SpanishPod101 Review

By Jesse / April 18, 2016

Review of: Spanishpod101

Use: Spanish learning centered around audio lessons in the form of podcasts.  The site also features many study tools and resources to go with their audio lessons

Effectives

Engaging podcasts help you learn words in context. But you'll have to practice speaking on your own

Price

Free content and monthly plans at $4 to $47 per month

Time Commitment

Each podcast is around 15 minutes long.

Ease of Use

Digital immersion without the tedious work

Structure

Podcasts are sorted by level of difficulty and subject.

I Like

  • Over 1,200 podcast lessons
  • Free content and affordable price
  • Lessons are fun and interesting
  • Built in flashcard system

I Don't Like

  • No speaking required
  • Limited community features

Summary: Spanishpod101 is a monthly subscription site that offers audio based Spanish lessons in the form of podcasts. The podcasts are designed so that you can work through each episode in order and gradually increase your Spanish ability.  However you also have to option to skip around and take any lesson you like. 

Spanishpod101 requires a paid monthly membership (they offer some free content as well). They offer a lot of subscription options from as low as $4 and up to $47 per month.  Which subscription you choose depends on which features you want access to.  You generally get the best value with the cheaper subscription plans.

Spanishpod101 is an outstanding resource for beginners or intermediate learners, especially  if you want to focus on your listening or comprehension skills. The podcasts can also help improve your pronunciation.  

You can access Spanishpod101 on your laptop and also on your Iphone, Andriod, or Ipad ​via their mobile app.  They offer free lessons and content so you can see if their product is right for you.

Subscription plans starting at $4 per month (Free plan available too)

Have you ever come to a point in your Spanish learning where you have learned a lot of new words and know enough grammar to at least get by in a basic conversation; then you talk with a native speaker and can't understand what they say back to you?

I did (and still do sometimes).  As someone who has only been fluent in English for most of my life, trying to understand a native Speaker is like running after someone you know you're never going to catch.  

Even if I know the actual words the other person uses I still have trouble understanding what they say because the words are spoken rapidly with little space in between them.  Everything kind of blends into one mysterious Spanish blob.  

​After several rough Spanish conversations I decided that it might be a good idea to start focusing on my Spanish listening and comprehension skills, but I wasn't quite sure where to start. I tried watching Spanish movies without English subtitles and listening to Spanish talk radio, but I ran straight into the same problem again: everything was too fast.

I wanted to practice with something that started off slow and would let me break down each part of a sentence or phrase so that I could gradually build up my listening and comprehension skills.  I had heard about Spanishpod101 before, but never tried it.  I gave their monthly subscription a shot, hoping that it would help with me improve the weak points in my Spanish learning.  

It turned out to be a great tool, and I was able to see marked improvement in my listening abilities. 

Is Spanishpod101 right for you?

Spanishpod101 is ideal for beginners and intermediate learners.  If you're more advanced in your Spanish you probably won't get as much value out a subscription.

Because of its structure and engaging lessons Spanishpod101 works especially well if you want to improve your Spanish listening (like i did).  It's also a great way to learn new vocabulary and grammar because you are presented with new words in the context of an actual conversation. 

Spanishpod101 is also great if you are looking for a way to practice Spanish on the go.  They provide an app for Iphone, Andriod, and Ipad so that you can always have access to their lessons.

Features​

Podcast episodes

Spanishpod101's primary feature is its audio lessons.  These lessons are given in the form of podcast episodes and each episode typically runs around 15 minutes long.  ​Every episode is contains one Spanish conversation that is centered around a specific topic.  Sometimes this topic is a specific grammar point (like the future tense of  the verb estar for instance), other times it may be a cultural or conversational subject (how to greet someone).  

Spanishpod101 provides well structured lessons around difficulty level and subject

Lifelike situations

What really makes the episodes great is that they are always centered around a lifelike situation.  ​At beginning of each episodes the podcast "hosts" will give you a summary of the lesson and the background information on the Spanish conversation.  I remember one episode where a man accidentally bumps into a woman while looking for shellfish.  Phrases such as "excuse me" and "could you help me find something?", were very relevant to learn in Spanish.

Conversations are natural and interesting

The conversations feel natural and the hosts do a great job of breaking down the vocabulary, and sharing fun personal stories.   Spanishpod101 does an excellent job at keeping the lessons fresh and interesting.  You don't have any of the dry and boring audio lessons that you might find with other programs. 

​Tools and Resources

Spanishpod101 also offers a lot of bonus tools and resources to help you in your Spanish learning. Some are more useful than others.  There are a lot of resources Spanishpod101 has that can be found somewhere else on the internet for free.  

The three I found most useful for the built in flashcards, pronunciation review, and the lesson transcripts (note: you need a premium membership to access these three features).  

