Back in 1995, when I was 13 years old, flashcards were the method to learn languages.
I still remember my shoebox full of little pieces of paper with words in both English and Spanish, the color codes to know which words I’d mastered and which ones had to be reviewed.
It might be because of the way I started learning languages, or maybe because of nostalgia, but the truth is that I still use physical flashcards along with flashcard apps when I study languages.
If you choose wisely, you’ll find that the right Spanish flashcard resource, physical or not, will make learning simple, easy and entertaining.
- 12 Smart Spanish Flashcard Apps for Your Smartphone
- 5 Physical Spanish Flashcard Resources You Can Buy or Print
- Do Spanish Flashcards Actually Work?
- Why a Flashcard App Might Be for You
- How to Make Your Own Spanish Flashcards
12 Smart Spanish Flashcard Apps for Your Smartphone
1. MosaLingua Learn Spanish
Available for: Android, iOS
On the MosaLingua app, you get pre-loaded flashcards, audio and dialogues that you can learn at your own pace.
With the web version, you’re given access to an online library of selected content such as e-books, videos and more. You can browse this content with a special translation tool that will instantly give you definitions for words and phrases you come across.
You can then complete the learning cycle by painlessly adding vocabulary from the content to your flashcards for later review, ensuring it sticks in your memory.
Additionally, the MosaDiscovery feature allows you to add to your flashcard deck any word you come across while surfing the web.
MosaLingua comes free with the option to upgrade, and a paid web version that can be used to enhance the mobile versions.
Available for: Android, iOS
FluentU pairs Spanish videos with handy tools for contextual learning and language practice, including spaced-repetition flashcards.
The basis of the learning program is Spanish media clips—movie trailers, music videos, comedy skits and other engaging videos made by and for native speakers. This is the type of authentic content that learners need to model pronunciation and conversational skills after native speakers.
These quick clips come with interactive subtitles vetted by experts, addressing the difficulties learners normally experience when trying to follow along and translate everything into English. The subtitles are also annotated with definitions, usage, native audio, images and video references to help you learn any new words in context.
You can also add any word from the subtitles into a personalized flashcard set, though themed decks are also available if you want to cover a specific topic.
Like the interactive subtitles, FluentU flashcards are equipped with the same learning aids for complete comprehension. After enough practice on your multimedia flashcards, you can challenge yourself with quizzes where you speak and type your answers.
3. Learn Spanish Phrases
Available for: Android, iOS
This nicely designed tool for Spanish language learners is all about conversational Spanish. Not only will this help you practice common words and simple phrases until you nail the basics, but it’ll also help you drill Spanish sentence structure formation into your mind. For every flashcard which contains a single word, you’ll find two that have more lengthy, complex sentences.
It sounds like it might be a little much, but it’s a great way for beginner- and intermediate-level learners to start familiarizing themselves with full-on Spanish sentences. Not to mention, the sentences aren’t just pulled out of a hat—they’re specially selected to help you navigate all sorts of common, everyday situations that you’ll encounter in the Spanish-speaking world.
The key is to remember that Spanish is a pretty flexible language, and the sentences presented aren’t the be-all and end-all. You could easily rephrase most of these sentences in 12 different ways, using different vocabulary and grammar patterns. But it’s an awesome jumping-off point to get your brain accustomed to hearing more Spanish.
The app allows you to click little star icons and assemble a “favorites” flashcard list. You can play audio versions of each flashcard, slow down the audio for easier comprehension and even record your own voice and play it back for comparison.
I double-dog dare you to try and sound as chipper as their Spanish audio voice. She sounds very enthusiastic about even the most common Spanish words like salchicha (sausage) and cangrejo (crab). That’s bound to keep you in high spirits while learning.
And the best of all? You can use this app offline!
4. SpeakEasy Spanish
Available for: iOS
Going off the grid but want to continue your Spanish studies without a glitch? This offline phrasebook and flashcard app will come with you wherever you go, regardless of your reception or Wi-Fi availability. It’s not free, but I’d be remiss not to include it. This one will last you months—possibly years—of Spanish study, and you’ll keep discovering new things to love about it as you go.
