Monday, March 17, 2014

Review of Mango Languages

Mango Languages Review
Sometimes online learning programs come along that are so amazing that you can't imagine doing school with out them ever again. I have had the extreme pleasure of using such a program for the last six weeks or so. Mango Languages has been around for the last six or so years, but the Mango Homeschool Edition is new - and it is AMAZING! 
I'll admit - I have gushed about some review products before (and believe me - I'll do it again), but you know that if I gush, it's because I really do love a program. I never gush if my kids don't love something. More than once, I have had to confess that while I really like a program, I just couldn't compel my kids to like it. That is *not* the case with Mango. My kids love this program as much as I do. Seriously. When we do multiple lessons a day, it is with their full blessing (or at least 3/4 of their full blessing - we have to make the usual excuses for the ADHD kid, don't we?). I get full oral participation and, best of all, native Spanish speaker dad is constantly saying, "Wow, guys! That's awesome!" With every Spanish program we've ever used (and there have been tons, many of which I've really liked), he has never once made a comment anything like that.
But I'm getting ahead of myself ;-)

What is Mango Languages for Homeschool?

With over 60 languages to choose from, Mango Homeschool Edition is almost anything you want it to be. It can supplement your existing language program or, as we have found out, it can absolutely stand on its own as amazingly complete language program. As with everything homeschool-related, of course, what you use it for will depend on what you want from your language program. 
Unlike many traditional language programs, Mango does not focus heavily on grammar. Instead, it focuses on getting you to speak the language right away.
That learning is accomplished in this manner: 
  • Languages are divided into "Journeys" or units.

  • Each Unit is then further divided into chapters. For example, my children are currently working on "Shopping and Payment" in Journey 1 of Latin American Spanish. That chapter is subdivided into 8 lessons.

  • Each Chapter begins with a conversation which, at first reading/hearing, seems kind of intimidating!

As the readers go through the conversation, it changes from English to Spanish on  the screen (they are, of course) speaking Spanish! What you find as you go through the lessons in the chapter, though, is that as the conversation is broken down piece by piece, it is not hard at all!

For example, this slide shows how the various phrases are taught little by little. As new words and phrases are taught, previous ones are re-introduced every so often so that you don't forget what you have already learned. It is remarkable how quickly you learn and how well you retain complete conversations! This semi-immersion method of learning is so easy and effective. 

  • Grammar and Culture are also part of this program. I mentioned that this program is not grammar-focused, and it's not, but it does teach grammar. It is simply that it teaches it organically in the course of speaking the language. In the above slide, for instance, my kids were taught that they were asking a person in a formal manner if he/she had maps. Previously they had learned that verbs take different forms depending on who is being addressed. When it is necessary to explicitly address a grammar note, it is done so in the context of the lesson. 

Culture, too, is interspersed throughout the lessons (more on that later). For reasons that should be obvious based on my blog, I loved that this particular note was included:

  • Each Chapter concludes with a quiz. Students listen to a conversation and then answer questions based on what they heard.

Mango Features that We Did Not Use But That Are (or will be) Included

I have learned that in some ways I am a much more relaxed homeschooler than others. Because I am not looking for transcript credit or anything like that, and because my kids didn't need review, discussion, or anything else, I didn't take advantage of many of Mango's available features. Further, because Mango is still developing this facet of its offerings, it has many really neat things that are still in development (but that are coming soon!). 

  • Here are a few things you can do with Mango right now: 
    • 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 sessions
Obviously, one of the neatest things about Mango is that it can be a very group-oriented learning experience - something many homeschooling families are looking for in their curriculum!

  • Here are some things that will be introduced over the next few months:
    • 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

How We Used Mango (for ages 6 - Adult)

We have been using the stuffing out of Mango! Originally, I registered to study the following languages (did I mention that with a homeschool subscription, you can study AS MANY LANGUAGES AS YOU WANT?): French, German, Koine Greek, Latin, Spanish, Korean, and Pirate (yes, Pirate). My plan was this:
  • Therese (12) - French, Greek, and Latin
  • Boys (9 and 10) - Korean
  • All  (9, 9, 10, 12, Mom and Dad) - Spanish, German, Pirate
To some extent, this is what we have done, although the language we have definitely spent the most time with is Spanish (hence, the example slides above!). Therese has worked on French independently (cool - yes, that's "cool" in French, but you have to say it with the accent!) and has spent a little time with Greek and Latin, mainly to see what they're like. They are awesome. 

