Living Language has a good selection of reading, writing, grammar and vocabulary exercises delivered through an easy-to-use interface. We tested the online version, but the lessons are also available on audio CDs with an accompanying textbook. When you purchase the Platinum version, you get access to the online content as well. If you have a short-term need for the best learn Spanish online (opens in new tab) lessons, there are monthly subscription options that allow you to take lessons on any internet-connected device.
Living Language review: Method
During testing, our reviewers found they liked the amount of supplementary English text Living Language includes. English text is useful for explaining difficult topics and language rules. However, it can also be a crutch that makes your brain associate a Spanish word with an English one, instead of with its meaning or an image.
The best parts of the Living Language curriculum are its reading and writing exercises. The sentence builder exercise gives you a sentence in English along with a jumbled selection of Spanish words you put in the proper order to match the English translation. There are flashcard exercises in every module, and they are a good tool to teach you the words you need to know in subsequent exercises and lessons. However, after completing the first five lessons, we started getting bored with that teaching method. We found the exercises a lot livelier when using Duolingo (opens in new tab) and Rosetta Stone.
Living Language’s audio content includes conversation practice and grammar lessons that have short clips of a native speaker reading words and phrases. The conversation exercises are similar to the flashcard exercises, except you hear a phrase spoken instead of associating it with an image. Neither of these exercises are interactive.
When you subscribe to the online service, you can access Living Language’s entire lesson catalog, including the essential, intermediate and advanced lessons. We noticed the intermediate and advanced lessons don’t offer exercises on difficult topics like irregular verb conjugation or relative adverbs and adjectives. Instead, the sentences get a bit more complex, and you learn how to order food at a restaurant, shop at a mall and communicate in other real-life situations. If you're really trying to advance your language skills to an expert level, you may need to rely on live tutoring sessions instead.
Should you try Living Language?
Living Language is a good option for people who enjoy learning with visual aids and games, but its audio lessons are lacking compared to the best programs we tested. The subscription for the online courses is a good way to take advantage of the entire lesson plan if you have a short-term need for Spanish learning software – you can cancel at any time without penalty.