Test Prep Insight is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more
Everything you need to know to decide whether SpanishPod101 is a good fit for you to learn Spanish
Although apps like Babbel, Pimsleur, and Rosetta Stone are better known in the language learning industry, SpanishPod101 has been quietly gaining ground in recent years thanks to its unique learning framework, audio-based lessons, and helpful bonus resources. In this review, we break down how the SpanishPod101 language program works, and provide our thoughts on whether we think it’s ultimately worth it.
Given this is a lengthy, detailed review, please use the jump-to links above to quickly navigate this article.
Video Review: Is SpanishPod101 Any Good?
In the above video, John (from the TPI team) breaks down everything you need to know about the SpanishPod101 course. Please continue reading our full written review below for more detail.
SpanishPod101 has three different subscription levels to choose from: Basic, Premium, and Premium Plus. These plans range from $4 per month on the low-end for the Basic plan, up to $47 per month on the high-end for the Premium Plus plan.
The Basic Plan includes access to all the audio and video lessons, but not much more. The Premium Plan gives you the same audio and video lessons, plus additional features like flashcards, word banks, vocab lists, and audio dialogues.
Then lastly, the Premium Plus plan includes 1-on-1 access to a Spanish teacher and hand-graded assessments. Those are the high-level differences between the three plans. It’s sort your standard good-better-best offering.
Now, whether SpanishPod is a good deal largely depends on which plan you go with. If you only want the Basic plan, I would say that SpanishPod101 is a great value. At $4 per month, it’s cheaper than Babbel and Rosetta Stone, and just about every other language app for that matter.
The Premium course, however, is more directly in-line with those same companies, and the Premium Plus package is much more pricey. So, it really just depends.
How The SpanishPod101 Program Works
Next, let me break down how the SpanishPod101 program works. From a high-level, structural perspective, SpanishPod101 revolves around what they call “Pathways.” This is a nice name, but these are simply just courses, or a collection of lessons.
When you first sign up and land on the dashboard, SpanishPod101 will assign you a recommended pathway based on your learning level. For example, if you’re an absolute beginner, you’ll probably start with their level 1 Spanish pathway, which is built around 80 or so individual lessons.
These lessons are all lined up in a nice, orderly little path, which is easy to follow. Then, every couple lessons you’ll be assigned a multiple-choice assessment to track your progress and performance.
If, however, you don’t want to follow the company’s recommended pathway, you can pick your own. There are literally hundreds of different “pathways” to choose from based on your learning level, lesson format, and topical category.
In this respect, you can basically pick and choose exactly what you want to learn. This is one sort of the unique thing about SpanishPod101.
From a high level, it has a very free flowing structure where you are in the driver’s seat because you can pick which pathway you want to learn on; however, once on a pathway, it’s pretty rigid and linear since you just follow the path. That is something I haven’t really seen with other Spanish language learning apps.
What The SpanishPod101 Lessons Are Like
That’s how SpanishPod101 works organizationally, so now let’s talk about what the lessons themselves are actually like within these “pathways.” Really, when you boil it down, there are two different lesson formats: audio and video.
You can choose a pathway with all audio lessons or all video lessons. However, although there are two formats, it’s clear the audio lessons are really the company’s bread and butter.
There are many more pathways with audio lessons, and they’re generally speaking, better produced. In terms of what those look like (or more likely, sound like), they’re sort of like podcasts (hence the SpanishPod company name).
They last anywhere from 2 to 20 minutes depending on the topic and learning level, but the majority fall in the 6- to 10-minute range. Moreover, they all generally follow the same pattern.
Two hosts will introduce themselves and the topic of the lesson. They’ll then engage in a short dialogue in Spanish, followed by a slower version of the same conversation, then a breakdown of that same dialogue in both Spanish and English in a very slow, easy to understand manner.
Following this, the hosts will introduce and discuss any relevant grammatical or cultural insights related to the topic at hand. And lastly, they’ll finish up with a quick recap and review of the vocab in the lesson.
While the audio plays, below the audio controls, you can review the dialogue from the underlying conversation, the target vocab, the lesson notes, grammar explanations, and a full word-for-word transcript of the lesson.
That way, if you miss something the hosts say, you can quickly find it onscreen. Plus, following the lesson, you can take a short quiz, which includes a few true/false and fill-in-the-blank questions.
Then for the other type of lesson format, video, the lessons are a little less in-depth. The videos are generally shorter on average (usually just 3 to 5 minutes), and there are no lesson notes or grammar points.
You usually just get a vocab list and transcript with the video lessons. As mentioned, the focus with SpanishPod101 is really the audio lessons (e.g. podcasts).
What Our Team Likes About SpanishPod101
You know what SpanishPod101 costs, how it works, and what the lessons are like. Now let’s get to the juicy stuff—my thoughts on this program after using it. And let us begin with the pros.
Quality & Diversity of Lesson Content
The first thing I like about SpanishPod101 is the quantity and variation of lesson content. Not only does SpanishPod101 have hundreds of pathways across all different learning levels, but they also give you the option of how you want consume the content with either audio or video lessons.
In contrast, SpanishPod just has so much diversity in their lessons and resources. Just for example, if you’re learning Spanish because you plan on taking a trip or moving to Costa Rica, you can take a course that is all about Costa Rican Spanish. Then even within that course, there is a bunch of variety. The examples go on and on.
The main takeaway here is that SpanishPod101 offers learners a ton of different options based on learning level, preferred learning format, and personal interests or goals. It’s really cool.
Engaging Audio Lessons
Another highlight is the company’s audio lessons. They are flat out awesome, and I think they’re the real highlight of this program.
Not only is the content within these lessons spot on, but the rotating team of hosts are super engaging and fun. In other words, these aren’t your typical, boring educational audio lessons made by professors.
