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Best Apps To Learn Spanish (2023 Reviews)
Discover the best way to learn Spanish with these top-rated courses and programs online
So you want to learn to speak Spanish, but don’t know where to start? That’s totally understandable given the plethora of language learning apps and online programs available today, all of which claim to be the best. Luckily, our team (including a linguist and polyglot) has purchased, used and put each app through the ringer, giving them all detailed reviews and ratings. This guide covers the best four among the more than dozen Spanish apps we evaluated.
In the video above, John from the Test Prep Insight team breaks down his list of the best Spanish apps on the market. For more detail, continue reading our full written guide below regarding each Spanish program.
Why Rocket Spanish Is The Most Effective Language App
After testing out just about language program out on the market, Rocket Spanish stands above the rest. To put it simply, their Spanish course is the most well-rounded and comprehensive among all those that we reviewed.
Interactive Audio Lessons
Rocket’s interactive audio lessons, in which you listen and respond to fluent speakers in the context of mock conversations, are the backbone of the course and the key driver of their high rating.
In my opinion, these guided conversations are extremely effective for improving your listening comprehension and verbal skills.
You’re essentially asked to use your newly learned Spanish under pressure just like you would in real life situations. It can be tough at first, but it is one of the best means of ramping up your language skills. The key point is that you get simulated real world experience with Rocket’s audio lessons (unlike the Duolingo Spanish lessons).
Variety Of Reinforcement Drills
Following the audio portion of each lesson, Rocket also provides a number of reinforcement exercises and drills to sharpen your reading and writing skills and really drive home your learning.
These drills include flashcards, writing drills, speed games, quizzes and others. The variety is fantastic and a nice cap to the overall robust lesson framework.
Speech Recognition Technology
During your lessons, Rocket also utilizes Google’s Web Speech API, which is one of the most advanced speech tools in the world, to grade your pronunciation.
Here’s how it works: as you complete the audio lessons and various reinforcement drills, the Rocket program records your voice and uses Google to determine the accuracy of your Spanish pronunciation on a scale from 1 to 100.
In short, it’s awesome. The immediate feedback is super helpful for ensuring you’re using the language correctly (even better than the speech tool from Rosetta Stone).
Rocket Makes Grammar A Priority
I appreciate that Rocket makes grammar content and instruction a priority within its coursework. Both their audio lessons and digital textbook lessons are filled with helpful explanations, tips and insights to help you master all of the different grammar rules and principles you’ll encounter in the Spanish language.
The second Spanish app to make our list is Pimsleur. With a course structure very similar to Rocket Spanish, Pimsleur earns high marks. However, the Pimsleur course does vary in a few ways.
Detailed Audio Lessons
As mentioned, the Pimsleur Spanish course is actually very similar to Rocket’s, most notably in that Pimsleur also offers engaging, interactive audio lessons.
These audio-based lessons, which each take around 30 minutes to complete, really help to develop your listening comprehension and conversational abilities.
Rocket and Pimsleur are neck and neck with respect to audio lessons. In fact, Pimsleur and Rocket are two of the best companies in the entire industry when it comes to audio lessons.
Lessons Incorporate Visual Elements
Unlike Rocket Spanish, the Pimsleur lessons, exercises and drills tend to integrate imagery, pictures and visuals into their lessons.
Thus, if you are a visual learner, Pimsleur might be a better choice for you (same with Busuu). Their lessons and platform are more visually stimulating and provide more visual memory aids.
Driving Mode Feature
The Pimsleur audio lessons come with a special driving mode, so if you’re a busy professional that has a long commute or you just find yourself on the road a lot, then Pimsleur may be the more convenient choice. This special feature of the app allows you to knock out lessons while you’re on the go.
I also found this useful for walking the dog, hitting the treadmill and other activities where I couldn’t have eyes on my phone. It’s a really useful tool that offers great flexibility.
Monthly Plans As Opposed To Lifetime
The next difference between Pimsleur and Rocket is that Pimsleur offers monthly subscription plans as opposed to lifetime plans like Rocket.
Thus, if you want to take things slow and sort of dip your toes in the water before fully committing to an app, Pimsleur is going to be the more affordable option to start. This is especially true considering you can get a 7-day free trial with their app.
Castilian Spanish Available
The last highlight I want to note with Pimsleur is that if you’re looking to learn Castilian Spanish (i.e. the Spanish dialect spoken in Spain) and not Latin American Spanish, Pimsleur offers a specific course for that, whereas Rocket does not.
Why Babbel Is The Best Budget Course For Learning Spanish
If you’re looking for more of a budget-friendly app to learn Spanish, then Babbel is where we would point you. When stacked up against rivals Duolingo and Memrise, Babbel simply beats them outright in the category of value-driven programs. Our thoughts below.
Engaging Lessons & Drills
One of my absolute favorite things about Babbel is that their lessons are fast-moving and engaging. Each lessons takes just 10 to 15 minutes to complete, and is actually fun. Yes, believe it or not, I actually had fun using Babbel.
This is mainly the result of their lessons being comprised of quick-hit exercises that are highly varied. You’ll move through 8 different exercises in just a few minutes time.
You’ll complete fill-in-the-blanks, multiple-choice questions, speech drills, quick mock conversations, and speed rounds, among several others. Bottom line, if you want short, engaging lessons, Babbel is going to be your jam.
Accurate Speech Recognition Technology
Among all of the speech recognition tech we’ve used and evaluated, Babbel might be the best. Rocket Spanish and Rosetta Stone both also have notable speech software, but Babbel is right up there with them.
I personally found their voice recognition tech to be accurate when I tested it out by giving mispronounced answers. This adds a lot of value for nailing down your pronunciation.
Streamlined Grammar Content
Babbel works grammar content and instruction into your lessons in a very streamlined way, which is something I can’t say for all language apps. They’ll drop in quick “tips” mid-lesson, and every fourth or fifth exercise Babbel will zero in on a grammar point.
I love this as grammar is critically important, but you don’t want to be hit over the head with it. And Babbel does a really good job towing this line.
Modern Digital Platform
In short, Babbel offers one of the best platforms in language learning. It’s sleek, modern and verysnappy, and their mobile app is particularly noteworthy in this respect.
The program seamlessly works in visuals and glides through exercises with nice transitions. It’s just a really clean and pretty digital platform that I was impressed with.
The short story here is that Lingoda is not a traditional language learning app per se. Rather, think of Lingoda more as an online language school. Their program is all about live classes with certified fluent teachers. So if you want more of a Spanish class than an app, Lingoda is going to be your best bet among all the online class platforms.
How Lingoda Works
Here is how Lingoda works. You start by paying a monthly fee (i.e. a subscription), which gives you access to set a number of classes each month. The classes can be either small-group live classes (no more than 4 students per class), or 1-on-1 tutoring. It’s totally your choice.
The classes are typically 60 minutes long and cater to all learning levels (from total beginner to advanced). Not to mention, Lingoda offers hundreds of classes throughout the week so that you can take classes and build a study plan that fits with your particular schedule.
Lastly, after scheduling and completing each class, you can download the relevant study materials and take a short quiz to ensure to understand the material from your class before moving on. It’s a pretty simple and streamlined structure.
Great For Certain Types Of Learners
Overall, I was just really impressed with the Lingoda Spanish classes I took. If you’re the type of person who needs the accountability and engagement that comes along with live instruction – maybe because you’re not the best self-studier – then I think Lingoda is an excellent option.
Live online instruction offers a ton of value and depth that you don’t get with regular apps. It’s just a fantastic way to interact with other students and learn from experienced Spanish teachers.
What is the best app to learn Spanish?
Which app is “best,” turns in large part on your budget and learning style. Among all the apps we tested, Rocket Spanish, Pimsleur, Babbel, and Lingoda have risen to the top, with Rocket Spanish receiving our highest rating.
How much do Spanish language apps and courses cost?
Spanish language learning apps cost anywhere from $3 per month, all the way up to $500 for a lifetime subscription. The amount you will pay turns largely on whether you want a pay-as-you-go monthly subscription, or a lifetime membership. In any event, the average monthly subscriptions cost around $10 per month.
Are language apps effective for learning Spanish?
Of course the answer to this question turns on which app you are using, but yes, we have found Spanish language learning apps to be effective on the whole. With some of the better programs, you can start speaking conversationally within just 2 or 3 months.
How long does it take to learn Spanish
As long as you are consistently working with a tutor or using a top rated language app, expect to learn Spanish in 30 to 50 months.