BaseLang is a Spanish-specific language learning service that connects Spanish learners to native Latin American Spanish speakers. BaseLang is special because it’s the first (though no longer only!) of its kind: unlimited lessons for one monthly price.
In this BaseLang review, you’ll learn everything you need to know about this resource: what you’ll learn, what you won’t learn, and if you should consider BaseLang for your Spanish language learning.
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 “if you wanna learn to speak Spanish, you gotta practice actually speaking Spanish”.
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 to 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.
And before you get worried that BaseLang is more salesy than effective…don’t. Despite the fact that BaseLang continues to make massive strides to improve their platform (which I talk about in-depth in this review), they’re also very very upfront about any BaseLang reviews that exist literally everywhere, including feedback from individual lessons and blog posts/articles like the one you’re reading right now.
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 offers two programs: “Real World” and “Grammarless”. Both are available online and in-person at their location in Medellin, Colombia. Because of the practical differences between teaching online and in-person, there are slight differences, but pretty much the same.
Let’s start with BaseLang Grammarless.
As the name suggests, BaseLang Grammarless is based on the concept that in order to get conversational in Spanish (or any language, really) you don’t need to have an explicit, textbook understanding of grammar, which is true.
With BaseLang Grammarless, you’re thrown into an intensive Spanish curriculum to get you from “zero to conversational” – so it’s best for total beginner Spanish language learners.
Can you get conversational in a month with BaseLang Grammarless? Sure, but it’s not going to be easy. Here’s what it looks like:
- 4 hours per day (if in Medellin – 2 or 4 per day, 80 total if online)
- dedicated teacher
- online students pick their hours between 6 AM and 12 AM EST
- unlimited online access (yup, in-person students get this too!)
It’s worth mentioning that BaseLang Grammarless is a wildly intensive program. As in, you best not have much else going on in life if you want to be successful. This is no different than any other intensive programs or challenges.
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.
This is an interesting change, considering the old BaseLang 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.
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 2-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 all of these classes. These classes happen at varying times with different teachers.
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.
BaseLang Real World
BaseLang Real World, however, is not nearly as intensive. Their promise is unlimited classes for one monthly price, which is excellent for Spanish language learners with busy schedules. Of course, BaseLang Real World is also available both online and in Medellin, Colombia.
Again, because of the practical differences between serving students online and in-person, there are also some differences between the offers.
BaseLang Real World Online
Online is simple: $149 gets you a month of unlimited Spanish conversations with professional native speakers of Latin American Spanish. Honestly, the financial value of this depends on how many hours you’re willing/able to commit per month – it boils down to a math problem.
In-person is a bit more complicated: choose between Real World Lite and Real World.
BaseLang Real World In-Person
Real World Lite: up to 2 hours of in-person classes per day (plus unlimited classes online) for $599/month.
Real World: unlimited in-person classes PLUS unlimited online classes for $1,119/month.
Basically, in-person gets you MORE classes (considering they include the same stuff that Online students get. The one thing to note is the in-person hours, of course – they offer morning, afternoon, and evening local hours.
Both BaseLang Real World options offer “Sandbox Mode”, which means you don’t have to use BaseLang’s curriculum. Let’s talk more about that.
If you go for BaseLang Real World, where you don’t choose your teacher at the beginning and instead basically use any teacher that’s available for flexibility, there’s somewhat of a process.
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.
By the way – BaseLang’s turnover rate is really high, so I’m sure this particular teacher isn’t available anymore.
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 day was already taken. That was WAY too much effort so I really like this fix for that!
You can now set up to 3 teachers as favorites.
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, if they speak any English, or if you’ll enjoy your lesson.
Sometimes you just don’t jive with a particular tutor, it’s a normal part of finding a teacher in literally any scenario.
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!
Important note: BaseLang is known for its extra-high turnover rate, especially with its best tutors. Basically, if you love a particular teacher, they’re always going to be booked out until they just kind of disappear and you have to find a new favorite.
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. This makes it super easy to review the vocabulary independently, which is a great study practice. They also have their own native study content like worksheets and fill-in-the-blanks.
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: should you try it?
After this BaseLang review, I’m a fan. However, it’s not for everyone. They are very intentional about their preferred audience, which is great.
In particular, BaseLang is best for Spanish language learners (total beginners, if you’re going for BaseLang Grammarless; level doesn’t matter for BaseLang Real World) who are looking for highly flexible 1:1 lessons with a native speaking Latin American tutor, whether in-person or online.
Is grammar important to you? Not for you. More interested in Castilian Spanish? No-go. Your time zones don’t match up (BaseLang functions on Eastern Time)? Look elsewhere. Don’t have the energy to work with a person (i.e. introverts and neurodiverse folks) for close to 100% of your language learning? Definitely not.
However, if you can spare at least $149 a month and are able to commit to a reasonably significant number of hours to learning conversational Latin American Spanish with a private tutor, BaseLang has quite a few options for you to play with.
After reading this BaseLang review, are you still not sure? Another super special feature of BaseLang is their negative risk guarantee: pay only $1 for your first week, and if you don’t like it, get $20 back.
On top of that negative risk, use my link and get $10 off your first month of online practice!