16 Best Spanish Online Courses for Every Learning Style (Updated for 2022)

So you’re looking to learn Spanish online? Well, look no further!

We’ve outlined exactly which courses we recommend in 2022 and why. 

But why listen to us?

We didn’t write this article just to make a quick buck.

We’ve been using and building language apps since 2011. Our founder speaks 4 languages fluently and our team speaks 10+ languages. We’ve seen and used everything. We’ve seen trends come and go. We’ll separate the substance from the fluff.

In this post, we’ll show you the ins and outs of the best apps and websites that are not just engaging—but actually work.

Let’s dive in.

Contents

Best for Latin American Spanish: Rocket Languages

spanish online course

Summary: Rocket Languages is great if you’re not on a budget and are after a comprehensive, classroom-style course which also covers Latin American culture. 

The Rocket Spanish course is packed full of useful, everyday Spanish. It’s one of the online courses you’ll come across that comes closest to classroom-style teaching.

Classes consist of audio lessons around half an hour each for a total of over 120 hours of lesson time per level. Lessons are structured like conversations featuring a learner and a native Spanish speaker. The dialogue is then broken down and the grammar and vocabulary are explained.

The dialogues definitely feel less staged than many other course dialogues. They’re also less formal and more authentic, sounding like a conversation you’d have with a friend.

Rocket Spanish tracks your progress and gives you lots of opportunities to speak and even record your voice in a roleplay-type situation. After each lesson, you can test yourself on what you just learned and rate how easy (or difficult) it was.

You can get started with a free trial, then pay a once-off fee at different tiers. Read our full review here.

Pros of using Rocket Languages:

  • You pay a one-time fee to access the program.
  • The material is very comprehensive.
  • The interface is user-friendly and nice to the eyes.
  • It teaches you not only about the language but also about the culture surrounding it.

Cons of using Rocket Languages:

  • It only takes you to upper-intermediate/pre-advanced user of Spanish.
  • It can get repetitive at times.
  • It’s quite pricey.

Best Immersion-Based: FluentU

Summary: To learn Spanish through a immersion-based program that adapts to you, FluentU is a great option. The authentic content exposes you to the language as its really spoken, helping you learn more natural speech. 

FluentU offers a flexible option to up your Spanish game. You choose what you learn and at what pace.

Through authentic video content, you can improve your Spanish regardless of your current skill level.

Every word in these videos can be clicked to get a definition, associated image and multiple example sentences.

You can even see how words are used in other videos across the site for tons of context. 

FluentU also features an adaptive testing system. Quizzes take videos and turn them into Spanish lessons by integrating pictures, video clips and example sentences into exercises and flashcards.

The lessons are fully personalized so that the learner’s history is taken into account when presenting questions. FluentU’s algorithm sets learners up for success by teaching them based on what they already know.

Start using FluentU on the website with your computer or tablet or download the FluentU app from the iTunes App store or Google Play store. You can start with a free trial, then move to paying a monthly fee or discounted yearly fee. 

Pros of using FluentU:

  • It uses real-world videos, the kind native Spanish speakers would watch.
  • It’s completely personalized. You decide what you want to learn and when.
  • Thanks to the Spaced Repetition System, FluentU will make sure you don’t forget what you’ve learned.
  • It includes contextual subtitles, interactive flashcards, a video dictionary and lots of personalized quizzes, among other features.

Cons of using FluentU:

  • It’s addictive, so use it at your own risk.

Best Tutor Support: BaseLang

spanish online course

Summary: If you’re willing to pay the relatively high fee, you won’t find a better program for native speaker tutoring. It’s best if you can spare a bit of time to really make the most out of BaseLang. 

BaseLang is unique in that it is based around having unlimited Spanish classes with native teachers, and is very effective at improving your conversational skills! 

It offers two programs—Real-World and Grammarless—and provides you with a Spanish curriculum to accompany these courses as well as the ability to track your progress.

Real-World is the more relaxed option, while Grammarless is an intensive program which claims to get you to conversational in just a month. Access to the unlimited tutors is also very flexible: the program allows you to book classes last minute, and choose essentially whatever length you want.

