Friday, March 14, 2014

Schoolhouse Review Crew: Mango Languages

Mango Languages Review
When my girls were younger, they were interested in learning Spanish, and we found a plethora of products to teach Spanish to various ages, learning styles, budgets, etc. But then, last year, they decided they wanted to learn Hebrew, and I found it much harder to find affordable resources to teach Hebrew to children. So, when we were given the opportunity to review the Mango Homeschool Edition from Mango Languages, we were all SUPER EXCITED!!!

Mango Languages ReviewMango Languages offers over 60 different languages. The Homeschool Edition is brand new! It was designed to give homeschool families affordable, unlimited access to all of these languages at the same time! That means that, while Lexie and Ashlyn were happily working on Hebrew, I could dabble in Biblical Hebrew, and one day when Little Bit was needing some distraction for a disappointment, she and I discovered that she could start learning PIRATE!! There is nothing cuter than hearing a 4 year old say "Blow me down!" in a "mean old pirate" voice LOL.

While my 4 year old loved playing with learning pirate, the program is designed for ages 6 through adult. The homeschool edition is a subscription and the introductory pricing is as follows:
     1 subscription - $18/month or $125/year
     2 subscriptions - $28/month or $175/year
     3 subscriptions - $38/month or $225/year
     4 subscriptions - $48/month or $275/year
     5 subscriptions - $ 58/month or $325/year
     Anything over 6 subscriptions is a special group rate, contact them for pricing.

As soon as we got our login information the girls and I dove right in. It's all online, so works on any computer with an internet connection. It's very easy to set up, and straight forward to use. The Hebrew (and I assume other languages) starts with things you are most likely to need to know, like how to greet people, and other simple "nice to meet you" type things. If the grammar or sentence structure is different from English, it clearly, concisely, and simply, explains those differences right after giving you a phrase that is an example of it. Each lesson introduces new words and phrases interspersed with reviewing already used words, so you don't forget them. It also includes cultural notes, such as the fact that people in Israel tend to be less reserved than Americans, so don't be surprised if someone you're just meeting greets you with a hug. These are interesting for us, and would be extremely helpful if we were using this program in preparation for a trip to another country. I was able to pretty much turn my 10 year olds loose with this, which is always nice.

At this point, for Hebrew, there is only the lessons, with review at the end of every 5 lessons. My understanding is that some of the other languages have quizzes and tests, and eventually all languages will have this. Because we're not really a "quiz" type family, that's no biggie for us, but might be an issue for some.  Each language also has a forum feature, but Hebrew doesn't have any discussion yet. There is not a way to disable this for a child, which would be a concern to me if I were considering this for a 6 or 7 year old. While Mango has some very good safeguards in place to safeguard the forum and chat features from "stalkers", which is important, I still wouldn't be comfortable with young children being able to access this feature without parental controls.

I wasn't able to find as much time to play with the Biblical  Hebrew as much as I'd hoped to . . . something that requires me to be able to hear the computer, and focus, doesn't work well in this house full of noise, and I can't go off in a room alone and shut the door like Lexie and Ashlyn did, to do their Hebrew lessons. What I saw, I LOVE though. It uses actual Bible verses, I'm still hoping to find time to at least get part way through it during the rest of our subscription, because I LOVE the idea of it!

I wasn't really able to see how my parent/teacher account differed from the student accounts, but it's my understanding that one of the things that is still "in process" is for the parent to be able to see what their children are working on and how they are doing. This, again, isn't something that I find necessary. My girls are excited to learn Hebrew, and share with me what they are learning, so I can easily keep track of what they're doing that way.

At first, Ashlyn, especially, felt like it was going too fast. Once I pointed out that she can re-do a lesson to review it, she has moved more slowly through them, but feels more confident that she has actually mastered what she is learning.

Overall, I think this is a great program, and I am soo thankful to have had the opportunity to review it. We are excited to continue using it as long as we have it!

There are a few areas that I hope they are able to improve on/add to in the future:

A big one for us, would be to be able to access it on the iPad and the girls' iPods. Because the lessons use Adobe Flash, they won't work on the iPad, which means using my laptop. I know some of Mango's other products do work on the iPad, so I am hopeful that they will soon find a way for the Homeschool Edition to also be available on iPad.

Also, this program only teaches how to speak a language for a language like Hebrew, I really wish it also taught reading/writing the language since Hebrew uses a different alphabet and is read right to left. It does show the Hebrew words, but because all of the review is the computer saying the English word, and asking the student to say the Hebrew equivalent, there's no way, that I've found, to "test" yourself on whether or not you can recognize the words in Hebrew. I've been thinking about going through the first few lessons and making flash cards that we can use to learn to read the Hebrew as well.

Overall, we are very thankful to have this opportunity, and look forward to exploring the additional features as they become available.  I think this could be a good option for a family wanting to learn several different languages. It seems like, if you're only planning to use one language, it would make sense to at least consider buying the individual language you want, especially since the individual languages include mobile access, which would be a big selling point for me. I would encourage anyone considering this to sign up for the free 30 day trial, and see what you think.

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1 comment:

Lisa M. (aka. Lisa @ Farm Fresh) said...

The Hebrew intrigued me as well...I'm glad your family enjoyed it!