This SpanishPod101 review is pretty extensive. It would be great if you can stick around, but please feel free to use the menu below to find the section that is relevant to you if you’d prefer!
I have been speaking and teaching Spanish for the last decade. During that time, I have taught more than 1,000 hours of Spanish classes both in person and online.
It may seem strange, then, to sign up to SpanishPod101. I’ve done so in order to give Spanish learners genuine feedback on this resource and its ability to teach you Spanish as quickly as possible.
SpanishPod101 is an excellent resource for beginner level Spanish students on a budget. There are fewer lessons available at intermediate and advanced levels, but for all types of learner there are many features included in the premium plan. For these reasons, SpanishPod101 is a solid language resource for anyone looking to improve their Spanish, but it is not sufficient on its own.
SpanishPod101 is part of LanguagePod101, described as the fastest, easiest and most fun way to learn one of any 34 languages at your own convenient pace.
Whether you choose to study Spanish or any other language, LanguagePod101 offers a free one week trial for you to try out its premium features in order to get an idea of whether it’s the right online resource for you.
In order to write this review, I took advantage of this free trial and spent a week using the SpanishPod101 app with all four levels of its Premium Plan to get a full understanding of its features, and to ascertain if it’s worth the money.
Signing up to the SpanishPod101 Premium Plan free trial is extremely easy and you do not need to enter any payment information, unlike competitors such as Pimsleur and Memrise.
However, upon doing so, prepare to be bombarded with spammy emails on a daily basis. I’m unsure of the exact number, but you’ll receive several a day. Whilst some of these emails are useful (you can opt in for a word a day, Spanish grammar lessons and language learning tips), others are simply orientated around getting you to spend money.
This is a definitive negative, but it does not undo the many positive features of SpanishPod101, including how cheap it is.
Platform and Course Structure
The SpanishPod101 dashboard is quite chaotic at first glance. Obviously, as you become more familiar with the platform it becomes easier to navigate, but there’s a lot going on.
You can navigate the dashboard by switching between ‘Lessons’, ‘Vocabulary’ and ‘My Teacher.’
Once you have signed up and gained access to the dashboard you’ll be able to set up a language learning pathway for yourself. Other features quickly accessible to users include ‘Latest News’ and ‘Newest Lessons.’
Each pathway contains a range of mixed resources grouped together in line with your level of Spanish.
Let’s start with a positive. As a Spanish tutor, I feel SpanishPod101 has done a good job of separating its resources on the platform into 5 learner categories:
– Complete Beginner
– Upper intermediate
The Language Pathways feature is not mandatory, but it is a good way to group your content together. If you choose not to use it then you can take your own learning path based on your Spanish level.
With many other language learning companies, content is often lumped into Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced only. It’s positive to see SpanishPod101 include Complete Beginner (making Spanish less daunting for new learners) and Upper Intermediate level. There is a significant jump between intermediate and advanced, so I am a definite advocate of this additional level!
However, on a slightly negative note, the language learning pathway is little more than a bunch of resources grouped together in a slightly chaotic way. Some levels contain more than 60 lessons and counting (on another positive note, new lessons and resources are being added constantly so you will never run out of lessons or resources to use).
Having read SpanishPod101 reviews online before singing up myself, there seems to be a consensus that the course structure was always pretty disjointed, with lessons not set out in a very clear, concise, constructed way.
I think this has been fixed by SpanishPod101. You can now sort course resources by the following types:
You can also filter all lessons by media type (Audio & Video) and category (Conversation, Reading & Writing, Vocabulary, Grammar & Culture).
I will discuss all of these lesson types individually in this SpanishPod101 review.
Note: You do not need to filter here based on your level of ability in Spanish as the content is already specific to your pathway (language level).
The SpanishPod101 audio lessons are laid back and easy to listen to, each containing at least one native Spanish speaker. Essentially, they are podcasts, so you can access them from an App store, Google Play or via your SpanishPod101 app or dashboard.