You get the first week for just $1, and then pay month-to-month for Real-World and a one-time payment for Grammarless. 

Pros of using BaseLang:

  • Highly focused on improving speaking and listening comprehension skills. 
  • Super flexible scheduling.
  • Unlimited access to hundreds of native teachers.

Cons of using BaseLang:

  • It’s quite expensive if you’re on a budget.
  • Limited to Latin American Spanish.
  • The website can be slow at times.

Best Range of Learning Materials: LingQ

spanish online course

Summary: LingQ shines when it comes to its huge variety of audio recordings, videos and podcasts, making it great for those who like learning through different types of media. You also get the added support of a forum and language learning community.

If you’re having trouble deciding on what type of material you most like to learn with, LingQ might be the app for you.

LingQ offers a huge library of audio and video materials, plus it lets you import any other Spanish materials you love from around the web.

You’ll have an entire community of language learners to fall back on for support and advice, and there are both group classes and one-on-one lessons you can virtually attend. 

Payments are made monthly, with discounts for paying ahead, and you can also test it out with a free trial. Read our full review here.

Pros of using LingQ:

  • The Spanish audio and video library is really impressive.
  • The forum is very well structured and the community is very helpful.
  • There are separated blogs for each language and they’re full of great articles.

Cons of using LingQ:

  • You need to go Premium if you want to learn fast.
  • The content isn’t structured to teach you a language from start to finish.
  • When reading and listening, you need to pause the audio yourself to work with the fragment of text you’re reading, or else it’ll go on playing and you can easily get lost.

Best for Speaking Practice: Busuu

spanish online course

Summary: Busuu places higher importance on speaking than many other apps, making it a good option for those who wish to improve that skillset. Cultural tips and a community of native speakers also add to the effectiveness of the program.

Busuu is a language learning app with bite-sized lessons that you can study at your own pace. 

It encourages you to develop your speaking skills more so than most other apps, with its speech recognition tool and ability to answer prompts through speech. It’s also strongly focused on listening to dialogues, either throughout the course itself or in the community.

Getting social on Busuu is a big plus—you can find people who are native in your target language and exchange messages with them, and get feedback on your answers from the wider community.

While there is a free version it can be quite limited and only lets you learn one language, so if you’re serious about learning then the paid version is probably the way to go. You can choose between two premium options, and pay for a three month, twelve month or twenty four month plan.

Read our full review here.

Pros of using Busuu:

  • Allows you to create a personalized study plan.
  • Useful cultural tips that help you learn when and how to say something appropriately.
  • Comprehension checks enable you to think critically about what you’re learning.
  • Access to a community of native speakers to give feedback.

Cons of using Busuu:

  • Only 12 languages available, and only one in the free version.
  • Some language courses are lower quality than others.
  • The method and content is lacking slightly in entertainment value.
  • It’s possible to receive incorrect corrections.

Best Course Structure: Babbel

spanish online course

Summary: For a practical, well-structured Spanish course, Babbel is worth looking into when you’re first starting out. The short, everyday scenarios are helpful for learning the more important parts of the language first.

Babbel focuses on practical language usage, aiming to emphasize instruction in the kind of language you’d actually use in real life—as opposed to just teaching vocabulary.

The 10 to 15 minute lessons are mostly scenario-based, claiming to be grounded in real-world conversations and situations. Each one is developed by a team of experienced linguists, and focuses on a certain concept or vocabulary. The exercises included help you memorize the content through a combination of text, audio and images.

Lessons range from A1 (beginner) to C1 (proficient) levels, in accordance with the Common European Framework of Reference, however it’s possible to move around the different levels.

And here’s a fun fact for you—it was actually the world’s first language learning app

It’s free to register and take one lesson, then you’ll need to sign up to a one to twelve month plan. Read our full review here.

Pros of using Babbel:

  • Curriculum has a logical flow of progression.
  • Teaches applicable, usable language.
  • Includes tips that explain concepts related to what you’re learning in a lesson.

Cons of using Babbel:

  • There isn’t actually much offered for advanced learners.
  • The exercise format isn’t varied much.
  • Limited language choice.

