Mango Languages Overview
Mango Languages is an online language learning program that is designed to fit your learning behavior. According to their website, their goal is to provide engaging and interesting lessons that will have you speaking your target language in no time.
They offer lessons in over 70 languages, including a wide variety of regional dialects, so there is something here for just about everyone.
Sadly, there isn’t much material for advanced learners, so if you’re already intermediate or higher, you may want to skip this program.
That being said, it is a great choice for beginners. The platform is easy to navigate and the lessons are fairly fun. You’ll find loads of great tools to help you build a strong foundation while also learning words and phrases that you can use right away.
Before we dive too deep into the details, here is a quick overview of my likes and dislikes.
Mango Languages pricing
Although you can access a small amount of content for free, you’ll need a subscription to get the full benefits of this program.
$7.99 per month
Cccess to all languages. This subscription includes the option to create up to five family profiles.
17.99 per month
You can also save 16% on your subscription if you purchase an entire year at once.
Mango Languages also allows schools, libraries, businesses, and government entities to purchase subscriptions for their students and patrons. Be sure to check the Mango Languages website to see if you’re eligible to access the full program for free.
Languages For Mango
Mango Languages offers over 70 languages courses including:
Arabic (Four dialects)
Chinese (Two dialects)
Spanish (Two dialects)
And many more.
They also offer a few unusual options such as Shakespearean English and Pirate if you’re looking for new ways to impress your friends. These, along with a few other languages, are available for free, so you can use them to try out the format before committing to a subscription.
Initial Thoughts Of Mango Languages
You can access this program online or through their app which is available on both Android and iOS. For the purposes of this review, I used both the website and the Android app.
My first thought upon visiting the Mango Languages website is that it is very professional. The layout is pleasant and easy to navigate. I like that they have all the basic information that you would want right on the home page.
You can easily find a basic description of the program, lesson plans for all the languages they offer, and all their pricing information without having to search for it. After going through a wide variety of language programs, I have gained a lot of appreciation for companies that offer straightforward access to this information.
The app is quite pleasant as well. I didn’t experience any glitches or slow load times. Everything came up quickly and easily.
I also enjoyed the look of the app. The layout is professional without being too dull. The graphics are minimalistic, but also fun and engaging. This may not be noticeable for most users, but I enjoyed the earthy tones and themes used in some of the lessons. I found it quite relaxing.
The only thing that I found somewhat discouraging was the discrepancies between the amount of content available for each language. As you would expect, the more popular languages had much larger lesson plans than the less popular languages.
Since this program focuses so much on beginners, it’s not as much of a deal-breaker, but it can still be frustrating for some. For example, their Latin American Spanish course has over 700 lessons while the Yiddish course has less than 100.
I understand that some languages are easier to teach than others and that this is an issue that you’ll find in most language programs. I simply mention it here so that anyone who wants to learn one of the more obscure languages will know to check the available lesson plan before purchasing a subscription.
Getting Started With Mango Languages
Getting started with this program couldn’t be easier. Simply enter an email address and create a password and you’ll be taken directly to a page where you can choose the language you want to learn.
Once you choose a language, you’ll be directed to a page that will show you the subscription options. As you saw in the pricing section, you can either have a subscription for just one language or you can pay a bit more and have access to all the languages.
There is also an option that allows you to see if you’re eligible for free access through your school, library, or business. I appreciate that they chose to feature this option above the buttons for the paid subscriptions.
If you want to try it before purchasing a subscription, you can try one free lesson or you can enter your credit card information and get two weeks for free. If you decide that this isn’t the program for you, you can simply cancel before the two weeks are up and you won’t be charged.
Once you finish setting up your payment information, you will be directed to the main page which shows your lesson plan. This differs based on the language that you chose. I'll go into further detail about this in the next section, but I will say that all the plans I looked at seemed to have a straightforward and logical progression.
One thing that I found quite helpful is that they have a lesson tutorial. It's just a very simple summary of what to expect, but I think it is a nice touch. This may be the first language app I’ve ever tried that included a tutorial to explain the lesson structure and layout.
Each language has a lesson plan and as I mentioned, the plans differ between languages. Some languages have a wide variety of lessons while others are somewhat limited.
The lesson plans are divided into Units that contain five to ten Chapters and a Unit Review. Each Chapter contains five to ten lessons and a Chapter Recap so you can review the included materials later on.