For one, it boasts that it has “no robot voices,” pushing you to learn outstanding pronunciation from native speakers. Another feature is that it provides native audio to teach you pronunciation in both European Spanish and Latin American Spanish. You can slow the audio down to turtle speed in order to better hear the nuances of pronunciation, and can even toggle on phonetic spellings to help you sound out new vocabulary on your own.
The flashcard portion of the app is extensive and well-organized, allowing you to dive in without complication. You’ll find everything from basic survival phrases to more advanced vocabulary, and you can even review common expressions and key phrases on flashcards as well.
The app also lets you personalize your learning by adding the flashcards you want to your “Favorite” list.
5. Learn Spanish Words
Available for: Android
Ok, with a name like “Learn Spanish Words,” you’d want to be sure that they deliver on what they promise!
That’s why this flashcard app is excellent for a beginner looking to build a solid base in Spanish vocabulary—because it delivers.
This is a no-frills, run-of-the-mill flashcard app with a couple of cool extra features like vocab games and progress tracking. It encourages you to develop a habit of learning five words a day.
The flashcards tend to be focused on high-use Spanish vocab, making this a great option for a learner looking to nail some of the basics.
The user interface is super clean and the flashcards have a little image to help you get familiar with some of the trickier vocabulary. Once you “flip” the flashcard to reveal the definition, you’ll also see the focus word in a simple sentence and audio to practice your pronunciation.
It’s not the most advanced flashcard app, but it’ll undoubtedly get the job done and is a handy one to have in your back pocket.
Available for: Android, iOS
This hugely popular learning app isn’t specifically a Spanish learning app, but includes a massive library of Spanish learning flashcards to help you hit that vocab out of the park.
They claim that you’ll “learn four years’ worth of Spanish” with their flashcard system and while this may be a big claim, it might not be that far off.
The focus of the flashcards tends to be more on learning valuable phrases rather than specific vocabulary. However, you can also make your own flashcard decks to study whatever fits your learning goals, making this a pretty versatile app.
The app also uses a spaced repetition method to give language retention the love and care it needs to blossom into fluency.
You can track your progress and set your own goal. The data and flashcards are all presented with color-coding and an easy-to-use interface—it’s definitely pleasing on the eyes!
Available for: Android, iOS
When you talk about flashcard apps, one name inevitably pops up as a powerful resource for learning languages (and Spanish in particular): Anki!
Not only is it fun to say, but it’s also an absolutely awesome, collaborative and ingenious way to incorporate flashcards into your learning system.
When you first open the app, you may be confused as to what’s actually going on. You might think to yourself, “wait a second, where are all the flashcards?” This is when the genius of Anki comes in. All of the flashcards are open-sourced, meaning that you need to choose and then download them from the database.
After you jump to the “download” section, you can read reviews, study notes and consult manuals about the different flashcard decks and their creators to help you choose the right set. There’s also something great about using materials that real language learners have designed.
It kind of reminds me of the old days when I was scrambling for last-minute study notes before an exam from friends (and strangers). Only this time, I’m free to pick and choose from heaps of awesome custom decks without begging!
One of the key strengths of this Spanish flashcard app is its incredible versatility. For example, you could download 50 essential Spanish verbs or something specific like 200 English phrasal verbs translated to Spanish (awesome!).
8. Flashcards Spanish Lesson
Available for: iOS
This cute set of flashcards is indeed a Spanish lesson for every beginner learner, from kids to adults, who like learning interactively.
The app includes flashcards on categories such as the alphabet, the colors, the parts of the body and the animals, among others.
There’s a spinning wheel to choose a topic randomly for those who don’t want to choose a specific category or want to introduce a bit of fun to their learning.
The images are big and high-quality, and the audio has been professionally recorded in a studio.
Even though it looks like this app was created for kids (the description says it can even be used by four-year-olds), any person wanting to learn their first Spanish words can enjoy the user-friendly interface and the exercises and games employed to help memorize the vocabulary.
There’s a learning game called “Find me” in which the learner has to choose the correct answer out of four pictures. This game is great for younger kids and complete beginners to the language.
There’s another learning game called “Match me.” The user gets some pictures and some words and has to draw a line to join each Spanish word to its picture.