Best Premium Audio Course: Michel Thomas Method

spanish online course

Summary: The Michel Thomas Method suits those who love to learn on-the-go or who just enjoy learning through audio. The absence of reading and writing practice may not be for everyone, but it’s effective nonetheless.

Each Michel Thomas Spanish course is available on CDs and “close equivalents” are available to be purchased over iTunes, which makes them even more convenient than strict online learning for some learners.

Michel’s no books, no writing, no memorizing method is delivered in a way that makes you feel like you’re in a virtual classroom. It’s all audio-based, so just download it to your smartphone, plug in your headphones and go.

He encourages students not to get stressed with the language, and he actively promotes not trying to remember what you’re learning. The key is to relax while studying Spanish!

From the very beginning, this course teaches you to speak Spanish by understanding and constructing your own sentences. This gives you the confidence to create proper Spanish sentences in any practical situation. All the material is presented in a simple, easy-to-remember way, which is hugely inspiring even for those of us with foggy memories.

Being an audio course, it’s great to listen to in the car or on your iPod at the gym—you won’t even feel like you’re studying! But this course really needs to be supplemented with other learning material if you want to move on from beginner or intermediate level.

You can get a free sample lesson and booklet before paying a one-time fee, if you decide to go ahead with the program.

Pros of using the Michel Thomas Method:

  • Since it’s an audio course, it’ll allow you to learn Spanish practically everywhere.
  • It’s a nice way for total beginners to get their first contact with the Spanish language.
  • You’ll be creating some basic Spanish sentences in a couple of hours.

Cons of using the Michel Thomas Method:

  • Most of the audio is in English.
  • The Spanish you hear comes from teachers or students of Spanish, not native speakers.
  • You’re not likely to become fluent with this method, and the laid-back method may actually discourage solid learning progress.
  • It’s quite expensive for an audio course.

Best for Organizations: Transparent Language

spanish online course

Summary: Transparent Language is a flexible but well-structured program, which lets you practice all language skills with their exercises and methods. Plus, it gives you the option to learn Castilian or Latin American Spanish. 

Transparent Language offers online Spanish programs for beginner through advanced students. These flexible programs allow you to choose your own learning path—the lessons just give you a starting point.

With activities to practice typing, speaking, writing and reading, you’ll learn the skills you need to understand and communicate in Spanish.

Transparent Language uses game-like learning methods and the program is touchscreen compatible, so it’s an engaging option for any Spanish learner.

You can check it out with a free trial, then pay a monthly or discounted yearly fee.

Pros of using Transparent Language:

  • It’s very well structured in terms of content.
  • The lessons are challenging and force you to be focused.
  • The exercises allow you to practice all the major language learning skills.
  • You can choose if you want to learn Castilian or Latin American Spanish.
  • If you’re an English, Turkish or (Brazilian) Portuguese speaker, you can learn Spanish through your native language.

Cons of using Transparent Language:

  • The quality/price ratio isn’t the best.
  • There’s very little emphasis on grammar.
  • It can get a bit repetitive after a few lessons.

Best for Specialized Spanish: Lengalia

spanish-online-course

Summary: If you’re looking to learn Castilian Spanish with a focus on grammar and other specialized topics, Lengalia is definitely worth checking out. It also features handy free tools and courses specifically for travel Spanish.

Lengalia offers general grammar courses that range from beginner to advanced.

But what makes this program more unique is that it also offers professional courses on specialized Spanish topics including business Spanish, medical Spanish, negotiating and more!

Additionally, if you’re thinking about vacationing in a Spanish-speaking country, you’ll benefit from their “holiday” courses that are designed for tourists.

The listening, reading, speaking and writing practice will help prepare you for any situation you might encounter. Start with a free trial and move to paying monthly, with discounts for paying ahead of time. 

Pros of using Lengalia:

  • It offers a wide array of high-quality, specialized courses.
  • The free tools, especially the vocabulary trainer and the verb conjugator, are excellent.
  • The courses are very well structured and appropriate for each level.
  • Lessons allow you to really practice all four language learning skills.