The Units are divided up by subject and you can access any lesson you want at any time. This is helpful if you need to brush up on a particular subject, but if you’re a beginner I recommend that you do the lessons in order.
Each lesson builds on the next, so if you jump around you may miss something important.
Some languages also include extra subjects outside of the main Units, such as Business, Medical, and Romance. These extra lessons differ by language and are only available for the more popular languages, but they’re a nice addition nonetheless.
Your First Lesson With Mango Languages
These lessons are a combination of a traditional language lesson and the modern app format that most of us are familiar with nowadays.
The lessons start with a short summary of what you should expect to learn, both in terms of grammar and conversation skills. After the summary, you'll go through a short conversation in your target language. If you're a true beginner, don't worry, the translations are included.
Starting the lesson with a short conversation in your target language is a great way to jumpstart your brain and help you get used to the sounds of the language, so I like that the lessons start this way.
There is a full transcript of the dialog and you can listen to it again if you like. You can replay the entire conversation or just specific sentences if you missed something. When you're ready, you can move forward and start learning new words.
At first, it's just simple words and phrases, such as greetings. You'll be given a word and its translation and then be given a chance to practice the word. This isn't recorded or based on voice recognition, it's just a pause so you can try the word yourself. These pauses are timed though, so think fast!
After you learn a couple of words you'll be asked to put them together to create common phrases.
Interspersed between learning new words you'll also be given little tidbits of grammar and cultural insights. This is a pleasant way to introduce new language learners to grammar rules without overwhelming them.
The grammar lessons aren't particularly in-depth, so if you're looking for true fluency, you'll want to supplement your learning with some more comprehensive grammar lessons. That being said, if you're just learning for fun or just need a general knowledge of the basics, this program is a fun way to go about it.
Once you’ve finished all the lessons in a Chapter, you’ll have a review and a quiz. The quiz is what you would expect, mostly simple translation exercises such as building sentences from lists of provided words and so on. They do include information from each lesson though, so it is good a way to review what you’ve learned so far.
Overall, I did find the lessons pleasant and easy to work through. I especially enjoyed the cultural tips and grammar highlights. I found the tone of the lessons to be very relaxing and inviting.
I even felt comfortable trying languages that I was completely unfamiliar with, like Gaelic. I didn’t feel overwhelmed or intimidated by the amount of information that was presented in each lesson. The easygoing feel of the platform gives one the feeling that learning a new language is simple and can be achieved with a little effort.
The one thing that I found a bit disconcerting is that the entire lesson is read by a narrator, including the prompts for the practice exercises. This is a bit unusual for an interactive app, so it took some time to become accustomed to it. I can also see where it could become a bit irritating with prolonged use.
For example, each lesson contains translating exercises where you're given a word and you have to think of the translation. There were approximately 15 to 20 of these questions in the first lesson, meaning I got to hear, "How do you say…" approximately 15 to 20 times in a 10-minute lesson. There are some small variations in how it is said, but not enough to make it less annoying.
Thankfully, there is an option to turn off the narrator. Once you’ve started a lesson, you’ll see a Settings button at the top of the screen. Simply click on that and you can turn off the narrator, enable closed captioning, and adjust other settings to fit your style.
All of the lessons follow this same format, but the content changes enough that it continues to be interesting as you progress into the more advanced lessons. Although none of the lesson materials are groundbreaking, there are a few interesting features that set this program apart from others that I’ve tried.
The first feature that stood out to me was the color-coding. One of the most challenging things to learn when learning a new language is proper word order. To help make this a bit easier, Mango Languages has all the words color-coded to correspond with their English counterpart.
This is especially helpful in a program that focuses so strongly on teaching full sentences early on. No matter the sentence structure, you’ll always know which words represent which by simply matching the colors. This helps to save on a lot of confusion, especially if you’re learning a language structure that differs quite a bit from English.
In the more advanced lessons, you’ll learn longer and more complex sentences. When you reach this point, you’ll be able to view literal translations as well as the regular translations. This is a helpful feature for a couple of reasons.
First, every language has words with multiple meanings and usages. Consider words like right, well, and used. They can all be used in multiple contexts, with completely different meanings, causing confusion and frustration. Every language has words like this.
For example, if you wanted to say, “Well, I think so.” in Spanish, you would say, “Bueno, creo que sí.” If you compared these sentences word for word, you could easily get the wrong idea about what each word actually means.
