PROS / Outside the desktop app, you can access a podcast, MP3 lessons and user boards to practice Spanish.
CONS / Fluenz doesn’t offer phone support.
VERDICT / Fluenz comes with a lot of resources to help you immerse yourself in the Spanish-speaking world. The lessons are effective and revolve around travel scenarios so you can cram before a trip.
There's a lot to look forward to when traveling internationally. Whether you’re heading to a Spanish-speaking country for business or pleasure, when you have to learn Spanish fast, it's best to pick up the essentials that relate to your upcoming trip.
Our Top Ten Reviews Gold Award winner uses a fast and balanced approach to help travelers prepare to greet new people, order in restaurants and even buy a cellphone. Fluenz teaches Spanish in a steady and balanced way that suits any learning style.
Fluenz covers all the lesson content we looked for with the exception of cultural lessons about Spanish speaking countries and etiquette. Lessons revolve around topics useful for traveling, such as buying a cellphone or ordering in a restaurant. Each uses conversations to teach Spanish grammar, reading, writing and proper pronunciation.
Sonya Gil is one of the creators of Fluenz, as well as your virtual guide through each lesson. Each course starts with an introduction from Gil who establishes expectations for the lesson. She then introduces you to a practice conversation that serves as the framework for the rest of the lesson.
Afterward, Gil returns to explain the conversation and give context to what you just heard. She emphasizes instructions to listen to the sample conversation three times: once with English and Spanish subtitles, once with Spanish subtitles only and a third time without any subtitles. This trains you to hear and see Spanish words, which is necessary for the rest of the course.
Using material from the practice conversation, you’ll encounter matching, dictation and speech recording activities. Fluenz provides hints when you’re stuck, and the interface is beautiful throughout the program. Dictation practice requires you to write what you hear in Spanish. Thankfully, Fluenz focuses on the content rather than particulars like accent marks so you can focus on recalling and properly spelling words.
The matching section is a simple drag-and-drop translation exercise that uses sentences you saw in the sample conversation at the beginning of the lesson. The speech recording activity doesn’t use an accuracy meter like other programs. Instead, you replace one of the speakers in the familiar conversation by recording yourself speaking their lines. After you’ve recorded yourself, you can listen to your accent and compare it to the original clip.
The lesson path is fluid, allowing you to skip sections or review what you’ve already learned. This is especially useful for intermediate learners who can easily bypass the intro lessons. While you can start at any lesson you want, we recommend following a linear path because the lessons build heavily on each other. Additionally, Fluenz gives you thorough reports of your strengths and weaknesses while learning Spanish so you know which sections to review.
As computers phase out disc drives, online classes become more and more popular. Whether you opt for the digital download or hard copy, you get access to Fluenz's online lessons. The online course uses the same lessons, layout and exercises as the desktop and mobile version, but you can access the lessons from any internet-enabled device. In addition, you can talk to other Fluenz users on the user forums.
Fluenz uses a single login username to access your Spanish lessons across online, desktop and mobile platforms. This saves your progress and makes Fluenz a more uniform experience whether you’re learning with your phone on the way to work or at home on your desktop.
We found Fluenz to be a balanced program, overall, but it is full of lessons for visual learners. The lessons all have a mix of audio, visual and interactive exercises, but Fluenz has all the visual exercises we looked for in Spanish software.
Most of the Spanish teaching software we reviewed has similar flashcard activities. Fluenz lets you adjust the difficulty level to change the words you encounter and how you answer questions. You can also see a linear progression of words or mix up the exercise with random words.
There aren't many speech recognition activities but those Fluenz includes are fun for all types of learners. During these exercises, you participate as half of a conversation. These exercises allow you to take the place of one of the speakers from the practice conversation. Fluenz prompts you to record yourself reading the speaker’s lines so the finished recording sounds like you are speaking in a full conversation.
For auditory learners, the speech recognition, dictation and conversation exercises are the most engaging. You can also download MP3s of audio lessons to your phone or music player. This is especially useful if you find yourself distracted by visual stimuli.
Setup & Support
The Fluenz desktop app only took a minute to install completely. We didn't encounter any technical difficulties during installation or when playing the lessons. You need an activation key to start the program, but this is provided with your purchase.
There are several ways to get in touch with Fluenz. For answers to quick questions, refer to the FAQs section on the Fluenz website, where you can also find email support information. If you need to talk to a representative right away, live chat is available on the website weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST. You cannot contact the company by phone.
Fluenz is accessible at or away from your computer. Whether you’re logging in through your phone, online or on your desktop, this learn Spanish program saves your progress, provides detailed progress reports and creates a fun environment for learners of all types and levels. The lessons use a practical conversation as a common thread to tie the content together. The dictation, matching and practice exercises revolve around this conversation to help you retain what you’ve learned when faced with situations in the real world like ordering at a restaurant or booking a hotel.