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Best learn Spanish online courses 2022

Best learn Spanish online
(Image credit: CC)

The best learn Spanish online courses offer a perfect way to learn the romantic language from the comfort of your digital device. This can mean learning from wherever you are, whenever you get the time.

This guide will round up the best learn Spanish online courses, apps, podcasts and classes so you can find the ideal way to fit your needs. From classic big names like Rosetta Stone to free options like Duolingo, there is a wide range of options here for you to pick from.

If you already have access to one of the best online learning platforms then it's worth checking to see if these offer Spanish already. This could save you money and effort by keeping your learning all in one place which you're already used to using. Although expect these to be mainly about video support, so if you want more dedicated, hands-on learning, then these options below could be better suited.

If you want other language options then check out the best learn French online apps or the best ASL online courses.

Best learn Spanish online courses

1. Rosetta Stone: Best learn Spanish online course overall

Rosetta Stone: Best learn Spanish online course overall

(Image credit: Rosetta Stone)
Rosetta Stone helps users learn Spanish more quickly and effectively

Specifications

Formats: Windows PC, Mac, iOS, Android
Free trial: 3 days
Offline lessons: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Easy to use
+
Great companion mobile app
+
Business and educator subscription options

Reasons to avoid

-
Live tutoring costs extra
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Problems with voice recognition

This is our top-ranked language platform, thanks to its immersive approach to learning and its easy-to-navigate interface. Language learners are plunged in at the deep end, with all English references stripped away, so that you’re forced to carefully read the Spanish text to understand each task. And review units gently encourage learners to practice the sections that they’ve found difficult in the course.

Most lessons work on the basis of word and image association, which is fairly standard for learning apps. We appreciated that the images have been carefully selected to reflect the platform’s global user base.

If you’re left wanting more after a lesson, then you can tap into the ‘extended learning’ resource. These sections give information on social-cultural aspects of Spanish-speaking countries. We also liked that these sections are often narrated by different speakers, so you get acquainted with slightly different accents. 

Rosetta Stone does offer coaching sessions and live one-on-one tutorials, too. Although at present these are only included in the slightly costly Lifetime Premium subscription package, which is normally priced at around $299.

There are regular sales available for this, though, bringing the price down by $50 or so. Most users will probably be well served by the 12-month package, which usually costs just under $100 and lets you access unlimited languages for a full year.


2. Duolingo: Best value Spanish learning software

Duolingo: Best learn Spanish online option that's completely free

(Image credit: Duolingo)
Duolingo is a superb free option for learning any language

Specifications

Format: Windows PC, Mac, iOS, Android
Free trial: Duolingo Plus has 14 day trial
Offline learning: No

Reasons to buy

+
Free learning app with 40 languages on offer
+
Clear learning structure and lesson plan
+
Useful for beginners and advanced students
+
Great focus on oral skills
+
Affordable subscription rate for Duolingo Plus

Reasons to avoid

-
Some language course content is not as in-depth as others 

Duolingo is a free language-learning platform, with an impressive range of courses and content that could rival those offered on paid-for platforms. Users can switch seamlessly between the web-based platform and the Duolingo app, making it easy to learn your chosen language in the comfort of your own home or while on the move. 

The platform is easy to navigate, with attractive colour and icons, offering an enjoyable learning experience for users of all ages. The Duolingo dashboard sets out a clear lesson structure with a flow chart of topics and beginners start with the basics, including greetings, introductions, and people. More advanced users can take a short quiz and skip to the next level when needed. The topic-centric lessons are useful for cementing vocabulary to memory through soft repetition. The platform will encourage you to maintain your learning goal by sending gentle reminder notifications via email or the app. 

The best thing about Duolingo is that it is free – which makes all courses and content readily accessible to all learners. The paid-for version, Duolingo Plus – charged at a reasonable $12.99 per month – is an ad-free experience and handy for users who work offline regularly.


3. Rocket Languages: Best for audio learning

Rocket Languages Logo

(Image credit: Rocket Languages)
A superb audio course for Spanish learners

Specifications

Format: Windows PC, Mac, iOS, Android
Free trial: 60 day moneyback promise
Offline learning: No

Reasons to buy

+
Loads of audio lessons
+
Perfect for beginners
+
Generous 60-day moneyback guarantee

Reasons to avoid

-
Some issues with the app
-
Free version is very limited

Rocket Languages is a primarily audio-based course, and we've found it to be hugely effective when learning any language. It's split into three parts: the first couple of parts are all about learning the language, and they're done via a story that you listen to and then answer questions on. It brings the often dry subject of language learning to life, and is great for anyone who loves listening as their preferred method of absorbing information. Like a podcast, audiobook, or just a music playlist? Rocket should work nicely for you.