A literal translation of ‘Bueno, creo que sí.’ would be “Good, (I) believe that yes.” As you can see, the regular translation teaches you the meaning behind the phrase while the literal translation teaches you what the individual words mean.
Secondly, literal translations can also help you remember sentence structure. Remembering unusual word orders in your native language can act almost like a mnemonic to help you remember the proper word order in your target language.
Phonetic Spelling and Voice Comparisons
These are probably the most useful features that I’ve ever seen in a language app in terms of teaching proper pronunciation.
Perfecting your pronunciation without a tutor is almost impossible, but with phonetic spellings and speech comparisons, you can get fairly close to perfect pronunciation.
Every time you’re presented with a word during your lessons, you can hover over it or click on it to see a phonetic spelling. This is especially useful early on when you’re learning the sounds of your new language.
For example, in German the letter D is often pronounced like an English T. You may be tempted to use the English D sound because it is very close, but if you look at the phonetic spelling you will see that it is meant to be pronounced as a T. Little things like that can make a huge difference in the quality of your pronunciation, so take advantage of that phonetic spelling.
When you’re ready to test the quality of your pronunciation, you can use the Voice Comparison feature. This allows you to record yourself saying the word or phrase and then compare your recording to that of a native speaker.
Not only will it record your speech, but it will also show you the voice patterns of the original recording and your recording for further comparison. You can then play the recordings simultaneously to see if your pronunciation matches that of the native speaker.
I found this feature to be both entertaining and very helpful. Sometimes just seeing the voice pattern is enough to show you what needs to be adjusted in order to sound more like a native speaker.
Downsides To Mango Languages
We all know that every program has some flaws and Mango Languages is no exception. That doesn't mean that it isn't worth using, it just means that there are a few downsides that you should be aware of.
This program isn't as bad as some when it comes to grammar lessons, but it's still somewhat lacking. Many programs leave out in-depth grammar because it can be boring, not to mention confusing. Grammar is extremely important though, and although I do appreciate the creative way they try to sneak the grammar into these lessons, it simply isn't enough to be comprehensive.
Repetition is an important part of learning a new language, so you should expect to be hearing and repeating the same words over and over. Unfortunately, I found that a few of these lessons took repetition to the extreme. This can be helpful for some users, I simply prefer a bit more variety in my language learning regimen.
Only For Beginners
The most frustrating thing with this program is that it lacks material for advanced learners. The format of the program and the practice exercises are quite good and the extra features are particularly useful. I think this program could be very helpful to many more learners if they added more advanced materials. Hopefully, they will be adding more lessons in the future.
If you don't fancy trying Mango Languages or you just want to know what else is out there, here are a few great alternatives.
Babbel is a language app that is designed to get you talking. With short, fun lessons that focus on real-life conversations, this app is a good choice for beginners who are eager to start speaking their new language right away.
Live Lingua is an online service designed to connect you with a native speaking tutor who will fit your learning style. One-on-one lessons with a tutor are by far the best way to learn a new language, so if you’re ready to step up your language game, this is the program for you.
Busuu is a great choice for those who enjoy the app format but are looking for a more in-depth learning experience.
Not only will you find quality grammar lessons on this app, but you'll also get the chance to interact with native speakers who can help you perfect your pronunciation and vocabulary.
Duolingo offers quick easy lessons for beginners and the majority of the content is free. This is a great choice for newbies or for those who want a fun supplemental program that they can use to practice while on the go.
Mango Languages: Final Thoughts
Overall, I would say that Mango Languages is a great resource for beginners. It offers a good mix of conversational language with vocabulary building and even a little grammar.
The lesson format is perfectly designed to help users truly learn and retain their target language. The practice exercises help with vocabulary, speaking, and even sentence building from a very early stage, creating a strong foundation for future learning.
When it comes to drawbacks, this app doesn't do too badly. The lack of extensive grammar lessons and advanced material is frustrating, but hopefully, they'll be able to add more courses in the near future to make up for the lack.
If you're a beginner and nervous about where to start your language journey, I strongly recommend giving Mango Languages a try. It's the perfect combination of challenge and simplicity.
Although learning a new language is always going to be challenging, it is also very rewarding. With programs like Mango Languages, you can learn and grow and still have fun along the way.