I am so excited to begin another voyage with the TOS Homeschool Crew review team! For our first product of this season, we got to review Mango Languages, an internet based foreign language program. We used the Mango Homeschool Edition of their program.
What it is:
Mango Languages homeschool curriculum offers a choice of over 50 different languages for ages 6 through adult including standard options like Spanish, French, Italian, and Latin, and some more unusual choices like Mandarin, Hawaiian, Irish, Greek, Hebrew, and Icelandic. Lessons are set up in units covering different conversational topics like greetings, getting around, shopping, food, and more. There is no written work with Mango, everything is done on the computer. During the lesson, new vocabulary is introduced by a native speaker. Students can then practice the vocabulary by recording their voice and comparing it to the native speaker. Each lesson is a slide show with a mix of vocabulary practice and some cultural information. Move through each lesson at your own pace. You an also choose to study as many languages as you want.
How We Used It:
First of all, setting up our accounts was really easy. Once you get set up, you can go to The Commons to select your languages. I originally wanted to study Greek, Hebrew, and Latin. My oldest son (10th grade) wanted to do Spanish since he is working on that for his high school elective, and my youngest (7th grade) was interested in Irish, Italian, German, French, and Scottish!! I told him to focus on one or two languages to start off. He originally tried Irish, but that was more difficult then he thought it would be, so he spent most of his time on Italian and French. I asked my kids to work on their language on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. This was a reasonable schedule that worked out well for us.
My oldest son did most of the program on his own. He would do his lessons and then let me know what he did. My youngest son also completed the lessons on his own, but with me somewhere nearby. Occasionally he would ask me a question about a pronunciation or want to share something he had learned. Neither of my kids had a hard time with working the program, and I think at this age, they could pretty much do it without their parent sitting there. I quickly discovered that it would be more beneficial for me to study the same language as my kids. Number one, it offered them an opportunity to practice the new words and phrases they learned, and it helped me understand exactly what they had been doing.
We also found it helpful to take notes on the vocabulary for each lesson. The program has plenty of built-in review, but having the words written down somewhere allowed us to practice them at other times, and were good to refer to in future lessons. We each had our own Mango notebook that we used to take our notes.
What We Thought:
My boys and I really enjoyed the Mango Languages program. The lessons were fun and easy to complete, and not too long (which is important to both of my boys). I like the fact that they focus on practical language skills like phrases and words you would use in every day conversation. For someone learning a brand new language, starting off with verb conjugations and other grammatical points can be intimidating. Mango gives you words you can use right away. With me studying the same language as the boys, we had fun practicing our greetings and questions with each other throughout the day. The voice recording feature was an integral part of the program for us. Being able to record yourself practicing new words and compare it directly to the model, helped us all with pronunciation.
I also liked the cultural facts interspersed throughout the lesson. I felt like they gave some context to the phrases and conversations we were learning, and they also gave us a jumping off point for further study if we wished. Mango also has a social community you can access through your dashboard. Add friends to your network, send messages, and join groups. Mango administrators are available on the network and they are VERY helpful and responsive to any questions you might have, which I think was a great feature. It’s really nice to be able to communicate with the people running the program and have them respond right away. We didn’t get too involved in the groups and stuff, mainly because I limit my kids online interaction with strangers, but we did all belong to the same network, so my kids and I could message each other if we wanted.
As far as parent/teacher options, I was able to add my students to my account, which let me log in as them so I could look at their courses and view their progress. There are quizzes at the end of units for some languages, and Mango is working on “teacher features” that will allow you to view student grades and progress. These new features should be released soon and I am looking forward to checking them out. During our review, I simply logged in as my kids to see where they were at, and they showed me their quiz scores as they completed them. I think that with the student tracking options Mango Languages will become even more homeschool friendly.
One other thing I think would be nice to have is printables to go with the lessons. It would give students a chance to have some extra practice, and make it easy to keep track of all the vocabulary. Keep in mind, Mango is not meant to be an ENTIRE language program. It is more of a supplement, a chance to learn and practice speaking the language. As it stands, I do not feel I could give my high school son a full credit for Spanish just using Mango. If you wanted to use it as a homeschool high school foreign language course you would need to add some kind of written curriculum to go along with it.
For elementary and middle school students, Mango is a great introduction to numerous languages. It’s a great way to explore languages. If you are studying geography in social studies, Mango would be a great addition to your program. As you move to each continent, explore the languages from that continent.
Mango will offer monthly and yearly subscriptions as follows:
1 subscription: $18 per month; $125 per year total
2 subscriptions: $28 per month; $175 per year total
3 subscriptions: $38 per month; $225 per year total
4 subscriptions: $48 per month; $275 per year total
5 subscriptions: $58 per month; 325 per year total
As most homeschoolers do, I have to budget my money carefully. I think I would add Mango as an extra. If I had the money for a monthly subscription, I would get it, but I would not look at it as an essential. $125 dollars is a lot of money, and while Mango is awesome, I would probably look for a more complete program, and one that I could use again in the future.
If you are looking for a fun way to introduce your kids to foreign languages, or have a student who is really interested in language study and wants to learn some unconventional languages, then check Mango out!
To learn more about Mango, connect with them here:
Mango on Facebook
To see what other members of the Crew thought of Mango Languages, click here: