Updated: Nov 15, 2021
There are many online sites to learn Spanish - but which is the best choice for you?
pic credits: bbc.com
Spanish language learning sites are some of the most trustworthy sources for courses out there, considering how they’re done up like a school’s structured curriculum according to what the CEFR demands of you for each level.
That being said, these sites can’t actually bring you from zero to hundred real quick. What they can do, however, is give you a good strong foundation for the language, and provide concise explanations on grammar.
Well, I suppose we’ll have to save my rant for another day, so on to the actual meat of this post: the reviews.
Oh, sweet old Lengalia. Lengalia has been everything for me - it’s brought me up from A0 to B1 in three months (granted, I did have quarantine to help me out, so this is on you, pandemic). It’s got practices on everything from listening to reading comprehension to concise and clear explanations on grammar and of course, vocabulary. This site is so good that it can be the basis for your language learning, something I usually advocate against, but this. This is the real deal.
It also has a great vocabulary trainer which allows you to put in all the words you’re unfamiliar with for revision at a later date (this helped a lot.)
The only downside is that it can’t actually get you proper feedback or practice for your oral and writing, since it doesn’t create a community of native Spanish speakers and fellow language learners you can reach out to for help.
That, and it isn’t free. There’s a paid subscription for 60 Euros a year, so if you’re looking for a free site, this won’t be for you. For some reason, there’s a ‘course for A0’ option, but it caters to language learners from a range of Zero Espanol to C2 Espanol.
Overall, it’s a really good site, 10/10 would recommend (then again, it isn’t free so there goes its last 1 mark). Lengalia helped me go from A0 to B1 in a month. I am forever indebted to it.
I take a mark away for paid sites since I know most people don’t like paying for language learning materials, but I really do quite enjoy Busuu - though not as much as Lengalia.
Busuu teaches things in units - one grammar concept to one theme (e.g. past perfect and holiday-related vocabulary in the same unit), and they make you repeat the vocabulary and concept over and over again so you can remember it. Don’t get me wrong now, that’s great and really helpful! The only issue here is that I find I’m not always able to remember it after the unit’s finished, and it’s really too time-consuming to go back and redo every unit.
Take this in comparison to Lengalia, who kind of just uses random vocabulary repeatedly until it somehow gets drilled into your head (no idea how they do it, but it works wonders). To get the most out of Busuu, the paid plan is miles better, but if you don’t want to pay, the free plan’s also really good for simple vocabulary and trial lessons of one language - the main reason I got the paid plan was because I wanted to learn more than one language on it.
As much as most of my Spanish language learning was done on Lengalia, Busuu helped complement it and fill in the gaps, so another big thank you to this site here.
Everyone knows of this site, and many people swear by it, but personally I think it’s not much use. To prevent them from suing me I won’t be strongly criticising it, but take it from me that if you want to become fluent in a language, Duolingo is not the way to go.
I’m going to drag in another two languages here for comparison: Italian and Korean. Three lessons into each package and you’re still either learning “boy” “girl” “boys” “girls” or “milk” respectively - which, as I’m sure we can agree on, are not very useful for exams or daily life. How often do you say boy in your native language?
Yeah, that’s what I thought.
I have a feeling I got way too triggered about this, but a quick google search just told me that boy is nowhere even near the top 100 words used in the English language - not even in the top 25 nouns, in which government is one of them, a word which no language learning site has ever taught me.
Either way, I feel like even though Duolingo is free, it’s pretty much useless because you’re not making a lot of progress (and even if you are, it’s painfully slow.)
Italki isn’t a very well known site, but if you don’t have a native speaker of your target language who’s free extremely often to speak patiently with you (if you’re normal, you probably don’t), then you need to use this site.
Essentially, it connects people from all over the world to practice speaking with native speakers through online platforms like Zoom or Skype, and it’s a lot more affordable than getting a local tutor to visit your house.
I can testify personally for this site: my Spanish tutor helped me so much with this that I went from zero Spanish to B1 Spanish (yeah, I know I keep talking about it, but I’m seriously very thankful to a lot of people).
Prices range from $5 to an unknown amount ($150 is the maximum though it’s ridiculous and nobody charges that much) per half hour, and you don’t need to commit to a certain amount of lessons a week, just book whenever you’d like to. There are both community tutors and professional teachers available, though I think the community tutors are just as good.
Memrise’s main purpose is to help everyone memorise vocabulary, which can only get you to a maximum of A2 level, which is why it’s not ranked very high on my list. However, it is free and if you don’t mind taking a random community member’s deck of flashcards to use, you won’t even have to make your own flashcards.
It uses the spaced repetition method which was derived to prevent us forgetting (see image below: forgetting curve). The forgetting curve basically shows how after 6-7 days, we only retain less than 20% of the things we’ve memorised. Memrise helps you keep track of when it’s time to start revising the things you’ve learnt so you stop forgetting them, which is really helpful because if not you’d have to do it yourself.
It’s not much good for anything else, though.
So there you have it! Those are the five Spanish sites I used while studying for my DELE (when I make a post about that I’ll link it here), and I hope they can help you, a fellow Spanish learner, in studying Spanish too! Good luck, y adios!