Cons of using Lengalia:

  • Its user community is rather small and not very engaged.
  • Exercises can get very repetitive.
  • It only includes Castilian Spanish.

Best Free College Course: MIT OpenCourseWare

spanish online course

Summary: MIT OpenCourseWare is perfect if you’ve always wanted to study at a world-renowned university— without the price tag. If you’re organized, you can learn not only the language from them but also other related topics like oral communication and Hispanic literature.

Free MIT courses. Need I say more?

Yup—MIT OpenCourseWare offers more than a dozen free Spanish online courses related to language and culture. The intrepid learner can be anywhere from a beginner student to an advanced speaker to get the most from these courses.

In addition to standard level courses, there are also specialized courses focused on oral communication, advanced conversation and composition and Hispanic literature.

Best of all, these are real MIT courses. You can download course materials, do assignments and learn just like the students who took this course for credit did. But you’re doing it for free at your own pace, because sometimes life is great. Just search ‘Spanish’ in the search bar and you’re good to go. 

Pros of using MIT OpenCourseWare:

  • It’s absolutely free.
  • These are real high-quality MIT courses.
  • You can download the whole content of the courses and work on them offline.
  • Some of the courses include audio and video (including real footage of some of the students’ final class projects).

Cons of using MIT OpenCourseWare:

  • Despite having a syllabus and a calendar for each course at your disposal, you need to be extremely organized not to get lost among so many readings, assignments and resources.
  • The required course books and reading materials need to be bought separately.

Best Budget: Open Learn

spanish-online-course

Summary: For people on a budget who want to supplement their learning with university-level Spanish courses, Open Learn is an excellent option. The free courses cover all levels and many different topics. 

The Open Learn University is a British online charity that provides access to a number of educational subjects, including an extensive Spanish “syllabus.” 

These university-level Spanish courses are flexible, groundbreaking and, most importantly, free. Each level is prefaced with a recommendation of expected previous experience to ensure that you’re choosing the optimal course for your learning needs.

With most courses focused around the beginner to intermediate level, it’s a great way to squeeze in some useful and practical study just like this course on essential beginner’s Spanish for getting around.

You can find tons of them with a quick search. Some courses even come with free letters of participation and badges of completion, in case you’re looking for something to document your learning. 

Pros of using Open Learn:

  • The courses are free and very well structured.
  • They include audio and transcripts, as well as exercises and their answers.
  • You can choose from different levels, from complete beginner to advanced.

Cons of using Open Learn:

  • The courses are very short and will not teach you the language by themselves.
  • Although Open Learn is an excellent platform, it’s been created to tease you into becoming an Open University student.

Best Free Audio Course: Language Transfer

spanish-online-course

Summary: Language Transfer is an excellent course for beginners looking to learn through an unconventional method. It’s audio based, making it good for hands-free learning, and you only pay if you want to! 

Language Transfer, known as “the thinking method,” is the brainchild of linguist Mihalis Eleftheriou, who once described his job as “pummeling my brain with languages.”

The course is wholly listening-based and revolves around the simple concept of transferring your English capabilities to the Spanish language. Because of this, it is most suitable to learners who are fluent in English.

The concept is rather novel, natural and highly effective: You take Spanish cognates and verbs and simply transfer them from English to Spanish. It encourages your brain to make connections rather than attempting to download a completely new language from scratch.

The course is entirely free, but you might consider making a small donation, as it’s the product of many years of one man’s work and a handful of volunteers.

Pros of using Language Transfer:

  • The Spanish audio course includes 90 tracks.
  • It’s perfect for beginners with no prior knowledge of Spanish.
  • The method used is very similar to the Michel Thomas one, but Mihalis makes his course much more enjoyable (and it’s completely free!).
  • Mihalis has a great Spanish accent.

Cons of using Language Transfer:

  • The course will only teach you some basic Spanish.
  • There are no transcripts of the audio available.
  • You won’t hear any native Spanish throughout the course.

Best Vocabulary-Based: Memrise

spanish-online-course

Summary: For the vocabulary-focused visual learners among us, Memrise is an effective program. It’s somewhat limited in the language skills you can practice, so probably not ideal for advanced learners.  

Memrise is a course that aggregates flashcards, quizzes, questions and useful interactive resources such as natural speaking clips.

With this combination of methods, you’re able to achieve that native tone, boost your memory and sharpen your listening skills all in one place.

Founded by a memory expert and a neuroscientist, the content is memory-focused and you’re able to access ample content with a free account.

Memrise serves as a great supplementary resource to your Spanish learning and is a popular choice for many beginner to intermediate learners who are seeking to establish a solid basis in Spanish vocabulary.

The program is free, with the option to upgrade to a subscription for more features. Read our full review here.

Pros of using Memrise:

  • It uses the Spaced Repetition System.
  • It’s perfect for beginners and intermediate learners of Spanish.
  • If you’re a visual learner, you’re going to love the interface.
  • The content created by Memrise is of high quality.
  • Users can create their own courses, so there’s plenty to choose from.

Cons of using Memrise:

  • The exercises get quite repetitive after a few sessions.
  • It focuses on vocabulary almost exclusively.
  • The courses created by the users often contain mistakes.
  • There’s nothing really interesting or challenging for advanced students.

Best for Variety of Courses: Coursera

spanish online course

Summary: If you don’t mind taking some time to sift through the Coursera database, you can find some really effective Spanish courses here—and pretty much for free.

Coursera offers several Spanish online courses for learners. Although there isn’t as much variety for complete beginners, you can access some excellent courses from reputable institutions on this platform if you’re an intermediate or advanced learner.

One of the best ones is the University of California’s basic course for beginners, which is broken up into five stages.

Despite offering courses from top universities, Coursera gives you more flexible learning than an actual college course, as you can move through the materials at your own pace. It’s also mainly free, which is always a plus for a college course.

Pros of using Coursera:

  • There are around 4,000 courses containing the keyword “Spanish” in their name.
  • Intermediate and advanced students can benefit from courses created completely in Spanish by and for native Spanish speakers. Additionally, all courses include subtitles in several languages.
  • Courses are free, well-structured and easy to follow.
  • You can study at your own pace.
  • All courses are online.

Cons of using Coursera:

  • Some of the courses can be (very) outdated.
  • There’s not a lot to choose from for complete beginners.

Best Crash Course: Live Lingua

spanish online course

Summary: If you want to learn quickly, for free, and you don’t mind old-fashioned and bad quality audio, then the FSI courses on Live Lingua are for you. They’re particularly useful if you want Spanish for travel to South America, and if you already have a good base of Spanish to start with.

Live Lingua has taken the FSI (Foreign Service Institute) language courses and enhanced them for learners.

These now freely available courses were once used by the United States government to prepare diplomats and foreign service workers for their roles abroad. The aim of the recordings is to provide useable, digestible and ready-to-go phrases that are applicable in the real world.

With over 50 hours of free online Spanish content and a recommended course time of six months, this resource is great for a crash course in Spanish, especially if you’re planning to visit or move to South America, as Latin American Spanish tends to be the general focus of the recordings.

It can be a little boring and old-fashioned, but the resource is great to use if you’re looking to learn quickly and for free. I’d advise getting a speaking partner either on Tandem or a similar app and also supplementing your studies with a little grammar practice for a more holistic approach to the language.

Cons of using Live Lingua:

  • The courses are free and include tons of material, including audio and e-books.
  • The Foreign Service Institute has been a synonym of high-quality for decades.
  • Drills and spaced repetition will allow you to learn faster and better.
  • The content of the dialogues and the sample sentences are easily (re)usable in real-life conversations.

Pros of using Live Lingua:

  • The quality of the audio is bad (it was recorded over 50 years ago).
  • If drills aren’t your thing, you’re going to get really bored pretty soon.
  • Some courses can be challenging for complete beginners.
  • If you’re bothered by sexist, chauvinistic language, look somewhere else. The courses faithfully represent the time when they were created.

