries speak. The class is taught almost solely in Spanish, so you will hear an extensive amount of Spanish. One aspect we thought odd is that Castilian Spanish is taught. Even though your instructor may not be from Spain, they are to teach you the language the way the Spaniards would use it. It's like Americans teaching British English, which is not natural for them. Even so, the words and grammar will be consistent, as it's all from Spain, and doesn't vary from class to class, and instructor to instructor.

No online classes available

You are at the mercy of scheduling to get the live class you want. If you want to supplement with Lingoda's online program, there isn't one. It's online via Zoom or not at all, since nothing else is available.

Nothing like in-person classes

Sometimes, there's nothing like a live, expert instructor to learn a language. Lingoda has instructors available 24/7, when you can find the desired class available, of course. The class is taught almost entirely in Spanish, the objectives are clear, the study material is included, and class size is no more than 5 students. If you are interested in trying for the cash-back program as an incentive, we recommend you read the fine print. Same for any refund: read the fine print. Lingoda, in encouraging you to take a certain number of classes per month, is a refreshing change from some of the self-motivating online programs out there. Just remember that you must be pretty dedicated to make the $650 or $1,100 three-month membership worthwhile.

Spanish Pod 101 Review 3.5 Star Rating

Spanish Pod 101

3.5 Star Rating
  • Lots of material, especially for beginners
  • Option to slow down the audio
  • Option to compare their audio with your recorded speech
  • Variety of vocabulary topics
  • Humor-infused
  • Limited, life-time, free access

Wouldn't you like to have your choice of topics for vocabulary learned in your Spanish class? Would you like instruction with a little humor sprinkled in here and there? Spanish Pod 101 can do that for you! Once you determine your learning level (basic, intermediate, etc.), you get to choose your units. Economics? Romance? You've got it! You even can listen to your recorded audio next to their recorded audio so you can hear what you should work on. You can subscribe or have lifetime, limited, free access.

Old-school learner? No problem!

If you're accustomed to traditional Spanish classes and you like the flashcard method, learning vocabulary with Spanish Pod 101 will be like a comfy, old chair, but with more bells and whistles. Spanish Pod has a list of the top 800 core Spanish words, and breaks it down into manageable lists. For each word that you already know, skip it. If there's a new word, play the short video. A native speaker says the word for you, repeats it, and says it slowly so you can see mouth movements and hear nuances. They then use the word in a sentence. This is a visual and interactive way of learning a list of vocab if you're not in the classroom. There are situational vocab lists with more fun and applicable topics, like astrophysics, marine animals and fish, muscles of the body, economics, and who doesn't want to learn Spanish about...romance and love?

Don't guess your level, Spanish Pod can do it for you!

There's a relatively brief quiz that you take, and Spanish Pod will determine the correct level where you should start. It will then replay all the questions of the quiz, and you can see which you got correct and or incorrect with all of your answers.

What's a lesson like?

There's a brief written dialog. Each line has a "speaker" icon so you can listen to the sentence. You can also record yourself saying the same line. Although it won't analyze your Spanish like the speech-recognition technology of other language programs will, you can hear yourself right after the example, and re-record to improve pronunciation and fluidity. Having both audios side by side is helpful. After the dialog, there's a short list of vocabulary. You can see the word in Spanish and English, hear the word in Spanish, and what's nice is that you can also hear it at half speed.

A slide show plus a quiz

There's also a slide show. Don't get excited, it's just black and white words, sentences, and the audio. Nothing colorful here, just added support. At the end, there's a quiz to see if you have mastered the material. It can be as simple as marking true or false for the meanings of the English and Spanish pair of words. Under the lesson, there's a grammar point and perhaps a brief cultural or idiomatic lesson. SpanishPod also has an optional app for iPhone and Android.

