Spanish Immersion Software: 15 Stellar Programs for Language Learning (2021 Picks)

We’ve all met them. People who casually declare: “I speak just five languages. Well, six if you count Tagalog, but I’m only conversational in it, so it doesn’t really count…”

Believe it or not, many multilingual people didn’t net their language skills because they’re super-human (or had over-zealous parents).

So what’s their secret?

Chances are, many of them spent their childhood bouncing between the likes of Geneva, Hong Kong, Madrid and Rome.

They were fully immersed in the language from a young age, learning and practicing new words in a foreign tongue in order to get by—to trade sandwiches at school and understand the cartoons on TV.

So, without a time machine or the option to move to a new country to study the language in immersive depth as an adult, how can the rest of us stand a chance of picking up Spanish so easily?

The answer: Spanish immersion software.

Here’s a guide to why Spanish immersion software works, together with details of the best Spanish immersion software around, updated in 2021!

Why Spanish Immersion Software Works

Spanish immersion software tries to emulate what it would be like to live in a Spanish-speaking country. Here’s why that works:

  • Learn like a two-year-old: Kids are smart at learning languages. Without any clear structure or language learning instruction, they just shift from babbling to talking. And they do that by being fully immersed in the language, starting with simple words that are important to them, and moving on to complex sentences to make themselves understood.
  • Dive straight in: Speaking and listening skills are perhaps the most important (and useful) aspects of learning a new language. With Spanish immersion software, you’re thrown straight in with words and basic sentences.
  • Exercise-based: Practice, practice, practice. Through repetition and regular practice, the exercise-based nature of Spanish immersion software means you’re less likely to get bored, and more likely to learn.

Spanish Immersion Software: 15 Stellar Programs for Language Learning (2021 Picks)

There are lots of language learning options out there. Here are 15 of the best Spanish immersion software programs on the market as of 2021.

And don’t worry if some of these options look they’re going to break the bank—check out your local library to see if any of the courses are stocked for your use free of charge. My local library system has Pimsleur, Michel Thomas and Rosetta Stone, for example.

Many of the resources also have a free trial or at least a money-back guarantee that you can take advantage of if you want to check whether the program is right for you.

With 15 stellar choices, you’re sure to find the right option for your learning goals!

FluentU

spanish immersion software

Cost: Monthly fee and savings for signing up for longer periods of time. Free trial available. See full pricing information.

Format: Website, app

At a Glance:

+ Authentic native content.
+ Interactive dual-language subtitles.
+ Useful in-app grammar tools.
Mainly focused on listening and reading skills.
Need an internet connection.

As a learner, you need to be able to hear how Spanish is spoken in real life, and you can do that with FluentU.

FluentU is designed to get you comfortable with everyday Spanish by combining all the benefits of complete immersion and native-level conversations with easy-to-read subtitles.

There’s a wide variety of authentic Spanish content to entertain and educate you, supported with app features that provide all the information necessary to understand everything in these clips and dialogues.

But how exactly does this digital platform immerse learners like yourself in the Spanish-speaking world?

FluentU takes real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.

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:

learn-spanish-with-videos

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.

learn-spanish-with-interactive-captioned-videos

Review a complete interactive transcript under the Dialogue tab, and find words and phrases listed under Vocab.

learn-spanish-music-videos

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.

practice-spanish-with-adaptive-quizzes

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.

Start using FluentU on the website with your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the iOS or Android FluentU app.

Rosetta Stone

spanish immersion software

Cost: Variable monthly fees with savings for signing up for longer periods of time and a lifetime access option. Free trial available. See full pricing information.

Format: CD-ROM, app

At a Glance:

+ Combines reading, writing, listening and speaking.
+ Based on visual learning.
+ Actual speaking practice with Speech Recognition Technology and tutors.
Can be repetitive.
Limited vocabulary and spontaneity.
No explicit grammar lessons.

As the saying goes, “If you want to learn to swim, you have to get in the water.” And that’s what Rosetta Stone does, right from the first lesson. Whether you choose the classic CD package or subscribe for the online course and app, there’s no safety net of your own language to guide and assist you; you’re literally immersed from the get-go. That might sound daunting, but words and phrases are added on a gradual basis according to how quickly you’re learning.

