You know that catchy (albeit annoying) song, “Anything you can do, I can do better?”
Well, you know what I say?
Anything you can do, I can do online. For free.
Yep, even learn Spanish.
In the 21st century, doing something online is often the way to do something better.
You don’t have to leave your home. You can stay in your pajamas. And, best of all, plenty of online Spanish courses are free.
Believe it or not, you don’t have to attend a formal class to receive a quality education. If you look in the right places, you’ll find plenty of stellar, free online Spanish courses.
Apps, Classes and Videos, Oh My! 15 Free Online Spanish Courses to Take You Right to Fluency in 2020
Websites and Apps for Free Spanish Courses
It’s easy to assume that websites and apps are subpar tools for learning a language. But technology has made some major strides in the past few years!
In fact, website/app combos have some benefits over other types of courses. You can take your learning on the go, so you can learn anywhere.
And, like many apps, language-learning apps are often designed to be used in short spurts. So, if you don’t have a straight hour to spare, you can pull up your app to squeeze in a little study time when you can.
FluentU actually has a lot of advantages that typically come with websites/apps, traditional courses and YouTube videos. FluentU takes real-world videos—like music videos, TV commercials and celebrity interviews—and turns them into comprehensive Spanish language lessons.
Filter FluentU videos by level (beginner 1 and 2, intermediate 1 and 2 or advanced 1 and 2), by type of video (commercials, music, etc.) or by topic. You can also use the advanced search tool to narrow your search. Want to learn past tense verbs? Just type “past tense” into the search bar and see what comes up.
Each bite-sized video comes with annotated subtitles. Hover your mouse over a Spanish word to see the definition, part of speech and an associated image. If you click on a word, you’ll see a list of other FluentU videos that cover it.
After watching a video, go to Quiz Mode. FluentU quizzes include interactive activities to help you build reading, writing, speaking and comprehension skills.
Use FluentU’s digital flashcards to review vocab. During a quiz, mark a word you don’t know so it will be added to a flashcard deck for later review. Or, you can create your own flashcard decks to learn words for your specific needs and interests.
While FluentU does eventually require a paid subscription, you can sign up for a free trial to check it out.
Practically everyone has heard of Duolingo! It’s a fun app that’s meant to be used for just five minutes per day.
Duolingo is known for teaching languages through gamification. Take quizzes and play games to earn points. Once you earn enough points, advance through levels and unlock new topics.
This website/app focuses solely on vocabulary. If you’re a beginner who wants to master Spanish vocab before moving on to more complicated skills, this is the app for you. It’s also perfect for learners who don’t have much time to dedicate to learning a language on their own.
You’ll never run out of material with Mondly. The program provides new Spanish lessons every day!
Mondly has four methods for giving unique Spanish lessons:
It focuses on real-life Spanish. What does this mean? Rather than focusing on individual words and basic sentence structures, you’ll learn phrases that you’d learn in the real world—right off the bat.
You’ll listen to native speakers. Professional voice actors (and native Spanish speakers) record dialogue you can listen to through the app.
You’ll practice speaking. It’s hard to practice speaking when you learn Spanish online. You rarely have a physical teacher or language partner as you would in a real-life classroom. But Mondly has speech recognition software. Practice speaking into the microphone, and Mondly will assess your pronunciation.
It uses spaced repetition software. Mondly creators have studied scientific research to learn how to space out language vocab so learners can learn most effectively.
This program’s lessons are aimed at beginning learners (European Framework levels A1 and A2). If you’re starting from square one, this is a great website. Once you hit an intermediate level, though, you’ll probably want to find another program.
50Languages provides 100 lessons with audio and text for beginners.
You’ll learn vocab and basic phrases related to things like vacation, shopping and eating at restaurants.
SpanishPod101, a program by Innovative Language Learning, LLC, builds its lessons around audio and video clips. Each clip lasts just three to 15 minutes.
With a free membership, you’ll receive a new lesson every week and vocabulary lessons every day. You can also skip ahead in a lesson if it’s too easy, or slow down the lesson if it’s too difficult.
Many apps require a paid membership for you to access lessons offline, but with SpanishPod101, offline access is free!
You will have to pay to access features like one-on-one conversations with teachers, lesson notes and study tools.
