Henning lived for several years in El Salvador, working as a teacher. He is Co-Founder of the SAY ZONTE! project. Writing for this blog is his way to give s.th. back to “el pulgarcito.”
Learn Spanish online for free: 11 resources to improve your Spanish
A tiny virus called SARS CoV-2 changed the world in 2020/21 in only a few weeks. Also, it changed our project SAY ZONTE!
Nevertheless, I think it’s a great chance to discover the possibilities of the internet to learn Spanish online.
I want to show you 11 great AND FREE options about how you can use your time to learn Spanish online for free. But also, I want to let you know about the disadvantages because I want to give you the full picture.
Learn Spanish online for free with Apps
Apps like DUOLINGO and BABBEL are recommendable, and they are an excellent way to build up your vocabulary. You can use them for free, but of course, there’s always a “full” version that you have to pay. Try the free version first and see how it goes.
And the disadvantage? From our experience, most of our customers who are beginners had learned Spanish online before they came to El Zonte and took a course with a “real” teacher. They showed a pretty vast vocabulary, BUT very often, they didn’t know how to use it and built full sentences with it. It was hard for them to have a normal conversation.
We cannot scientifically prove it, but we believe that Apps like BABBEL and DUOLINGO are a great complement to built up your passive vocabulary if you want to learn Spanish in general. Still, they shouldn’t be the only option.
Free Spanish online courses
Some online courses offer you a complete curriculum with video and audio lessons. At spanishpod101.com, you can create a free account – at least for seven days. After this period you will have to pay for it.
You can almost learn everything with it.
BUT: Most of these pages tell you that you will be able to speak Spanish after 4 hours, one month, whatever….we don’t think that this is very reliable.
Learning a language doesn’t work like that. But it is definetely a good option to start and to see how far you can get with it.
The brain can’t memorize everything that you hear or read, maybe only 10% of it. It’s essential to SPEAK to another person and to have a real conversation. That’s what has a positive effect on your neurons and your Spanish level.
Free Spanish online movies
Wouldn’t that be cool! Simply watch some Spanish online movies and learn Spanish at the same time? And in fact: It’s not such a bad idea!
We found several web pages that listed some Spanish online movies that are free to watch—for example, this one: Foreign language Collective.
Also, streaming services, like Netflix, for example, are a great option. But they are not free. But if you already have an account with one of these streaming platforms, try to switch on the Spanish subtitles while you’re watching a movie.
Sometimes it’s possible to watch the film in Spanish and the subtitles in your mother tongue. Both are excellent ways to learn Spanish online in a passive way.
You will train your listening comprehension and passive vocabulary.
But don’t expect too much: As a beginner, you won’t benefit that much because you will first need a basic structure of the Spanish grammar. In any case, you should give it a try!
Our tip: One of the most popular series on Netflix at this time is “Money Heist” (Spanish: “La Casa de Papel”). It’s very entertaining and maybe a good start to training your listening comprehension.
Learn Spanish online on Youtube
We already wrote a whole blog post about how to learn Spanish with YouTube. You can read it here!
To give you a quick summary: It’s a good option, and there are a lot of great YouTube channels and courses. But again: The communicative part is completely missing in these programs, and also they are mostly not for free if you want to get full access to the courses.
Write emails and use a free Spanish online dictionary!
If you have the option to write to someone in Spanish, you should do so! It might be a friend, your Spanish online tutor, or a colleague.
Why? Well, first, you will train your writing skills. In the beginning, it might take some time to write an email entirely in Spanish, but it’s worth the effort. You will be surprised how much you will improve your Spanish!
If you give it a try, a Spanish online dictionary is helpful. There are free options on the internet. Just have a look! But we would like to recommend two options:
LINGUEE is a good option because it gives you a translation in a full sentence. WordReference is a good option, too. We like the possibility that you can listen to the word sometimes.
The disadvantages: As a beginner, you might be a bit lost writing an entire email. It’s more an option for someone who learned some Spanish before.
Free Spanish online practice websites
There are a lot of sites where you practice Spanish online for free. We like TODO-CLARO.COM, for example. But also, there are many other websites.
It’s a good option if you want to practice a particular topic of Spanish grammar. The disadvantage: Especially as a beginner, you might feel a bit lost. You probabaly might miss a structure. Also, you won’t be able to practice your communicative skills. And especially as a beginner, you must practice your spoken Spanish.
Free Spanish online newspapers
It’s very easy: 10min of reading in a Spanish online newspaper per day will improve your reading comprehension and vocabulary a lot!
Try to find an article that is interesting for you and your favorite Spanish online newspaper that fits your needs. EL PAÍS is one of the most recognized Spanish online newspaper from Spain.
If you want some Salvadoran Spanish online newspapers, we can recommend you LA PRENSA GRÁFICA or EL FARO.
Disadvantages: Again, as a total beginner, you might struggle a bit because of the missing vocabulary and grammar. But give it a try! At least try to understand what the article you are reading is all about and pick up some vocabulary.
Free Spanish online books
Usually, you won’t find any book in a digital version on the internet. At least not legally. FLUENTU made a great list of free Spanish online books, mainly with exercises or phrases that you can study. It’s worth a look!
Another great option is the digital library of the INSTITUTO CERVANTES. They offer free Spanish online audiobooks.
You will need an account, and the rest is easy. Find a book that fits your interests and listen to the original text, read by professional speakers!
Disadvantage: You will need a more advanced Spanish level to use audiobooks. They are mainly not for beginners. Especially the ones from the Instituto Cervantes. And also, you will online practice your listening comprehension, maybe some vocabulary.
Free Spanish online Games
Various Spanish online games will let you practice mainly basic vocabulary. In our opinion, it’s a good option for younger Spanish learners and if you’re quickly bored by dry exercise books. Or, it’s something for a quick coffee break when you are bored. Why not? We liked this Website: https://rockalingua.com/
Disadvantage: It’s not very useful for advanced Spanish learners. You can use it mainly to practice basic vocabulary.
Free Spanish online tests
Maybe it might be interesting for you to know what your actual Spanish level is. There are a lot of websites that make you believe that they can test your Spanish level online and for free. But we have to tell you that this is not possible.
To get an official accredited certification of your Spanish level, you will need to pass a test like DELE or SIELE from the INSTITUTO CERVANTES, which also includes a spoken part, testing your communicative skills. The Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) provides a basis for the mutual recognition of language qualifications. To get a better idea, you should have a look at their site.
A website like http://www.spanish-test.net can give you an idea about what your actual Spanish level is, but it’s nothing more than an idea.
Anyway, it’s fun to know, and you should give it a go. Be aware that your Spanish communication skills (in our opinion, the most critical part) are not tested at all!
Get a Spanish online teacher!
Our last tip is not a free one, but in our opinion, it is the most important one: Get a Spanish online teacher!
If you have an excellent Spanish online teacher, you will make more significant progress in a shorter period.
First of all, you can practice your communication skills only with a real person. All the other possibilities above didn’t let you do that! Only a Spanish online teacher will be able to find out where your Spanish needs improvement: grammar, vocabulary, pronounciation, etc.
In our humble opinion, learning a language is too complex to do it online and for free. Spending some money for a Spanish online tutor always means some commitment, more discipline, which is essential when you want to be successful in learning Spanish online.
We, as SAY ZONTE!, can’t offer you a Spanish online teacher for free. But at least for a very fair price. Have a look at our course offerings.
The best for last: We provide a free Spanish online lesson (30min) for free. No fees, no obligations. Give it a try and support our project!
Do you have other ideas about how to learn Spanish online? Please let us know!