Fluenz is an older, well-respected language learning software that takes a very academic and tested approach. There aren’t any cultural lessons in the Fluenz curriculum, but it's got a great emphasis on practical language learning. Fluenz uses a methodical, travel-centric method to teach you how to greet new people, order in restaurants and buy items in convenience stores. It covers most of the important content we look for in the best learn Spanish software, including reading, writing, comprehension and speaking exercises.
Fluenz Languages review: Method
The typical lesson begins with a presenter, even Sonia Gil herself, introducing the topic and the lesson you’re about to undertake, before listening to a conversation which is gradually broken down into smaller components before being re-examined with a variety of exercises.
Subsequent dictation, matching and speech-recording activities use material from the lesson’s practice conversation. Dictation practice requires you to write what you hear in Spanish. Thankfully, Fluenz emphasizes the content rather than details like accent marks, so you can focus on recalling and properly spelling words. The matching section is a simple drag-and-drop translation exercise that uses sentences you saw in the sample conversation at the beginning of the lesson.
The speech-recording activity doesn’t use an accuracy meter like other programs. Instead, you replace one of the speakers in the familiar conversation by recording yourself speaking their lines. After you’ve recorded yourself, you can listen to your accent and compare it to the native speaker’s in the original clip. The recordings of the native speakers were among the best we reviewed – some programs have robotic or garbled recordings that made our reviewers lose focus.
Fluenz’s speech-recognition, dictation and conversation exercises are especially engaging. You can also download MP3s of audio lessons to your phone or music player, which is useful if you find yourself distracted by visual stimuli.
The course is split into five levels with around 30 sessions per level, each taking on an average of two hours to complete, so you might spend four to six weeks completing a single level. The result is a slow, but comprehensive, understanding of Spanish, both on and off the page but there’s a minor problem, outside of the quality of the teaching.
It’s a Spanish language course but you could be forgiven you’re watching an infomercial; someone has spent a great deal of time and effort on the pretty aesthetics, the presenters are easy to look at and everything is highly polished, which can make it all very dry.
Fluenz Languages review: App
The mobile app looks as good as the desktop app and includes the same lesson selection. Using the app, you can begin a lesson at home on your computer and finish it in your spare time throughout the day. This program has the best selection of learning platforms we reviewed, including a downloadable desktop app, mobile app, online platform and offline MP3 practice lessons.
The Fluenz desktop app only took us a minute to install completely, and we didn't encounter any technical difficulties during installation or while taking lessons. You need an activation key to start the program, and it’s included with the software. You also need the key if you want to deactivate the software on one computer and license it on a new one. The online course is available on any internet-enabled device.
Fluenz Languages review: Price
The one downside of Fluenz is the cost of all five lesson levels. The entire package has hundreds of hours of lessons but costs a lot for a perpetual license. You could subscribe continually to Rosetta Stone for more than two years for the price. However, once you purchase a digital download or physical copy of Fluenz, you own it for life. You can also purchase just level one or levels one through three for less if you don’t need the advanced lessons. Alternatively, check out Duolingo for free Spanish lessons.
Should you try Fluenz?
Fluenz is one of the better learning programs we tested. It has most of the lesson content we look for, including important travel-specific conversation topics. There are multiple learning platforms, including a desktop application, mobile app and downloadable audio modules, so you can take lessons whenever and wherever you want. The entire package is a bit expensive but well worth it if you are traveling for business or leisure.