Traditional Free Online Spanish Courses
There’s a lot to be said for learning Spanish in a classroom. It’s nice to have a teacher, fellow students and a strategic lesson plan that teaches you a wide range of skills.
The good news? You don’t have to pay a dime for this type of Spanish course! You can sign into an online course and take a class for free.
Spanish Cactus – Learn Spanish ASAP
Spanish Cactus is just one of many Spanish-learning courses on Udemy. A learning platform that connects students with courses taught all over the world, Udemy offers both courses that cost money and those that are free. Courses are taught by top educators and leading experts. You can find lessons in nearly any subject and taught in over 60 languages.
Of the free Udemy courses, Spanish Cactus probably offers the most material. When you sign up, you’ll have full access to four total hours of content, with 120+ Spanish lessons.
This course is perfect for beginners. There are eight levels spread across the 120+ lessons, covering vocab, grammar and audio. Each lesson is composed of multiple audio clips and short quizzes to help you memorize information along the way.
edX offers three free online courses, and they’re all for beginners: Basic Spanish 1, Basic Spanish 2 and Spanish for Beginners: Learn in Paradise.
Beginner Spanish 1 and 2 are self-paced courses. edX estimates that you’ll spend seven weeks on Level 1 (four to five hours per week), and four weeks on Level 2 (four to five hours per week). Spanish for Beginners: Learn in Paradise teaches you travel phrases as you follow the story of a girl traveling around Colombia. It should take you six weeks (five to six hours per week) to complete.
While these courses are all free, you will have to pay $40-$50 per course if you decide you want to earn certification. Adding a certificate to your resume could help you achieve certain goals, like landing a job that requires you to speak a second language or earning a scholarship to study abroad.
Tandem Escuela Internacional Madrid (International School of Madrid) doesn’t have class periods or a traditional teacher. But it does share a lot of qualities with the typical classroom.
If there’s one thing I remember about my 10+ years studying foreign languages in school, it’s that teachers always tried to mix it up in the classroom. We’d spend 20 minutes reading a passage and filling out a worksheet about the text. Then, we’d spend 10 minutes watching a video about that same topic. Finally, we’d split up into small groups and practice speaking.
Tandem keeps things moving, just as any good Spanish teacher would. Each lesson includes introductory materials, downloadable text, audio clips, sample sentences and an example conversation.
Tandem’s course for beginners has 12 lessons. You’ll start with the alphabet, then move through basic topics like nationalities, numbers, family and interrogatives.
The University of Texas at Austin
Finally, a course for people beyond the beginner level! The University of Texas at Austin’s Spanish program does have a level for beginners, but it also has levels for intermediate, advanced and superior students. This means you can start at any level or start from square one and move your way through the levels.
Each level comes with 15-30 “tasks,” which are basically like class periods. A level includes notes on grammar, vocab, phrases, videos and a podcast.
Scroll to the bottom of the page to access in-depth Spanish grammar notes and additional podcast recommendations. This school’s program is very thorough!
StudySpanish.com is another program for people looking to study beyond the beginner level. You can start at the beginner level, or you can look at the intermediate or advanced level.
Each level comes with audio lessons and transcripts so you can read along. StudySpanish.com provides tips for how to get the most out of each lesson on the website.
This website is all about repetition. The audio clips and transcripts are fairly short so that you can practice a little material in multiple ways. By “overlearning” the Spanish phrases, you’ll completely master them!
Free YouTube Spanish Courses
YouTube videos are super engaging—but that’s not the only reason they’re great for learning Spanish.
By watching people teach on camera, you can see their mouths move as they speak the language. If you’re anything like me, that can make it easier to understand Spanish—especially if you’re a beginner! If you choose a high-quality series, videos can also be immersive.
Señor Jordan is one of the most popular Spanish-teaching YouTubers out there! His short videos are known for being engaging and sometimes even hilarious.
Jordan’s teaching style is very conversational. It’s like hearing someone explain how to mix a cocktail or use hashtags on Instagram, not how to conjugate verbs or form complex Spanish sentences.
My favorite thing about Señor Jordan is that he provides links to teaching materials in the description to accompany his videos. Use these materials to quiz yourself on the vocab and grammar in each clip.