Costs

  • Free membership
  • Free 7-day membership with monthly membership
  • Monthly: $9.99 per month
  • Lifetime: $199.00 total cost

Pricing and membership options vary

With Spanish Pod 101, you have several options:

  • Free, limited, lifetime subscription: new audio and video lessons every week, the first three lessons of every pathway or learning track, the Spanish word of the day, the top 100 core Spanish word list, some vocabulary and phrase lists, and access to some of the material on the Camino app.
  • Free 7-day trial: includes vocabulary and phrase lessons, tips and techniques, and is available with the monthly subscription
  • Monthly membership: full access to all of the material online at Spanish Pod 101 as well as the Camino app, the vocabulary lessons and podcasts; ability to record grades and monitor progress.
  • Lifetime membership: Lifetime access to all of the above in the monthly membership.
  • Premium: You'll get over 400 hours of lessons, in-depth explanations for each lesson, dialogs with breakdowns, a list of the top 2,000 Spanish words, an audio dictionary, access to additional apps, quizzes, and study tools, and daily, motivational mini-lessons via the Daily Dose of Spanish, for $10 per month, with a 24-month subscription.
  • Premium-plus: includes all of the Premium features, plus a one-on-one instructor, for $23 per month, with a 24-month subscription.

Confusing membership structure

One of the criticisms we have about Spanish Pod 101 is their pricing. They mix words like basic, premium, and premium-plus with monthly and lifetime. It was challenging to figure out which terminology goes with which payment plan, and we've done our best to clarify it. Other reviewers have had the same critique of the confusion of pricing and labeling of the levels of the programs. The above description is the best we could do at deciphering.

Best Spanish Lessons

60-day satisfaction guarantee

If you choose the free program, there are many lessons for you to enjoy. If you choose to purchase a subscription, more is offered, of course. If you decide after a fashion that the SpanishPod subscription wasn't right for you, you have 60-days to cancel. That's plenty of time to explore all that SpanishPod has to offer and decide if it fits what you're looking for long term.

Lessons can jump around

The lessons aren't necessarily linear. Within each pathway, or learning track, you can choose your topic of study. It can be fun to jump around and select the lessons that fit your interests, and know they are at your level of study. If, however, you want your lessons to gradually get more challenging from one to the next, this program could be frustrating.

Lots of content in the beginning

For beginners, there is a ton of information, vocabulary, and English resources. As you become more advanced, there is less English to rely on, which is a good thing, but there isn't as much content, which is a downfall.

Added humor

Sometimes the dialogs include bantering between the hosts. If you've lost your sense of humor or want "just the facts, ma'am" , then, well, not all the lessons have humor, so there's that. But some do have humor, and it's novel to see the hosts having fun, like you would want when you travel and converse with people. The humor can be within the conversation or about culture. One of the presenters, Alex, adds quips with her vocab presentation, lightening up the lesson and making you want to see what else she comes up with. She makes learning online fun - what a concept!

Gradually less English

As the lessons become more advanced, you'll see fewer English helps. This is what many learners want. In the beginning, some of us want some English, as complete immersion can be daunting. As the lessons get more advanced, the English helps are fewer, but the learner doesn't feel lost without them.

Conversation, anyone? Not here

The lessons have great vocabulary and grammar, but if you're wanting to improve your conversational Spanish, you'll have to go elsewhere. This course is a glorified traditional course, and it's fun. Conversational, it's not.

Level 101

Spanish Pod 101 is just that: A "101" level course. It's great for the beginner or as a supplement to another course of study, but not for the advanced learner. If you're looking to develop your conversational skills, the grammar/vocabulary method isn't conducive to speaking Spanish. That said, the beginner will have fun and stay motivated with the banter during the dialogs and will enjoy recording their voice to compare their pronunciation to that of the native speaker. Although the lifetime lessons are competitively priced, other Spanish lessons we've reviewed contain more content and technology.

Fluenz Review 3 Star Rating

Fluenz

3 Star Rating
  • Thorough, video explanations
  • Well suited for beginners
  • One-time payment, not a subscription program
  • Necessary repetition, but can be boring
  • Offers a live class in Spain or Mexico

Fluenz' online program is similar to a traditional classroom setting, but in the comfort of your home, office, or any setting you choose, at any time you like. Through videos of a real person explaining how Spanish works, it adds a perceived personalization and comfort to learning, rather than just reading a textbook or studying written, textbook-type grammar explanations, like some other online Spanish lessons might offer. Their pricing is straightforward, you can click a tab to watch your progress, and if you really want, you can add the option (for a fee) to take live classes in Spain or Mexico.