This app is simple and entertaining at the same time. It’s perhaps because of this that its creators state it’s great for kid-parent learning and play.
9. Chegg Prep
Available for: Android, iOS
Chegg Prep is one of those massive websites/apps/dictionaries/resource reservoirs/everything-in-one platforms where you can find literally everything.
When it comes to flashcards, this is also the case. From cooking lessons to HTLM to languages, Chegg Prep has flashcards on anything and everything you could ever imagine.
Created by its users, the flashcard decks in the platform will allow you to learn and improve your Spanish on any topic you wish.
You can obviously just type “Spanish” in the search bar and get the whole list of Spanish flashcards among the 500+ million ones available, but the best way to take advantage of Chegg Prep is to be specific.
By this, I mean it’s better to search for the things you need specifically, like “Spanish animals,” “Business Spanish” or even keywords in Spanish such as “las partes del cuerpo” (the parts of the body). That way, you’ll get a ton of decks, too, but they’ll all include the topics you really need.
10. HMH Spanish Vocabulary
Available for: iOS
The HMH app is a fantastic little app for learners of Spanish, especially six through 12 graders who are using the ¡Avancemos! system (although it can be used by anyone)
The app is simple but fun and easy to use.
It offers three different levels of Spanish (Beginning, Intermediate and Advanced) and, from there, you start learning with bilingual vocabulary flashcards, quizzes and different learning modes.
The audio is native Spanish, which makes the app perfect for improving your Spanish pronunciation, and it can be slowed down by just clicking on the turtle icon.
With HMH Spanish Vocabulary, you can learn Spanish and track your progress for free… until the free flashcards end. From that moment on, you have to buy the level you’re working on.
Each level includes around 500 flashcards, with a total of over 1500 Spanish words and phrases if you buy all three of them.
Available for: Android, iOS
Quizlet is another massive flashcard platform you can use to learn Spanish on any topic you want.
With Quizlet, you can either search for what you need or browse the dozens of categories available, which include hundreds upon hundreds of subcategories and flashcard decks on every topic imaginable.
Once you’ve found what you were looking for, there are several things you can do to learn with Quizlet.
The obvious first step you want to take is to actually learn the words. This step is what you’d traditionally do with flashcards, i.e. read the word in Spanish on one side and in English on the other one.
But then the fun starts.
Quizlet allows you to practice your new words with writing and listening exercises. There’s also a “Learn” mode where you have to choose a correct answer among a series of options, and also a “Test” section, where you can check what you’ve learned and what you have to review.
My favorite feature has to be the games. “Match” gives you a lot of scrambled words on-screen and you have to join the Spanish ones with their English translation. “Gravity” throws language asteroids at you, and you have to type the correct translation before they hit the ground.
Note that Quizlet features user-created content so errors are possible. You can also easily create your own flashcard sets using the very user-friendly interface.
12. Vocabulary Miner
Available for: Android, iOS
Vocabulary Miner is both a nice flashcard app to learn Spanish and a powerful flashcard creator in one.
Depending on whether you go premium or not, you can use it as an all-around flashcard system to learn Spanish vocabulary at any level (from A1 to C2) if you decide to pay, or a flashcard program where you can enjoy creating your own decks for free.
The app includes some features that make it worth going premium, among which I’d mention that the ready-to-learn decks have been created by professional translators or that the Spaced Repetition system is used to help learners remember words better.
Vocabulary Miner lets you give the ready-to-learn decks a try by giving you three for free (you can choose which ones you want). After that, you either buy a premium access or use the app to create your own decks and share them with other users.
You can use Vocabulary Miner offline, which is a plus if you’re on the go or don’t have a stable connection to the internet, and there’s even the possibility of importing and exporting flashcard decks from and to the web app, which also allows for real-time synchronization with the phone app.
5 Physical Spanish Flashcard Resources You Can Buy or Print
It might surprise some younger learners out there, but physical flashcards were all we had back in the day, and they worked as well as digital ones!
In fact, I think there are a couple of advantages of physical flashcards over digital ones you may want to take into account to make your flashcard experience even better:
- They include additional practice. If you make your own flashcards from scratch, you’ll be having extra writing practice that will help you memorize the words easier. Besides, you’ll also be practicing spelling along the way!
