How well-rounded is your Spanish language diet?
The best way to learn any language is with a healthy combination of online and offline learning.
This means mixing together websites, apps and Skype conversations with real-life immersion in the street and in your everyday life.
When you combine different learning and practice techniques, you’ll consume everything your brain needs to get its recommended daily allowance of grammar lessons, vocabulary drills, listening practice and more.
We can build on our food analogy by comparing language learning to the food pyramid.
The base of the modern Spanish learning pyramid, the staple of our learning diet, are the online methods—dominated by Spanish learning websites.
That’s because the online methods and information are easy to access, usually free or cheap and adapted to the needs and interests of the 21st century language learner.
There are fun, rocking websites out there that will take you all the way from beginner to master.
And while it can be easy enough to find websites and resources that will teach you the basics, it can be more of a challenge to find ones that will help you through to an expert level of Spanish.
The following websites are great for learners of all levels. When used together, they can provide you with enough material and exercises to carry you to fluency.
12 of the Best Websites to Learn Spanish for Absolute Mastery
We’ll start with comprehensive Spanish learning sites that have it all, then let you test your Spanish, then move on to websites where you can practice grammar and reading. From there, we’ll look at some sites that will help you build up your vocabulary.
Ready? Let’s eat—I mean, learn!
Comprehensive Spanish Leaning Websites
While some sites specialize in different aspects of language learning and different regions, here are two resources that bring it all together.
University of Texas
Starting at beginner level and going all the way through to advanced and superior, the University of Texas’ Spanish Proficiency Exercises page has activities organized by task. Each task includes videos, grammar, vocabulary, phrases and a podcast.
The tasks all have some kind of language focus. Some are about describing things or situations, and others are grammar-based, like using conditionals to talk about hypothetical situations. There are also functional language tasks, such as booking a reservation or making a complaint.
The website layout is somewhat dense and decidedly plain, but the material is high-quality and very structured.
Other sites use scripted content. FluentU uses a natural approach that helps you ease into the Spanish language and culture over time. You’ll learn Spanish as it’s actually spoken by real people.
FluentU has a wide variety of videos topics, as you can see here:
FluentU brings native videos within reach with interactive transcripts. You can tap on any word to look it up instantly. Every definition has examples that have been written to help you understand how the word is used.
Plus, if you see an interesting word you don’t know, you can add it to a vocab list.
Review a complete interactive transcript under the Dialogue tab, and find words and phrases listed under Vocab.
Learn all the vocabulary in any video with FluentU’s robust learning engine. Swipe left or right to see more examples of the word you’re on.
The best part is that FluentU keeps track of the vocabulary that you’re learning, and gives you extra practice with difficult words. It'll even remind you when it’s time to review what you’ve learned. Every learner has a truly personalized experience, even if they’re studying with the same video.
Furthermore, FluentU’s Spanish learner blog has regular blog posts with language and cultural tips, learning resources, vocabulary and grammar information.
Websites to Test Your Spanish Skills
The level of Spanish you want to reach can depend on why you need to learn it. Likewise, the level you’re already at tends to be defined by how much you can function in society in Spanish.
If you’re at the point where you can have basic exchanges, but not complex discussions, you’re probably around intermediate level. If you’ve got almost all the grammar structures and only sometimes struggle for the right word, you’re more advanced and likely aiming to perfect your Spanish.
Online testing can be a straightforward way to find out your level, and therefore see what else you still need to work on. Many of the sites below also organize their online learning activities by level, so after taking their tests, you can go on to practice by using activities that are specifically tailored to your level.
But online testing does have its limits, all of which you should keep in mind:
- It’s often more focused on grammar and vocabulary skills than speaking and listening.
- Most online testing sites tend to be in European Spanish, rather than Latin American Spanish.
- Tests for lower levels are more common than for upper levels.
However, even if you get to the point where you’ve moved beyond the material on the lower-level tests, you can still benefit from these sites. At the very least, they can help you brush up on the basics.
