best app to learn Spanish

What is the best app to learn Spanish?

(This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosures for more information.)

My kids and I have been studying Spanish in our homeschool for many years. We tried textbooks, but since I didn’t speak Spanish, that was like the blind leading the blind. Our pronunciation was laughable!

Then we tried online Spanish classes with a Guatemalan school. That worked better than the textbooks, but they were busy so it was difficult to schedule classes for the same time every week and tough to remember the classes when they were at different times each week.

We hired a native Columbian woman to come into our home twice per week to teach Spanish by playing games and conversing with my children and that worked great, but it was prohibitively expensive and after three years we could no longer afford it.

Plus, by that time DuoLingo had been released, and we were eager to try it. My older teens were mostly motivated enough to work independently (one teen was not), but the structure of the app never worked for my younger kids. They didn’t find it sufficiently interesting or entertaining to work on it voluntarily. Over the years we’ve tried most of the Spanish learning apps, the paid versions as well as the free versions, with the same results.

My older teens and I would complete a short lesson per day in order to keep a streak going. The learning was a little disorganized and haphazard, but we were learning slowly. My littles — nope!

So last year, in an effort to really jumpstart the Spanish learning, we all took a 3-month long trip to a language school in Mexico for an immersion experience. Wow! That was just what we needed!

We had some experience with the language and a decent vocabulary, so the school focused on grammar to give us the scaffolding we needed for all of our haphazard learning. It felt a little like drinking from a firehose, but we finally progressed by leaps and bounds!

Even my littles, without much previous experience with Spanish (they were too young to participate when we hired the Columbian woman) were mostly conversational by the time we left.

I knew we’d need to continue learning or we would lose our newfound Spanish language skills, so I began looking for a better app — one that would appeal to my younger kiddos. Luckily, several new apps have been developed since the last time I looked!

My littles have been using and loving Fabulingua! I love it because they love it, so I don’t have to nag them to practice Spanish!

How to Teach Spanish in Your Homeschool

1. Help your kiddos see how it will benefit them or how it is applicable to them. We all learn best when we’re motivated by a need! Plan a family trip to a foreign country, host a foreign exchange student or search your community for volunteer opportunities with refugees.

2. It should be fun, not stressful. Kids are such great natural learners! Imagine how they’d feel about walking if, after taking their first steps, we said, “Now do it ten more times, then we’ll set a timer for you to practice this 30 minutes per day.”

3. Make it story-based. Great teachers know that turning any subject into a story provides investment to the learner and when a learner is invested, they seek out learning opportunities voluntarily.  It’s even better when the stories are read by native Spanish speakers. Kids who learn a language before the age of 10 are more likely to develop near-native pronunciation, especially if they listen mostly to native speakers.

4. Don’t focus on grammar for the first few years. Natural language, acquired by babies, is not taught via flashcards, notes and parts of speech. And yet, by age 2 most toddlers have acquired enough language to be conversational.

5. Find a Spanish language learning app that is created specifically for children! A game-based app will be your child’s best bet to learn Spanish and you don’t have to nag, make assignments or grade papers!

best app to learn Spanish

How to Use Homeschool Learning Apps to Teach Children Spanish

In general, I try to limit screen time. I prefer that my children learn through physical activity, hands-on experiences, literature or textbooks rather than through screens.

However, the hubs and I both work full-time, so we have to fit homeschooling into the empty corners of our days. Apps and documentaries are a great way to sneak in learning throughout the day during time that would ordinarily be wasted. They’re also a great way to spend time in waiting rooms or time in the car waiting outside siblings music lessons and such.

And I do love that the best apps to learn Spanish include the audio component that you can’t get from textbooks. Still, I believe that language apps are the most effective if they’re just one part of your family’s foreign language curriculum. Your children will progress quicker if you also include a written component.

Best Educational Apps for Homeschooling Spanish

Google Translate is a free, user-friendly app. It works great for simple translations and you can also use it to scan and translate. It will translate audio recordings and transcribe them, and even help you talk to Spanish speakers with its Conversation Mode. You can even use it offline by downloading the specific language package you want to use. But it’s not intended for language learning — it’s primarily a tool used for traveling.

Google Podcast is a fun, free, fantastic way to gain exposure to natural, spoken Spanish. Here are a few fun podcasts in Spanish: Radio Ambulante, Españolistos, Palabras Bravas, Duolingo Podcast. You can listen while in the car on the way to your homeschool coop or waiting at the dentist office. Most of the stories are fun and interesting for kids.

Duolingo is the first app we ever used to learn Spanish and a few of us are still using it. We just use the free version. It’s annoying that with the free version you lose a heart for every incorrect answer, including misspelled words and sometimes misplaced accents, and you are only given 1 heart every 5 hours, so your practice time is limited each day. I also dislike that it contains some objectionable content. But I like the approach better than Babbel and it’s free so I haven’t switched yet.

Pacca Alpaca is game-based, so it won’t feel like drill and kill to kids learning a new language. It’s about a friendly alpaca who explores Australia and learns language along the way. The only downside is that it focuses more on isolated vocabulary words than on sentences or sentence structure. The games and graphics are fun, but very young. I don’t let my toddlers or preschoolers have screen time at all, but if I did I would definitely consider this app. It was too young for my kiddos.

FabuLingua is my kids’ favorite app for learning Spanish. To them it’s an engaging mobile game that feels more like a reward than an assignment!  But it was clearly built by language learning experts with a focus on children.  It’s story based and leads users through island adventures, requiring users to not only listen to stories, but also to read them aloud, progressing from comprehension to pronunciation. They play games along the way to practice and reinforce what they’re learning. My youngest loves the voice recording function so she can hear herself speak Spanish, and her pronunciation is much better than mine! The kids earn keys as they complete stories, which they can use to buy treasures and avatar accessories.  Best of all, we have not encountered any objectionable content! My guess is that this would appeal most to kids in the age 5 – 12 range. If you want to try FabuLingua, be sure to use coupon code ORISON1MONTHFREE to get your first month free!

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