- They can be easily manipulated. I love using physical flashcards to play memory games. They can be easily handled, shuffled, spread on a table, etc. You can have a look at all of them at once, something you can’t do with your digital decks.
- They’re forever free. You don’t have to pay to create your own flashcards, and you rarely have to spend any money to print them, either. Physical flashcards, even if you have to buy them, will be forever free once you have them. There are no time limits or premium subscriptions attached to them.
- They’re always usable offline. With physical decks, you don’t have to worry about your internet connection or the battery level on your device of choice. You just carry them with you and use them anytime, anywhere.
If you happen to love physical/printable flashcards or want to give them a try, here are some options you can start with:
13. 201 Spanish Words You Need to Know
There are several things I love about this specific deck of cards.
For starters, it can be bought in physical format or downloaded and printed. There’s no excuse not to give them a try!
These cards include the most commonly used Spanish words, and they’re color-coded depending on the word category.
The cards also have a ton of useful information about each word, from phonetic pronunciation to translations into English to pictures that will help you associate words and their meaning easier. The icing on the cake is the sample sentences that give context to your new words.
Additionally, there’s a pronunciation guide and verb conjugation info.
This deck is the first one in a series of two. Once you’ve mastered Spanish words, you’ll be ready for step two: 201 Spanish Phrases You Need to Know.
As you’d imagine, this second deck works very similarly to the first one, but it focuses on phrases and sentences, instead.
It’s also color-coded, but instead of word classes, the colors signify different categories, among which you’ll find emotions, wishes, greetings, hobbies and the weather.
14. Barron’s AP Spanish
If you’re studying for your AP Spanish exam, you’re in luck, because there’s a fantastic flashcard deck that contains everything you need to pass the test with flying colors.
Even though this deck is sold as a flashcard deck, I’d actually call it “the ultimate AP study guide,” because it includes practically everything you need for this exam. Of course, this makes it a great study resource, in general, even if you’re not planning to take the AP test.
This green-and-white box includes 475 cards that have been divided into six categories: Grammar, vocabulary, writing, speaking, listening and reading.
You’ll get study tips, a ton of vocabulary, sample sentences, conjugation info, grammar rules with explanations and examples, writing prompts, practice questions, tips to answer the different sections of the exam and strategies to help you ace the test, among other useful stuff.
The cards have a small hole in one corner so you can take the ones you need with you on the go. There’s a recloseable metal ring included with the deck, but the general consensus is that it’s better if you use a rubber band, instead.
All in all, this is one of the best resources in the form of cards you’ll find to prepare for the AP exam. I’ve seen people refer to this deck as “a book printed into flashcards,” and after seeing some of the cards, I wholeheartedly agree.
15. Spanish Vocabulary Study Cards by SparkNotes
SparkNotes is by far the best study guide website you’ll ever find on the internet.
When I discovered they’d started to work on flashcards, I had to give them a try, and oh, boy, am I happy I did.
Let me start by stating the obvious: SparkNotes means quality content.
You’re getting 1000 flashcards that have a simple yet beautiful design, with the English word on the blue side and the Spanish translation on the white one.
The words have been carefully chosen to cover different topics and levels of difficulty, and each Spanish word includes useful information such as the word class, the definite article for nouns and the feminine gender for adjectives.
This is the type of deck you’d traditionally describe as a flashcard deck, and the best part is that it isn’t the only one! There are also other decks to can add to the SparkNotes collection, my favorites ones being More Spanish Vocabulary Study Cards (which includes an additional 1000 advanced flashcards) and Spanish Grammar Study Cards (which has all the grammar you’ll need up to the B1 level).
Some people feel that they’re pretty thin in comparison with other flashcard decks, though I personally didn’t have any issue with this and my students haven’t complained so far, either.
16. Printable Spanish Flashcards by LOOK! We’re Learning!
Selena is the mastermind behind “LOOK! We’re Learning!,” a website devoted to homeschooling kids where you’ll find literally thousands of activities, printables, games, tips, exercises, etc.
The printable Spanish flashcards for children are perfect for little kids who are just starting their adventure with the Spanish language.
