Baselang Review: Baselang is a relatively new service, that promises to offer truly unlimited Spanish lessons for just $129 per month.
I gave it a try with my own body, to see what kind of quality you can get at this price level.
Baselang is an online Spanish tutoring service, where you can get unlimited high-quality 1-on-1 tutoring classes for a fixed monthly cost.
The classes take place on Skype, and you have you full flexibility of when to schedule the classes and how many you'd like.
Baselang was founded by Adrian Castañeda and Connor Grooms. Connor recently challenged himself to learn Spanish in just 30 days, with the help of Adrian.
His experience, which became the foundation for Baselang was made into a short film that has now been seen by over 400.000 people on YouTube.
After realising the value of individual lessons, the two of them started working on the logistics of providing unlimited Spanish tutoring around the clock for $129 per month.
Did they manage to launch a great service?
To find out, I took four 30 minute lessons with 3 different teachers to see what Baselang was all about.
This Baselang review is the result of that little experiment.
As always I'm trying to get you more value as an Actual Fluency reader, so if you do want to try Baselang after reading this review you can try it for a week for just $1 and even get $10 off your first full month.
How Baselang Works
Baselang is extremely simple.
You can get your first week as a trial for $1 after which the service costs $129 per month. There are no contracts, and you can cancel anytime with a few clicks.
With Actual Fluency you can also grab $10 off your first month.
Once you're registered you can book classes straight from the website. This is what it looks like
As you can see here Baselang offers you the opportunity to book around-the-clock lessons with a random teacher up to 2 days in advance, or a more limited schedule with your favourite teachers.
You can book as many lessons as you want.
It's truly unlimited. There are no restrictions on the lengths of your classes either, although my teachers did suggest I limited my lessons to 3 hours at one time, to make them more effective and not burn out.
The first lesson
The first lesson is a welcome lesson where Baselang is explained, and you're asked a number of questions that will help all the teachers serve you better.
The information is then added to your personal profile, so future teachers can retrieve it later. I thought it was nice they asked me about my interests and if I had any topics I did not want to talk about at all.
During my case study, researching this Baselang review I tried 3 different teachers.
I was very happy with the quality of the teachers. They are primarily from Venezuela, and they bring a lot of energy and happiness to the lessons. I had a lot of fun, and the time flew by.
There was also barely any problems in our English communications and those minor misunderstandings that did happen were probably more due to Skype, and my inferior setup than anything else.
They were patient and entertaining too and did not hesitate sharing cultural notes, mnemonics and other ideas to help me learn faster.
After each lesson your teacher will add notes to your case file, so that the next teacher knows some things about you before the lesson begins.
As a Baselang student you can either follow the curriculum or syllabus they have laid out, or you can simply ask the teachers what you'd like to work on. The teachers are happy to help and structure your lessons exactly as you want them.
They also coordinate it with Memrise, a flashcard platform, so you can practice the vocabulary outside the classes.
During my lessons I decided to let the teachers follow the syllabus and run through some of the materials that Baselang offers.
Thus my lessons were mostly focussed on learning survival, or essential Spanish to the point where I could then make my own sentences.
It's important to note that you're in charge. You don't have to follow the Baselang Syllabus if you'd rather work on something else. I only did this because I wanted to get a feel for the quality of the materials they provide.
The Cost of Baselang
*Full transparency: This review was written when the price was $99 per month. Although it is an increase, it's not big enough to change my opinion of Baselang. If you're really busy and can only do one or two lessons per week then I'd still recommend italki or other platforms.*
Before I get into the economics of Baselang, I'd just like to mention that they offer a $1 trial for the first week, and as an Actual Fluency reader you also get $10 off your first month.
In addition to this there is a 35 day refund period, where if you don't love the service can get your money back, PLUS $20 as an apology for ‘wasting your time'.
This means the only thing you risk by giving Baselang a try is making $20 for your effort. Not bad, right?
While $129 per month for unlimited Spanish lessons sounds cheap on the surface, how does it actually compare to alternative solutions like italki?
The first issue with this comparison is that you're not comparing apples to apples. In my opinion, Baselang has several advantages over finding your own individual tutors on marketplaces like italki.
