Post last updated April 2020
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 almost 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 this BaseLang review.
In this BaseLang review, you’ll see that it’s 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 review: the first look
BaseLang is all about fluency, but not the regular old “get fluent in 5 minutes a day!” fluff. Unlike other language learning resources, BaseLang is very upfront about what it takes for someone to get conversationally fluent in Spanish.
On BaseLang’s homepage, they go with a similar angle as mine on this blog. They start with a basic idea of how to be conversationally fluent.
While I don’t 100% agree with this, I do like the angle of “you gotta speak it to learn it”.
However, I don’t think that language exchanges are ineffective. I think there are ways to do them wrong and do them right, but considering I’ve learned a lot from language exchanges, I think throwing them all away and saying they’re ineffective as a whole is harmful for language learners who might not have other options.
Also, hourly tutoring doesn’t necessarily have to be expensive. Especially for native speakers of Latin American Spanish, you can easily find paid conversation practice for just a few bucks an hour, so this feels almost out of touch for me.
At the same time, I do get that this is also a sales pitch, so maybe they’re exaggerating things a bit to make BaseLang seem like the only option. I just feel like this might be harmful to some language learners who would get a lot of good out of these other options, and not from BaseLang.
But then you get this when you scroll down, which is pretty cool!
This form is as realistic (at least more realistic than most other resources) as it is motivating. Honestly, I look at this and think about my own Spanish language goals and figure “yeah, when the time comes, I should definitely come to BaseLang to achieve what I want to achieve!”.
Scroll down a bit more and BaseLang really drives this sales pitch home.
Okay okay, so enough of the (incredibly effective) sales pitch. Let’s talk about the nitty gritty of what BaseLang is for this BaseLang review.
BaseLang isn’t new anymore, but their Grammarless option is. This seems to have replaced their DELE curriculum. So let’s talk about that, shall we?
BaseLang Grammarless is an online language curriculum on steroids – only suitable for Spanish language who are COMMITTED. This course is 80 hours of Spanish curriculum with one dedicated teacher and one structured pathway through the Spanish language.
It’s important to note that BaseLang Grammarless is not for you if you already have experience in Spanish. This program is meant to supercharge you through beginner programs like Duolingo and Pimsleur.
This is an interesting change, considering their old DELE course, which doesn’t exist anymore, was more for intermediate-advanced learners, which meant that beginners had to get some experience in elsewhere before starting up with BaseLang.
So, basically, BaseLang Grammarless takes the structure of Lingoda (and the intensity of Lingoda Sprint) and mixes it with the teacher-student relationship that you (at least should) get with Verbling or italki.
Let’s be clear about the difference between Lingoda Sprint and BaseLang Grammarless, because they are both highly intensive Spanish-speaking courses.
Lingoda Sprint is a 3-month course (and only opens to new students every 3 months) that includes 15-30 classes per month (15 classes for Sprint, 30 classes for Super Sprint) and a guaranteed refund (50% for Sprint, 100% for Super Sprint) if you attend 90% of these classes.
BaseLang Grammarless is an 80-hour course that is taken over 1 or 2 months (1 month of 4 hours of practice/day, or 2 months of 2 hours of practice/day). These classes happen at the same time every day with the same teacher.
Lingoda Sprint is 15-30 hour-long classes per month for 3 months with different teachers.
BaseLang Grammarless is 80 hours of classes for 1-2 months with the same teacher.
In the past, I’ve had the complaint that BaseLang has a really fast turnover rate; as soon as I’d found a teacher I liked and built up a relationship with them, they were gone and everything would have to start all over again.
While BaseLang Grammarless does require significant commitment…this would solve that problem. However, I do expect that problem to still exist in the Real World curriculum.
BaseLang Real World
BaseLang Real World, however, is not new. It’s not nearly as intensive, not nearly as strict, and more suitable for Spanish language learners of any and all levels. If you’re an intermediate to advanced Spanish speaker, time for you to pay attention!
For $149 a month, you get unlimited online Spanish conversation with native speakers. All of BaseLang’s teachers are from Latin America, though, so if it’s important to you to get practice with Castilian Spanish, unfortunately, BaseLang will not be beneficial to you.
It is worth mentioning, by the way, that BaseLang now has a few teachers that teach Spain-specific grammar (vosotros). They’re not going to have that Castilian accent, though.
However, $149 a month with the option to speak Spanish with natives for 8 hours a day every single day? Now that is a good deal, so long as you use it to your advantage.
However, if you don’t care? Here are your options for finding yourself a BaseLang teacher.
I do love the basic category options on the left in particular. Especially that gender option – one of my main qualms with italki is that you can’t search for teachers by gender. Apparently I’m not the only one!
Once I stuck in that information, here’s the BaseLang teacher that appealed to me the most.
BaseLang teachers have always had a little get-to-know-you video, but the newer (to me) bit is that bottom bar. That Private Rating part is SO helpful – last time I was active on BaseLang, you basically just got a list of BaseLang teachers to choose from, and you had to remember which ones you liked. Now you don’t have to remember!
