Editorial Review

Mango Languages

User-friendly site with cool videos focuses on conversation, culture
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Graphite Rating 4
  • In the K–12 version, teachers can set up student groups and monitor progress.
  • Kids can test their pronunciation against a narrator's.
  • After learning terms, kids see them in a sentence and can try to say them aloud while being timed.
  • Kids will also see cultural notes that help increase their understanding of the language and country.
  • The teacher dashboard also lists available language lessons.
Pros
Instruction goes above and beyond basic vocabulary memorization, offering kids realistic usage help.
Cons
The conversation-based program could benefit from more writing activities.
Bottom Line
A thorough, user-friendly way to access effective language instruction with a deep dive into other cultures.

Graphite Expert Review

Patricia Monticello Kievlan
Common Sense Graphite Reviewer
Foundation/Non-Profit Member
Graphite Rating 4
Learning Scores
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 4
The system combines active, critical-thinking exercises with audio help that kids can personalize. A warm narrator addresses and encourages them directly.
Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer? 4

Students can advance at their own pace through interactive exercises that provide instruction for more than 70 languages. They'll learn practical conversational skills and extras, including cultural tips.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students? 4

There are tons of user tips and FAQs on the developer's website, and a blog features occasional updates and site news. The instructional tool can also be used on mobile devices.

Read how we rate and review all products on Graphite.
What's It Like?

Mango Languages offers more than 70 language courses, as well as ESL instruction, in 19 languages. Once users create an account, they can access the service from the Web or from an iOS, Android, Nook, or Kindle device. Users can also access Mango Premiere, which lets users view 22 feature films in eight target languages with special captions and built-in support for language learning.

With a valid library card, users in the United States and Canada can access the service for free through many local libraries: On the site, users can search for their local branch and enter their library card to gain access. Individual users can also subscribe to the service ($20 per month or $175 per year); K–12 institutions, businesses, and higher-education institutions can also set up their own subscription plans.

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Is It Good For Learning?

Mango Languages' impressive design offers an interactive system with memory-building and critical-thinking exercises that show kids how to put new words into practical use. Once users select a language, they view a series of cards that offer lesson choices and instruction. A narrator introduces each chapter's goal, reads sentences aloud, and offers positive encouragement such as, "Don't worry if the conversation seemed difficult; we'll lead you through it, part by part." Users click an arrow to move to the next slide when they're ready. Occasional cultural notes pop up to explain religion, common greetings, and other elements that relate to slang and language, including notes about literal versus perceived meanings. Many slides also feature a Voice Compare option that lets users weigh their pronunciations against a narrator's using their computer microphones and the recording feature -- an excellent feature that can help users focus on accent and pronunciation at their own pace.

The main thing that would improve Mango Languages would be the inclusion of more writing practice: There's excellent speaking, reading, and listening practice to be had here, but more features to hone this fourth skill would be a welcome addition. As it is, there's an excellent focus on diving deep into the heart of language learning, with a heavy focus on how words and phrases are actually used by native speakers. If your school or local public library doesn't participate, Mango Languages could be a pricey option -- if you can access it for free, it's all the better. Overall, it's a flexible, high-impact way to learn a new language.

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How Can Teachers Use It?

Once you get students registered -- at school or through your local library -- consider assigning different lessons and activities for homework. Have students move at their own pace through the different cards and activities in each course. You may want to set completion goals to ensure kids are using the system regularly and encourage them to advance to higher learning levels. The K–12 version also provides a few educator tracking tools. You can set up groups of students, which are visible on the Mango Languages dashboard, and view individual students' progress.

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