A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this website.
Kids can learn conversational terms and expressions in more than 70 languages, including Mandarin, French, Spanish, Turkish, Vietnamese, Italian, Greek, Hebrew, Yiddish, Farsi, Hindi, Korean, German, Russian, Japanese, Portuguese, and Thai. Nineteen ESL courses also are available for users who speak Arabic, Armenian, Chinese, French, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Turkish, or Vietnamese. The system was designed for travelers, so it'll help get kids ready to chat and understand figures of speech in the target language they choose. However, they'll have to look elsewhere for more intensive written grammar and sentence structure work.
Narrator comments include supportive messages such as, "Don't worry if the conversation seemed difficult; we'll lead you through it…."
Products & Purchases
Users can choose to use the system through their local public library or buy a subscription.
Parents Need to KnowParents need to know that Mango Languages is a website that offers more than 70 language courses and ESL instruction in 19 languages. Kids will need to register -- and, in some cases, pay -- to use the system. According to Mango Languages, the instruction can be used by both younger and older users. Users can choose to have a narrator lead each lesson, but the exercises work best when users also can follow along, making the product a better fit for kids with a fair amount of reading experience. Registered users can access the service from the website, or from any of four mobile apps.
Is It Any Good?
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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