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Best online courses to learn Spanish in 2021

An image of an old town street in Spain.
(Image credit: Pixabay)

Mastering a new programming language can surely have a positive impact on your career. But did you know that speaking multiple languages can also give you a similar competitive edge? In today’s global marketplace, being bilingual or even multilingual, greatly enhances your resume. 

But why Spanish? For starters, the language is the official language of about two dozen countries. No wonder then that by some estimates there are over 500 million Spanish speakers worldwide, which makes them a huge demographic. 

Learning the language opens up the possibility of working in a Spanish-speaking country or even studying in one. Or, perhaps you just want to travel to a Spanish-speaking country with some knowledge of the language.

On top of it, learning Spanish isn’t as cumbersome as some of the other languages like Mandarin or Russian. That’s because quite a lot of the Spanish vocabulary has similar Latin and French roots as the English language. 

Also, Spanish doesn’t require you to learn a completely new alphabet and quite a lot of Spanish words are spelled phonetically, which virtually eradicates the need to learn complicated spelling rules. 

While you could sign up for a college or university language course, here's we'll feature the best short courses online for learning Spanish, most of which will be more cost-effective though not as in-depth.

Here then are the best online courses to learn Spanish.

(Image credit: YouTube)

1. AIB Network

Best for beginners

Reasons to buy
+Free+Focus on new users+Useful tips

If you are just starting out, the Spanish For Beginners set of video lectures is a wonderful free resource. The playlist has 22 videos that will take you an absolute novice to a fluent speaker. 

The videos are hosted on YouTube and start with a run through the Spanish alphabet and vowels and laying down some basic principles of pronunciation. A majority of the course focuses on mastering the verbs and the instructor uses tables or charts as he calls them to help you use the right verb in the right form. 

During the course the instructor also introduces you to different aspects of the Hispanic culture, and teaches common words and phrases. At the end of the beginner videos you’ll have the tools and the knowledge to expand your learning and take on advanced Spanish language courses without much hesitation.


(Image credit: Coursera)

2. Coursera

Best for building vocabulary

Reasons to buy
+Comprehensive+Builds a working vocabulary+Useful reading material

Once you have the hang of the language, the next step is to build your vocabulary so that you can have meaningful conversations. The Learn Spanish: Basic Spanish Vocabulary Specialisation by University of California, Davis will help you by building a working vocabulary of 1500 of the commonly used Spanish words and phrases. 

The specialization is made for beginners and is composed of five courses that are supposed to be taken sequentially. The duration of each course varies, but altogether you should be able to complete the specialization in about five months. All the courses in the specialization have a number of videos and a good amount of reading lessons to help you build a working Spanish vocabulary. 

The practice quizzes help cement the concepts, though as the instructor suggests you’ll need to keep practicing the language outside of the course as well. While enrolling in the specialization isn’t free, you can audit the individual courses without paying any fees.


(Image credit: YouTube)

3. Butterfly Spanish

Best for busy people

Reasons to buy
+Covers frequently used phrases+Explains nuances+Puts phrases in context

So you don’t care about mastering the nuances of the language and just want to start verbalising, then you can watch the Learn Spanish in 30 minutes video. The video will educate you about some 100 Spanish phrases that you must know in order to have a meaningful conversation. 

What sets this video apart from various others like it, is that the instructor has carefully curated the list of most practical and useful words, phrases, and questions that will come in handy in many different situations and settings. Throughout the video she’ll also help you put the words and phrases in context and explain the nuances when necessary.  

While the video has a runtime of under 30 minutes, you’ll obviously need a lot more time to memorize them and practice the pronunciation. When you’re done, check out the other videos on her channel to refine your Spanish speaking skills.


(Image credit: YouTube)

4. Spanish and Go

Best for travellers

Reasons to buy
+Designed for travelers+Explains cultural nuances
Reasons to avoid
-No whiteboard

If you’re planning to visit a Spanish speaking country, then you don’t really need to put in the time and effort to master the language. The Beginner Spanish Phrases Every Traveler Needs to Know video is a good enough resource that’ll equip you with just enough Spanish to enjoy your travels. 

Besides common greetings and phrases for being polite, the video will teach you enough Spanish to help you while shopping, and managing reservations in hotels, restaurants and other places. The instructor rounds up the video with some miscellaneous questions and phrases that should be in the repertoire of every traveler. 

Again what makes this video stand out from others like it, is that the instructor puts the phrases in context to make sure you frame your sentences properly. Also, while the video is just over 10 minutes, you’ll need to listen to it several times to memorize them and to master their pronunciation. 


(Image credit: Duolingo)

5. Duolingo

Best language learning app

Reasons to buy
+Free+Engaging experience+Tailored as per skill

Duolingo is a free language learning resource that you can access either via its website or a smartphone app. The app offers over 30 language courses for English speakers and Spanish is one of the most popular ones with about 27.1 million Spanish language learners.

Navigating Duolingo, either via its website or via the mobile app, is pretty straightforward. You can access any course without even creating a profile, though you’ll only be able to track and save your progress after creating a free account with the service. You can tailor the learning speed as per your requirements by setting a daily goal. Unlike an instructor-driven course, the lessons in a Duolingo course are made of different activities. 

The course has several modules that are grouped into skills like Phrases, Family, Travel, and a lot more. Duolingo has a preset order in which it takes you through each of the modules. You are awarded for completing a module and earn points to unlock the next one.