This SpanishPod101 Review is up to date as of April 20th, 2021. Also please note the following review contains affiliate links. We only recommend products that we’ve actually tested and genuinely like.
Spanish, a Romance language that developed in the Iberian Peninsula of Europe (Portugal and Spain), is the native language of about 460 million people and the official language of 20 countries.
If you’re considering learning Spanish, read our review of SpanishPod101— in our opinion one of the most comprehensive language learning resources out there.
- SpanishPod101 Review: Summary
- What is SpanishPod101?
- Pros of SpanishPod101
- Cons of SpanishPod101
- Features of SpanishPod101
- Learning Method
- What are the Lessons Like?
- What do Learners Say?
- Who Do We Recommend SpanishPod101 For?
- Who Do We NOT Recommend SpanishPod101 For?
- SpanishPod101 vs. Competitors
- SpanishPod101 Cost
- SpanishPod101 Review: Conclusion
SpanishPod101 Review: Summary
If you are looking for an efficient and entertaining way to learn Spanish, SpanishPod101 might be the right program for you.
It includes one of the most extensive collections of Spanish lessons of any program we’ve tested (and we tested a lot!).
One nice thing is that if you’re the kind of person who wants to try before you buy (like us), they offer a free 7-day Premium subscription trial.
Along with access to hundreds of video lessons and podcasts, you will find downloadable lesson plans to print out and go over later. Other features of the free Premium trial period include:
- Access to over 300 hours of Spanish lessons
- Access to the SpanishPod101 app for mobile use
- Lesson notes with detailed explanations of each grammar point
- Multiple learning paths including the guided comprehensive pathway
- Daily mini-lessons and Word of the Day
- Variety of learning tools including flashcards and quizzes
Ultimately, you can choose between three monthly subscription levels including Basic, Premium and Premium PLUS. Each level grants access to more features including learning tools, voice recordings and one-on-one instruction.
What is SpanishPod101?
SpanishPod101 is the Spanish variant of the LanguagePod language learning series, and in structure and approach, is similar to its other language podcasts. You get a 7 day free trial and can access the app via desktop, Android and iOS.
Learners choose from a variety of themed lessons, which can range from culture to everyday situational conversations like grocery shopping. Most lessons will have you pay attention to native speakers converse, as opposed to taking an academic grammar-first approach. Lessons are grouped into 5 levels of difficulty, with advanced levels focusing on differing dialects.
One of the plus points of SpanishPod101 is its large course catalogue. Additional features include a word bank, flash cards, quizzes and 1-on-1 instruction if you’re on the right subscription plan. All lessons are downloadable and come with transcripts.
The course is free to use and no content is locked behind a paywall. However, certain features which can expedite your learning and round out your knowledge are limited to paid users. Subscription tiers are divided into basic, premium and premium plus, which are priced widely enough so there’s a comfortable price point for most.
Pros of SpanishPod101
Pro #1: Huge Lesson Library
You will not run out of, or want for more lessons.
SpanishPod101 has massive amounts of lessons from which to choose resulting in hundreds of hours of videos and podcasts. This is one of the largest collections of lessons in any language program.
Pro #2: Grammar is Emphasized
Learning another language without learning key concepts of grammar does not make much sense if you truly want to speak the language. Not only do instructors provide details about correct grammar during lessons, but you can also find lesson notes for further explanations.
Pro #3: Spanish is Increased as Lessons Advance
As you advance through the lessons, less and less English is used until most of the Advanced lessons are taught primarily in Spanish. In this sense, the lessons grow with you in your understanding of the Spanish language. Another perk is that you’re introduced to both Latin American and Iberian Spanish.
Pro #4: Learning Paths are a Huge Improvement
In years past, the Pod101 programs were criticized for a lack of a set plan for users. Basically, you had to sift through tons of content to find the next thing to study.
Recent versions of the product have greatly improved user experience by creating learning paths — basically pre-made learning plans for specific skill levels and interests.
Pro #5: Mobile Friendly
The program works great on mobile, so you can take your study with you on the train or whenever you have free time.
Pro #6: You’ll Learn Something You Can Use Quickly
A trademark of the LanguagePod series, spend just a few weeks taking a few lessons a day and you’ll find yourself having some practical knowledge of Spanish. This is largely down to course content and the learning method. If you’re planning to visit Spain, then this is an excellent course to help you get by. It really doesn’t take very long to get going and features like the vocabulary lists speed up that process.
Cons of SpanishPod101
Con #1: Geared Toward Beginner to Intermediate Speakers
SpanishPod101 does not have as extensive a library of lessons for more advanced speakers. If you are wanting to enhance fluency or learn more about different aspects of Spanish cultures around the world, it will be harder to find here.
