There are roughly 450 million native Spanish speakers in the world and the U.S. already has more Spanish speakers than Spain. If you’re looking to join their ranks, then know this: You absolutely can. Learning Spanish is like learning any language. It takes practice, a good teacher, and time — not to mention some effort on your part. And while the best way to learn Spanish is by living in a Spanish-speaking country and completely immersing yourself, taking an online class or two can get you most of the way there.
Is Spanish easy to learn?
This is a subjective question that’s pretty difficult to answer. For one thing, language-learning aptitude is pretty personal. What’s easy for one person may be excruciatingly difficult for another. While we wouldn’t call learning a new language easy on its face, we will say that something that makes Spanish easy to learn is that you’re likely to encounter many opportunities for practicing your new skills. After all, Spanish is the second most-spoken language in the world, sandwiched squarely between Mandarin and English.
How can I learn Spanish for free?
Duolingo for learning Spanish? Groundbreaking.
The popular green owl has become a household name and even a meme for its persistent reminders to practice. The free website and corresponding application promises fluency if you just give up a bit of your free time.
Free apps like Duolingo are really popular for their convenience. It looks like a game and makes us feel smart. We like Duolingo for vocabulary practice, but it won’t make you fluent since it doesn’t really explain concepts like verb conjugation. The site also seems to teach words and phrases without explaining how to use them, so your newfound word stock will seem a little out-of-context. There are tips on Duolingo that help with usage, but grammar concepts still lag behind.
This isn’t to say you should delete the app from your phone. It’s free, and it’s got some good qualities. But if you want to impress native speakers, you better add some more resources to your learning plan.
Why online learning sites are great for learning a new language
One sign of a good Spanish platform is a focus on conversational learning. It’s important to hear the words and also speak them, but it’s harder to do this than reading and writing. Many sites can equip learners to read Spanish, but only the best will get them talking with native speakers.
We like interactivity in foreign-language courses. Methods with a variety of activities get high marks from us because it’s hard to stay interested in the process over the long term. We also love a good budget buy, but education isn’t always the place to cut corners. So, when in doubt, look to the free trial. We tried to hit a variety of budgets and look for long trial periods when making picks. Everyone learns differently, so we wanted to make sure to suggest things you can try out before you buy.
How we came up with this list
To find a good course, we dove into Reddit for recommendations, a great place to go when looking for answers that are more authentic. We also Googled “best sites to learn Spanish” and ended up with articles written by the instructional sites themselves (that’s just the way it is now). We then looked up reviews for the sites. If there was enough acclaim, we tried it out. (And boy are we tired of learning “¿Como estás?”)
The sites are all very similar. Most have droves of fill-in-the-blank and multiple-choice questions accompanied by pictures. We recommend turning the sound up as you practice, as the words are usually pronounced with each question. To really grow, say the words aloud as you answer (unless you’re around people, like on the subway or in a waiting room).
Most sites cover introductory and basic Spanish. When you start getting to advanced levels, you need more and more resources. An intermediate level is plenty for travel and basic communication.
So whether you’re looking to take a trip and test out your new language skills abroad or simply want to get better at conversing with Spanish-speaking friends and family at home, here is our list of the best online learning sites that will show you the way.
BEST FOR CERTIFICATION
Thorough lessons meet a dated design.
Price: €59,99 per year (around $73) or €29,99 per month (around $36)
Free trial: Two days
Type: Online course
Spanish level: Beginner through expert
MOST FUN OPTION THAT INCLUDES PRONUNCIATION
A cut above Duolingo, Babbel makes pronunciation exercises part of its course.
Price: $26.85 for three months, $44.70 for six months, or $83.40 for 12 months
Free trial: The first lesson of any course is free
Type: Web, Android, and iOS apps
Spanish level: Beginner, intermediate, and advanced
GREAT FOR INTERMEDIATE LEARNERS
A free site to practice conjugating verbs and even learn books of vocabulary.
BEST FOR A COLLEGE EXPERIENCE
Simple and effective lessons with a variety of exercises.
BEST FOR LEARNING AT YOUR OWN PACE
It has the design of Duolingo with the structure of a course.
Price: $11.99 per month, $29.99 for three months, or $55.99 per year
Free trial: Try the first unit of each course for free
Type: Website, Android and iOS apps
Spanish level: Beginner to intermediate
BEST FOR TALKING TO SPANISH SPEAKERS
Write pen pals from all over the world with a focus on practicing languages.
Price: Free or get VIP access for $8.99 per month, $39.99 for three months, or $89.99 for a lifetime membership
Type: Mobile app
Spanish level: Intermediate to advanced
News in Slow Spanish
Catch up on the news while learning Spanish.
BEST FOR ACCOUNTABILITY
Get the college learning experience with Coursera’s Spanish specialization.