Parents' Guide to

Mango Languages

By Erin Brereton, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 9+

Great interface, cool videos focus on culture, conversation.

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Mango Languages' impressive design features 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 like, "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 meaning versus perceived meaning. Many slides also feature a Voice Compare option that lets users weigh their pronunciation against a narrator's using their computer microphone and 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 more writing practice: There's excellent speaking, reading, and listening practice to be had here, but more features to hone that fourth skill would be a welcome addition. As it is, there's an excellent focus here on diving deep into the heart of language learning, with a deep focus on how words and phrases are really used in conversation by native speakers. If your school or local public library doesn't participate, Mango Languages could be pricey, but if you can access it for free, it's a flexible, high-impact way to learn a new language.

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