Brushing up on your Spanish

learnspanish2Now that I’ve applied to the Auxiliares and BEDA programs it’s the waiting game for the next few months. So, what’s a good way to pass the time? By brushing up on a little español. I’ve listed here the free websites I’ve been using to practice Spanish, and some info about their benefits and drawbacks:


1. Duolingo: Emphasizes grammar and sentence structure over vocabulary, but still exposes you to a lot of vocabulary this way.

 What I like:

  • Uses listening and speaking (there is a microphone application that allows you to practice verbal translating and pronunciation)
  • Placement test option which lets you skip the more basic skills you already know
  • Builds on previous vocabulary and grammar so you maintain those lessons as you go along
  • Tests at the end of each unit allow you to measure your understanding
  • Diversity of questions keeps your mind active and engaged
  • Tells you the different ways you can say the same thing, which helps for learning more ‘natural’ Spanish
  • Points and levels give you tangible goals to work towards
  • Progress bar at the top shows you how close you are to finishing the lesson
  • Introductions at the bottom give you the gist of the ‘rules’ or grammar you are working on
  • You can get the app on our phone!

 What I don’t like:

  •  Minimal vocabulary introduced in each unit (usually around 10 words)
  • No practice of the ‘vosotros’ form

Who I would recommend this site to: Anyone really, from a total beginner to an advanced student that wants some practice with grammar and vocabulary

 2. Memrise: Works more like a series of flashcards and therefore stresses vocabulary and sayings more than grammar.

 What I like:

  • You have the option to select an image to go with the word or saying you’re studying. I found them generally funny and helpful
  • Flashcard set-up exposes you to the word over and over again, helps with memory
  • Carries vocabulary words and sayings so that you get to keep using and practicing them
  • Spanish sayings and vocabulary are very useful for daily life, especially if you have no Spanish skills yet
  • You can get the app on your phone!

 What I don’t like:

  •  Each lesson is quite long and there is no progress bar to see how much further you have to go
  • There is no real introduction to grammar or vocabulary, it just starts showing you basic structures and you are supposed to remember them (no instruction)

Who I would recommend this site to: Someone who wants a vocabulary refresher for basic Spanish or someone who has very little knowledge of Spanish

3. Lang8: This is my favorite website to use. You write journal entries in the language you are practicing and native speakers edit them for you sentence by sentence.

 What I like:

  • You can add friends, which allows you to develop pen pals that you can practice with more regularly.
  • Capability to add Skype information to your profile, so you could potentially Skype your new friends!
  • Mutually beneficial. You can edit the entries of people who are trying to learn English, which I find to be fun, interesting, and rewarding.
  • Editors look for grammar and spelling, but also for ‘natural flow’. This was super helpful for me, because I wanted help with writing more fluently and sounding more ‘Spanish’. I have already improved a lot just after a few entries.
  • You often get multiple editors which ensures that no mistakes go unnoticed!
  • Allows you to be creative and write about whatever you’d like, which keeps you more engaged and interested in your Spanish learning.
  • The editors are really patient, even when you make a lot of mistakes

 What I don’t like:

  •  Nothing! I love this site.

 Who I recommend this to: Someone with more advanced knowledge of Spanish who wants more complex practice or an enthusiastic beginner.

Do you have any sites you find helpful in practicing Spanish? Any experience with these ones? Let me know! Email me at


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