Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Mango Languages: A Review

Mango Languages Review
We have had the privilege of reviewing a "Beta" version of the Mango Homeschool edition. I have always enjoyed learning foreign languages, and I have given my children some different opportunities over the years with various programs. When given the opportunity to review Mango Languages, I was thrilled, especially since Mango Languages has 61 different languages that students can pick from.

Mango Languages Review
When we first viewed the offerings, my daughter, who has never really enjoyed learning foreign languages, said she wanted to learn Pirate. Yes, you read that right! She learned how to speak like a pirate. We live in an area that once was known for its pirate activity, and there is even a pirate museum. While pirate-speak is rare now, except during festivals, and learning the language was purely for entertainment purposes (oh, my, did we laugh a lot), it was enough to spark her interest. She is now working through Modern Greek and has learned some Hawaiian as well. The Hawaiian just thrills her grandmother as she loves Hawaii.

Mango Languages Review

One of my boys has a friend who lives in the Netherlands, so he has chosen to learn Dutch. He read that it is one of the most difficult languages to learn, but he wants to show his friend that he is interested in his language and culture. My oldest son is going through the Japanese module. He has always wanted to learn this language. I purchased a product last year that looked to me as if it would really help him learn it, but it only served to confuse him. Once he got started with Mango Languages, however, and realized how much easier this program is, his Mango lessons have been the first thing he has done every day.

I am part Irish and part Scottish. It took me a while to decide between Irish and Scottish Gaelic. I finally chose Irish. I learned Spanish in high school. I had no idea that Irish was so incredibly different. I am grateful that repetition is the way the languages are taught through this program. Even in succeeding lessons, review of previous material is mixed in with the new information.

Mango Languages ReviewOnce a language is chosen and the space is joined, you click the "Login to Mango" button. It then opens a new window and tests your system to be sure it meets the requirements. Once your course is loaded, you can get started. Each language program is divided into chapters such as "Greetings, Gratitude, and Goodbyes," "Names and Introductions," "Getting Around," "Eating and Drinking," "Using Transportation," and "Getting Help," among other things. Each chapter is split into separate lessons that run through a conversation which is first shown in English and then changes as it is spoken in the chosen language. Each line of the conversation is broken up into smaller parts shown as part of a slide presentation which can be completed at your own pace. Each time words are spoken, you have the option of repeating the pronunciation as many times as you wish, viewing the phonetic pronunciation, and even recording your voice to compare it to the native speaker's voice. This voice compare feature really helps you learn how to pronounce the words correctly. 
Mango Languages Review
Throughout the presentation, cultural and grammar notes are taught. I feel like this adds so much to the lessons because it isn't just about the languages. They educate the student about the culture and why certain things are said or proper gestures, etc. In the grammar notes, the literal translation of the phrases is given. It is very interesting!
Mango Languages Review
Back on the main screen, you have the ability to monitor all of your students' progress and connect with other homeschoolers who might be on the site. The chat feature requires real names so that you know who exactly you're communicating with. You can choose to not enter the chat room but send private messages to people you may know through eNote. ENotes also give you a way to communicate internally with Mango Languages staff if you are having a problem.

There will be quizzes and tests available (printable) on the site soon that you can use to assess your student's learning. The staff at Mango Languages sees these as a priority and is working hard to make them an exceptional tool. Since the homeschool section of Mango Languages is fairly new, they are still working on different features that will enhance the user experience. While it is a wonderful program now, I foresee it only getting better.

What is currently available on the site:

Over 60 different languages
Progress Assessments

Built-in journals, discussions and wikis
Collaborative learning spaces
eNote messaging
/chat rooms

Access to embedded/downloadable content

Support from other community members

Calendars to schedule meetings or study groups

Over the next several months, we'll be introducing other exciting features like:

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

If you are interested in trying out Mango Languages, you can complete one lesson for free, choosing from just a handful of languages (you don't get 61 choices for your free lesson). Once you sign up, you have 60 days to try it out. If you aren't satisfied, you can get your money back. I can't believe you wouldn't be satisfied, though. This course offers so much more, in a much simpler format than most other programs available. They also have a mobile app that can run on iPhone, iPad, or Android devices. Unfortunately, it is not compatible with my particular phone, so I can't use it.

Mango Languages is appropriate for children as young as 6 through adults of all ages. No matter your age, this program will help you learn so much about a language and the culture. They even include beautiful photographs of the country where your language is spoken.

This is their introductory pricing for the homeschool edition:

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

Many libraries have partnered with Mango Languages to provide foreign language learning to its patrons, but the library versions only have one level of each language, while the homeschooling version has all levels and many more languages.

I wish I had known about Mango Languages before I purchased the Japanese curriculum last year. There are so many wonderful features of Mango Languages. The conversational style, the voices, the cultural notes, etc., all work together to make this a high-quality language learning program.

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