Learning Spanish was intriguing to long before we ever moved to Mexico. However, once we took a leap and actually moved to Mexico in August of 2016, learning Spanish became a necessity, not just a hobby. If we wanted to travel Mexico (or at minimum order the right meal at a restaurant), we needed to learn Spanish fast!
♦ My Previous Study Efforts
Like many of you, I started with Duolingo. While this is a great (and free!) option to brush up on your vocabulary and grammar, I am not sure that Duolingo truly prepares you to actually speak Spanish on the streets.
After spinning my wheels for quite some time on Duolingo, I moved on to using Pimsleur audiobooks. These were great! I highly recommend these audiobooks to anyone looking to advance their Spanish beyond the vocabulary-learning stage. Pimsleur recently created their own app and added an affordable membership service that gives you access to all levels and lessons!
With around 150-30 minute lessons, Pimsleur is perfect for taking you from the beginner stages to the intermediate level in no time! One of the best parts about Pimsleur? There is no wasted time with boring grammar exercise! Pimsleur cuts straight to the vocabulary and phrases that you need to know to survive and thrive in a Spanish-speaking country!
Pimsleur offers a completely FREE 7-day trial! You can access all of the material and try it out for yourself by clicking here! For the past year or so, Netflix has been my go-to resource for learning Spanish. Watching movies and shows in Spanish (with Spanish subtitles) is a great way to improve your listening skills and to pick up vocabulary in a real-world type setting. The great thing is that you probably already have Netflix--the downside is that it still does not truly prepare you to speak to people in the real world, day-to-day situation.
So what is the best way to improve your ability to have a conversation in Spanish?
Have more conversations in Spanish!
As in introvert, I do not exactly love striking up conversations with strangers on the street. Baselang completely eliminates that problem for me. Currently, the Baselang online program is $150 USD per month and comes with UNLIMITED one-on-one Spanish classes with teachers living in Mexico, Columbia, Venezuela, and all over South America.
Baselang offers a one-week trial for $1! You can schedule classes and test out the Baselang program by clicking here!
♦ Pros of Baselang
Truly Unlimited Classes
Once you sign up for Baselang, you can take as many classes as you want. If you want to take 8 hours of classes a day every single day of the month, it can be done! If you have the time to dedicate one or more hours per day to your studies, you can make incredible progress with Spanish using Baselang. When I first started Baselang, (in May) I was taking 3-4 classes per day and I made huge strides in my Spanish knowledge and level of confidence.
Choose Your Teacher
Once signed up, you choose from the hundreds of teachers to take one-on-one classes with. I really like this because it allows you to find teachers that you truly mesh with. Each teacher has a little video about themselves, along with a few of their interests. Obviously, the teachers vary greatly. Looking for an outgoing male teacher who may also enjoy sports? DONE. Looking for a more reserved, female who enjoys cooking? Also DONE. There are plenty of teachers to choose from!
The Baselang Curriculum
I will admit that I have not spent a ton of time studying the prepared lessons, but it is really nice that Baselang has their own material, exercises, and vocabulary for you to learn and practice during class or on your own time. The lessons all build on one another with vocabulary, grammar, examples, and plenty of practice too!
You are in Charge of Class
Like I said, I have not spent a lot of time with the pre-prepared curriculum. At the beginning of each class, the teacher will ask you what you want to do during your class. I usually just want to have a conversation about random topics, but you can choose to study the material, talk about sports, review questions you may have, or anything at all! You are truly in charge of directing the class however you want!
You can take classes anytime you want! The first class starts at 5:00am CST and the last class ends at 12:00am CST. This flexibility really is one of the best parts about Baselang--it works on your time. Bonus: have an extra 30 minutes some time during the day? You can actually book a class at the last minute if you want!
The Baselang interface and organization is really easy to use. Booking classes, finding teachers, lessons, etc. is all very seamless and intuitive. The actual classes are held via Zoom which is also very user-friendly.
Dedicated Customer Support
While this is not likely is not something you will need, the team is very responsive and helpful via their online chat!
♦ Cons of Baselang
The Monthly Fee Look, the elephant in the room here is the monthly fee of $150 USD. We absolutely recognize that steep cost but we look at Baselang as an investment. There are plenty of programs out there that are much cheaper than Baselang, but I have yet to find something that is as well put together and really offers the same amount of value. In my opinion, it is better to pay a premium, use it as much as you can, and get results rather than pay $15 dollars a month for something and stay stuck at the same level for forever.
It may not be a great value if you do not have enough time or are willing to make the time to take many classes per day/week. The value in Baselang really comes in the ability to take unlimited classes. If you are just looking to take a few classes a week, I am not sure that Baselang is a good value for you. Example: 15 classes per month = 10 dollars per class. That’s not a horrible value, but you would get a lot more for your money if you took 30 hours of classes each month!
The Hunt for Great Teachers
Baselang has a LOT of teachers! One of the cool things about Baselang is that you actually get to choose your teacher for each class. Whenever you book a class, you can either book by a certain time slot and then choose available teachers or you can choose a specific teacher that you like and choose a time that he/she has available. What we recommend is trying as many teachers as possible your first week or so. Some will be great, some will be…meh. Once you find 3-5 teachers you enjoy taking classes with, I suggest sticking with them.
Why is this a con, then?! I have found that the great teachers often have lots of other students that love them too and it seems like oftentimes when I found a teacher that I really liked, his/her schedule would fill up really fast and I would not have the opportunity to sign up for classes again. On the other hand, some of the teachers that I thought were just “meh” always have time available. With that said, Hillary and I have both found teachers that we love and can consistently book classes with!
This goes along with finding good teachers. Most of the time, bad internet connections on the teacher's end are not too big of an issue, but I have taken classes with professors that I really liked that I will never use again because they consistently had slow WIFI. Again, during your first week, we recommend trying out as many teachers as you can in order to find teachers that you 1) like and 2) have a good internet connection!
Is Baselang perfect? Absolutely not. However, I have yet to find a better program that actually helps improve your day-to-day, real working knowledge of Spanish. If you have the time to dedicate to learning Spanish, Baselang is a great way for you to reach a conversational (and above!) level of fluency. In the past, I would make the same mistakes over and over again and never have anyone to correct me. Now that I can talk to a Spanish teacher every single day (and for multiple hours if I choose) I have someone that can help correct my most frequent errors and answer all of my questions. Using Baselang has helped me improve my vocabulary, grammar, confidence, and most importantly, the ability to have a real conversation. In my opinion, Baselang is the glue that puts everything together. Everything you may have learned from a one week Spanish school, Duolingo, Pimsleur, Netflix, etc. all gets combined into the real world classroom setting that is unmatched anywhere else!
Like any Spanish program on the planet, you will get out what you put in! ♦ Take as many classes as you possibly can ♦ Take notes during your classes ♦ Review your notes after classes ♦ Study on your own time ♦ Watch movies and shows in Spanish Baselang is not a magic pill or a quick fix. However, if you use it wisely, you will 100% be able to reach a conversational level of Spanish (and beyond!) Learning Spanish has helped me become a more confident and outgoing person. I truly believe that I am a better person for having learned Spanish. Learning a new language is humbling, eye-opening, and gives so much insight into other people and cultures all around the world! Whether you choose to use Netflix, Baselang, Duolingo, Pimsleur, or talking to taxi drivers as your study method- just don’t stop! As always, feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any other questions you may have. Until next time, Have Less. Do More. Be More.