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Best Apps To Learn Spanish
Discover the best way to learn Spanish with our reviews of the top-rated programs online
So you want to learn to speak Spanish, but don’t know where to start? That’s totally understandable given the massive number 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 five among the dozen or so Spanish apps we used and reviewed.
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.
Why Rosetta Stone Spanish Is Great For Visual Learners
Rosetta Stone is one of the most popular brands in language learning, so it shouldn’t come as a total surprise that they made our list. After all, the company wouldn’t be in business after three decades if their language programs did not work.
With that said, however, their Spanish program is not for everyone. We see the Rosetta Stone Spanish course as an ideal fit for visual learners, and here’s why.
Lessons Built Around Images
The Rosetta Stone learning method takes an immersive approach that is built almost entirely around imagery. In fact, almost every drill and exercise within the Rosetta Stone lessons contain some sort of image or graphic. It’s definitely the most image-heavy Spanish course our team has tested to date.
Bottom line, if you process information best through visual means, then Rosetta Stone should be a good fit for your learning style.
Supplemental Spanish Resources
Rosetta Stone also provides a ton of supplemental resources as well (like short stories and phrasebooks), which help round out and complete their Spanish course.
Our team’s favorite resource was the short stories, which are an entertaining way to reinforce the vocabulary you are learning in the standard Rosetta Stone lessons.
From a pricing perspective, the Rosetta Stone subscription plans are pretty affordable. All in all, you’re looking at around $10 to $15 per month, which is quite reasonable in the industry.
LingoPie Is The Most Entertaining Way To Learn Spanish
If you are seeking a fun, entertaining way to learn Spanish, look no further than LingoPie. Now to be clear, LingoPie is not a conventional language learning program. There is no clear curriculum or set lesson plan. Instead, it’s a video-on-demand platform that uses real TV shows and movies to help you learn Spanish.
Premium Spanish TV Shows & Movies
In fact, the LingoPie app actually offers TV shows and movies directly from Netflix. How it works is that once you start watching a particular show or movie, there are subtitles and a bunch of features to help you understand and learn what is being said by the various characters.
The idea is that by making the language learning process truly entertaining, you’ll stick with it longer than other Spanish language apps since you’re doing something that you actually like and you’re enjoying yourself.
Beyond subtitles, to supplement the learning process, LingoPie also offers a grammar coach tool, as well as interactive video-based flashcards to help with material retention.
Overall, our team was super impressed by their platform and tools. Their content library is excellent, and their subscription plans are surprisingly cheap (as low as $6 per month)
Bottom line, if you’re tired of traditional language apps and you want to try something new and fun, LingoPie is an excellent option—especially for those already into their Spanish learning journey.
Which app is “best,” turns in large part on your budget and learning style. Among all the apps we tested, Rocket Spanish, Pimsleur, Babbel, LingoPie and Rosetta Stone 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-$15 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 language app, expect to learn Spanish in 6 to 24 months, depending on your commitment.