They are more like a podcast you’d listen to for entertainment purposes. The hosts tell stories, crack jokes (mostly corny dad jokes), and even weave pop culture into the lessons.
They just keep things light and fun, and it didn’t even feel like I was there to learn something.
Bottom line, if you’re an auditory learner or simply looking for a less academic program to keep yourself motivated during the learning process, I think SpanishPod101 is a great option. I was really impressed with their audio lessons.
Grammar Explanations & Cultural Insights
Third, I really like how SpanishPod101 integrates grammar into their lessons. It’s a very effective framework.
During the audio lessons, there is a dedicated part of every lesson where the hosts stop to explain grammar rules and principles from the underlying dialogue. What’s nice is that it feels very natural. It’s not like the hosts are forcing it down your throat.
They break things down in a very understandable and digestible way, and don’t clobber you with too much info. However, if you do want more detail, you can always jump down to the Lesson Notes section underneath the controls for a more thorough explanation. There is a lot of great info in those notes.
Overall, I have to give it to SpanishPod101. Not only do I appreciate the level of grammar content they include in lessons, but I also like the manner in which they deliver it.
Extra Language Learning Tools
The final highlight I have noted is that if you sign up for the Premium or Premium Plus plans, SpanishPod101 gives you some nice bonus learning tools, including things like spaced repetition flashcards, core vocab lists, word banks, key phrases, and assessments.
Not to mention, of course, with the Plus subscription, you also get hand-graded assignments and 1:1 guidance from an actual Spanish teacher. But even if you don’t spend up for the Plus membership, and just get the standard Premium subscription, I still think these bonus features can be super valuable.
These tools really make the program feel more well-rounded and offer a chance to drill on the material you learn in the lessons.
Additionally, if you’re more of an on-the-go type person and don’t have time for a full audio lesson, it’s very easy to quickly run through some flashcards or review core vocabulary. They make for nice little bite-sized exercises. Honestly, these different tools really help to round out the program beyond the audio and video lessons.
What Our Team Does NOT Like About SpanishPod101
Not everything can be sunshine and roses, unfortunately. In this section, I lay out what I didn’t care for with SpanishPod101.
User Experience Can Feel Overwhelming
When you first log in to the SpanishPod101 program, it can be a bit overwhelming. There is a lot going on, and it kind of has a disjointed feel. As noted above, before you get into a pathway, you’re sort of in the driver’s seat and left to figure it out for yourself.
From the dashboard, there’s the pathway the company recommends, other featured lessons to check out, a news feed, featured vocab lists, study statistics, and your own profile. Plus, up at the top, there are links to all the other tools. It’s just a very busy setup and portal, and it can be difficult to get your arms around the pathway system at first.
However, at the end of the day, it’s not rocket science. After a couple days, you start to get a feel for it and it does become easier to navigate. But generally speaking, SpanishPod101 does have a much less structured feel than other Spanish apps.
Speech Recognition Technology Is Limited
My second negative is that the company’s speech recognition technology is pretty limited. After each lesson, an optional exercise you can perform is recording yourself repeating words and phrases from the lesson.
From there, the company’s tech replays the recording for you to hear it, as well as a clip from a fluent speaker so that you can compare and contrast your pronunciation.
I think this is helpful to an extent, but its usefulness is pretty limited. There is no actual grade given on your pronunciation or detailed feedback like you get with other apps, like Rocket Spanish or Pimsleur.
You’re kind of on your own to compare yourself against the clip of the native speaker, and for all you know, you may think you’re doing a good job, but you’re really not. You truly don’t know at the end of the day. Thus, I just wish SpanishPod101 took it one step further and offered actual software feedback.
Limited Verbal Practice
Lastly, while I am a big fan of the audio and video lessons from SpanishPod101, I do think they could be improved, mainly by incorporating more speaking practice that includes you as the listener.
Honestly, the only chance you get to practice your own verbal skills is after the audio lesson, when you record yourself and compare it against fluent speakers.
Instead, I kind of wish the audio lessons copied the format of the Rocket Spanish audio lessons, where the moderator makes it a point to include you as the listener in the conversation by prompting you to verbally answer questions or repeat phrases yourself.
I think a little more conversational interaction like this would make the SpanishPod101 lessons even better.
Verdict: Is SpanishPod101 Worth It?
I didn’t know what to expect from SpanishPod101 coming into this. To be honest, I was sort of just expecting a bunch of audio recordings, and that would be it. However, the program is definitely much more than that, and I was pretty impressed.
Not only are the audio lessons super engaging and fun, but I also really like the other resources as well, like flashcards and lesson notes. And I especially like how the moderators of the lessons move slowly and thoughtfully to provide translations and breakdowns, as well as how they integrate grammar content into the conversations.
Honestly, it’s not a perfect program. I do think there could be some improvements made by adding speech software and cleaning up the organization of the materials a bit. But overall, I think SpanishPod101 is a great tool for learning Spanish, especially if you’re more of an auditory learner.
Is SpanishPod101 free?
SpanishPod101 does offer a free plan, but it is more like a free trial. It’s not a true free version, like Duolingo. The free plan gives you access to the first three lessons in each pathway (course).
How much does SpanishPod101 cost?
If you opt for one the paid plans from SpanishPod101, the monthly cost ranges from $4 on the low-end up to $47 on the high-end, depending on which plan you select and how long you want to pay for in advance.
How do I use SpanishPod101?
The best way to use SpanishPod101 is to take advantage of their audio lessons (basically podcasts). This is what the company is known for. Their audio lessons/podcasts are some of the best in the entire language learning industry.
Is SpanishPod101 good?
Yes, after testing the program and lessons, our team believes SpanishPod101 is an effective tool for learning Spanish, especially if you are an auditory learner (their audio lessons are awesome).