Following is a succession of screenshots to show you how Mango teaches Greek and Latin. Remember, this is not a grammar-intensive language program. I have reviewed several of those on this blog (and I love a grammar-intensive Latin program!), but Mango's Greek and Latin programs pay attention to a goal that *many* homeschoolers have for learning these languages in the first place: reading works in their original languages! To that end, I think Mango makes a superb supplement to any Latin or Greek program. I can't recommend it enough for that purpose. As you look at these screenshots, pay attention to how beautiful this program is!

The other languages proceed according to the method shown for Spanish above. The boys have taken a short look at Korean (mainly because they are about to test for the Black Belts in Tae Kwon Do and want to be able to speak to their instructors in Korean more often). What's wonderful about a language like that is having the pronunciation written out for you when you mouse over a word. We are definitely going to devote more time to Korean after we finish Spanish.

For the most part (with the exception of Therese's working on her languages alone, although she did join us for our group languages), we did Mango together at the conclusion of our group subjects every day. I would hook the laptop up to the TV so that everyone could see everything well. You can see the boys in front of the TV here. Typically the girls would be sitting farther back by the laptop (which is why they are out of sight!). A Mango lesson seems to take us about 15-20 minutes, so we would do 2 or 3 a day. The kids didn't complain. In fact, they were often the ones insisting that we keep going! I found that doing multiple lessons a day was a great way to make sure that they really internalized the day's lesson. I knew that we had found success when a couple of weeks ago at church, they approached their Cuban grandparents and said, "Que tenga un buen dia!" My in-laws were very proud of how naturally it rolled off their tongues!

In terms of German, we only do that subject with my husband. He works for a German company and has actually had a private German tutor in the past (he typically has to go to Germany at least once a year). I knew that he would be able to add something extra to our lessons. I was really glad he was there, because one of our first German cultural notes informed us that you don't ask a German "How are you?" the way we do all the time in English. It's just not really the done thing. You ask about the weather. That's why learning to comment on the weather was the first thing we learned. Henry thought that was great. He said how true it was. He commented that when on a phone conference with German colleagues you always talk about the weather. You never ask a casual, "How are you," or "What's up?" If you do, you will be there for a long time hearing the answer. It's just different there! I valued that insight. He told me that the Spanish cultural notes were right on (but I had some advantage there having had Spanish in school and having been married to a Cuban family for almost two decades), but for him to confirm that they were dead on about the German cultural notes too gives me such wonderful confidence in Mango Languages! I would study any language with this great program!

We don't do any writing with this program. We do everything orally but there is so much repetition that I don't feel the need to add written material. Maybe when my kids are older we'll take advantage of the things that Mango is adding all the time.

My Final Thoughts

I love Mango Languages. At this point, I can't imagine being without it. It is a visually gorgeous program, which is great, but even more than that, it works. My husband has never commented on how well the kids are learning Spanish with any other program, but he has commented many times on the effectiveness of this one. What I have noticed is that every single time but one, when I have told the kids something grammar-related based on a slide they are viewing (like a verb that they were just taught is irregular and that that will affect the conjugation), the very next slide says the exact same thing! Mango is reading my mind! Seriously, this program is a home run! So how much will this home run set you back? You won't believe how inexpensively you can learn over 60 foreign languages at one time. A one-year subscription to Mango Languages is $125 for 1 subscription, $175/2, $225/3, $275/4, or $325/5. Alternatively, you can pay by the month. 1 subscription is $18, 2/$28, 3/$38, 4/$48, 5/$58. 

Individual subscriptions allow students to have their own logins and allow you to track each of their progress, but please note that each individual subscription does have access to ALL 60+ languages! It is not $125 per year per language. In other words, pricing like this = a phenomenal deal. I have already decided that we will be using Mango Languages for the foreseeable future (probably for the duration of our homeschooling years). For one thing, I feel pretty strongly about my kids learning both Arabic and Chinese (we have to be realistic about where the world is headed), and I think that Mango is probably the best way for them to be introduced to these languages. For another, they *really* like it! Also, in the future Mango is planning on helping with figuring out high school transcript credits. Yay!

This was one review where a bunch of Crew members reviewed a bunch of different languages and undoubtedly used several parts of Mango Languages that I didn't, so please be sure to read their reviews, too. From my perspective, though, you can't go wrong with this wonderful program!

Click to read Crew Reviews

Crew Disclaimer


  1. Hi, my name is Mike Teshuba. I'm one of the co-founders of Mango Languages.

    I'm so glad that you guys are enjoying the program. That's great that your children are starting to say things to their grandparents in Spanish!

    If there's anything we can do for you, feel free to reach out and ask for me.

    Adios, y buenas suerte con el aprendizaje de los idiomas
    (Good bye and good luck on your language learning)

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