You can see the somewhat limited (at least in comparison with Beginner/Intermediate difficulty levels) selection for Advanced learners here:
That said, we recommend that Advanced learners graduate to consuming native material on a regular basis, so this may be a non-issue.
Con #2: Non-Essential Information Within Lessons
Both video and podcast lessons offer a decent amount of explanation and translation, but the instructors often chitchat amongst themselves. This can make lessons a bit more intriguing for some, but for others it can become monotonous.
Con #3: They'll Send You a Lot of Email
When we signed up for the free 7-day trial, we had the option to sign up for a ‘word of the day’ email, which actually is good if you want a daily reminder to study Spanish. However, in addition to the word of the day, you’ll also get periodic reminders to upgrade your membership and notifications of discounts and sales. Some people find the emails a bit annoying or overwhelming. That said, you can easily opt out of the emails (we did!).
Features of SpanishPod101
Dashboard and Pathways
You will be taken to your dashboard whenever you log into SpanishPod101.
This is where you can keep track of your progress, upgrade your learning level, change your monthly subscription, and access learning pathways and study tools.
Learning Pathways are sets of similar lessons grouped together for easier studying. You can choose to start with the curated pathway that guides you in an orderly and consistent manner, or choose from many of the other pathways including 3-Minute Mexican Spanish, Dining Out: Iberian Spanish or Life in Spain. Add as many pathways as you wish to your dashboard for easy access anytime.
Spanish Podcast Lessons
Audio lessons, or podcasts, offer a great way to hear the pronunciation of Spanish as it is in real life and check your listening comprehension. Words and phrases are pronounced slowly so you can decipher individual syllables, and then faster for a better idea of how a native speaker talks. You will find lesson transcripts with notes following each podcast lesson (in both Spanish and English), so you can see what you have just heard.
Spanish Video Lessons
Video lessons allow you to watch and hear Spanish pronunciations. Words are brought up on the screen as they are spoken, so you can also see how they look. Speakers talk slowly in beginner lessons and faster in advanced lessons. Like podcasts or audio lessons, you are given (Spanish and English) transcripts to go over after the video.
Earlier editions of the LanguagePod series would see some users bemoan the lack of grammar lessons. Generally speaking, the Spanish course avoids this, with several dedicated lessons on grammar – as well as the grammar bank.
The grammar bank is an extensive repository of resources that teaches you the ins and out of the grammar, and the material is quite comprehensive. Combine the conversational lessons with this and other sources, and you’ll have a solid understanding of the language fairly quickly if you’re disciplined.
Other Learning Tools
The interactive flashcard system offers a fun way to beef up your vocabulary. You will hear a word spoken in Spanish and see a picture depicting the word. You are to determine its English equivalent. The system will keep track of which flashcards you got right or wrong.
Word Bank and Phrase Lists
These vocabulary lists provide you with up to thousands of common Spanish words and phrases and offer you a quick reference guide.
You can record your own pronunciation of words and phrases to compare alongside the instructors. This feature can help give you an idea of where you need to improve.
As mentioned, you will find transcripts at the end of each and every lesson to review. This is an excellent feature to help cement the lessons into your mind.
Innovative Language has made a name for itself through its immersion-first courses. Even the more challenging languages, like Russian and Arabic, are taught by native speakers and with contextual material. The same goes for the SpanishPod101 series, which we would argue is of even higher quality.
Most lessons will help you deal with particular situations or relate to day to day living. The approach is very organic and you’ll find yourself forming new phrases from previously learnt material. The “Going Shopping” and “Survival Phrases” lessons are good examples of the conversational nature of lessons.
Of course, this doesn’t make it ideal for everybody. The vast majority will probably really benefit from an approach that favours actual communication over rigid rules of grammar and vocabulary (though SpanishPod101 has many more grammar lessons than some counterparts ). But there are limitations to this, especially for those seeking mastery.
However, you can offset this somewhat if you pick the premium plan, which assigns you a teacher. You’ll get a personalized plan and can ask as many questions as you like, which should help with writing and pronunciation skills. Furthermore, with the premium plus plan, you’ll also get a CEFR certificate when you hit certain milestones.
The immersion, conversation heavy approach has its benefits, but just bear in mind that if you’re going for complete fluency then you’ll need to put some effort into independent study.
What are the Lessons Like?
Even as a beginner, you should have an easy time getting off the ground with your learning. The “Absolute Beginner” series has multiple seasons that do a solid job of providing foundational knowledge. Other basic lessons will also teach you enough to survive daily life in Spain.
The lesson above is the first one in the “Absolute Beginner” series, and as you can see, it comes with quite a lot of explanations. You’ll listen to the lesson, review the key vocabulary and grammar, and be tested on your learning. It’s not the most formal system, but it gets the job of teaching you the essentials done.