The presenter makes the conversations light and chatty; you’re simply listening to two or more people having a conversation.
The SpanishPod101 audio lessons range between 1-15 minutes in length, depending on the topic and number of speakers involved.
Most commonly, they are structured in the following way:
– Introduction with casual conversation between speakers
– More meaningful dialogue relating to the lesson topic (script)
– Repeat of the dialogue (script) with translations of the Spanish
– Overview of new vocabulary with translations and context
– Grammar discussion based on the text
– Culture related discussion if relevant
They structure of the audio lessons is very similar to that of Coffee Break Spanish. Unlike the Coffee Break podcasts, however, SpanishPod101 contains a wide range of native speakers that feature in the audio lessons.
Many of them pop up in a range of different audio lessons/podcasts. As a listener, you’ll soon start to become familiar with the people involved. With this regular speakers, the lessons often focus on a specific cultural aspect of Spain or Latin America, rather than just generic topics.
As you would expect, the more you progress with your Spanish, the more Spanish is spoken. At beginner and upper intermediate levels, most of the audio lessons are carried out in English. At times, the introductions can also go on a little too long (I found this with JapanesePod101 also). You can skip to the useful part of the lesson easily enough, though.
Additional Features - Lesson Dialogue with Speaking Practice
Each SpanishPod101 lesson comes with a breakdown of the dialogue which you can access on the app or on desktop. This is an excellent feature particularly for beginners. It enables you listen to the dialogue slowly, line by line.
You can also use the audio lessons as a way to practice speaking and improve your Spanish pronunciation. The feature enables you to record yourself repeating specific parts of the dialogue. This is a great way to gain confidence speaking Spanish and compare your accent with the native speakers.
This is a good feature but if your main aim is to practice speaking in this way then it’s worth checking out Speechling, which does it much better than SpanishPod101. The free version is focused on this method, but the premium version gives you access to a Spanish teacher that actually corrects your Spanish pronunciation and gives you feedback.
Without a Premium Subscription you will be unable to access all SpanishPod101 audio lesson resources, but you can still access transcripts.
All SpanishPod101 audio lessons, including the transcripts in English and Spanish, all note material and videos, are fully downloadable.
SpanishPod101 Video Lessons
Some dated SpanishPod101 reviews criticise the video lessons in quite a big way. This would now be pretty unjustified and they have definitely improved a lot whilst the subscription costs have remained pretty much the same.
SpanishPod101 is constantly adding new material. There are some old video lessons still on the site (which aren’t great) but the majority of video content is new and updated.
There are three things that make the videos on SpanishPod101 good value for money.
1. The level of teaching is high. Clearly these are teachers that understand their language.
2. There are videos for Spanish learners of all levels – this ranges from introducing yourself in Spanish to more advanced grammatical topics
3. The video is material is interesting and useful, centred around common pain points for Spanish learners. The teacher answers questions that Spanish learners have asked such as ‘When to use SER and ESTAR.’
The SpanishPod101 Vocabulary Section
As with most online Spanish resources, there is a focus on improving your vocabulary and teaching you new words.
The SpanishPod101 Basic Plan includes access to the following:
– Vocabulary Lists
– Word of the Day
– Spanish Dictionary
– 100 Most Common Words
– Spanish Key Phrases
SpanishPod101 Premium provides access to all of the above as well as a new Flashcard Feature, a Wordbank and 2000 Most Common Words.
It is proven that the ‘Flashcard’ method – linked to Spaced Repetition (See the Pimsleur Method) is an excellent way to actually remember vocabulary and phrases.
The Flashcard section at SpanishPod101 is linked to the Wordbank and you can use it to ensure you memorize Spanish vocabulary. You can customise this area to ensure you learn in a way that works for you.
You can also browse the numerous pre-made flashcard decks covering a range of different themes, such as travel, feelings and emotion, clothing and the media.
This is not the only SpanishPod101 review to describe the Grammar Bank as awesome due to its extensive list of grammar points.
