Thursday, March 13, 2014

Mango Languages (Schoolhouse Review)

Mango Languages Review
 
We have tried out quite a few foreign language programs—several Spanish programs and a couple of Latin ones. Learning Spanish has been our priority, so that’s been great for us. But what if we want to learn some more unusual languages? Enter Mango Languages! Mango Languages offers over 60 different language courses through their online programs. This is amazing! Want to learn Irish or Russian or Polish? Or maybe you want to learn or experiment with Yiddish, Tagalog, Japanese, or Hawaiian. Or even---PIRATE! How fun!
 
As members of the Schoolhouse Crew, our family was given a 1-year subscription to the new Mango Homeschool Edition to try out. There are some great features in the Mango Homeschool Edition:
  • Access to multiple languages for each family member. (I can learn 3 languages at a time, if I choose, and my children can each choose a different language.)
  • Ability to track the progress of my children.
  • A collaborative language-learning community.
  • Useful for ages 6 to adult.

I was excited to try this out, because I wanted to improve my own Spanish speaking ability. I had 4 years of high school Spanish (a very long time ago), so beginning programs aren’t much help to me. I can still read Spanish fairly well, but my understanding and speaking ability is poor, and most verb conjugation beyond the present tense—Forget it!

Emily was eager to use it because—well, frankly—she likes to try out new things. I liked that this was something she could use independently.

Our Experience:

I found that the initial sign on experience and user interface was a bit complicated. We were provided videos that clearly explained how to set up accounts, link accounts, and choose languages. These were very helpful and made the process easy, but the process would have been confusing without them. Basically, we had to sign into the Mango Homeschool Community site, where there is an opportunity to participate in chats and discussions with other users as well as sign up for any of the language instruction. From there, we had to sign into the particular language and log into the instructional page for that language.

Since I’ve studied Spanish before, I started with a placement test. I listened to dialogues, answered questions, and assembled sentences, then was placed in Chapter 6 of Journey One (the first of 4 units). Since much of the content was still review for me, I was able to progress quite quickly, finishing Journey One in just a couple of weeks. I’m currently working through Journey Two.Mango Spanish Lesson

This is how Mango works: Each chapter begins with a dialogue. Then the dialogue is broken down into words and phrases, with each part being taught separately. A word or phrase is spoken, the learner repeats it, then is quizzed on the next screen. The phrases and sentences gradually become longer and more complex. Grammar is not taught separately, but is instead interwoven into each lesson, with concepts such as verb conjugation and proper usage of plurals and adjectives taught as they are needed. After a concept is introduced in one context, another slide may expect the learner to generalize it to another situation.

Before you know it, you are speaking lengthy sentences in the foreign language! Because of the incremental approach, learning is almost effortless! Grammar helps and cultural information are interspersed throughout each lesson.

Mango Spanish language lesson

I have really enjoyed using Mango, finding it almost addictive. I tend to do several lessons at a sitting, even if I sat down planning to do just one!

Mango Language’s focus is primarily for the traveler; the concepts taught include concepts such as:

  • asking for directions
  • greetings, names, and introductions
  • dining
  • numbers and currency
  • shopping and payment

These topics are, of course, useful for any language learner, but the focus is less on classroom vocabulary, writing, and grammar memorization than you might find in a more traditional academic program. I do think that the reading-hearing-repeating-producing approach might be more effective than the typical textbook approach, though.

There is not a written component built in, but this would be fairly easy to add, by having the student construct a written dictionary from vocabulary learned, or by making quizzes from the PDF course guide files that include the text of all the lessons as well as the grammar and cultural notes and a vocabulary review.

Emily has really enjoyed using Mango. She says, “I like Mango because it’s easy to use. It helps me learn Spanish better because it actually makes sure I know it! It has me repeat everything, which makes sure that I know it well and am ready to move on.”  (Because she has used other Spanish programs, the lessons at this point are probably 50% review for her, and this does make it easier than if she were a brand new learner.)

Additional Features:

The only time I used Mango’s community features was when I had a question about the upper levels of Spanish not being accessible. (It turned out that they were temporarily offline, but that problem was corrected.) Although the community features enable users to interact with each other, I wasn’t able to figure out why this would be particularly helpful for us.

I understand that more features will be available very soon in the Mango Homeschool Edition, such as goals and lesson plans, printable quizzes, recording of “seat time” and progress reports. I’m looking forward to these new features, because right now, I have to log on as Emily to see where she is in the program. It is also hard for me to determine what she has actually learned, rather than simply what lesson she is on. (She claims that she is mastering the lessons, and does tell me her score on the end of chapter tests, but at 13 years old, doesn’t like me hanging over her shoulder to watch her do her lessons. It will be great to have detailed reports and additional tools at my disposal.

Cost:

1 subscription is $18/month or $125/year total 
2 subscriptions is $28/month or $175 /year total                     
3 subscriptions is $38/month or $225/year total                    
4 subscriptions is $48/month or $275/year total                
5 subscriptions is $58/month or $325/year total

Connect with Mango

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MangoLanguages
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/mangolanguages/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MangoLanguages

Many of my fellow TOS Crew members also reviewed Mango languages. Please click on the banner below to read about their experiences with other languages.

 
Click to read Crew Reviews

I received a free copy in exchange for my honest review.

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