The lessons are digestible enough (usually no more than 10-15 minutes) that even if you were to spend only half an hour a day studying, you’d see significant progress in a month. Of course, progress gets slower at about the intermediate level, but SpanishPod101 really proves itself useful for those wanting to jump right in.
Like all other Innovative Language courses, the lessons and modules here are easy to navigate. Beginner and intermediate learners will get the most out of this, while advanced learners will have to supplement their learning with other resources.
Lessons come with key vocabulary highlighted, lesson transcripts and quizzes. You can save words to your word bank, customize flashcards and consult a grammar bank. The vocabulary section also shows you how to use words in different contexts, which is a neat little addition that teaches you about the nuances of the language.
What do Learners Say?
There aren’t many reviews out in the wild about SpanishPod101, but what few there are highlight the conversations and immersive approach. One Reddit users, u/bluepisces, was described it as being in a class,
“It’s really kind of like being in an actual spanish class with a very casual/friendly vibe. As I said, I am VERY pleased with it.”
Who Do We Recommend SpanishPod101 For?
SpanishPod101 is a great starting point for most people wanting to learn Spanish. Those who should use SpanishPod101 include:
Who Do We NOT Recommend SpanishPod101 For?
Since everyone learns in a different manner, it is hard for one single language program to work for everyone. People who might not benefit from SpanishPod101 include those who:
SpanishPod101 vs. Competitors
A fair SpanishPod101 review would not be complete without some contrasts and comparisons to their biggest competitors. You will find a large selection of both free and paid programs for learning the Spanish language with a simple internet search. Though we don’t believe in equating price to quality, we find many of the free programs like Duolingo to be lacking in the amount of content, as well as grammatical explanation. They often work better as supplementary language resources in conjunction with other programs.
SpanishPod101 vs. Rosetta Stone
Rosetta Stone began the language learning program with CDs and textbooks. Now, they are available on most mobile devices and desktops just like SpanishPod101. Also, like SpanishPod101, you have the option of learning both Latin American Spanish and Iberian Spanish. Unlike SpanishPod101, these are considered separate languages and therefore must be purchased separately.
Rosetta Stone Spanish lessons are around 10 minutes in length and you can access them on-the-go. They claim that their contextual lessons and interactive activities will advance your Spanish quickly. You must pay for a minimum of three months in advance ($79) and there is a 30-day money-back guarantee.
SpanishPod101 vs. Rocket Spanish
Rocket Spanish is a language learning resource offered by RocketLanguages that promises to take you from beginner to mid intermediate level Spanish speaker. Like SpanishPod101, it offers comprehensive coverage of grammar points, voice recognition and culture lessons. It can also be accessed on most devices to allow for learning wherever you are.
Rocket Spanish offers three levels of learning tools. You pay per level instead of per month. For example, if you just want to learn beginner Spanish, the Beginner Level I is a flat fee of $149.95. Purchasing all three levels in advance yields the greatest discount.
SpanishPod101 vs. Pimsleur Spanish
One of the more well known names in the language learning resource space, Pimsleur is certainly a powerhouse in terms of their marketing budget. The mostly audio-focused program is certainly unique in its approach, however it isn’t for everyone.
There are three subscription plans on top of the free lifetime account. Each monthly subscription plan grants you access to any of the four expertise levels including Absolute Beginner, Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced.
SpanishPod101 offers a greater discount off the monthly subscription price the longer your subscription length is:
$8/month $2.80/month (using our coupon link)
- Unlimited access to an extensive collection of audio lessons
- Access on smartphones, tablets and desktops
- PDF lesson notes you can print
$25/month $7/month (using our coupon link)
The Premium Subscription includes all the Basic Subscription features plus:
- Interactive quizzes
- Audio transcripts of lesson notes
- Thousands of common words list and a word bank
- Bonus content
Premium PLUS Subscription
$47/month $16/month (using our coupon link)
The Premium PLUS Subscription includes all the Basic and Premium Subscription features plus:
- Access to a native Spanish speaking tutor for one-on-one instruction
- Personalized learning pathway built for you
SpanishPod101 Review: Conclusion
Whether utilizing the SpanishPod101 app on your smartphone or your computer, most learners should find this program easy to do at your own pace. We think that SpanishPod101 is an excellent starting point for those seeking fluency in Spanish.
All in all, SpanishPod101 is a good quality, comprehensive learning program for anyone seriously considering studying Spanish, and is especially good value if you use one of the discounts available:
Michael has been an avid language learner and traveler for many years. His goal with LanguageTsar is to discover the most fun and effective ways to learn a language. He is currently learning Japanese, French and Indonesian.