Check your level at the sites below!
Amauta is a Latin American Spanish school. Its website is one of the few offering level testing in Latin American Spanish, although its exams only cover beginning through intermediate levels.
The level tests are purely grammatical.
However, the website does have online learning exercises for all levels—including advanced—with games, vocabulary, idioms and more, as well as information on a range of Latin American recipes, music and literature.
This is an online European Spanish course website, but its tests are great because they include both reading and listening comprehension as well as grammar, with two advanced levels.
In theory, most advanced learners who have studied Latin American Spanish should be able to pass European tests as well, with only a few small cultural bumps along the way.
Cervantes is another Spain-based school with rigorous online testing. The testing format is beautiful and modern, though heavy on grammar, and you have to start at the first out of five levels and see how far you get.
The Cervantes system has a strong reputation for quality teaching and their tests match that.
The Cambridge Institute has developed tests for several languages. The tests, which are based on international or European standards, are available to future students of the institute as well as anyone who’s just interested.
The levels are based on the Common European Framework of Reference for Langauges (CEFR); A1 and A2 are beginning levels, B1 and B2 are intermediate and C1 and C2 are advanced levels.
There are 60 hefty questions to get through, with a bar showing how far you’ve advanced. The questions do start at an intermediate level, so this type of test is more appropriate for those who already have some experience with Spanish.
Websites for Spanish Grammar and Reading Practice
Even if you’re already some way into your Spanish-learning journey, it’s important to keep reading and continue learning about Spanish grammar. This way, you can continue building up your language strength.
The more you study the grammar, the better your writing will get and the more the language will make sense.
This grammar-focused website has its content organized by the six CEFR levels (A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, C2), as well as by grammar type. The exercises are of the fairly typical gap-fill variety.
Learn Practical Spanish Online
Also called simply “Practical Spanish,” this is another handy website that organizes its lessons by beginner, intermediate and advanced levels.
The reading lessons are awesome because they allow you to listen as you read, then mouse over vocabulary for an English translation.
Spanish Language and Culture
This cute website is uncluttered and fun to navigate, and its study topics are based on current cultural figures and issues in Latin America and Spain. Each topic focuses on helping you improve a specific grammar point.
For example, you can study the imperfect and preterite tenses as you read about two friends in Ecuador, or work on your subjunctive skills by listening to a song and reading about the Dominican Republic.
After you choose your activity by topic or by grammar structure, you can then do activities based on the reading or songs, like filling in gaps, rewriting short paragraphs or responding to audio questions.
Already mentioned above, Cervantes has a virtual learning center with some well-structured, step-by-step reading activities.
Click on the book, do some pre-reading, check out the text, and then respond to post-reading questions.
Websites to Help You Expand Your Spanish Vocabulary
The further you progress in your language learning, the more fun vocabulary gets. It’s awesome to discover the unique Spanidh words, playful and dynamic Spanish slang and idioms and those expressions that are full of character and history but which can be a small nightmare to translate back into English.
Use these websites to expand your vocabulary in a fun and effective way—beyond what the textbooks teach.
Speaking Latino is a teacher and student resource site aimed at real life and authentic Spanish learning.
Grouped by country, this site has a ton of resources to learn slang and general vocabulary, and it includes articles, books, videos, websites, podcasts and more.
Quizlet is a website for generating some flashy but simple quizzes and educational games.
You can also use quizzes created by others.
This vocabulary set for advanced Spanish learners is a great flashcard collection of some of the more interesting words in Spanish.
All these websites are free or at least offer some free resources, so there’s nothing stopping you from expanding your Spanish language learning to new and amazing heights!
Tamara Pearson is a journalist, teacher and language lover who has lived in Bolivia, Ecuador, Venezuela and now Mexico. She is also the author of “The Butterfly Prison.”
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn Spanish with real-world videos.