The third part of Rocket's learning method is the 'Survival Kit', which offers phrases and information around certain scenarios that you might encounter while travelling or dealing with people in your chosen language. So, there are kits for shopping in a foreign country, or business meetings - things like that. They're very useful tools.

One thing we don't like about Rocket is how much it repeats itself. While repetition is a part of learning, it happens a little too much here. The cost is another issue, but this is no more expensive than competitors like Rosetta Stone, so it is fairly priced.


4. Babbel: Best for busy people

Babbel: Best learn Spanish online option for busy people

(Image credit: Babbel)
This user-friendly app and desktop interface gives lessons in bite-sized formats.

Specifications

Format: Windows PC, Mac, iOS, Android
Free trial: Seven days
Offline learning: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Live tutoring available
+
Manageable lesson sizes
+
Extra tools like mini-games and stories

Reasons to avoid

-
Occasionally repetitive lessons

Babbel has an easy-to-use interface and – crucially – it allows learners to set their own study targets. This means that you can use the platform as you see fit, dipping into it occasionally to brush up on your vocab or committing to hour-long sessions every day so you can perfect your Spanish accent.

It has a good set of tracking tools, so you can map your progress. Getting a subscription will also bag you a handful of learning extras, like stories, podcasts and mini-games. These features are curated to fit your current learning level, so even if you're a complete beginner you should get some benefit from these tools.

We like the 'review' section, which will periodically test you out on vocab and grammar rules you've learned, to make sure they don't slip from your memory. There's also a live tutoring option available for an extra fee, which allows you to chat with a qualified teacher or native speaker to test out your learning so far.

The only negative we could find with the platform is that occasionally the lesson structure feels repetitive, although this is true of a lot of language platforms.


5. Mondly: Best for travel and phrases

Mondly: Best learn Spanish online course for travel phrases

(Image credit: Mondly)
Need to know select language and phrases for vacation and work? Try Mondly

Specifications

Formats: Windows PC, Mac, iOS, Android
Free trial: First 6 lessons
Offline learning: No

Reasons to buy

+
Very easy to use
+
Good prices
+
Mixes visual and audio learning

Reasons to avoid

-
Too simple for advanced users

Mondly is a well designed, very modern language app, which is available on both smart devices and web browsers. If you're in need of some basic phrases, or a broad grasp of the Spanish language for a vacation or business trip, this is a superb option. It has a gentle learning curve, a useful structure that breaks down learning into subject areas, and everything is very visually pleasing and simple to navigate.

We like the mix of visual and audio cues for each lesson, and the fact that there is an attempt to incentivize and gamify learning - there are star ratings per lesson, leaderboards, and daily challenges. It all helps to keep to coming back to learn. You can share your profile across the phone app and the web version, so it doesn't matter what device you choose to learn on, at any given time.

Pricing is good too, as the cost per month and per year is pretty reasonable - it's cheaper than many other providers on this list. The downside, though, is that it isn't as suitable for mid-level and advanced learners, as it focuses mostly on vocabulary and phrases. If you're looking for context, structure, and grammar then Mondly falls behind some of its competitors.

Overall, though, we really enjoyed using this app, so would heartily recommend it to anyone who just wants a beginner's knowledge of language.


6. News In Slow Spanish: Best for intermediate learners

News In Slow Spanish: Best learn Spanish online option for intermediate speakers

(Image credit: News In Slow)
An audio-based course that does... exactly what you'd expect

Specifications

Formats: Windows PC, Mac, iOS, Android
Free trial: Limited free access
Offline learning: No

Reasons to buy

+
Very effective method
+
Perfect for intermediates
+
Topical learning

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive
-
App isn't great

We like News In Slow Spanish. What it does, it does very well indeed: it reads you various news reports, in Spanish, only slowed down so you have a better chance of picking out words. It then invites you to pick out phrases or vocab from the news report, and tests you on them. There is an audio transcript of each report, and you can choose to translate certain elements of this if you need help with understanding it.

We recommend this one for intermediate users because the course is all in Spanish, and you need a basic grasp of the language to take part. There is a beginner option, but we found it very challenging, so required a lot of persistence. There is a massive amount of content to choose from with this course so, even though it's expensive, you do get value for money. It's effective too, and the fact that the news reports cover real topics means that you learn loads about modern Spanish culture too.

If you're worried this is too advanced for you, we suggest pairing it with Duolingo to help you get a better grasp of the language first, for free, before launching into News In Slow.