You may start off with simple matching exercises, like adding words to pictures, but with speech recognition technology to help you with your speaking, sessions with tutors and games to play in the online community, there’s enough variety to keep you motivated.

It isn’t just about repeating phrases over and over, either. Rosetta Stone’s sequences have been carefully designed to help you recognize patterns, not just rules, making it easier for you to retain what you’ve learned, even when you’ve switched the software off.

Babbel

best program to learn spanish

Cost: Variable monthly fees with savings for signing up for longer periods of time. Up to 20 classes per month with Babbel Live. The first lesson in every course is free. See full pricing information for the Babbel App and Babbel Live.

Format: Website, app

At a Glance:

+ Audio by native speakers.
+ Freedom to choose your own learning path.
+ Conversational language prioritized.
Not suitable for advanced progression.
Interface could be more visually engaging.
Exercises are largely in the learner’s native tongue rather than target language.

As you might have guessed, Babbel is a play on the Tower of Babel narrative, which explains why we all speak different languages.

But what’s the Babbel method for language acquisition?

Basically, Babbel uses real dialogues to make Spanish more relatable to you. These native conversations teach you how to communicate in real situations instead of focusing on every single grammar rule in the book that may not even be relevant for your learning journey.

Even though it focuses on auditory and visual learning, Babbel is useful for all types of learners, whether you’re a visual learner or need to work on your receptive language skills. The app also has six memory stages that allow you to transition words and expressions from short-term to long-term memory.

But if you want a little more out of Babbel, you can sign up for live classes. These live sessions are limited to six students, which means more personalized attention from the instructor and more opportunities to interact with other learners.

Pimsleur

spanish immersion software

Cost: Monthly fee, with the option to purchase specific products instead. Free trial available.

Format: Audio CD, MP3, app, download

At a Glance:

+ Focused on conversation.
+ Completely native audio used.
+ No frills approach is streamlined and easy on the eyes.
No variety in the very rigid instructional format.
Limited vocabulary.
No explicit grammar lessons.

If the Pimsleur method is considered good enough for U.S. government agencies, diplomats and corporations, surely it’s good enough for the rest of us?

Perhaps the reason Pimsleur is so popular, and has been for 50 years, is because it has an incredibly effortless approach to learning. By committing to just 30 minutes per day—listening to a CD and repeating the words out loud—Pimsleur promises to have you speaking a language in no time.

Pimsleur has a much stronger auditory focus than some of the other programs here. Much of language learning with Pimsleur means listening to a conversation and then repeating parts of it, gradually building up knowledge until you can recall the phrases that have been said when prompted.

Pimsleur does come with a reading component, too, but this is secondary and not heavily focused on. The audio is the huge selling point for them—you can use this program to learn easily and effortlessly, wherever you go. Many people use this program for learning while driving! Just let the teachers guide you from basic phrases to complete sentences. It always prompts you to listen, repeat and respond, making it highly interactive.

The software works by Graduated Interval Recall. Say, what? This system is the basis behind Spaced Repetition Systems (SRS) that you might be familiar with already, It gets you to repeat words at specific intervals that are optimal for moving words from your short-term (sieve-like) memory to your long-term (I’m-actually-an-elephant) memory.

Best of all: As there’s no clicking on laptops or tablets, you can learn Pimsleur in the car, turning that dead commute time into something much more productive.

Instant Immersion

spanish immersion software

Cost: One-time purchase of specific products. No free trial but there’s a money-back guarantee. See pricing information here.

Format: Download, CD-ROM, MP3

At a Glance:

+ Affordable.
+ Teaches with authentic audio and videos of Spanish conversations.
+ Opportunity to practice with native Spanish speakers.
Grammar-heavy.
Lots of memorization instead of natural language learning.
Lack of lesson focus.

Instant Immersion Spanish is based on image recognition and parcels its learning sessions into edible 10-minute chunks. There are 10 modules to work through, each dedicated to a specific topic of learning, starting with the basics such as food, colors, time and numbers.