They cover topics such as the days of the week, the seasons, the planets, the colors, the numbers and a whole lot of other beginner topics that every child (and beginner) will be interested in learning.
With a focus on teaching kids at home, the flashcards have been created in a way that allows parents to teach their children but, at the same time, let children use the flashcards on their own afterward.
Each printable pack includes a pronunciation guide for parents who don’t know Spanish, and the site also includes information on how to use the cards with kids and what kinds of activities you can do with them.
To download these printable flashcards, there’s a process where you have to sign in and “buy” the packs. The cost is often zero dollars, and once you click on the “Checkout” button, you’ll get the free PDF document.
Other packs cost a couple of dollars, and some are free if you subscribe to their newsletter. You can also buy “bundles” of flashcards and sets of printable activities on topics such as the family in Spanish.
17. StudyStack’s Spanish Flashcards
The StudyStack site is a fantastic place to learn with, play and, most importantly, print flashcards.
The site might look simple, but it hides a wealth of thematic flashcard decks you can either use online or download/print. The decks have been created by other users, and you can create and share your own if you so wish.
Once you find the cards you want to study, click on the link and you’ll get into the online study platform.
There, you can study the flashcards, sort them into “Know” and “Don’t Know” categories, review them, play games, see them all together on a study table and even take quizzes and tests on them (there are up to 14 different activities you can do to master each deck of cards).
You can also export your favorite decks in different formats.
But the magic really happens when you click on the Print button.
At first, I thought I’d get to print the words in flashcard format and nothing more. I was very mistaken. When you click the Print button on any deck, you can actually print everything related to that deck, i.e., you can print the flashcards, the tables, the exercises, the quizzes, the games… Everything!
Best of all, you can choose the size of the cards, the format, the font size, the number of cards per page you want, the number of questions in the quizzes, the type of words you want in the games, etc.
I’ve never seen anything so personalizable. You’re going to love it!
Do Spanish Flashcards Actually Work?
If you want a quick answer, then yes, Spanish flashcards actually work.
Any flashcard works, no matter the language or the subject. But for flashcards to work, you need to know how to use them properly.
Learning with flashcards is much more than having a word in Spanish translated on a card.
There are ways and “ways” of using flashcards to really learn Spanish, and the following tricks are the best you can use to make this awesome learning method work for you:
- You can use flashcards for more than just individual words. Learning vocabulary with flashcards is great, but you can do much more than that. Try writing phrases, phrasal verbs, whole sentences and even grammar rules with examples!
For instance, if you want to learn the Spanish imperfect tense, write the endings on one side of the flashcard and a fully conjugated verb on the other side; if you’re learning irregular verbs, group them and put each group on a flashcard; if you’re trying to learn Spanish word order, write a few correct sample sentences. Your imagination is the limit.
- Use spaced repetition. Spaced repetition is a learning method that makes sure you don’t forget what you’re learning by bringing it back to you at specific time intervals.
Nowadays, most flashcard apps include some kind of spaced repetition algorithm or a review feature that tries to imitate this method.
But if you’re doing your own flashcards, you can also use spaced repetition to make sure the forgetting curve doesn’t hinder your results.
There are many ways to do that, but the simplest one is to learn a flashcard and then review it the next day. Then wait for three days and review it. Then wait for a week, then for two weeks and, finally, wait a whole month between reviews. You can use a task manager or a reminder app to set reminders so you don’t forget to review.
- Try to only use Spanish on your flashcards. Regardless of whether they’re physical flashcards or not, try not to use your native language on them. You can write a word or phrase in Spanish and draw something or add an image to help you remember the meaning. You can also, of course, write the Spanish definition of the word.
If you have whole sentences or grammar concepts that can’t be drawn and need to be translated, then start your review on the side of the flashcard that’s not in Spanish. This will make you think in Spanish, which will help you remember more and better.
- Do microlearning study sessions. Microlearning is a learning technique that works wonders when used with flashcards. Short study sessions help your brain retain more information. This, together with the spaced repetition technique, will transform flashcards into the ultimate language-learning weapon.
- Read out loud. When you’re studying a flashcard, read it out loud. This will help you improve your pronunciation and remember words and concepts better.
