Title: Mango Languages
Cost: Free
Platform: iOS

Hello! Bonjour! Hola! おはようございます。 Ho There!

I like being able to say hello in different languages. So when I discovered that there is an app for one of the language learning databases available at my library, I thought I’d give it a try. Mango Languages includes 34 foreign languages, 14 English as a second language courses, and a Pirate course. For the purposes of this review, I went through the first lesson in two languages, Pirate (because seriously how could I resist?) and Japanese (I watch a lot of anime).

The Mango language app is free, but you can only log in if you belong to a library that subscribes to the Mango database. To use the Mango app, you will first need to create an account through your library’s web page. Then you can log in and practice your Pirate, Japanese, Arabic, etc, lessons on the go. I love the idea of language learners, teen or adult, using this app to steal a bit of language practice time while waiting in line, or between classes, or on the bus, or anywhere really.

Mango uses conversation to teach language. This is the way people learn- by experience. When you begin a lesson, you see and hear a short conversation. Then each element of the conversation is broken into parts and you are given the opportunity to practice each part. You can play the slides again as many times as you need, and click on new words to hear them spoken. Mango also provides “Cultural Notes” to explain the origin and use of various expressions. All of this is narrated in a gentle just slightly robotic female voice. I found her quite encouraging, but if you don’t, you can turn off the narration in the settings menu.

One concern I had was that the lessons for languages that use different alphabets than English are taught in the same structure as those that use the same alphabet. In reading along with the Japanese lesson, it was more challenging to look at the characters without being able to sound out letters. I wonder if a transliteration option might be useful, especially for beginners who are trying to assimilate a few basic pieces of conversation. But I also wonder if the immersion of being thrown into reading a new alphabet would eventually foster a greater understanding of breaking down the characters and learning to read and write in the new language.

This app is a solid tool for beginning language learners, and while advanced lessons were a bit out of the scope of this review, I would imagine it is a good supplementary practice tool for those who have a bit more experience. I also think the Mango app would be a useful introductory exploration for a student who is trying to choose which language to study. And for those who just want to say hello, I have at least 30 more languages to cover.

For more app reviews, visit the YALSA App of the Week Archive.

One Thought on “App of the Week: Mango Languages

  1. Andrea on January 12, 2012 at 8:19 am said:

    I love this app! Actually, to address your concern, you can hold your finger on a Japanese/Chinese word and a phonetic spelling of the word will show. I am so glad my library subscribes to Mango!

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