Finding the right online Spanish course is like finally getting that perfect haircut.
Not too formal, not too casual.
Just the right length, just enough layers and just the style you hoped for—all at the right price.
The main difference is that finding the ideal online Spanish course can be relatively simple if you know where to look. Once you’ve seen a few great options, you’ll have all you need to improve your Spanish or to learn Spanish entirely from scratch.
Meanwhile, nothing can guarantee you that perfect haircut every time. Nothing.
But online Spanish courses definitely can provide you with all the resources you need to propel yourself towards fluency. And that’s better than a perfect haircut, anyway.
Indeed, if you’re looking to learn Spanish online, Spanish courses are a great way to learn the fundamentals of the language. Like Spanish immersion software, online courses offer a versatile, multifaceted approach to learning that can simulate in-person immersive experiences.
Do Online Spanish Courses Really Work?
The short answer to this question is “yes!”
They can really work… but it’s up to you to put in the time and effort needed to get the absolute best out of them.
With online learning, there’s no teacher to push you or tell you when you should turn up to class. You’re on your own, and that requires motivation and dedication.
But this can work in your favor. I bet many of us have skipped Spanish class because it interfered with some other plans we had. I know I’ve done this. Unlike conventional courses, you don’t have to reserve a time slot for them, which makes it easy to learn on your schedule and at your pace. You can study when it suits you!
This is even easier now that most online courses have an equally good app equivalent. Download it to your phone, grab a set of headphones and you can literally learn Spanish whenever the mood hits you.
But how can an online course compete with real interaction, you may ask? Well, an online course can never compare to live conversation, but it can give you the building blocks to communicate effectively in Spanish.
You’ll learn the correct way to speak, use memory aid tools like flashcards and hear Spanish being spoken clearly during your study.
While you can use online courses to get down the basics, you can also use online courses to carry you straight through to fluency. And that’s a great place to start!
How to Find the Right Online Spanish Course
There are countless courses in today’s market. Some are free, some offer a small monthly subscription and others you pay for outright.
Everyone will have their own personal favorite and 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:
- Does it 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, university courses and guided courses are becoming more commonly available online. In short, you have a lot of options!
- What’s the success rate? What do the user reviews of the course say? How successful were others in completing it?
- Does it cover the particular subject matter that I’m interested in learning? Does the course teach vocabulary that’s relevant to what you actually want to do with your Spanish? For example, does it focus more on business, travel, formal or informal Spanish, etc.?
In addition to the courses below, you can find a variety of affordable Spanish courses at Udemy that provide hours of content you can access on a computer or mobile device.
Course topics range from conversational Spanish to grammar, to “survival” Spanish, so you can search until you find exactly the right course for you. These courses are great for targeting specific areas of your Spanish. Just keep in mind the criteria above as you’re searching.
You can also find several online Spanish courses from the University of California on Coursera, including a basic course for beginners that’s broken 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.
The courses we’ll be looking at below are more extensive courses that can all be used as a “main” course over time. Let’s get started.
12 Online Spanish Courses to Upgrade Your Learning
Duolingo is a popular, free program designed to help you learn the essentials of Spanish quickly.
Simply select how much time you want to commit each day (five, 10, 15 or 20 minutes), and you’re ready to go.
If you already know some Spanish, you can take a placement test to ensure your lessons start at an appropriate level for you. This makes Duolingo appropriate for anyone from a complete beginner to decent levels of Spanish proficiency.
While it doesn’t go terribly in-depth for any given topic, it provides solid introductions to them and an excellent framework for you to manage your learning progress overall.
Duolingo’s approach is a unique quiz format that exposes you to text, audio and images. Duolingo’s use of images is particularly effective since it helps you associate the word you’re learning with the object in question rather than needing to translate to English first.
The frequent repetition of words helps you pick up new vocabulary in a format that isn’t daunting.
And best of all, you only need to commit five minutes a day. Easy peasy.
FluentU offers a flexible option to up your Spanish game. You choose what you learn and at what pace.
FluentU takes real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
Through this diverse, authentic video content, you can improve your Spanish regardless of your current skill level.
That’s because every single word comes packed with information available at a single click: an in-context 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. Say goodbye to spending hours searching for good videos on YouTube and hello to focusing on actually learning valuable Spanish lessons.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of FluentU is its adaptive testing system. Quizzes take videos and turn them into Spanish lessons by integrating pictures, video clips and example sentences into exercises and flashcards, making for truly memorable in-context learning experiences.