Plus, check out what pops up when you set a BaseLang teacher as your favorite.
I’m a huge fan here, too. One of the problems I’ve run into is trying to get onto BaseLang scheduling the minute the next day opened up, only to find my favorite BaseLang teacher and my favorite time of the was already taken. That was WAY too much effort so I really like this fix for that!
BaseLang review: scheduling a session
The first thing that happens when you go to schedule a BaseLang class is you’re asked to add the email address linked to your Zoom account – it also mentions that Zoom has a much better connection than Skype which is somewhat promising for me, as one of the worst problems I’ve had with BaseLang in the past is really bad connection.
Then you get to schedule a lesson, either by time or teacher.
This section has definitely had a facelift and solved a lot of problems that I used to have for the platform. First of all, you weren’t able to search for a time slot by individual teacher – instead you’d waste a lot of time going through each individual time slot looking for a teacher that you like.
Second is that option to show when multiple consecutive classes with the same teacher are available. That’s HUGE! That, again, makes the BaseLang search so much more efficient than it used to be!
Third, it sticks your time zone right in there. So handy! You don’t have to guess/hope that everything’s all set, and you’re not going to miss any sessions (which I definitely have).
In fact, I can see right there that my time zone is WAY off, so I can go and fix that before I get my expectations set on a time/teacher.
One thing that BaseLang is proud of is the fact that you’re able to schedule a lesson at literally the last minute. Well, let’s see what happens when I try!
This is the list of BaseLang teachers available in the next 20 minutes.
The old adage of “beggers can’t be choosers” is usually pretty accurate in this scenario. While there are a surprising number of teachers available, you can’t be sure that you’ll necessarily hit it off with one of them, or if they speak any English.
Nonetheless, in past years BaseLang would just give you a list of the BaseLang teachers available in this time slot, and it would be up to you to go back into the section with their bios and descriptions and everything. Now they’re included right in this scheduling section, which is a serious improvement!
Once you’ve got your timing and teacher all figured out, there’s nothing left but to confirm your lesson!
BaseLang review: Lessons
While BaseLang Real World is much more loosey-goosey than Grammarless, there is still a curriculum. This curriculum used to be really confusing, but they seem to have simplified it a lot, which is great.
Under the “Lessons” tab, you’ll find Core Lessons and Electives.
Core Lessons are broken up into levels 0-9, from beginner to advanced, and are there to support your grammar education. You don’t have to be in an active lesson, just an active subscriber, so it’s nice to be able to go into this section and reference any concepts you might be working on.
Each of these core lessons are broken into subject based on grammar and/or vocab. Just click into any of these lessons that you might want to review and you’ll get some PowerPoint slides to click through. They’re not the prettiest, but they get the job done.
These lessons aren’t particularly special compared to something you could find elsewhere so it’s not a big deal if you stop your membership and lose access, but it is nice to be able to reference the material you might’ve been working on in class that day.
Then we have Electives. Same layout and all, just some fun vocab to help you express yourself in your sessions if you’re looking for pure conversational practice.
Man. I know I said it before, but it’s worth saying again – I’m really glad that BaseLang made these lessons much more simple. There used to be an independent intro and all this frankly unnecessary information. This is much more helpful!
Interestingly, BaseLang has also supplemented these courses with their own Memrise flashcards. I think this is the first time I’ve seen a resource use another to help its audience. So hey, if you’re already a fan of Memrise, you’re good to go!
BaseLang’s other updates
The last time I actively used BaseLang was probably a couple of years ago, so it’s awesome to see how much it’s improved. I will always recommend a language learning resource that listens to its audience and improved over time over one that doesn’t.
That being said, I think it’s worth mentioning another huge improvement compared to my last review: internet connection.
In the past, the internet connection was iffy at best – sometimes it was perfectly fine, and sometimes it was so bad, the BaseLang teacher had to bring in someone else to substitute for the rest of the class.
Fortunately, seems BaseLang has stepped it up!
Instead of just apologizing and explaining that all BaseLang teachers are located in Venezuela where the internet isn’t always great, BaseLang has really stepped it up by providing all the BaseLang teachers with free 3G connection! Yeah, I’m a fan.
BaseLang review: supercharge your Spanish
Over the years, BaseLang has really put the effort into not only providing Spanish language learners with a very high-quality resource, but also continuously listening to feedback and solving problems.
And generally, I think most of these fixes are awesome! This BaseLang review proves that they’re getting pretty good at teaching us Spanish. Do I wish the DELE-specific course still existed? Yes, I was planning on coming back to it one day, because I plan on taking the C2 DELE course one day.
Am I glad that BaseLang now has something to offer new Spanish language learners, and is probably offering something that’s much more beneficial to the language learning community? Absolutely!
That being said, BaseLang continues to provide a very high-quality resource for Spanish language learners who have the time, money, and commitment to supercharge their fluency and understanding of Spanish. So, if this BaseLang review is what you’re looking for, BaseLang just might be for you!