BaseLang review: the best online Spanish classes
Because Spanish is at the tippy top of the list of the most popular second languages to learn, there are a million and a half options – you have sites like Verbling and italki, where you can find pretty much unlimited Spanish speakers with pretty much every kind of accent to learn from, or something like Kwiziq which is really really good at one thing: grammar. Enter BaseLang.
BaseLang, an online Spanish language school, is a diamond in the rough. Where all the other language learning resources you’ll find out there will help you with one part of the language, maybe two (ie. reading, writing, listening, grammar, pronunciation, etc.), BaseLang is the package deal, if you want it to be. Or, if you just want to speak, BaseLang is there for you, too. Let’s dive into this BaseLang review, and see why BaseLang could be the only online Spanish classes you’ll ever need.
BaseLang: well-rounded online Spanish classes
BaseLang’s entire premise is unlimited, private, online Spanish classes for one monthly fee. They offer a variety of options, including just speaking practice; more structured, formal classes; and even an intensive month-to-fluency course if you go to their in-person location in Colombia. If you’re not heading to Colombia anytime soon, though, you have two options: Real World and DELE.
BaseLang’s Real World Spanish classes
BaseLang’s cheapest, most flexible program is their Real World program. For $149 a month, you have unlimited access to their Spanish teachers based in Latin America so that you can learn
The Real World program is pretty simple: here’s a bunch of native Spanish speakers that are available to you – pick one! Hopefully you can find a teacher that you can get to know, and
But still, if you’re comfortable talking to a whole bunch of people at a pretty touch-and-go basis, this can work really well for you. You can have pretty much constant conversational practice for a stupid cheap price of $1 for a one-week trial (if you don’t like it, BaseLang will literally pay YOU $20 for a negative risk).
Because BaseLang is based in Latin America, they’re able to offer this platform at a reasonable price and still pay their employees a healthy living wage, but this also does mean that you’ll only have access to a Latin American accent. They claim to teach Spanish with a neutral accent, which is great, but be warned that if you plan to head to Spain, you will have a hard time getting around the Spanish accent unless you actively seek out Spanish conversations on a different platform.
BaseLang Real World is like Verbling and italki in that you can just pick the teacher you want and schedule a conversation from 5 minutes to 5 days in advance. Keep in mind, though, that the best teachers are the ones that are scheduled up as soon as possible, so even if you can find a conversation at the literal last minute, the teacher might not be the best quality.
While Verbling and italki teachers go into detail convincing you to study with them, including resumes and (hopefully) reviews, you don’t get nearly as much info about BaseLang teachers; it does make sense considering they’re all vetted and trained by BaseLang themselves, but I do wish there were reviews by students on the teachers’ pages.
The BaseLang website itself does host reviews, and you’re asked to review your teacher after every lesson, but it seems like it’s more to rave about how great BaseLang is, not necessarily tipping students off about what to expect with each teacher. So basically, you don’t get to see if you’ll like a teacher unless you actually commit to a 30 minute lesson, which is annoying.
BaseLang has really worked on their teacher section though, which is great. While it used to be just choosing a teacher either by name or by when you’re available, they’ve really expanded their search to help you narrow down a teacher that’ll jive more with you.
And even though they still don’t have easy-to-find ratings by other students on each teacher profile, so you still have to take your chances, BaseLang has made it easier to remember which teachers you like and don’t like with a private rating system, which is super helpful.
They’ve also made it easier to see a bunch of teachers at a glance; while it used to be just a drop-down menu, where you’re left to hope that you can remember which teachers you like, they’ve gone ahead and made it easier to see teachers at a glance, and even help you remember which teachers you like the most. Kudos to them for improving their platform!
BaseLang’s DELE Spanish classes
Option 2 is the DELE classes, priced at $199/month. BaseLang advertises these conversational Spanish classes as both for learners who just need some more structure in their lives, and for learners who actually want to take the DELE exam, which is the official exam used to test Spanish across all four skills: speaking, listening, reading, and writing.
This part right here is why I say BaseLang could be the only online Spanish classes you ever need, and they explain it pretty well on their website, too. You could spread your time around, using something like Verbling for speaking practice, Duolingo for a little bit of vocab, etc., but that absolutely can get frustrating/stressful/difficult. BaseLang honestly does a really wonderful job of putting all four of the language skills together under one roof.
First, they start off with an intro to the course. Us youngins might skip it, since we’re honestly used to having to figure stuff out for ourselves. It might also seem a little overwhelming, since the first thing you see is a whole bunch of Spanish which might be a lot, especially if you’re not accustomed to reading Spanish. They do have their intros in English, but it can be stress-inducing if you just glance at the Spanish real quick and give up.
The intros are 3 powerpoint slides. I do wish/initially expect them to be cute little videos, I’m not going to lie, so it’s kind of underwhelming to see simple, text-only slides to click through. It doesn’t necessarily get me excited about the program, but it does its job.
The first slide takes you through the definitions of each level, A1-C2. It explains the level of fluency each level describes, and tells you what a learner at each level should be able to accomplish. Pretty basic stuff that is important for anybody who’s learning Spanish with any sort of goal in mind. Which should be everyone.
The second intro talks more about the BaseLang DELE preparation course. Right off the bat you see it starts with B1, intermediate. So, if you’ve paid the $1 for the first week of the course, but realize you’re still a solid beginner, you know you’re barking up the wrong tree and to come back later. Page 5 of this intro slide starts to tell you about the program’s structure. And, maybe I’m nit-picking here, but if I were to do this, I would list the segments in the order that they appear in the sidebar.