Advantages of Baselang over tutoring platforms
Cheaper isn't always better. I feel like Baselang has advantages that makes the price harder to compare to finding your own tutors.
- Teacher Quality and Transparency: Baselang already vetted the teachers, so you don't have to go through what could be multiple teachers to find someone good. Furthermore all reviews that students complete after each session is published instantly on this page.
- Convenience: I must admit I always found italki convenient when booking tutors, but Baselang just took it to a whole other level. During my case study, I successfully booked and completed a tutoring lesson on Baselang within 5 minutes of it starting, I'm not sure even italki instant tutoring is that fast! Booking is also faster and easier, and you can have lessons almost around the clock without being restricted by your single italki-teacher's schedule.
- Truly Unlimited: Although perhaps an obvious point it has to be said again. If you're really serious about learning Spanish you could have 6 hours a day for a month and save 90% of what the same amount of lessons would've cost on italki. I understand this is an extreme example, but it shows you the potential of the unlimited concept.
The cost compared
As I mentioned before, I believe that you cannot directly compare the two offers.
However, as I know some people are on a strict budget and some people might not have the time to go all-in on Baselang lessons I thought I'd do a price comparison in this review anyway.
As of October 2016 an average community tutor (meaning no qualifications) on italki for Latin American Spanish would cost you around $6 per hour.
A bit of simple math tells us that if you do less than roughly 20 hours of tutoring in a month, italki starts to get cheaper.
But then again, that is only considering price. You also have to factor in the advantages I previously mentioned in the argument.
In conclusion, if you're not able to commit 10-15 hours of tutoring (or more) per month I would probably start to consider finding my own tutors.
That being said, if you're not on a budget you might just enjoy the convenience and quality of using Baselang so much, that it's worth the investment to you anyway.
Latin American Spanish vs European Spanish
One thing I was a bit apprehensive about when I was writing this Baselang review was learning Latin American Spanish with Baselang, when I was based in Europe and would be most likely encountering far more European Spanish than Latin American Spanish.
Baselang addresses this on their website:
Baselang.comWe teach the Spanish that is spoken in Latin America (which is what is spoken in South America, Central America, and the vast majority of Spanish spoken in the United States).
Though Latin American Spanish is 90% the same as the Spanish from Spain, there are some differences. If you go to Spain with the Spanish you learn with us, you will be able to communicate completely fine. People will know that you’re “not from there” and you may not recognize some things they say. We suggest getting to a conversational level with BaseLang and then going to Spain to tweak your Spanish to being more Iberian if that’s where you will speak it.
I'm not entirely sure what to think of this, still.
Yes it seems the dialects are extremely closely related, and the teachers were happy to point out differences between the countries, but to me it's just hard to justify learning Latin American Spanish first and then European Spanish after if that's where you'll be using it.
Not to mention the pronunciation, which after being learnt can be tough to unlearn.
I understand this problem is not shared by most, after all the Latin American Spanish population outnumber the European Spanish population almost 10-1!
And let's be honest, it's not like Spain doesn't have regional differences anyway within itself, so ultimately I find Baselang a plausible option for the Spain Spanish learners.
What I like about Baselang
- Truly unlimited
- Passionate and friendly teachers
- Super easy and convenient
- Great value for the ambitious student
- Teachers are vetted and feedback is public
- $1 no-risk-trial and no on-going commitment
What I don’t like about Baselang
- Some lesson time is wasted on catching up/admin
- The Baselang syllabus seemed a little slow for an experienced learner – (but you can design the classes as you want.)
- Not ideal for European Spanish learners, although can be done (see above.)
Baselang Review Conclusion
Baselang is a fantastically convenient and fun solution to learn Spanish with. For the ambitious and demanding students the value of the unlimited concept is unheard of and during my testing of the site I found only minor annoyances that I have listed above.
For anyone interested in learning Latin American Spanish, this is one of the best resources to do it with. The value of getting individual teaching and feedback is huge, and there is potential for some super rapid learning.
For European Spanish my recommendation is neutral, as I think people who need that version of the language should find teachers from Spain instead.
In conclusion of this Baselang review I'm sure people out there will greatly enjoy the convenience, price, and quality provided by the service, and I wholeheartedly recommend you give it a try.