If you’re learning Spanish, then you’re in luck. There are tons of free online resources available for you. In fact, I am absolutely sure if you wanted to, you could learn Spanish to fluency without spending a cent.
Here are my 21 favorite Spanish-learning resources that are absolutely free. (Some of these resources, such as iTalki, may have pay options. But I purposely chose to mention the services whose free offerings actually provided value.)
I’m going to cover five general categories of materials:
- Social Media
- Comprehensible Input
It costs time, money, and expertise to develop a full language course. So it’s actually kind of amazing that you can use some of these programs for no cost.
1. Mi Vida Loca – This is a beginner’s Spanish course put out by the BBC. It’s a 22-episode suspense story, with some language explanations and interactive activities.
2. FSI Spanish Courses – The United States Foreign Service Institute (FSI) develops its own language courses to train its diplomats. Thanks to the Freedom of Information Act, some of these are publicly available.
Some people and organizations offer quality lessons that might not be part of an overall course but are still useful.
4. Professor Jason – I’m not sure what Professor Jason’s background is. But he’s created some incredible YouTube explaining the finer points of the Spanish language, covering topics such as grammar, pronunciation, and cultural notes.
5. GLOSS – The United States Defense Language Institute creates language-learning lessons for service members, but this material is available to the public. As of this writing, there are 368 Spanish lessons ranging from beginner to advanced.
6. About Spanish – About.com offers all kinds of information about Spanish. You can brush up on specific grammatical points, learn vocabulary words, and get valuable study tips.
I usually recommend that Spanish speakers buy a good Spanish-to-English dictionary. Truthfully, however, the information is available online for free. (I’m not mentioning Google Translate in this list. It’s not because I don’t like it, because I really do. It’s because you’ve undoubtedly already heard about it, so let me tip you off to some less popular resources.)
7. wordreference.com – This is a solid tool that lets you translate words from Spanish to English, and vice versa.
8. Spanish Dict – A decent English-to-Spanish translation tool. It also contains lessons and general Spanish-language information.
9. Study Spanish – Awesome resource for information on Spanish grammar, pronunciation, and vocabulary.
When I’m studying vocab, I like using old-fashioned physical flashcards. But if you prefer using something on your mobile device or computer, these might be your speed.
10. Anki – Anki is one of the most popular Spaced Repetition Software (SRS) flashcard tools out there. Some people swear by it. I’ve used it, and it’s solid.
11. Flashcard Machine – I actually prefer Flashcard Machine over Anki or anything else online really. It’s extremely easy to use, and I actually like that it doesn’t have too many bells and whistles. Flashcards are, after all, supposed to be simple.
12. Spanish Dict Flashcards – Spanish Dict makes a second appearance on the list because its pre-made Spanish flashcards deserve their own mention. Someone put a lot of time into making those, and now you can just march in and learn with them. Also, you get the audio with the flashcard! This means that you’ll know how the words are actually pronounced.
Languages are, by their nature, social. So take advantage of social media to meet your language goals.
13. iTalki – iTalki is a social media website that puts language learners in touch with teachers and tutors. But it also offers one valuable service that is absolutely free: it helps you meet people who want to conduct a language exchange. What this means is that you can practice speaking with native Spanish speakers, and in return you help them learn your native language.
14. Zirtanel Spanish – This is a Twitter feed that provides bite-sized Spanish instruction. There are a few Twitter accounts like this out there, but I chose to single out Zirtanel because of the quality and consistency of its posts.
15. Lang-8 – Lang-8 lets you practice writing in the language you’re studying, and native speakers of that language will help correct you. In return, you correct people who are learning your language.
I’ve discussed comprehensible input before. But if you’re not familiar with the term, it’s basically stuff you listen to or hear that you can understand.
Since intermediate and advanced students have a broad range of materials to listen to, I’ve chosen to focus on things that beginner students might find comprehensible.
16. Destinos – This is a “telenovela” from the 90s that was designed specifically for language students. It’s a little silly, but there are 52 half-hour lessons with plenty of comprehensible input.
17. Pocoyo – A kids show with very easy Spanish. I linked to the main website, which features the Spanish from Spain. If you search on YouTube, you can find full episodes of Pocoyo in Latin American Spanish.
18. Extr@ – Corny plots and terrible acting. But the Spanish is clear and tailored for beginning learners. I linked to episode one, but a YouTube search will bring up several other episodes.
19. University of Texas Spanish Proficiency Exercises – Hundreds of short videos in which native Spanish speakers demonstrate how to perform various language tasks (i.e., say different stuff). Also, since the transcripts are provided with each video, these are great resources for you to practice transcription.
20. Mary Glasgow Spanish News – Mary Glasgow is a series of online magazines and lessons, published by Scholastic International. Most of the site is subscription based, but simplified Spanish news stories are provided for free. The current issue provides about seven articles, and the news archives provide many more.
21. Lingus TV – This site provides some oddball videos in Castilian Spanish, but input is input.
Did I miss any? Let me know in the comments!