Each module features learning sections as well as fun games that are designed to be engaging while reinforcing your learning. The software includes record and playback functionality for practicing pronunciation, the chance to video chat with native speakers and a dictionary that can be printed and created into flashcards for offline learning.

If you’re specifically interested in learning Spanish for business, there’s also a module dedicated to workplace topics including business meetings, IT/internet, phone calls and business travel.

Michel Thomas Method

spanish immersion software

Cost: One-time purchase of specific products. Free lesson and booklet are available for different levels of the program.

Format: CD-ROM, iOS app

At a Glance:

+ Focused on conversation.
+ Audio mimics classroom experience.
+ Loads of speaking practice.
Lack of grammar lessons or explanations.
No reading or writing practice.
Repetitive.
Led by a non-native speaker with lots of English.

Similar to Pimsleur, the Michel Thomas Method is all about learning without books, homework or having to memorize anything. Thomas believed that you learn best when you’re not actively learning. As such, this program is perfect if you’re happy to sit back and let the Spanish language wash over you.

The late Michel Thomas counted Hollywood stars, politicians and business leaders among his past pupils, and his method promises to have you learning a language in hours, not years.

The Michel Thomas program has you listening to Thomas and two students as he teaches them the basics of the Spanish language.

Speaking is an integral part of the Michel Thomas Method, so you might want to practice this when you’re alone, but listening, absorbing and then speaking is the magic formula for this particular piece of Spanish immersion software.

Fluenz

spanish immersion software

Cost: One-time purchase of specific products, with bundles of different levels available. See full pricing information.

Format: CD-ROM, DVD, website, app, MP3

At a Glance:

+ Combines reading, writing, listening and speaking.
+ Over 150 native Spanish tutor sessions in one purchase.
+ Sleek and attractive user interface.
Lack of spontaneous speaking opportunities.
Quite expensive.
Repetitive.

Fluenz offers an interesting twist on Rosetta Stone. Unlike Rosetta Stone, which is so immersive that there are zero words in your native tongue, Fluenz believes that a combination of immersion and structured teaching is best. By presenting students with English translations, Fluenz helps students better relate to the structure and grammar of the language, and thereby absorb it better.

There are a number of exercises to keep you interested, like matching words to images, answering questions, writing what you hear and translating words and phrases into your native tongue.

Learning tips sprinkled throughout are spoken in English, such as suggested word associations and occasional motivational prompts, like getting you to imagine being in Spain.

OUINO

spanish immersion software

Cost: Monthly fee and savings for signing up for longer periods of time, plus the option to purchase lifetime access to the program. Free trial available. See full pricing information.

Format: CD-ROM, download

At a Glance:

+ Over 400 lessons and 60 short stories.
+ Specific lessons for pronunciation.
+ Learners can choose their own learning path.
Lack of spontaneous speaking opportunities.
No supplementary resources (dictionaries, vocabulary lists, etc.)
Limited vocabulary and topics.

The aim of OUINO isn’t to get you to recall words associated with pictures, it’s to get you to learn the building blocks from which you can construct your own sentences. By breaking down sentence structures, supplying a hefty slab of vocabulary and tackling verbs, the idea is that you’ll end up with the requisite foundation for becoming fluent in Spanish.

Like FluentU, OUINO lets you study the subjects you want to learn when you want to learn them—probably one of the most useful aspects of learning a language. Besides, who wants to learn how to describe their pet when what they really need to know is how to order dinner?

Easy Spanish

Individual Software Easy Spanish Platinum

Cost: One-time purchase only.

Format: DVD, MP3

At a Glance:

+ Uses real-world conversations.
+ Speech Recognition Technology used to perfect accent.
+ Includes interactive dictionary.
Lack of spontaneous speaking opportunities.
Outdated user interface.
Limited vocabulary and topics.

Easy Spanish has been designed by some smart brains: university language experts. The learning system is step-by-step and as well as full immersion. It incorporates voice recognition software so you can practice real-world conversations and nail your pronunciation.

Easy Spanish includes MP3s so you can enhance your learning while you’re on the move, as well as an interactive dictionary and cultural movies.