7. Fluenz: Best Spanish learning software for travel

Fluenz: Best learn Spanish online option for travel

(Image credit: Fluenz)
If you're learning Spanish for a trip, Fluenz is your best choice

Specifications

Formats: Windows PC, Mac, iOS, Android
Free trial: None
Offline learning: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Great topical exercises
+
Attractive, easy-to-navigate interface

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive
-
Lessons move slowly

Fluenz’s unique approach teaches foundational language concepts, such as grammar and pronunciation, using real-world travel situations and by instructing you on how to converse and engage with locals. Its interface looks great and includes virtual face-to-face instruction from Sonia Gil, one of the company’s founders.

This is one of the few programs we tested that can still be purchased outright and permanently installed on your computer, so you don’t need access to the internet to take lessons once they’re downloaded. The lessons are also available on the mobile app for Android and Apple devices.

This Spanish language software is marketed and designed to teach teenagers and adults, so it doesn’t have games or give flashy accolades for completing lessons. Instead, Fluenz aims to connect the Spanish language to culturally significant events and real-world conversational situations.

During testing, our reviewers found Fluenz has a good combination of auditory and visual lessons. There aren’t as many speech-recognition exercises as in some of the other programs we tested, but the ones it includes let you record your voice as half of a conversation that might happen at a restaurant or in a taxi. You can then play the conversation back and compare your accent to that of a native speaker.


8. Pimsleur: An academically-grounded way of learning

Pimsleur: Best learn Spanish online option for academics

(Image credit: Pimsleur)
A tried and tested method for those with a more academic leaning

Specifications

Formats: Windows PC, Mac, iOS, Android
Free trial: Free lesson
Offline learning: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Immersion learning focuses on conversations
+
Emphasis on core vocabulary

Reasons to avoid

-
Little visual content
-
Can take a long time to learn

Pimsleur is a great option if you like learning by listening. The linguist developed program helps you learn Spanish by filling your ears with it. Yup, the lessons are all about conversations which you listen to and are guided by your teacher as you go, breaking everything down clearly.

While this is great for audio learners, it won't use games or visualisations much, so for anyone that prefers that then this won't be for you. Anyone that benefits from listening will find the level of detail here is impressive with phonology, morphology, syntax and semantics all covered. Intervals are graduated allowing you to spot what's coming next and progress steadily. By using words and phrases you've already learned this helps to refresh your memory and cement learning for effective longer term results.

The lack of visuals isn't ideal as it means you're learning how the word sounds only, without correct spelling. A such this could be used as a complimentary learning service for the best possible end results. 

The Pimsleur app is charged at $14.95 per month or $19.95 for the premium version. This gets you 150, 30-minute daily exercises with some basic flashcards and games too. 


9. Living Language: Best Spanish learning software for visual learners

Living Language: Best learn Spanish online course for visual learners

(Image credit: Living Languages)
The best Spanish learning software for visual learning types

Specifications

Formats: Windows PC, Mac, iOS, Android
Free trial: Free lesson
Offline learning: No

Reasons to buy

+
Flashcard exercises help you learn and recall vocabulary
+
Affordable

Reasons to avoid

-
Audio learning tools aren’t as good as those in other programs
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Less interactive

If you’re more into visual learning, Living Language is the best option for you because it has a variety of games and activities that help you learn Spanish.

We especially liked the sentence builder activity that gives you an English sentence and a jumble of Spanish words necessary to make the proper translation. In addition, it has flashcard exercises to help you learn vocabulary. There’s a downside to this style of visual learning, though – it may make you associate a Spanish word with an English word, rather than help you to use its Spanish meaning. Also, its audio learning tools aren’t as comprehensive as those in other programs. 


10. Busuu: Best for people looking for certification

Busuu logo

(Image credit: Busuu)
A handy learning platform, available via app or desktop, which is best-suited to beginners.

Specifications

Formats: Windows, Macs, iOs and Android
Free trial: Basic free membership available
Offline learning: Only with premium subscription

Reasons to buy

+
App and desktop work simultaneously
+
Straightforward interface
+
Certification available

Reasons to avoid

-
Premium subscription necessary to set up a study plan or access lessons offline 

Busuu is a language learning app that’s not dissimilar to Babbel or Duolingo. Like those popular platforms, it offers an easy way to dip in and out of classes with a modern, easy-to-navigate interface. It also offers you the opportunity to earn yourself a Mcgraw Hill certification at the end of your course if you’re a premium subscriber, so you’ll have something solid to prove your language prowess. Other features (that cost a little extra) include the option for live sessions with tutors and the ability to have an advanced speaker comment on and correct your lessons. 

We liked that this platform offers you the chance to work seamlessly across different devices, as your progress is saved to a profile rather than a specific gadget, so you can switch between your laptop and phone. Busuu also flags ‘weak’ learning areas for you, so you know what to brush up on according to your frequently-made mistakes. 

However, we did miss the option to download content, which is only available with a premium subscription. You’ll also only get access to a wide range of learning methods if you pay out, as the free membership only offers basic techniques like quizzes, flashcards and repetition exercises.

