Back in the mists of time, I studied for a degree in Modern Languages - French and German. Although I knew plenty of people studying Spanish, I've only ever dabbled with structured learning, including a 10-week evening course in the late 1990s.
I thought I'd look at how language learning has moved on since I was a student, when "interactive" meant watching a video. During the first lockdown in 2020, I started to see adverts for lifetime access to Rosetta Stone. PCMag reviewed it, with the finding:
Rosetta Stone is the best full-featured language-learning software, and it's our Editors' Choice for paid programs.
They also had a link to an article on the best free language learning apps
This brought me back to DuoLingo. I tried out the Pro subscription on a two-week trial, which I cancelled before it turned into a year's membership. It's just a little too gamified for my liking.
MemRise however has ticked the boxes for me, and I've subscribed for $34.99/year. It has some of the "sticky" features like streaks (how many days you've studied for in a row), and a leaderboard. I was once in the top 50, but then realised that was because it was 7 a.m. on a Monday morning, and the week's progress totals had reset. For me the only negative is that they've implemented their own keyboard, with only the letters required to spell that word. So, not only is it not the native phone keyboard, but the letters aren't even alphabetical. This is possibly by design, so that I have to look closely at which letters I'm using.
Currently I'm learning for fun, rather than with a trip in mind, but the other more expensive options I've found which I'd consider paying for are:
Once I've got some of the basics out of the way, and have enough vocabulary and structure to have a simple conversation, I plan to book a couple of sessions with a Spanish tutor via Preply