Instruction by a real person

Fluenz has instructors teach you via video (recordings, not live). You can pause and repeat to better catch the information. If you're watching the video a second time for review purposes, just skip ahead to newer or challenging information, if that's what you need. These lessons are taught from the perspective of the English-speaking learner. The videos are helpful for learning pronunciation, as you can see the person's face and mouth as they model. When they teach you Spanish grammar, they compare it to what you know in English. They also do the same for vocabulary and Spanish phrases. This is helpful since you already know and understand English: the comparison for a new language can be quite beneficial. At the end of the lesson there are activities to help you test yourself to see how well you learned the material.

Costs

  • Level 1: $187
  • Level 2: $187
  • Levels 1 and 2: $258
  • Levels 1, 2, and 3: $308
  • Levels 3, 4, and 5: $320

Straightforward pricing

It's quite simple. Which levels do you need, and how many do you want to purchase? That's it. Other Spanish lessons we've reviewed have subscriptions, where you decide how long you want to study, and do you want to pay per month, pay for a year to get a cheaper rate, or get lifetime? In addition, do you want one plan where you have to read the descriptors of what you get, or do you want any of the other plans, and again, more reading and studying of the differences of the plans. None of this confusion comes with Fluenz, and it's quite refreshing. Once you decide your subscription plan, you have 30 days to decide if you like it, as there is a 30-day money-back guarantee. Be sure to practice quite a bit in those 30 days, as there isn't any free trial period to choose instead.

One-time payment, not subscription

With a busy life, subscription programs might not be right for you. If you purchase a month-to-month program and can't fit regular study sessions into your schedule, you'll either not get your money's worth or you'll consider ending the subscription and move on. With Fluenz, you pay the one-time fee and can use the program whenever you want.

Exercises called Workouts

The practice exercises are called Workouts and have dialogs. You can listen with or without the English subtitles, depending on your current comfort level with the material. These words and phrases in the dialog are used frequently in the exercises that follow, working on your listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills. In between activities, a video will appear to break down usage and meaning of the key words and phrases.

My data

In your Fluenz Spanish lessons, there's a section where you can see how well you're doing: how much time you are spending on each lesson, how many tries per answer, and more. But, if that kind of information overwhelms you, just ignore it!

Best Spanish Lessons

Repetition and more repetition is a good thing

Research says that one needs 17 exposures to a word or phrase in order to remember it. Fluenz will repeat its vocabulary many times. Some users find it frustrating to have the program repeat words that were easy to learn.

Hint, please

In the writing activities, Fluenz isn't forgiving with mistakes. The sentence must be perfect, accents and all, and doesn't give hints as to where an error might be. It's right or wrong. It would be great if Fluenz would update their technology here.

Best for beginners

There's no placement test for Fluenz. If you're a beginner, start at the beginning. If you have experience with Spanish, you need to look at the outline of each group of lessons to decide where you want to start and what you want to skip. We see that the classes end at "Lesson 5" , where the material seems to be at an intermediate level. We would prefer they use definitions of "level" on par with that of the European method or with the College Board's method of determining fluency, not self-determining which "chapter" you left off at in high school.

Travel, anyone?

Wouldn't it be great to take intense Spanish lessons in Spain or Mexico? Fluenz offers that! There are short-term classes on site and it is a wonderful way to not only learn Spanish, but to practice your Spanish where it's spoken every day.

Watch recorded videos

Fluenz offers Spanish classes with a real person, but isn't live. In live classes, you have to commit to attending at a specific time, where with Fluenz, you can watch the videos at any time and repeat when necessary. The lessons are straightforward and have clear explanations of grammar and vocabulary phrases, taught with an English-speaking learner in mind. The activities offer quite a bit of repetition, which can be tiresome, but is often necessary for language acquisition.

Room to improve

Fluenz has it all: lessons with a real person, explanations from an English-learner's perspective, plenty of practice, and opportunity to learn and practice abroad. Our suggestions for Fluenz to earn a higher rating would be to add a placement test, make lessons more fluency-based rather than grammar-based, and offer Spanish lessons that continue to a more advanced level.