However, whilst the Spanish grammar resources are extensive, don’t expect them to transform your spoken Spanish to 100% perfect. They will definitely help you to understand grammar more than you do currently, but they are more a series of explanations than anything else.
I believe the video lessons are better for this sort of help, especially for visual learners.
That said, the Grammar Bank is useful as each specific point links to a corresponding lesson, providing further clarity.
In addition to this, I believe there are many better online resources to help you improve your Spanish grammar. If you can already speak a little then it’s worth finding a native tutor on italki or Preply.
SpanishPod101 (Innovative Language) approach - is it unique and does it work?
The most impressive and successful features of SpanishPod101 (and all of the languages at LanguagePod101) are the audio lessons and video lessons.
By making this the case, SpanishPod101 will be suitable for both aural and visual learners. Despite an extensive grammar bank, there is more focus on improving Spanish vocabulary and key phrases than putting grammar into practice.
The flashcard method at SpanishPod101 is not unique but it is proven to work. Indeed, it is a key part of the Memrise approach and the Pimsleur approach, both relying heavily on spaced repetition.
Despite being a Spanish tutor, I am of the opinion that grammar should remain a focus at an intermediate and upper intermediate level. The beginner stages (SpanishPod101 is best for beginners) should remain fun, interactive and vocabulary orientated.
SpanishPod101 achieves this through its extensive selection of Spanish resources and I think this approach makes it an excellent resource for Spanish learners.
SpanishPod101 Pricing Plans & Refund Policy
SpanishPod101 has one of the most complicated pricing structures of any language learning resource I have come across.
When you visit the pricing section of the website you will notice that the costs are linked to a two year subscription. This is not the sort of resource worth subscribing to for 24 months.
In any case, you can see the prices associated with this below.
Basic – $4 / month
Premium – $10 / month
Premium Plus – $23 / month
What’s included in each Plan?
You can sign up to SpanishPod101 and remain a free user. As explained, you will be bombarded with a ton of email marketing prompting you to sign up to the Premium Plan.
Audio Archive Access
Android, iPhone and iPad Access
One-click Lesson Downloads
Line-by-line Audio Transcripts
Exclusive Premium iTunes Feed
Bonus Lesson Content
Interactive Lesson Quizzes
Personal Word Bank
Core 2000 Word List & Audio
Spaced Repetition Flashcards
Premium Plus Subscription
All of the above
Personalised Learning Program
Main PROS of SpanishPod101
– Extensive and varied lesson content
– High quality audio and video lessons with entertaining content
– One of the cheapest Spanish resources out there
– Gradual and natural progression in difficulty
Main CONS of SpanishPod101
– Multiple access and pricing tiers
– Constant emails prompting you to purchase
– Lesson navigation improved but still not as good as competitors
– Limited resources for advanced Spanish learners
– Not the best lesson plan/structure (better now due to language pathways)
SpanishPod101 consolidates a huge amount of Spanish learning content in one place. The quality of the resources ranges from poor to excellent depending on the age of the material, the language level and topic. The main value in any paid plan is in the audio and video lessons, both of which are very good.
SpanishPod101 is not the best language resource out there but it is certainly up there when you take into account the pricing. It is much cheaper than competitors such as Pimsleur, Rosetta Stone and Memrise.
I do believe that the Premium Subscription provides very good value for money, but I am not convinced that the Premium Plus Plan is worthwhile. A personalised learning program is easy enough to create without aid, and 1-on-1 instruction can be achieved just as easy on italki, which is the best place on the internet to find a Spanish tutor.
Overall, if your plan is to learn Spanish quickly, I think SpanishPod101 is an excellent resource to compliment other resources and an online Spanish tutor. As a Spanish speaker and tutor myself, I am impressed with the plethora of resources available at SpanishPod101 (some much better than others). However, I do not think complete fluency can be achieved using solely SpanishPod101 as a resource.
If you’d like to try SpanishPod101 out then you can make a trial 7 day account HERE.