Tu escuela de español (Your Spanish School)
Fully immersing yourself in a language is usually the best way to become fluent. The lessons in Tu escuela de español (Your Spanish School) are held entirely in Spanish.
You won’t actually see the teacher in these videos. However, the lessons still resemble ones in a typical Spanish classroom setting. If you take a look at “Aprender español: En el colegio – nivel inermedio” (“Learn Spanish: At School – Intermediate Level”), you’ll see what I mean. The lesson focuses on one category of vocabulary. She provides images to go along with each vocab word, and it almost feels like looking at a whiteboard or a worksheet.
Yes, the videos give you the feeling of being in a classroom, but the teacher manages to keep things interesting. I don’t know what it is! Maybe it’s the music. Maybe it’s the cute sketches. You’ll stay engaged, and you’ll hear everything in Spanish.
El Blog para Aprender Español (The Blog to Learn Spanish)
El Blog para Aprender Español (The Blog to Learn Spanish) is another YouTube channel with videos set up like real classrooms. And, just like Tu escuela de español, each video is entirely in Spanish.
My favorite thing about El Blog para Aprender Español is that the creators make a clear effort to help learners build multiple language skills.
Want to learn vocab? Watch “La familia en español ¿cómo es tu familia?” (“Family in Spanish, How is Your Family?”). Want to build listening skills? Check out “Comprensión auditiva español – Nivel Avanzado” (“Spanish Listening Comprehension – Advanced level”). If you want to brush up on grammar, give “Dictado con pretérito indefinido – Escucha y completa” (“Dictation with the Preterite Tense – Listen and Complete”) a go.
One downside is that El Blog Para Aprender Español isn’t quite as engaging as Tu escuela de español. But videos are short, and I have to admit it… They get the job done.
Growing up, my Spanish teachers and classes were pretty dull. The students took turns reading aloud from the textbook. Then, we completed a worksheet. The end.
That might be why a lot of students switched to French once we got to high school. The main French teacher was a hoot. She was expressive, put on skits and had us move around the classroom.
The teacher from Butterfly Spanish reminds me of my high school French teacher. She’s fun to listen to, and she wants to hold your attention.
Butterfly Spanish videos are longer than videos from the other channels on this list. They’re set up to be like full-length classes. But because the teacher is fun, you won’t find yourself falling asleep by the end of a 30-minute video.
Like my high school French teacher, the Butterfly Spanish teacher mixes things up in her lessons. You’ll cover several skills, from vocab to grammar to comprehension, in one video.
There are two things you should know before diving into Butterfly Spanish. First, you’re going to learn Mexican Spanish. If you want to learn European Spanish, one of the other channels on this list is a better choice. Second, videos are exclusively for beginners and lower-intermediate students. If you’re a little more advanced, I actually recommend subscribing to Learn How to Speak Spanish Online Fast, which I’ll get to in a minute.
Ready to give Butterfly Spanish a go? Try starting with “Learn Spanish Verbs and Tenses: Present Tense” or “Learn Spanish: Improve Your Spanish Pronunciation of Difficult Words.”
Learn How to Speak Spanish Online Fast!
This YouTube channel, hosted by the Learn Spanish Live Online Network, teaches Spanish with puppets, cartoons and memes. So even though you’ll be focusing on grammar and vocab, you’ll also be getting in touch with your inner child.
This channel is great for tackling grammar concepts, as you’ll see by watching “The Spanish Subjunctive: Free Special Video Report #1” or “The Spanish Conditional Mood: The Conditional Perfect Part 1.” However, it also tackles things like vocab and pronunciation.
Videos are short, and you can tell the creators have a lot of fun making them—which makes learning with the videos all the more fun!
Wow, we just covered a lot of free online Spanish courses!
It doesn’t matter what aspect of Spanish you want to improve. Whether it’s vocab, pronunciation, grammar or comprehension, there’s a way to learn it from the comfort of your own home. And, you don’t have to spend a dime!
So, which tools will you try first—websites/apps, traditional courses or YouTube videos?
Laura Grace Tarpley is a freelance writer based in Nashville. You can find her work at outlets such as Business Insider, Roads & Kingdoms and The Write Life. Follow her on Twitter @lgtarpley.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn Spanish with real-world videos.