- Mix your flashcards. Try not to make your study sessions a routine. If you always study or review your cards in the same order, you’ll eventually become a robot, doing the learning automatically.
If you mix and shuffle your flashcards, your brain will have to be active all the time because it’ll never know what’s coming next!
- Play with your flashcards. Enjoy the time you spend with your flashcards. For example, you can take two or three of them at random and try to create a sentence or short story by using those words or tenses, or you can compete against the clock and try to remember as many words as possible in 30 or 60 seconds.
Be creative, play games, include your flashcards in your daily life, practice word association… In a word: Have fun with your flashcards!
Why a Flashcard App Might Be for You
There are plenty of excellent reasons why a flashcard app may be just the learning tool you’ve been looking for. Here are just a few:
- They’re free! And if they’re not, then they’re usually cheap. Most Spanish flashcard apps out there will allow you to use a free trial or a free version of the full app—which will help give you a quick boost in the basics. Others show advertisements so that you can access the entire program at no cost whatsoever.
- Keep your vocabulary organized. Vocabulary and phrases are almost always kept in neat, thematic categories within flashcard apps. And if the categories don’t already exist, many apps give you the power to make them yourself, so you can study whenever you need to. Keeping things organized will help compartmentalize Spanish in your brain, so you’ll always know when to say what.
- Use them like virtual phrasebooks. Many flashcard apps have a dual function as handy phrasebooks. Sitting in a restaurant and wondering what you need to say to the waiter to make the food start appearing in front of you? Whip out the flashcard app and track down the “food” or “restaurant” category for quick, useful phrases.
- Keep track of essential words. Are there some words you just can’t remember for the life of you? Many flashcard apps will allow you to mark these separately or create entirely new flashcard decks of hard-to-remember words. This way, you can review those tricksters until they’re glued to your brain.
How to Make Your Own Spanish Flashcards
A lot of students ask me how I make my own flashcards and whether I prefer to create my own decks or just use some ready-to-learn ones.
The truth is that I use a mix of everything available, from digital cards I can use on my phone to printable decks I find valuable to flashcards I tailor myself to fit my own needs.
Each learner will obviously prefer one type of flashcard over the rest, but if you want to make your own decks, here are some things you should bear in mind:
- Decide whether you want to create a digital or a physical deck. If you want a digital one, almost every flashcard app available nowadays allows you to add your own words, so follow the instructions there. You can also use apps designed specifically to create flashcards or an online flashcard creator.
If you decide to create physical flashcards, I recommend that you buy some white flash or index cards.
- Color-code. Color is a powerful tool when it comes to learning. By using different pens and markers for different categories, you’ll ease the learning process later.
- Add images. Images also help us remember more things. Add images or drawings to your flashcards to make them more memorable.
- Be specific. Don’t add too much information to your cards. If you’re creating a Spanish vocabulary deck, one word and a sample sentence on each side are all you need. If you’re creating a Spanish conjugation deck, don’t include more than one conjugated verb on each card.
The word “flashcard,” at least for me, means you have a card you can learn in a flash, so each card should include information you can quickly see, not a whole paragraph that’d take you 30 seconds to read.
If you need to create a flashcard on something complex like a grammar rule, divide the topic into smaller parts and number the cards accordingly.
There are many other things one can take into account when creating their own flashcards, but these four “rules” are the ones I personally think are the most important ones.
Sometimes, being hands-on is the best approach to learning a new language. Starting from scratch and designing your own flashcards, complete with text and images, can really help to cement key phrases and critical concepts in your mind.
It’s kind of like how you’ll remember a lecture better by taking notes on what’s being said. By creating your own flashcards, you’ll end up solidifying your new Spanish knowledge in your brain better than ever.
And there you have it, 17+ smart flashcard resources for easy-access Spanish vocab practice plus a lot of tips on how to make the best out of this superb learning method.
Choose one (or more!) and get started today!
Stay curious, my friends, and as always, happy learning!
Francisco J. Vare loves teaching and writing about grammar. He’s a proud language nerd, and you’ll normally find him learning languages, teaching students or reading. He’s been writing for FluentU for many years and is one of their staff writers.