{Crew Review} Mango Languages

We love learning new languages at our house and we need all the help we can get in that department!  My kids are very motivated to learn Spanish because we live in an area with many native Spanish speakers.  We were excited to review a new-to-us language program – Mango Languages using their Mango Homeschool Edition!

Mango Languages Review
What is it?
Mango Languages is an online language course that allows you access to over 60 foreign languages from which to choose when beginning to learn a language.  With a subscription, you are able to browse the list of language programs and choose from any of the languages – or even choose more than one to try.

Mango is designed for students ages 6 and older.  They have programs for those in the corporate world, for personal use, or for homeschool families.  

The program also has features for discussion between users of the program in forums for each language.

Mango also has mobile apps for iPod, iPad, and Android for language-learning on the go!

Mango Languages Review

How did we use it?
We used the Homeschool Edition of the program.
My kids decided they would like to learn Spanish and I chose Spanish as well.  I also tried a few lessons of Russian to experiment with a new language.

I started all my kids at the first lesson even though Curly has studied Spanish in the past.  However, I took the placement test for Spanish (I didn’t place very far into the program so I began at the second lesson).  I started at the beginning of the Russian program.

We worked on Spanish 4 days per week.  We usually worked to complete one lesson per day.  It quickly became apparent that the amount of vocabulary presented, as well as the grammar information, was too much for Tiger and Bee.  Instead of working on the program themselves, they often sat in while Curly worked through her lessons.  Curly was able to complete one lesson per day but some lessons were fairly long and took her about 30 minutes.

The program contains 3 “journeys” which are 3 different sections of topics.  Each unit contains multiple chapters which each cover a specific topic.  Within those chapters there are multiple lessons on those topics.  The chapters contained in the first journey are as follows:

  • Greetings, Gratitude, Goodbyes
  • Inquiring About Someone’s Nationality
  • Asking What Languages Someone Speaks
  • Names and Introductions
  • Getting Around
  • Shopping and Payment
  • Drinks and Dining
  • Numbers and Currency
  • Getting Help
  • Asking for Clarification

Each lesson had multiple screens containing vocabulary, review, grammar tips, cultural information, and pronunciation help.  The lessons often had around 50 screens to work through as part of the lesson.  The end of each chapter contained a review quiz.  

Mango Languages Review

What did we think?
When working on new words and phrases there is an option to listen to the pronunciation and then record yourself saying it.  You can record yourself and play it back as often as you need to in order to check your pronunciation.  I found this to be so helpful when I was trying to compare how I was saying the words to the correct pronunciation.

A pronunciation key is provided when you are learning a new word.  You can click on the word and a bubble appears above the word which shows you the pronunciation.  I found this very helpful when I was trying to learn Russian.  Russian letters look nothing like our alphabet so seeing how the word should be said if written in our English letters helped me tremendously!

You control the pace of the lessons by clicking the next arrows when you are ready to move to a new screen.  This allows you to work on a word or phrase for as long as you need to before advancing to the next screen of the lesson.  We enjoyed that we could progress at our own speed and not feel rushed.

The lessons had great review and ask you to recall words from different points in the lesson.  I found the review to be very beneficial and I know it helped Curly as she used the program.  The lessons move fairly quickly so any amount of review was good to have.

The program can be difficult and overwhelming to navigate in the beginning.  Although there are instructions provided which detail how to set up your account and choose your languages, I still found it took me some time to feel comfortable navigating the site.

Some languages have files that can be downloaded that contain a lesson guide with vocabulary, pronunciation, and grammar helps.  I found the downloads for the languages I was trying to study invaluable!  It was helpful to have a written guide for reference.  

There are multiple options to participate in forums, chat with others learning the same language, and post comments on your “Say Wall.”  I found these features somewhat difficult to use and I was unsure how to use some of them.  I could not figure out how the “Say Wall” was beneficial.  I also did not find the forums to add to our experience.  Instead, we stuck to just working through the lessons without using many of the other features.

I did have one other comment about the chat forums.  I’m not sure I would want my young children to interact with others online – and I don’t think they are old enough to keep up a “chat” conversation (they don’t type well).  So, I would have preferred a way to turn off this feature or a way to keep them from being able to access the forums.  While the forums are for paid users of the program and are not public, I don’t feel that they would benefit my young language learners.

Because most of the lesson was working through vocabulary words and orally responding when prompted to provide a word or phrase, it can be difficult to track and assess student progress if you are not in the room with them to verify that they are pronouncing the words correctly.  The lessons don’t ask you to click on pictures or phrases to choose the correct one – the lessons ask you to respond aloud to provide the words.  I was left wishing that there were more activities that required the students to select correct answers rather than just the quizzes so I could see a record of progress.  It would be very easy for a student to breeze through the lessons without giving the oral responses, but waiting for the computer to provide the correct response.  Of course, this student would not have done well on the quiz.  But the nature of the program means the student must be accountable for participating in each lesson. 

I found it difficult to track Curly’s progress since I could not view quiz reports or lesson progress.  The quizzes only provide a percentage of answers correct but do not indicate which questions you missed.  Because of this, I found that I had to be sitting right next to Curly to truly assess her progress for myself.  This isn’t a feasible option in my busy house.  So, I would like to see improved options for viewing quiz results and tracking and assessing progress.

Note from Mango Languages:
At the time of the review, Mango had not completed all of the options for the Homeschool Edition which I reviewed.  Some features were not available to me and others may not have been fully functioning.  In addition, they plan to upgrade the tracking features and the quizzes to allow for better assessment by the parent/teacher.

I’m hopeful that these changes enhance our experience with the program.  I also hope they provide more explanation of the various features so I can better understand how to use them to the fullest extent.
So be aware that there are updated features coming soon! 
These are a few of the features that will be added:

  • Enhanced Tracking and Progress Monitoring – including seat time (for students and parents) 
  • Goals and Personal Lesson Plans (both stand-alone and tied into Mango courses)
  • Resume and Portfolio Builder

The version I reviewed was the Beta version.

My wrap up!
We found Mango to be a fun program and very helpful for learning another language.  The pace moves fairly quickly so it would be difficult for the younger language learners.  I would recommend the program for children who are in upper elementary or older and have had some background in grammar and are solid readers.

We found the vocabulary, pronunciation helps, grammar tips, and cultural information to be informative and create a well-rounded program.  But I did find all the extra features in the program to be a little confusing and overwhelming.  We did not need/want to use them for our studies and rather focused solely on the language lessons.

While we used the homeschool edition of this program, I found the language programs to be geared more toward someone who is planning to travel to the foreign country rather than a student learning the language for basic conversation.  The topics covered, such as dining, asking for help, using the bank, and sightseeing were not vocabulary that my children would need at their ages.  I was hoping for vocabulary that would be more pertinent to someone who is learning the language to speak with someone locally or to be able to read books in Spanish.  Many of the phrases would not be helpful or applicable to my children – they were more interested in learning vocabulary for words that they would actually use day-to-day.  So, the vocabulary and topics covered were not quite what I was hoping for in a program for younger language learners.  It would be excellent preparation for traveling to a foreign country, however.

More info…..
Sign up for a free 30 day trial of Mango!

Pricing Info:
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

Anything over 6 subscriptions is a special group rate that will depend on the number in the group.

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