Whether you’re learning Spanish for business, school or travel, you can set your own learning objectives and track your progress along the way. And, if certain words aren’t coming naturally, just hit the speech lab for more in-depth language workshops.

Language101

spanish immersion software

Cost: One-time fee for “lifetime access” to specific products, with bundles of different levels available. Free trial available. See full pricing information.

Format: Website, MP3

At a Glance:

+ Uses real-world conversations.
+ Can slow down native audio for better understanding.
+ Uses Spaced Repetition technology for vocabulary recall.
Lack of explanations of grammar or otherwise.
No spontaneous speaking opportunities.
Quite pricey.

Language101 (not to be confused with the Pod101 series, which is also included in this list) is a website that allows you to learn Spanish through authentic conversations and, best of all: Spanish music!

The format is quite simple. You’re introduced to Spanish words and phrases through real conversations or songs, and then you practice recalling and saying the phrases. However, instead of just getting a sentence’s meaning in English, learners also get a literal translation, allowing them to see the deep structure of the language and understand how sentences are truly built.

You also have the option of listening to the Spanish at two speeds: normal speed and “Ultra Slow” for careful listening and pronunciation practice. Throw in some Spaced Repetition, and Language101 will have you speaking conversational Spanish in no time at all!

LingQ

spanish immersion software

Cost: Monthly fee and savings for signing up for longer periods of time. Free limited account available. See full pricing information.

Format: Website, app

At a Glance:

+ Uses real Spanish audio.
+ Learner has complete control over their Spanish learning.
+ Uses Spaced Repetition Technology for vocabulary recall.
Limited grammar explanations and practice.
No spontaneous speaking or writing opportunities.
Interface is quite rudimentary.

LingQ is an immersive language learning program that was created by famed polyglot Steve Kaufmann and his son, equally well-known former hockey player, Mark.

The idea behind LingQ is simple: Immerse learners completely in native audio and complement the recordings with written transcripts. LingQ doesn’t stop there, though! Each word in the written transcript is clickable, and you can select one word or multiple words for an instant translation.

Any word can also be converted into a LingQ. Think of these as flashcards that can be reviewed later using Spaced Repetition technology to help the words stick. Best of all, learners have complete control over the lessons they choose. The library of lessons is sorted by level of Spanish proficiency and topic, and new lessons are being added by fellow users every day.

See something online that would make an awesome Spanish lesson? Simply import that content into LingQ and turn it into a fruitful Spanish learning experience as well!

Busuu

best program to learn spanish

Cost: Free access to one language. Variable monthly fees with savings for signing up for longer periods of time, with premium access to one or 12 languages. Free trial available. See full pricing information.

Format: Website, app

At a Glance:

+ Opportunities to interact with native speakers.
+ Speech recognition tool for speaking practice.
+ Options for CEFR Certificates.
Study methods can get tedious.
No access to app extras under the free plan.
Limited number of languages.

Did you know that Busuu is a real language that’s spoken by eight people in Cameroon?

The whole idea behind this app was to make languages like Busuu as accessible as widely spoken languages, such as Spanish, in hopes of reviving endangered languages.

When it comes to the features of the Busuu app, there’s a huge emphasis on speaking abilities, which is hard to come by when learning Spanish with digital tools. With a speech recognition tool and a social community full of native speakers and learners, you have tons of opportunities to put your Spanish productive skills into practice.

For the content, you can choose to learn according to your level or a specific theme, such as travel or business. In addition to grammar and vocabulary, the lessons are also interwoven with cultural tips to ensure you’re using the appropriate expressions in various contexts.

Don’t forget that there’s an option for a CEFR Certificate, which comes in handy for higher education opportunities and career advancement.

Mango Languages

best program to learn spanish

Cost: Variable monthly fees with savings for signing up for longer periods of time, with access to one, all or custom set of languages. Free trial available. See full pricing information.

Format: Website, app

At a Glance:

+ Comparison of wave patterns in recordings between learner and native speaker.
+ Conversational and applicable lessons.
+ Access to Mango Movies.
Tedious repetition drills.
Lack of visual aids in lessons.
Not suited for advanced learners.

