Resources for Learning Spanish Free Online

by cazort

Resources for learning Spanish online, including free interactive game-like subjects, free radio to listen to, YouTube videos, and advice.

Spanish is the second most widely-spoken language in the world, and also the second most spoken language in the United States.

Spanish is relatively easy to learn, especially for speakers of English.

Here you will find free online resources for learning Spanish. I hope that I will not only convince you that you easily can learn Spanish online for free, but that doing so with the resources featured here will actually be much more effective than a lot of classroom learning.

You can do better than classroom learning!

With the right approach, you can learn Spanish more easily, more quickly, and more thoroughly on your own than in a classroom.

A lot of people who try to study a language on their own often ask the question: "Will I be able to learn this as easily as if I took a class?" My experience from learning languages (including Spanish, German, and Portuguese) from classes as well as online, has suggested that online learning, using the right tools, is actually more effective. Why?

What goes wrong with classroom learning?

  • In a classroom there is typically one fluent speaker, and a bunch of new learners. Students thus hear more broken Spanish, with poor accents, bad word choice, and often bad grammar, than they hear good Spanish.
  • Other learners who speak English as their native language are more likely to understand poor Spanish that is tainted by English pronunciation, logic, or English-influenced word choice.  Because you are conversing primarily with other learners and teachers who are familiar with how learners tend to speak, you won't always realize if your Spanish is too poor to be understood by native speakers who do not speak English.
  • Audio and video materials in classes typically have clearer and often slower speech than native speakers speak in a natural environment.  Students thus never develop the ability to hear and understand the language at the full speed at which it is spoken by native speakers.
  • Although this is less common with Spanish than some languages, it is common for teachers or professors to not even be native speakers themselves, so in many cases a classroom doesn't even have a single person with a perfect native speaker's accent.  This is especially true in college or university environments where professors are often chosen in large part for their research abilities.

Do you currently speak Spanish?


The single most useful tool for learning Spanish online. Totally free, and better than most high school or college courses.

DuoLingo is the single most useful resource I've found for learning Spanish online.  It offers a full-fledged course in Spanish, covering the material in the typical introductory course sequence of high schools and colleges.   Furthermore, Spanish is one of the most extensive and well-developed courses on the site.

There are so many reasons to use DuoLingo:

  • It is completely free
  • It is very fun (it feels like playing a game)
  • It is highly effective.  In my experience, it dramatically improved my Spanish accent, vocabulary, and grammar.  It has been studied in independent research and found to be more effective than college classroom learning
  • The site has an extensive community and the community can help you learn the language too
  • You can use the site to practice your Spanish in multiple ways.  For example, if you later learn another language, or if you already speak another language, you can take the course for people who know Spanish and are learning another language, as a way of getting further practice.

DuoLingo combines very well with the other methods I discuss here.  I especially recommend it if you are starting from nothing, but it can also be useful for people who know a little Spanish and want to get better.

I recommend starting at the very beginning and working through all the exercises.  If you already know the words, focus on improving your accent or pronunciation.

Listen to Spanish Radio for Free Online

Radio can be a free and easy way to expose yourself to native speech and test or improve your listening comprehension.

There are numerous websites where you can immediately, easily, and freely listen to Spanish-language radio.  Here are the easiest ways to get started.  Pick countries based on what accent(s) you are most interested in learning:

All of these have a variety of musical styles, but you can also find talk stations.  Listening to advertisements can also be a good way to get started because advertisements are often very clearly enunciated.  News programs can be good too because people tend to speak very quickly, but in clear, standard Spanish.

How to listen:

It can't hurt to put radio, especially talk radio, on in the background.  However, the most effective way to learn from radio is to actively listen.  Ideally, I recommend starting to listen to radio before you start taking formal lessons.  This will help your brain to become familiar with the sounds of the language, and it will make pronunciation and listening comprehension easier when you start learning actual words and phrases.

Once you start learning, when you listen, you will start to recognize words and grammatical constructions in what you hear.  After a certain critical point, you will be able to grasp the general idea or topic of what is being discussed.  From this point, it is easier to keep improving your listening comprehension so that you can understand more and more of what is being said.

You may find it helpful to employ a dictionary.  When starting out, try SpanishDict or Google Translate.  Spanish spelling is very regular (much more so than English), so once you've studied the language enough, you will find it easy to spell out most words you hear, and look them up.  I recommend looking up words if you hear a word regularly and still don't know what it means.

Screenshot of Spanish Radio
Screenshot of Spanish Radio

Easy Languages YouTube Channel

This channel, which focuses on street interviews, is a great way to get comfortable with quickly spoken, vernacular speech.

Easy Languages is a YouTube Channel based around the idea of learning languages through street interviews with native speakers.  The videos are fast-paced, but they are subtitled both in the language spoken, and translated.

As of me writing this page, the Spanish playlist has 39 videos, and it is updated fairly regularly.  The videos are also recorded in different countries, so you get to hear different accents.  I find these videos great for learning because you get to hear people speaking very quickly and you get to hear how people actually talk, more casually (contrast with radio, which is often still relatively more formal / regular), so you'll hear more slang or colloquialisms.  But, they represent a unique opportunity because everything is subtitled and translated!

I think this channel is a great resource both for total beginners (to listen to the language to get a feel for it), intermediate learners (who will probably be able to follow much of the dialogue, while learning a lot from it), and even more advanced learners (who can focus on nuances of pronunciation and accent, regional differences, as well as getting exposure to more casual ways of speaking).

Use Websites & Computer Apps in Spanish

A subtle way to immerse yourself in the written language, helping you to learn a different aspect of the language from what you learn in conversations.

Most large websites are available in several languages, and nearly all of the major ones offer Spanish.  All of Google's services, for example, are available in Spanish.  You can begin by using a search engine; there are different search engines for different countries; here are a few of the more common ones:

If you want to push yourself even more, you can change the native language settings on your own computer over to Spanish.  With most operating systems, including Linux, Mac OS, and Windows, this is relatively easy.  Just remember how you did it in case you need to switch back!

Using websites and software with the interface in Spanish can be valuable for two reasons: one, it exposes you to more Spanish and helps you get daily practice interacting with the language.  But two, it prepares you for travel or living or studying abroad: if you travel or live in Spanish-speaking countries, you will encounter lots of signs and written material in Spanish, and you will need to know a whole set of words and constructions that are more common in written interfaces but less so in speech.

Did you discover any resources you did not know of?

Updated: 09/04/2016, cazort
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candy47 on 09/04/2016

I'd like to learn to speak Spanish, so I'll take a look at DuoLingo website. Thanks.

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