“Do something you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.”
This may sound like clichéd advice from a graduation speech, but don’t roll your eyes.
This little truism is actually a pearl of wisdom for Spanish learners.
Learning a new language can be a long process with stumbling blocks along the way. To keep your motivation high and your skills growing, you need to actually enjoy the studying process.
So when choosing an online Spanish course, it’s important to think about your own study goals, habits and interests. You want a Spanish course that matches your lifestyle so you actually look forward to the process.
In this post, we’ll show you how to identify your personal language learning needs. Then we’ll point you to seven unique, diverse online Spanish courses to target a wide range of goals and learning styles.
How to Match Your Online Course with Your Life and Learning Style
Before choosing an online Spanish course, it’s best to recognize what your learning style is. Knowing how you retain information—whether it’s by hearing, by seeing or by doing something yourself—can help you identify the study tools and methods that’ll be most effective for you (ultimately saving you time, energy, costs and stress!).
Here are some questions you can ask yourself:
- Do I enjoy a traditional learning environment? Maybe you were an A+ student in school, thriving in an environment of textbooks and lectures. Then again, you may find that style dull and uninspiring, preferring to think more creatively in order to stay engaged.
- Do you remember the lyrics to every song on the radio? You may study best with repetition and patterns. You may also benefit from authentic Spanish content (the type of stuff actual Spanish-speakers listen to, watch and read).
- Do you forget what someone has told you unless you’ve seen it written down? Look for courses with writing elements and get yourself a good notebook before you start!
- Do you consider yourself a visual learner? You can choose a course that provides images for vocabulary and other concepts, as opposed to an audio-only course.
Along with the question of how you’re learning is the question of what you’re learning.
“Um, Spanish… duh!”
Of course you’re studying Spanish, but you can use Spanish to talk about many subjects, especially as you get more advanced with your studies. Find a topic that interests you—history, sports, pop culture, whatever—and incorporate it into your Spanish studies. You’re more likely to keep going and be successful if you’re doing something you like.
It’s also important to consider how much time you can spend on your studies. As you’ll see in our list of courses below, you can find a program that fits into your schedule whether you have five minutes a day or are planning to dedicate larger chunks of time to language immersion.
If you don’t know where to start, try out some different methods and see what you like best. When you feel like you’re making progress you’ll be more inspired to seguir adelante (keep going).
7 Online Spanish Courses to Learn Your Way
Mango Languages teaches vocabulary starting from square one. A native speaker will teach words and phrases, frequently asking the learner to recall the words and practice pronouncing them. The program uses a lot of repetition—think flashcards, but with audio.
Students can choose whether they want to learn Castilian Spanish (i.e. the Spanish of Spain) or Latin American Spanish. You can also focus on vocabulary around a specific topic, such as Spanish for business, Spanish for texting or even Spanish for Flamenco dancing!
The lessons go fairly quickly and can be done whenever you have a few minutes to spare.
This program is available online or as an app. You can even check with your local library to see if it’s available to you for free.
Do you like entertainment mixed in with your language studies?
Do you want to learn real-deal Spanish you’d hear on the street?
How about complete freedom to learn what you want, when you want to?
FluentU Spanish is a flexible online learning solution that lets you study the Spanish language through the web’s best videos.
Each video has interactive captions providing translations in real time, so you can watch the videos and learn Spanish at the same time. For each translation, FluentU offers in-context definitions and great examples to teach the kind of Spanish you might hear in everyday conversation.
Best of all, FluentU’s Learn Mode has quizzes to test your understanding of each video. Since the videos are available in a variety of formats and difficulty levels, FluentU is a great way for beginners to learn Spanish and then continue with the course as they grow to intermediate and advanced status. FluentU is even available as an iOS or Anrdoid app.
Are you a couch potato? Maybe watching TV is the language-learning technique for you.
While there are many Spanish-language shows out there, “Destinos” (“Destinations”) is a telenovela created specifically for Spanish learners.
The story follows lawyer Raquel Rodriguez around the world as she hunts for information about a family’s long-held secret. Each episode is a Spanish lesson, with vocabulary and grammar units as well as practice quizzes to ensure you retain what you’ve learned.
The drama will be sure to have you hooked!
Who else can still name all 50 states by singing the song from fifth grade? Just me?
If you’re the type of person who never forgets something that’s put to music, Language Zen has you covered. This site offers vocabulary lessons based on specific pop songs. It’ll also show you the lyrics, karaoke style, as you listen to the song so that you can follow along.
In addition to the song lessons, there are also more general lessons on topics ranging from ordering at a restaurant to flirting to investing in startups.
Interactive activities help you put what you’re learning into practice. Now those earworms will help you perfect your language skills!
If traditional, lecture-style learning is your style, then this method might work for you.
edX is a website that offers online courses from universities and partner organizations around the world. Anyone can take a course for free or choose the paid option if they want to receive a certificate of completion at the end. Among the wide array of subjects offered, there are a number of courses in Spanish.
To find a course, go to “Subjects” and click on “Language” to browse courses, or type “Spanish” into the search bar. Offerings include basic Spanish and Spanish language and culture.
Advanced learners can also take courses in Spanish about everything from science to art to business to improve their vocabulary while learning something new.
Notes in Spanish
Another option for auditory learners is Notes in Spanish. This website has audio lessons (also available for download as a podcast) that look at culture, food and many other topics in Spanish from beginner to advanced levels.
These can enrich your knowledge of the world and of the Spanish language at the same time.
The audio episodes are free, and accompanying worksheets and other materials are available for purchase.
If you learn best by listening, this could be a great option for you.
After considering these options, perhaps you’re feeling like being a little more experimental.
Some studies have shown that reinforcing your language learning by playing Spanish audio while you sleep can help with recall.
Talk about multitasking!
There are videos available for exactly this purpose. You can put one on and catch some Zs while your mind reinforces the Spanish concepts in the video. (Note that this technique is generally recommended for supporting concepts you’ve already learned while awake, rather than teaching you new concepts overnight.)
Just search for “Binaural Beats Spanish” on YouTube and you’ll find a number of videos with hours of content to play while you sleep. The videos play a word or phrase in English, followed by the translation in Spanish repeated several times, with light music playing in between. They provide relaxing, calm audio to help you glide off to dreamland while your brain absorbs the Spanish words.
This is probably best as a supplemental approach, rather than relying solely on your subconscious to learn Spanish, but you might want to give it a shot.
The web provides so many options, so what are you waiting for? Check out one (or more) of these resources today and get ready to learn some Spanish.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn Spanish with real-world videos.