Should You Use the Mango Language Learning Program?
What is Mango Languages?
Mango is an online language-learning program that offers 72 different languages and is constantly working to expand. According to the website Mango is “language with beauty and brains…organized, practical, and totally painless.”
Mango is available through a free app or desktop version. The program presents you with a list of goals and topics you will cover in each lesson and then breaks down vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation, and culture into small, manageable pieces.
Most languages include a basic conversational course, and they all follow a similar format. For the purposes of this review, we will focus on the Latin American Spanish course.
The Juicy Parts of Mango
1) Visual Appeal
Mango offers wonderful visual cues. When presenting sentences, the words are color coded and coordinated between Spanish and English to help you see the translation of each word.
You are provided with visual pronunciation keys for new words, a progress bar to see how much you have left in the lesson, and a timer to motivate you to recall words and respond to prompts quickly.
This is meant to simulate a real conversation, but you can turn the timer off if it stresses you out. You can also view the “understood” translation of a phrase and the literal translation to better understand the meaning of the word.
2) Little Things that Make a Big Difference
Mango features some great features that are small but useful—from grammar notes and cultural explanations to phonetic pronunciation guides.
For example, if you are on the go, you can put your lesson on auto play so that you don’t have to physically swipe through each slide.
If you are uncertain about your pronunciation, you can record yourself and compare your pronunciation to the native speaker recording.
If you are just beginning with Mango and don’t know where to start in the lessons, most languages offer a placement test. (Note: The placement test is only available for the desktop version.)
If you are learning Spanish for a specific purpose, there are context-focused courses such as Medical Spanish, Library Spanish, Text Talk, or Romance Spanish.
3) Cultural Connections
Learning a language is not in a vacuum—it’s important to understand the culture of the people that speak your target language. I love that Mango includes the cultural aspect of language learning.
Not only do they give you in-depth explanations of the cultural implication of certain words and phrases, there is also the option to learn through movies using Mango Primere. You can choose from “Movie Mode” where you just watch the movie or the “Engage Mode” where you do activities throughout the movie.
In the “Engage Mode,” each scene begins with a list of words you will encounter in the clip and important cultural notes. You watch about 10 minutes of the movie and then dive into the dialogue you heard phrase by phrase.
This might be a little much for the length of an entire movie but it is a great way to integrate culture and authentic language.
There are a few things that Mango is lacking if you are looking for a one-stop shop for language learning:
1) No writing
Mango presents you with the written words and asks you to recall and say them but does not ask you to write words. Unless you are taking notes on your own you will be missing out on this aspect of language fluency.
For some people, the lack of writing practice may not be an issue. It depends on the context or the reason why you are learning Spanish.
If you want to speak Spanish for leisure travel, you will probably get along just fine without extensive writing practice.
If you are using Spanish for work or study, writing will definitely be a part of your Spanish speaking life.
2) Translation focused
Mango has a lot of English. For true beginners, this can be good because it helps ease you into the language and lessen the language learning anxiety.
Eventually, however, translation becomes a crutch and even a hindrance. It would be nice if the narration slowly transitioned into the target language as well and the translation turned into more of a conversation as you advance through the levels.
3) Doesn’t go super in-depth
Mango is great for beginners and getting the basics of a language down, but it does not appear to offer much beyond that. From what I have read, more advanced courses are in the works but I was not able to find anything beyond what I would consider low-intermediate level content.
4) No authentic conversation opportunities
There is something about speaking with a real person that just makes language learning more exciting, relevant, and interesting. Some kind of chat or language exchange feature to help people practice in a more authentic context would be a great addition.
Mango is available free at many public libraries as long as you have a library card. If your library doesn’t offer Mango, however, it can be costly at a price tag of $175 per year.
Granted, this is much less than what you would spend on a formal language course, or even a gym membership, so I guess you have to decide how badly you want to exercise your language muscles.
Not sure if your library offers Mango? Follow these steps to find out:
Step 1: On the Mango website (mangolanguages.com ), click on Start Learning. It will lead you to a page where you can type in your zip code to find local libraries that have partnered with Mango.
Step 2: If your library comes up, you can click on the name of the library and the site may lead you directly to your local library’s Mango login page. If not, you will have to go to the library website. Mine had Mango listed under E-Resources. You will typically find Mango in the library database or resources section of your public library’s website.
Step 3: Once you find Mango on your library website, click on the icon and it will lead you to the sign in page. From there, type in the number from your library card barcode and you are ready to go! Once you have created a username and password, you can use those to log in instead so you won’t need your library barcode each time.
The Bottom Line
Personally, I really like Mango. Although you will not reach a native-like level of fluency with Mango, I think it offers the majority of the tools and resources that you need to get started learning a new language.
The program addresses many different learning styles and offers a great deal of support. It presents you with manageable amounts of information to give you the confidence to keep learning.
So, if you are considering studying a language, Mango is a great place to start, especially if you can use it for free!
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¡Hola! My name is Tamara Marie. I’m a language coach specializing in brain-friendly methods to learn foreign languages faster. I speak English (US native), Spanish (advanced), and Brazilian Portuguese (beginner). I’m a Latin music & dance addict and passionate about helping people learn languages.