Insite flashcards

Spanishpod101 provides an in-house flashcard system.  The flashcard system works a lot like Anki, it uses spaced repetition and you can make different decks.  I liked this feature because I like to use flashcards when I study Spanish.

 Instead spending an extra 30 mins making my own flashcards in Anki I can just click to add news words directly from a lesson into my flashcard deck.  It can be a huge time saver. 

Pronunciation & accent review

Pronunciation & accent review allows you to listen to new words from a lesson.  You can play back each word by itself and hear it spoken by a native speaker slowly or at regular speed.  This is a great tool for developing your pronunciation because it allows you to compare your accent to the native speaker's​.

Lesson transcripts

Spanishpod101 provides full transcripts off each of its lessons so that you can see and read the conversations and better understand what you're learning. 

Other features

Spanishpod101 also provides ​other resources like word lists, conjugation sheets, and a Spanish dictionary.  Most of these you can find else where on the internet, and don't need a Spanishpod101 membership for, but they're still nice to have on the site if you need them.

Price

Subscription levels​

Spanishpod101 offers three different subscription levels: basic, premium, and premium plus.​

The basic subscription gives primarily gives you access to all podcast lessons.  You also get access to lesson notes and checklists. The basic pricing options run from $4 a months for 24 months up to $8 a month for 1 month. 

The premium plan gives you  access to everything from the basic plan plus all of Spanishpod101 extra resources including a Spanish dictionary, ​flashcards, pronunciation & accent review,  verb conjugation sheets, line by line lessons transcripts, lesson quizzes, and more.  Premium pricing ranges from $10 a month for 24 months to $25.00 per month for 1 month.

​The premium plus plan offers all the benefits of the premium plan in addition to a professional personal assessment of your Spanish level, a personal lesson plan, and personal instruction from a teacher.   The premium plus plan starts from $22.88 per month for 24 months to $47 per month for 1 month. 

Best value​

The basic plan is the best value.  If you want flashcards and lesson transcripts the premium plan is not a bad choice either.  I'd stay away from the premium plus subscription.  

Spanishpod 101's shortcomings​

No speaking required​

Spanishpod101 is a great Spanish learning tool but, like most online language apps and websites,​ it shouldn't be the only resource you use to learn Spanish.  As good as their podcasts are no audio can replace real life practice with native Spanish speakers.  And if you're learning Spanish you will eventually have to practice what you learn. 

No language learning community​

​A lot of language learning sites and app have some sort of community feature to connect fellow language learners.  It would be cool to see Spanishpod101 add a community feature to their resources as well.  They do offer a learner's forum.

Best way to use Spanishpod101​

Study and review

​The best way to use Spanishpod101 is to go through each lesson and then carefully practice with the meaning and pronunciation of each new word.  After that I recommend you use their flashcard deck to review so that you don't forget the words you've learned. 

Listening & pronunciation​

Spanishpod101 works especially well if you want to improve your Spanish listening and pronunciation.  Because it's almost entirely in audio format you can use it to train your Spanish ear. 

Learn on the move​

Because you can get Spanishpod101 on your phone or tablet you can practice your Spanish almost anywhere.  This is a great way to use up the little spaces of day (like riding the bus or waiting in line) to get some extra Spanish practice in. ​

What other people are saying about Spanishpod101

My favorite by far is Spanishpod101. Although this wasn’t around for me back in 2003, I’ve used this company’s podcasts for my other languages to improve my listening comprehension. I like that it separates language levels according to the CEFR scale.

Essentially, it starts at the lowest levels, playing a very brief conversation and explaining every aspect of it, so that when you re-listen to the dialogue at the end of the lesson you understand it much better.

As you advance through the levels, it gets progressively harder and the speakers increase the speed at which they speak. I generally try to aim for one level higher than my current one, to push myself.

Benny LewisFluent in 3 Months

Alternatives to Spanishpod101

Coffee Break Spanish is another podcast based curriculum  similar to Spanishpod101.  Coffebreak Spanish doesn't have as many onsite resources (like flashcards).  There is also no membership, you have to pay for the lessons outright, which can be a little more expensive. Still, the podcasts are well produced and they have some episodes you can download for free.

FluentU provides native Spanish videos with a built in subtitle and vocabulary system.  You can watch real Spanish videos (commercials, tv clips, music, etc) and learn words in a real life context. It also has its own flashcard system and other learning resources. 

More...

Conclusion

Spanishpod101 is a great Spanish learning tool that also comes with an affordable price.  It's especially good at helping you improve Spanish listening and pronunciation, but you will need to practice speaking on your own. 

Even though Spanishpod101's main feature are its podcast lessons, the site also provides a lot of additional resources to aid in your learning. With their free week trial and $1​ monthly trial the site is definitely worth checking out. 

About the author

Jesse

Spanish learning aficionado and cofounder of Spanish Hackers.

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