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, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes App store or Google Play store and enjoy FluentU’s innovative features on any of your Android or iOS devices.
The Rocket Spanish course is packed full of useful, everyday Spanish and can take you from beginner to intermediate or even advanced.
Classes consist of audio lessons around half an hour each for a total 134 hours of lesson time.
Lessons are structured like conversations featuring Amy (a learner) and Mauricio (a native Spanish speaker). The dialogue is then broken down and the grammar and vocabulary are explained.
It’s one of the closest online courses you’ll come across to classroom-style teaching.
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 if you came across a friend at a bar. Topics covered include basics like greetings and more involved conversations like discussing people, places and things.
The course tracks your progress and gives you loads of opportunities to speak and even record your voice in a role-play-type situation. After each lesson, you can test yourself on what you just learned and rate how easy (or difficult) it was.
Aside from the courses, Rocket Spanish has a great forum where you can chat with other learners, bounce ideas off each other and make virtual friends.
If you’re having trouble deciding on what type of material you most like to learn with, LingQ might be the place 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.
Babbel offers beginner and intermediate Spanish online courses on a nice array of topics including nouns, verb tenses, the subjunctive, pronunciation and culture.
Conveniently enough, you can take a test to determine what level is best for you.
Babbel presents a series of words with associated images for you to study. Then, you’re quizzed on the words’ meanings and spellings.
Lessons are brief and focused, so you can easily pick what you feel like learning on any particular day.
Babbel also offers optional speech recognition so that you can practice your pronunciation.
It’s a great place to build your Spanish vocabulary and make sure you’re saying it all correctly. And we all know a solid vocabulary is essential to speaking well!
You can access Babbel in your browser or download the app to learn on the go.
There are four different Michel Thomas Spanish courses: “Start,” “Total,” “Perfect” and “Masterclass.”
These classes aren’t technically taken online: Each original 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 to not get stressed with the language and actively promotes trying not 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.
The course eases learners into the language using cognates (words that are similar in Spanish and in English) like absoluto (absolute) and satisfaccion (satisfaction). These little tricks really help you feel like you’re winning from the start. Classes also teach verbs in their different tenses and how to use them in sentences.
All material is presented in a simple, easy-to-remember way which is hugely inspiring even for those of us with the foggiest of 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.
ALISON offers basic free online Spanish courses for beginners. You can choose between a general introduction to the Spanish language or restaurant vocabulary.
Each course lasts one to two hours and offers helpful audio to assist you in learning the basics of reading, listening and pronunciation.
The course comes with an assessment to see how much you’ve learned.
If you complete with a passing score, you’ll even be able to print a certificate to show your achievement. Use it on your resume, or just display it on your mother’s fridge. She’ll be so proud of you.
NoComprendo offers a flexible, free course that allows you to follow the lessons in order or simply jump in with whatever lesson you feel you need.
The course is designed for beginners, but the lessons also provide a great way for more advanced learners to brush up on the fundamentals.
Lessons appear a lot like a textbook, offering helpful vocabulary lists, lessons and exercises. But unlike a standard textbook, NoComprendo also has listening activities to provide you with the sort of well-rounded Spanish education you need and deserve. But online, and for free.
Free MIT courses. Need I say more?
Yup—MIT OpenCourseWare offers more than a dozen free online Spanish courses related to the 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. From home. Because life is good.
Transparent Language offers online Spanish programs for beginner through advanced students.
This is a flexible program that allows 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 even uses game-like learning methods and the program is touchscreen compatible, so it’s an engaging option for any Spanish learner.
Lengalia offers online Spanish courses covering a helpful array of topics. General grammar courses range from beginner to advanced.
What makes this program more unique, though, 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.
If you’re looking for an online Spanish course that can also earn you college credit, look no further.
Oregon State University’s online Spanish courses are affordably priced per credit, but you should check with your college or university ahead of time to see if the credits will transfer.
Courses include first- through third-year Spanish, third-year Spanish for native speakers and special topic courses in subjects ranging from culture to literature.
The university is an accredited and high-quality option where you can take a full Spanish course on the cheap. What could be better?
So give one of these online Spanish courses a try and watch your Spanish skills skyrocket.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn Spanish with real-world videos.