StudySpanish Review 2 Star Rating

StudySpanish

2 Star Rating
  • Lots of grammar lessons
  • Lots of vocabulary lists
  • Old-school learning methods
  • Best as a supplement, not as a course on its own

If you're into old-school language-learning methods - heck, some of us are just comfortable with the repetition of the drill-it-to-death method - and you like flashcards with English-to-Spanish vocabulary words, English explanations of grammar concepts and the good old-fashioned conjugation charts, StudySpanish has it all. Their free website has a comprehensive list of the grammar concepts and vocabulary topics where you can practice away! StudySpanish also offers an app with audio grammar explanations...in English, and some dialogs to practice.

Back to the basics

StudySpanish has a large amount of free information on its website. It's great for breaking down the traditional elements of language learning. On the main page, there are tabs for pronunciation, grammar, vocabulary, and verb drills. There are also free quizzes and activities to test your written skills. Each tab gives you perspective on the topic. For example, on the grammar tab, it reminds you that good grammar is definitely helpful, but being a grammar expert isn't the goal; speaking conversationally is. Whether you want full lessons or to use the site for periodic support, Study Spanish offers both.

Free is good

Full lessons are available on the website for free, and a majority of the site is accessible for no cost. The Camino al Exito app has a free trial of 7 days; however, most lessons are locked without a paid subscription. In addition, the free version of the app didn't offer much, if anything at all, over what the website alone offered. Other people, who had accessed the full, paid-version of the app, noticed only small extensions above the website, including dialogs to read, listen to, and repeat, and certainly not worth the money invested. Stick with the website for the best value.

Best Spanish Lessons

Paid is better

StudySpanish utilizes familiar, old-school teaching and tutoring on its site as well as on the free version of the app. Their grammar explanations are in English, focus on conjugation charts, and the lessons are set up like many textbooks' lessons. If you're looking to learn or improve your conversational Spanish, we wouldn't look on the website or the free access to the app.

Costs

  • 7-day trial: free
  • After 7-day free trial: $9.99 per month, cancel any time
  • Lifetime: $119 total

Cancellation policy

StudySpanish's cancellation policy is straightforward: email them notifying them of a cancellation within three days of the most recent membership payment for a refund.

Very traditional lessons

The lessons are presented in an order, and you can follow them or pick and choose what you need to work on. The lessons are presented in a very old-school manner. Here's your grammar topic, here's the explanation, here's the practice, and here it is in the conjugation chart. You can now take a quiz to test your skills. This method bodes well for those who like charts and to break down the information presented. It also uses English for the explanations, so the explanations are clear, but again...English. We believe StudySpanish isn't the best resource for actually learning the language; it's more useful when taking a course in school, for example, and you want clarification, reinforcement, and practice on topics in the unit you're studying. There's a section for quizzes after you learn your topic, but the free version has one quiz, so it's the same exact quiz if you need to re-test yourself.

More robust Spanish lessons elsewhere

StudySpanish has been around for several years, and has kept its traditional method of teaching and quizzing grammar and vocabulary. It's cut and very dry. This makes it a good resource if you need extra practice or additional explanation for material in your Spanish classroom. If you're interested in thinking in Spanish, learning conversations, or having a little fun while studying, you'll have to do the work on your own or find another source.

Living Language Review 1.5 Star Rating

Living Language

1.5 Star Rating
  • Competitive prices
  • Accurate and thorough content
  • Job-Specific classes
  • Dated technology
  • Drab practice and games
  • Antiquated teaching styles

Living Language offers a free trial for their Spanish lessons. When you click on the offer, you get access to the first beginning lesson to get a feel for how they teach. You can also download one of three online CDs to have access to a few lessons, and experience the different levels of learning if you have had previous experience with the language.

What to expect

There are courses from beginner to advanced, called essential, intermediate, and advanced. First, vocabulary is presented via flashcards with optional native speaker audio to hear good pronunciation. Then, there's a grammar lesson with detailed English explanations and sample sentences using the grammar. Following that, there's a second vocabulary and grammar presentation. Conversation dialogs follow so you can practice the vocabulary and grammar in context. There are also games to reinforce what's taught. To supplement the vocabulary and grammar lesson, there are readings and culture notes to add depth and breadth to the lessons.

Looking for niche lessons?