Mango Languages has received a handful of accolades for its use of smart technology to foster connections between cultures and building bridges between languages. For instance, it uses augmented reality to literally place you in the middle of a language-learning experience that’s like no other.

With the main objective being natural acquisition, the lessons are less about grammar and more about improving conversational skills, with the help of native speakers and expert linguists. The content is based on relevant learning material, high-quality audio, and conversation-based methodology. But don’t worry, grammar notes are still included when they’re relevant.

You can also practice speaking with Mango Languages by using the voice comparison tool. This handy feature allows you to compare your recording to a native speaker’s. From there, you can adjust your pronunciation and intonation according to the native speaker’s wave patterns.

One of the most notable features of Mango Languages is the additional learning resources. Mango Movies is a collection of films that have been handpicked specifically for language learners and divided by age group. Each movie also has a breakdown of the dialogue to provide cultural notes and improve your overall language skills.

Gritty Spanish

best program to learn spanish

Cost: One-time purchase of specific products. Comes with a free e-Book. See full pricing information.

Format: Audios, PDFs

At a Glance:

+ Includes swearing.
+ Exposure to different accents and regional slang.
+ Interactive PDFs with parallel text.
Specifically for Latin American Spanish.
May be offensive for some learners.
Mostly focused on casual, informal conversations.

Life isn’t all about pleasantries. In the real world, we’re busy, stressed and have places to be. Heightened emotions and a frazzled state are bound to lead to unfriendly encounters, where people will argue and throw curse words at each other.

When Eldon Mirjah created Gritty Spanish, he wanted to give insight into real Spanish as spoken on the street. Natives communicate with attitude and passion, and if you want to fit in with the locals, you’ll have to be able to understand and converse with them outside of those polite, textbook-like and unrealistic circumstances.

In other words, Gritty Spanish is your not-so-politically-correct introduction to Latin American Spanish. It’s an experience with audio lessons that put you right in the middle of hot-headed native speakers fighting on the subway and attempting to order drinks at a noisy bar.

These audios are paired with interactive PDFs complete with explanations on vocabulary and grammar, written in both English and Spanish. The lessons also have quizzes to see how much you absorbed from the conversations.

If this does appeal to you but you aren’t too fond of the inclusion of swear words, there’s a censored audio pack that contains most of the original content, just minus a few controversial episodes and the potty language.

SpanishPod101

best program to learn spanish

Cost: Variable monthly fees with savings for signing up for longer periods of time. Free trial available. See full pricing information.

Format: Website, app

At a Glance:

+ Audio speed control.
+ Variety of dialects to learn.
+ Themed courses for different types of learners.
English-language intervention at all levels.
No clear progression in the course since it’s less structured.
Limited advanced learner content.

If you’ve ever heard native Spanish speakers conversing with each other, it’s almost impossible to try and figure out what they’re saying.

Thankfully, SpanishPod101 by Innovative Language slows everything down for you, with audio recordings set at a slower pace so you can finally hear every single word uttered in Spanish. And if that’s not enough, there are control buttons to slow down the audio lessons even more.

Other than the speaking speed, SpanishPod101 gives you control over what you learn, as it offers a variety of learning pathways to choose from at each level to match your goals and needs. Some pathways are more culture-based and others are more grammar-oriented, but there’s definitely a healthy mix in there so you can get the best of both worlds.

SpanishPod101 also has plenty of additional resources to keep you busy, including vocabulary lists, quizzes, a featured word of the day, grammar info for most lessons and more.

You also have the option to upgrade to personalized guidance. This is where you’ll be paired with one of their in-house teachers who can provide you feedback, corrections and one-on-one conversations via messenger or Skype.

 

With this range of Spanish immersion software programs to choose from, you’ll be speaking like a native in no time.


Jo Fitzsimons is a full-time traveller, digital nomad and language learner. When she’s not up to her neck in false cognates, she spends her time writing about her travels on a freelance basis and also on her blog, IndianaJo.

If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn Spanish with real-world videos.

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