Best Podcast-Based: Coffee Break Spanish

spanish-online-courseSummary: Coffee Break Spanish is one of the more relaxed, entertaining options for Spanish courses. It covers a vast range of topics over four levels of difficulty, for free, with the option to upgrade to premium for transcripts and lesson notes. 

It wouldn’t be a complete list of resources without at least one podcast, so why not end with one of the best?

A personal favorite, the Coffee Break Spanish podcast offers audio material for beginner to intermediate learners in easily consumable doses of 15 to 20 minutes (more or less) per episode.

The award-winning resource is incredibly well-known in the Spanish learning world and extensively covered online already. So if you haven’t done so yet, then it’s time you stuck those earphones in, went for a walk and let the hosts guide you from simple vocabulary to complex sentence structures, step by step.

Mark and Cara are engaging, humorous and, best of all, entertaining. This makes for an enjoyable and entertaining listening experience, episode after episode.

And it’s free, with the option to upgrade to a subscription for more features. Read our full review here.

Pros of using Coffee Break Spanish:

  • It’s one of the best, most comprehensive Spanish podcasts out there.
  • The podcasts are divided into four seasons (representing four levels of difficulty).
  • There are series of episodes focused on grammar and Spanish culture.
  • You can subscribe to the Reading Club (a 52-week reading course) for free.

Cons of using Coffee Break Spanish:

  • It’s mainly focused on listening and speaking.
  • If you want to have scripts and lesson notes from the podcast episodes or the exercises from the Reading Club, you have to go premium.

How to Find the Right Spanish Online Course

spanish online course

There are countless courses in today’s market. Some are free, some offer a small monthly subscription and others you pay for up front.

Everyone has their own personal tastes and learning styles, so it can really be down to individual preference. But if you’re about to invest your time and money in an online course, here are the questions you should be asking yourself:

  • Does the course offer the right material for my current level of Spanish? Some lessons offer placement tests while others are specific to a certain level. Make sure a course has the level you need before you commit.
  • Is it affordable for me? Some of the courses we list are free while others are a bit more on the pricey side. Decide on your budget and stick to it!
  • Where can I study? Are you fixed to a computer or can you consider a more portable course?

    When we think of “online courses,” we often think of a self-paced computer course as opposed to a classroom one. But some courses are available for download and can be used offline. Conversely, college-level guided courses have become a lot more commonly available online.

    In short, you have a lot of options!

  • What’s the course’s success rate? What do the user reviews of the course say? How successful were others in completing it?
  • Does the course cover the particular subject matter that I’m interested in learning? Do the lessons teach vocabulary that’s relevant to what you actually want to do with your Spanish? For example, does the course focus more on business or travel, formal or informal Spanish?

The courses we’ve looked at are more broad, extensive courses that can be used as a “main” learning method over a period of time.

Would I Benefit From a Spanish Online Course?

Essentially if you’re learning Spanish, you’ll benefit from an online course! Online courses are generally cheaper than in-person classes, and you have the added benefit of being able to access your course pretty much anywhere, any time.

Your individual needs will determine the best choice of course for you—do you need Spanish for a trip to Argentina, or are you a serious intermediate learner? Have you mastered the Spanish accent, but can only speak in the present tense? Whatever your needs, you should find something that suits them among these courses.

What Will a Spanish Online Course Teach Me?

Online Spanish courses vary in the content they teach and how it’s taught. In general, you can expect to learn common vocabulary, pronunciation skills and basic grammar like pronouns and verb conjugation.

As we’ve seen, some courses place higher emphasis on different aspects of the Spanish language—so before committing yourself to one, do a bit of research to make sure it meets your requirements.

How Much Should I Pay for a Spanish Online Course?

Again, this varies from course to course—expect to pay more for complete or intensive courses, and less for ones which are relatively short or more on the superficial side.

Many courses are actually free, while some reach up to a few hundred dollars. Ultimately, how much you pay will come down to how much you’ll get out of the course. 

 

There you go! 16 amazing online courses to learn Spanish in 2022.

Give any of these a try and watch your Spanish skills skyrocket in no time.

Stay curious, my friends, and as always, happy Spanish 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.

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