Living Language offers a variety of tailored Spanish lesson programs:

  • Passport Spanish has travelers in mind to help you in most any experience while traveling to a Spanish-speaking country.
  • Business Spanish is designed to build your business world-wide and communicate with your clients and business associates in Spanish.
  • On the Job contains job-specific vocabulary and phrases
    • Spanish for Law Enforcement
    • Spanish for Healthcare Workers
    • Spanish for Librarians

Talk about old school

If you're into nostalgia of your high school days, or would like to time travel back to the early 90s or before, this method will bring you right back to your old-school Spanish class. The lesson presentation is just like the old textbooks and audio tapes, but you don't have your friends or Spanish teacher to make the class fun. Flashcards are Spanish-English translation, like you might have created yourself on an index card, but Living Language lets you hear pronunciation with a click. The grammar presentation is quite dry and boring and looks like a page from a wordy textbook. In practice, the most common word is "translate:" "Translate this sentence." "Translate this phrase." If you want to think in Spanish, you don't translate. Using only translation is boring and can be ineffective, especially if you want to build conversational skills.

Flashcards like you used to make with index cards

The flashcards have Spanish on one side and English on the other. You can mark "mastered" on the cards you learned, like back in the day, you might have removed the cards you mastered. The difference here is that Living Languages lets you hear the audio of the spoken word, which of course, you couldn't do on your index card.

Basic audio

When you practice the vocabulary flashcards, you can hear the audio read by a native speaker. For speaking practice, you can have a conversation with the native speaker. Don't get too excited, though. The speaker gives you a sentence. You are asked to reply in Spanish, and they tell you in English, the exact reply for you to say in Spanish. They then tell you the correct sentence in Spanish. If you're trying to think in Spanish, the English sentence guiding you is a distraction. In addition, there's no way to record your audio and listen back so you can compare your Spanish against that of a native speaker. Most other online Spanish lessons we've tried have had a feature where you can record your voice. This program is quite antiquated and only lets you hear them, and not record yourself.

Grammar explanations are thorough

The teaching of grammar is thorough and there are good examples throughout. It explains the concept well and includes English-language comparisons so you can understand the nuances. We found the grammar lessons quite dry, just like a page from the old black-and-white textbook from years ago. They may be dry, but contain full explanations.

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Reading is fundamental--or is it?

There are readings as bonus material. It would be beneficial if the readings were better integrated into the content of the lesson by containing many of the vocabulary words and grammar points. Reading shouldn't be considered a bonus, it should be an integrated part of the lesson.

Sentence-building activity

You can practice creating a sentence. Living Languages gives you an English sentence to translate. You drag each word from the word bank to its corresponding blank within the sentence. You're either correct and your word stays put or the word goes back to the bank. This technology is a throw-back from the early 2000s or so. This is only one activity, but playing the matching Memory game or clicking on matching floating bubbles uses similar aged technology and doesn't excite the learner.

Costs

  • 1 lesson: free
  • 1 month: $39
  • 3 months: $50
  • 6 months: $75
  • 1 year: $150

No mobile apps

Many Spanish lesson online programs offer apps so you can learn and practice anywhere on your device. Living Language doesn't offer apps. You download the online CDs. It may be an out-of-date method, but at least you don't need Wi-Fi to practice your Spanish.

No more e-tutoring

Living Language used to have live e-tutoring available, with a live instructor teaching webinar-type classes, but their website says that's been cancelled since 2018. Bummer.

We didn't have fun

We were bored with Living Languages' vocabulary flashcards. The grammar lessons were dry and it was hard to stay focused. There's just no imagination or creativity, no bells, and no whistles. We didn't have fun with the "games" , and it was hard to be self-motivated to continue to the next activity, or to want to learn more. Heck, it was challenging to finish any part of the lesson, and it wasn't just us. Many other reviewers found themselves bored by Living Languages' teaching and translation methods, as well as the antiquated technology.

Redeeming quality

The feature we really appreciate is the On-the-Job program. Spanish lessons for essential careers are pretty valuable and frankly quite rare. There are healthcare workers, law enforcement professionals, and librarians who are desperate to learn Spanish so they can interact with the Spanish speakers they encounter. There aren't many community colleges or universities that offer career-specific language courses, and even if they do, they aren't as convenient as online programs. Living Languages offers this rare opportunity to our essential workers, and we are grateful.