Again, not a huge huge deal, just something that I feel might complicate things in my brain. It then goes into what each section is for, and explains that “Test-prep” is for students interested in taking the DELE exam, and “Skills Improvement” is for students who are just looking for more structure in their studies.
And then “Grammar lessons” is just…there. I feel like grammar is a skill, and should be in Skills Improvement. But it’s separate, which initially doesn’t make sense to me. Later in the slide they imply that it’s more for separate learning or reviewing, which I suppose does make sense, as grammar isn’t an official language skill. So, you know, take that as you will.
“Electives” is the term they use instead of “vocabulary”. So, again, not an actual language skill, but also a really important part of learning a new language. They provide a variety of vocabulary, and I suppose they use the term “electives” because they don’t care which vocabulary you learn, but you do need to learn something.
That being said, all of the course materials are available to you at any time as long as you’re still an active student. You don’t need to be in an active lesson with a teacher to access them – it just helps a lot with the actual speaking practice!
You also have the option to go through these lessons as you please, though I wouldn’t really suggest it. The course is made specifically so that you can improve all four language skills evenly, so if one of them is harder, you need to practice more. But, if you do so choose, just let your teacher know and they’ll take you through whichever lessons you request. Or, you can go off the book and just have a conversation. Totally up to you.
BaseLang isn’t perfect
So. Unlimited private Spanish conversations with a native speaker for a reasonable fee (considering what you’re able to do with it). On top of that, you have constant access to a specially made, very well-rounded course that not only addresses every aspect of the Spanish language and can be used to prepare for the official DELE exam, but all the teachers available to you are trained in it, and are open to taking you through the course at your own pace.
It sounds awesome, and it really is awesome. It’s honestly a Spanish language lover’s dream. All the work is done for you. No more buying books or having to find vocab or trying to figure out grammar or any of that nonsense.
But it’s not perfect. There are some major bugs that aren’t exactly resolvable, unfortunately. Although BaseLang consistently updates and improves their platform, which is awesome, there are a few pain points that I don’t think are ever going to go away.
BaseLang teacher turnover rate
I mentioned this a little bit but it’s important to talk about. Most of the BaseLang teachers are great and are willing to listen to what you want and what you’re looking for. If you stick with it, you’ll find yourself gravitating towards the teachers that you know you love to hang out with.
Unfortunately, there is an insane turnover rate. I worked through the DELE course material every day with a teacher that I really liked. I would make sure to schedule her for around the same time every day; it could be difficult if I wasn’t available to schedule that lesson the second the schedule opened up, but I did pretty well.
And then, at one point, I stopped being able to schedule appointments. Silly me, I assumed she was going on vacation or something; nope, she had been promoted, and one day she wasn’t there anymore. There went all my stability and, honestly, my friend. I had a couple other teachers I liked, but none with that rapport, or with that flow. That really got me off the habit of using the site, and I stopped shortly after.
The thing that’s great about traditional classes is the stability of going to a place regularly with the same people and keeping on track. BaseLang’s teacher turnover rate unfortunately doesn’t offer you that stability, which can be off putting.
Iffy internet connection
BaseLang’s teachers are all based in Venezuela, which means the internet connection may or may not be usable. This could depend on a variety of factors: the BaseLang teacher’s location, the weather, the teacher’s internet service, the country’s internet as a whole, etc. Sometimes the internet is just bad.
If the teacher you scheduled that day is having connectivity issues, BaseLang will offer to set you up with another teacher, but that is still less than desirable if you were looking forward to a lesson with a particular teacher.
An unstable connection can also ruin a lesson completely, and even make it more difficult for you to maintain motivation. I’ve spent an entire lesson just struggling to understand my BaseLang teacher through a shoddy internet connection that either kept lagging or kept cutting out completely.
It’s an incredibly frustrating experience and is very likely to turn someone off from making the attempt again. I know it was frustrating for me to finally find the motivation to try another lesson again, only for it to be interrupted by the internet!
While you may try to avoid this by avoiding certain BaseLang teachers, let me tell you from experience that this doesn’t always work. I tried to take a lesson with my favorite teacher, Emily, and while some days her connection was crystal clear and we had a great time together, some days she had to cancel completely because she couldn’t connect at all.
It’s difficult to find a teacher that has a great connection 100% of the time, so you will have to be flexible. You can always find a class if you want to, but you’ll need to be open to whoever is available at that time.
BaseLang is not Spanish for beginners
The fact that BaseLang doesn’t have Spanish for beginners…well it’s more of a bad thing than a good, in my opinion. There are literally countless options out there for materials for Spanish for beginners, and the struggle is generally finding material for intermediate and advanced learners. So it’s nice that the more experienced students get something.
However, I don’t think beginners should have to miss out entirely. For one, half of the premise is offering structure for the DELE exam, but it’s not like you can’t take the exam if you’re not a beginner. You can definitely receive certification that you are an A1 Spanish speaker. The DELE exam doesn’t forget the beginners, and BaseLang shouldn’t either.
Second, I am a full, 1000% fan of consciously building all four language skills from the beginning. That’s usually hard to do from the start, and BaseLang has the ability to expand their bases just a little bit more to include the basics. They advertise that you c
BaseLang review: the best online Spanish classes
There you have it. While I do not personally use BaseLang anymore, since that BaseLang teacher turnover rate is just too much for me, I’m not about to say it’s not a fantastic resource for Spanish lessons online. It’s a hell of a deal, and there’s nothing else out there.
You can learn Spanish from scratch using this tool. You can use it forever, and you can get a lot from it. There are hitches, but no more than anything else. That being said, if you have the opportunity to try it, I absolutely recommend you do. I mean hey, all you’ve got to lose is a buck!