Foreign language classes have proven a popular target for cash-strapped administrators looking to cut costs. We understand the money has to come from somewhere, and the practicality of a class like Latin could be debated. But as the United States continues on its path toward being home to the most Spanish speakers in the world, we can ill afford to let up on its instruction. Luckily, interested smartphone owners hold the key to a wealth of Spanish teaching in their pockets. Below, grouped by phone type, are our picks for the 25 best mobile apps (although some are available across platforms).
- Spanish Phrasebook with Audio – Conversational Spanish:This handy iPhone app is a good beginner’s guide to more than 800 Spanish greetings, directions, numbers, and more. Users favorably compare the experience to that of using Rosetta Stone, only at $.99, your wallet will feel the difference between the two.
- Maria’s Spanish Class:At $6.99, this app is one of the priciest on this list, but glowing reviews consistently confirm it’s well worth it. Promising to advance any beginner to intermediate level, the app consists of flash cards, fill-in-the-blanks, grammar notes, audio, and multiple choice quizzes. Basically, it’s everything you’d expect from a language class.
- Learn Spanish by MindSnacks:Make learning Spanish a game with this app by well-known language software developer MindSnacks. Offering 50 levels (with a paid upgrade from one free level), the app helps you learn more than 1,400 Spanish words and phrases through continual reinforcement.
- Learn Spanish with busuu.com:The eponymous website offers material to help users learn Spanish and a meeting ground for them to practice their skills with native speakers. The free version of the app has 20 learning modules presented with clear audio and good image quality.
- Learn Spanish by Brainscape:Brainscape promotes the learning method Intelligent Cumulative Exposure, which involves gradual progression through concepts of increasing difficulty. That system is employed with this $10 app over 6,000 audio flashcards. It also has a learners’ network for help and support.
- Spanish Touch Trainer:The idea behind Spanish Touch Trainer is to teach you Spanish through sentence structure. Complete a sentence with the correct conjugation or vocab word, then have it read back to you by a native speaker. It’s got a clean interface and a low sticker price of $2.
- TripLingo Spanish Essentials for Mexico robably the best endorsement for this app came from review website Thrillist, who called it “a travel app that doesn’t make you sound stupid to the natives.” TripLingo teaches you Spanish the way people actually speak it, with customizable phrase lists, audio examples of each phrase, and even the ability to adjust phrases for how much slang you want to incorporate.
- iSpeak Spanish eveloper Future Apps is no stranger to the language learning field, with offerings for a dozen more languages available in iTunes. This version translates to and from English and Spanish, including entire articles, and lets you save or email the final product. At $1.99, it’s a great complement to your Spanish class.
- Free Pocket Spanish – Beginner:This app by Innovative Language Learning boasts “two expert teachers to personally walk you through the pitfalls and pleasantries of mastering Spanish.” It focuses on vocab, with audio to help your listening comprehension and flashcards for quizzing yourself whenever you have a free minute.
- Learn Spanish – PhotoFlashcards:The idea behind this innovative learning game is to take pictures of common items, submit them with one click, and in 30 seconds view your new flashcard with accompanying Spanish caption. Save your cards for studying later, edit notes onto them, or draw cards with a stencil if you prefer.
- Talking Spanish Translator:Speak a sentence into your Android phone — in English or Spanish — and this app will translate it into the other language. It will even translate incoming texts. You do need a data connection, so it wouldn’t make a good translator for international travel, but it is free, after all.
- Spanish Class:For under $4 your Android phone becomes a Spanish instructor with this app. Customizable exercises in grammar, verb conjugation, vocab, and more are offered with the ability to track your progress and view your mistakes, win awards, and practice your listening comprehension.
- Learn Spanish Phrasebook:With its sections on directions & places, transportation, and eating out, this app is a great travel companion, but it also works as a tutor while you’re stateside. It packs in more than 800 common words and phrases, with the ability to save the ones you use frequently, all for free with no ads.
- Learn Spanish by Video:One of the few apps with material for more advanced students, Learn Spanish by Video sports 80 videos of about three minutes each on the basics like how to introduce yourself, all the way to the advanced videos on the different accents used around the world.
- Spanish Anywhere:Sooner or later, every Spanish student finds himself reaching for a Spanish-English dictionary. This app not only has 14,000 words in its arsenal, it also delivers flash cards, games like Hangman and Word Scramble, word conjugation, an online translator, and more.
- Conjugate Spanish Verbs:The biggest giveaway that someone is a novice at a language is their verbs are all mixed up. This app helps you sound like a pro by giving you more than 700 commonly used verbs to study, in up to 17 tenses each. It also ranks your answers to its questions so you know which ones you need to bone up on.
- Medical Spanish – AUDIO:For some out of the ordinary phrases like “Are you having contractions?” and “Is your eyesight blurred or cloudy?” download this free app. Having such phrases in your vocabulary could mean the difference between life and death someday.
- Learn Spanish with babbel.com:Babbel is an online language learning platform that offers a learning community for more than 4 million users. If you are one, or want to become one, this highly rated, free app gives you to 3,000 vocab words, speech recognition exercises, and an intelligent system of reviewing material you’ve already studied.
- Guey Spanish: For Spanish slang on the Android, try Guey Spanish from Online Language Help. The not-abuela-friendly terms include “to hook up,” “to have a hangover,” and “ass.” Use at your own discretion.
- HelloSpanish:Quirky animations in HD graphics accompany the 10 comprehensive lessons included in this app, which also boasts photos and recordings by native speakers for all words and phrases. And it works offline, so once you’ve downloaded it, you’re good to go.
- Spanish Present Tense:Every rookie Spanish learner starts out with the present tense, so an app with 16 other tenses would probably be overkill. This free app helps learners focus on this basic part of speaking Spanish, with more than 340 everyday verbs conjugated, including the oft-ignored pronoun vosotros.
- My Flash Cards Spanish:The tried-and-true method for self-quizzing comes to Windows phones with this app. Select your language to translate into, pick a phrase type like “Conversation” or “Groceries,” and start memorizing around 600 words and phrases. It uses a simple font and gives you the option of changing the cards’ color scheme to suit your liking.
- WordBird Learn Spanish:In a refreshing bit of honesty, this app’s developer says learning Spanish is not easy and takes a lot of practice. But with a tool like WordBird, you have a leg up. It offers eight learning games for five word groups, and more groups with purchase. The best feature is the spoken pronunciations at three different speeds to ensure you say it right.
- First Spanish Words: Learning Animals:One of the best apps for introducing kids to the Spanish language is on the Windows platform. First Spanish Words lets you customize the difficulty for your child, using color and/or letter hints to teach them about Spanish letters, how to spell, and of course, animal names.
- Spanish for Noobs:This straightforward app for “newbies” to Spanish speaking brings you the basic grammar and vocab info you need to advance your Spanish knowledge beyond “No hablo espanol.” For $1.99 it’s a solid entry-level app for reading and hearing remedial Spanish.