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Continued from above...

The first thing to consider is how much Spanish you already know. If you're just getting started, there are many programs whose focus is on the beginner, with lessons chock full of grammar, vocabulary, and practice. At the same time, the concentration is so heavy on brand-new students that many programs offer little to nothing for the intermediate or advanced learner.

Another important factor is your learning style and preference. Some learners like to go in the order that the experts have the lessons set up so that they can meet their language acquisition goals. Other students know that they want to pick and choose their lesson order based on their needs. For example, if the learner is going to travel in the near future, they want their first lessons focused on related vocabulary, like asking for directions and checking in at a hotel. Others are in the medical or business field, so they want to follow the language learning path best suited to their careers.

A major consideration is if repetition is okay with you, or if you will lose focus if the lessons aren't entertaining. Some learners are motivated to continue the day's lesson or look forward to the next lesson because of the fun and exciting apps that include gaming-like activities, points, badges, competitive leaderboards, and animation. Let's face it, if you're not motivated to learn, will you really stick with the program? Other students want to push forward with the traditional, square-shooting approach that feels comfortable as tried and true. Start with vocabulary and practice, add on grammar, preferably with detailed explanations in English, more practice, along with repetition and recycling of older material to solidify the knowledge base.

Once you know what level of Spanish learner you are, from beginner to advanced, your purpose of learning it, from travel to profession or just because, and if you like to be entertained or want "just the facts, Ma'am" , there are a few more aspects of Spanish lessons you may want to consider:

  • Value. Does the program offer free access that is suitable for your needs? Would you be more motivated with a monthly subscription, yearly subscription, or lifetime access? Sometimes you get what you pay for, and sometimes a program can give you a lot of features with a relatively low cost. Consider free membership, if it's offered. Although access may be limited it should give a good taste test.
  • The right fit. If you take advantage of a free lesson or trial period, you can get a clearer idea of how well any particular Spanish lessons work for you. No two students are alike: flashcards are ideal for some people, while others need in-depth English explanations or grammar. Some students want lessons with no frills, while others stay interested when there are colorful animations, prizes and awards for completing the daily lesson.
  • Refund policy. Once you've committed to a Spanish lesson program, are you able to get your money back if you're not satisfied? Many companies give the client up to 60 days to request a refund, but not all do. Be sure to read the terms and conditions before you commit with your credit or debit card.

TopConsumerReviews.com has evaluated, rated, and ranked the best choices for online Spanish lessons. We're sure that with this information, you'll have what you need to make the right choice for your goals in learning, acquiring, and becoming fluent in Spanish. ¡Ya vamos!

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Spanish Lesson FAQ

Spanish, like English, is one of the most commonly spoken language that is used throughout the world. Learning Spanish can help your travel experiences, allow the opportunity for work or study abroad in a Spanish speaking country, increase your chances of employment, and more.
On average a course has about 13 to 120 hours of lesson time per level of difficulty (depending on the company).
Of course, these courses are meant to teach you Spanish without requirement of previous knowledge. If you don't know any Spanish, we recommend starting your path on learning Spanish with a beginner (Level 1) course.
Depending on the company, there are typically 3 levels that include beginner, intermediate, and advanced. No matter how much Spanish you already know, be sure to check out the specifics of each program before making a selection.
Courses to learn Spanish are self-paced and allow the customer to take their time as they complete each assigned lesson. Self-paced allows the customer to go at their own rate. For most effective learning it is recommended to plan out the courses ahead of time, and to review course material, when available.
Depending on the company and type of course, the cost can range from $39 to $450. Some companies offer combination packages that include multiple levels within the plan, rather than purchasing each level separately.
Of course, when learning any language, it is important to be able to understand the language via reading, writing, speaking, and listening. Some companies may teach only speaking and listening in some of their courses. Be sure to identify what aspects of the language each program offers.
Yes, several companies offer a customer satisfaction. Companies offer customers friendly help and confidence of their products by giving, but not limited to, 30-day trials, demo lessons, and in some cases full refund if dissatisfied of service. Make sure to check on the companies' customer satisfaction policy before committing.

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