I'd like to start this review by addressing the fact that I have never learned any part of a foreign language and didn't even take a foreign language class in high school or college. I really regret this. If I could go back in time that is something I would change. So what does a parent do when their 14 year old daughter wishes not only to learn a foreign language but a language that is not available through the normal channels. This is where an online program like Mango Homeschool Edition from Mango Languages comes on the scene. We were thoroughly blessed by the TOS Review Crew and Mango Languages with the opportunity to review this product. We were given a one year online subscription to Mango Homeschool Edition to try it and give our honest opinion.
I would like to preface this review by letting my readers know that certain areas of the product were still in development during the review period and I was unable to use those. Mango Languages representatives did inform us that parent tracking, grading, and personal lessons plans are being developed and will be available in a few months. In essence we were given a beta edition to use and review.
This product could not have come at a better time for us. Let me explain. My daughter loves Japanese culture and decided early on that Japanese would be her foreign language choice. We live in a small town which equals no "in person" tutoring for her language choice. In walks Mango Languages and the problem is virtually solved. From day one of starting, Grace was excited to be using the program. But wait, I'm getting ahead of myself. First let's address some of the basic information you need and want to know.
- Mango Homeschool Edition is for ages 6 - adult. That's right folks, you the parent can use it as well as your child to learn a new language.
- This program works on Mac or PC and any browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome).
- The developers are currently working on a mapping to determine how to apply the program for high school credits.
- No restrictions or limits are placed on how many languages the student wants to study or how far they wish to go with each language.
- If the parent wishes to use the program they will need to have a separate subscription from the student.
1 subscription is $18.00/month or $125.00/year
2 subscriptions is $28.00/month or $175.00/year
3 subscriptions is $38.00/month or $225.00/year
4 subscriptions is $48.00/month or $275.00/year
5 subscriptions is $58.00/month or $325.00/year
Subscriptions for 6 students and over is considered a group rate and will depend on number of students.Each student will need a subscription of their own.
Mango Languages has been available in many libraries across the country for a few years. You might ask "Why should I buy an online subscription when I can get it for free at my local library?" That is a very good question with a very good answer. The program available at the library only allows use of the first level of each language. The homeschool version allows all languages and all levels to be used by the student. Not to mention the community feature. Total package, total experience. Now you may wonder "What is the community feature?" The software developers created a online community specifically for this program. This community represents a different way to learn language sharing it with others through conversation in a safe online community. Parents and students across the world having the capability to share other language learning resources and learning together. Mango will be the facilitator in bringing this all together through audio, video, lessons, and more. This is their vision for Mango Homeschool Edition.
What Is Currently Available To Use In The Homeschool Edition
Over 60 different languages
Built-in journals, discussion, 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 groups
We of course chose Japanese to study. Although we did take a quick look at Pirate and Gaelic. Each language is called a Passport. Our Passport included 3 levels (called Journeys) of learning plus downloadable files. The lessons gave us the opportunity to use: Audio and pronunciation guidance from native speakers, conversation and grammar goals, a voice comparison tool, phonetic spelling on demand, cultural insights like customs and etiquette, and grammar notes.
From the very beginning I appreciated the fact that over 60 languages were at our fingertips. This means students can dabble in many different languages while trying to decide on one to thoroughly study for high school. I also liked the fact that the student wasn't bombarded with meaningless (in my humble opinion) words to study but could learn complete conversational sentences right away. Teaching Japanese conversationally is what Grace will use one day if she gets to visit Japan, not how to conjugate verbs, etc. We liked learning the cultural information which was interwoven into most of the lessons. This program is not just about memorization and reciting the learned words. Each lesson will throw a sentence at you to translate from what you have learned previously and what is being learned in the current lesson. If the student doesn't get "it" the first or second time, they have the ability to go back and repeat each and every lesson. We enjoyed listening to the narrator and found her very easy to listen to. Grace used this program 4 times a week and will continue to do so even after the review period. Some of the topics we have studied so far are:
Greetings, Gratitudes, and Goodbyes
Inquiring About Someone's Nationality
Asking What Languages Someone Speaks
Names and Introductions
Seeing as we are using the 3 journeys to fill one high school credit, we added some extra activities to the already great program. I printed out the entire downloadable file which Grace uses to follow along with the narrator. She writes the lessons in a notebook phonetically and with the Japanese symbols. She also wrote out some of the words on flashcards to practice away from the computer as well. So far we are very happy with Mango Homeschool Edition from Mango Languages and plan to finish all three levels of Japanese. The developers of the program have quite a vision in place for this program and I am eager to see all of it come to fruition.
If your family is shopping around for a foreign language program, I would highly recommend checking out the Mango Homeschool Edition. Also go over to the TOS Review Crew to see what other reviewers thought of this program.
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