Best learn Spanish online courses: FAQs

How we tested the Spanish apps and websites 

We tested these learning resources simply by using them. We spent at least a week with each platform, trying all of the features and testing the tools available. 

Afterwards, we ranked the platforms according to things like ease of use, clarity of explanations, interactive elements, and pricing. In general, we found that most platforms have excellent apps and sites that learners can use, but we think that Rosetta Stone’s immersive approach to language learning gives it an edge over other platforms. 

Is Spanish easy to learn?

Spanish is a Latin-based language meaning if you're coming at it from a similar language, like French, you may find similarities to help make it easier. Coming from a Germanic language like English can be challenging, but since there are also Latin influences in English, you should find similarities.

When it comes to grammar, Spanish has a complicated set of rules with lots of different verb tenses. But as the fourth most spoken language in the world you should be able to find someone to practice with which will help immensely. 

Which is better, classroom courses or e-learning? 

We interviewed Shannon Kennedy, a language encourager for Fluent in 3 Months, about the primary advantages of using software to learn a language instead of face-to-face instruction. She told us e-learning affords you the ability to work at your own pace without the need to coordinate two calendars to arrange a lesson or meetup. 

"With face-to-face instruction, there's the pressure of responding quickly. But with software, you have a little more time to reflect and respond."

One disadvantage of e-learning compared to classroom instruction is the need to be self-motivated. Learning Spanish for business travel comes with important motivating factors, like avoiding awkward conversations with important colleagues, but it also requires you to learn specific topics quickly. 

We asked Shannon which features of learning software make it easier to learn quick and conversational topics for business travel. She didn’t single out one specific topic but suggested, "Lots of repetition, but done in a way that isn’t boring." 

The best Spanish learning programs we tested allow you to skip around in a curriculum to focus on the topics you use most for business travel, and once you identify the most important topics, you use timed game-style exercises to attain conversational fluency.

How much does Spanish learning online cost? 

Learning Spanish online can cost differently depending on your needs. While you may want to pay the top-end for a yearly subscription at $150, someone else might be happy learning using a free app.

There is also the option to download software that lets you learn at your own pace which can cost as little as $40 but as much as $200 for some premium options.

It's always a good idea to start with a free app if you're unsure about your commitment to learning Spanish. This gives you a taster without the risk of losing out on money should you decide it's not for you.

Important things to consider when choosing the best learn Spanish online course 

Ease of use
You may already be worried about learning the language, so the last thing you need is another barrier in the form of usage issues. Make sure you think about how easy the software is to access, if login is simple and how easy it is to dip in and out – perhaps between your home desktop computer and smartphone on the move.

Purchasing options
The two types of learning software are download or subscription. The download option lets you buy the software to own and install on your device. This is helpful if you don't want a time pressure on learning or want to share with other people.

The other option, subscription, is great for the latest software and teaching techniques as it's always up to date. These can usually be accessed easily using a browser, meaning across devices, and in lots of cases using a powerful app. With varying subscription length options this can suit most needs.

Mobile app
Having a dedicated app, as many software platforms offer, means you're going to get the most up to date experience that works best on your device. This should mean a range of rich media that keeps you interested and engaged with learning. There are even some options that let you work offline, making it ideal for flights or when outside of network connection.

Other learning resources 

Online learning platforms
For beginners, the options in this guide are ideally suited. But you may also want to try one of the best online learning platforms, also known as massive online open course (MOOC) providers. This offers a video-based learning style usually but some do also offer the chance to practice with other students.

Spanish podcasts
Our favorite Spanish-learning podcast, News in Slow Spanish, is listed in the guide above. But if you’re particularly keen on this method of learning, there are plenty of other podcasts that can help you tune your ear to the language.

Spanish Obsessed
Covering a wide range of topics, this podcast series is made up of 10-20 minute episodes, which have all been categorized into fluency levels. 

Nomadas
This one’s for intermediate and advanced speakers. It features chats with native speakers from Latin American and South America, so it can help you tune your ear to different accents. 

Audiria
This free Spanish podcast has a great selection of topics for beginner and advanced students alike. Each episode is organized by difficulty level and includes tests and exercises to keep you engaged.

Coffee Break Spanish
Coffee Break is hosted by an experienced language teacher, Mark, and his student Kara. There are more than 80 learning episodes designed mostly for beginner and intermediate students. 

Andy was the previous Editor-in-Chief of Top Ten Reviews. With over 18 years experience in both online and print journalism, Andy has worked for a host of world-leading tech and gaming brands, including PC Gamer and GamesRadar. He specializes in photography, technology and smart home, and has provided expert comment for sites like The Guardian. In his spare time Andy is an amateur photographer, and teaches at the National Film and TV School.