I just want to preface this by saying that Mango Languages did NOT pay me for this review. They DID allow me to use one of their courses for the purposes of this review and were kind enough to give a course package away to one of my readers. (more on that below)
I’ve always loved learning new languages, although lately it’s been impossible to find time to take a local class to help me discover a new language and culture. I’ve long been eyeing at-home language courses, but I wasn’t sure how they would stack up to learning the language from a real individual. That’s why I was so excited to take the Mango Passport Language Learning Program for a test run.
Even though I took some Spanish courses almost twenty years ago (wow, that made me feel old), I have long since forgotten all but the most basic of phrases. I’m pretty sure I could order a beer or maybe ask where the discotheque is, but that’s about it. Since Spanish is such an important international language, I decided to try the Mango Spanish course. As a side note, I was surprised that Mango doesn’t offer Arabic, but they do include a Farsi course. This seems very strange to me given how limited Farsi use is, but such is life.
The Spanish course is divided into ten chapters with a total of 63 lessons covering everything from “Hello” to asking for help on the road. From my own personal experience, the methodology is a good one. Long gone are the days of reciting “S-O-C-K-S” and instead, Mango explains the grammatical structure behind the words and phrases so that the user actually understands why they’re saying what they’re saying. Parroting a few words isn’t learning a language, which is why it’s so important to really understand the grammar. Mango also incorporates several cultural lessons, a favorite aspect of any language course. Rather than just review cultural quirks, Mango goes on to explain when and why certain words and phrases are used in a variety of contexts. It may seem simple, but this is a vital skill to have when speaking a foreign language.
The mechanics of each lesson are also very well structured. There is a lot of repetition and encouragement for the user to speak along with the course. Using a headset, I was able to record my attempts at the Spanish phrases and match them to the native speaker. It can be tedious, but repetition and being exposed to the sounds and inflections is key to learning a new language.
By the end of the course, I felt fairly confident that I could get by with a basic knowledge of Spanish and not embarrass myself too badly. I was disappointed to learn that Mango doesn’t offer continuing education, or advanced classes in the languages. I suppose though that this is more than adequate for a traveler whose interest is in getting by in a foreign land and not necessarily having philosophical discussions while in-country.
The basic package is $150 for any of the languages offered, but for $50 more you can get access to the mobile version for use with a smart phone. This is a great idea, especially for people on the go or pressed for time. I found myself reciting my Spanish phrases while on the treadmill after work. The smart phone application also makes it easy for the user to review key phrases while actually traveling.
Overall, I really enjoyed using the Mango Passport program and would recommend it to any traveler. The information and teaching style were both excellent and I honestly felt like I was learning as I went through the course. More than anything, Mango is perfect for the traveler who wants to learn more about the language, people and culture of future travel destinations at their own speed in the privacy of their home.
As I mentioned in the introduction, Mango was good enough to give one of my readers their own copy of the Passport Bundle ($200 value) in the language of their choice.
To enter, you must follow Mango on Twitter and post in the comments section of this post which language you would like to learn. The contest will only last until Friday, April 22, so enter now and I’ll announce the winner on Twitter Saturday, April 23.
Available languages: Chinese (Mandarin), Farsi, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Thai, Turkish, Vietnamese
24 thoughts on “Language Course for the Casual Traveler – Review of Mango Passport”
I would like to learn Spanish!
I’m trying to learn Spanish.
I’m going back to Italy & would love Mango’s help with being better understood.
French, bien sur!
I’m learning Spanish, but it’s slow going! Would love the Mango program!
Great contest, I’m trying to learn German and could use all the help I can get.
My great-grandparents came to the US from Germany. When I was little, I remember my grandparents speaking German around the house, but I was never really encouraged to learn it. In high school I could never force myself to take a language class for fear of getting a bad grade, or just not “getting it.” Next month I turn 59, and now is a great time to learn German using Mango Languages — at last, a tool I can use!
I’ve been intrigued by cultures of Middle East and South Asia, and would love to learn Farsi, in preparation for a trip to the region.
I’d love to learn Spanish. Pick me! :)
I’d love to learn German. It may be a little too late for my trip, but I know I’ll go back there anyway.
That is about all the Thai I know so I would the chance to learn more for my travels. It is not easy to be in a completely differnt culture off the beaten tourist track with a language barrier!
I would love to learn some Italian with a course like the one you completed. As a linguist and language teacher, I’m very interested in how a language is taught and how I can learn without actually living in the country (not that I wouldn’t want to live in Italy…)!
I now follow Mango on Twitter @egood33
I am so happy you’re offering this giveaway, thank you! I’m wanting to learn Italian because my husband and I are going to Italy next year!
Hi Matt –
My name is Beverly Cornell and I am the marketing and social media director at Mango Languages. Thank you so much for your very thorough review of Mango. We always appreciate hearing what people are looking for to fit their specific language learning needs.
A couple of notes based on your review. We are excited to share that the Mango Elves are currently working on Arabic and will be adding more language selections this year. In addition, we will be adding more content/courses. We are so excited to share our work with you and other travelers and language lovers. ;-)
So many of Mango’s unique features are the result of feedback from users like you. From the languages available to the conversations in the lesson and even the methodology—we value your input to keep making Mango Languages great.
Oh my – Arabic! That would be rather exciting. My language dilemma was to choose between Arabic and Farsi. I would love to be greedy and learn both – we’ll see. Good luck in developing the Arabic course :)
I would like to Learn Spanish
Mr TravelDesigned wants to learn Spanish and I need to brush up.
I’ve always wanted to visit Spain to watch a Real Madrid match, so if ever I win, I would like to learn Spanish. :)
It is my dream to learn French! It wasn’t offered at my high school, and as a communications major in college I would love to learn as many languages as I can.
I want (and need) learning japanese. My grand parents are japanese, my mom lives in Japan and I don’t speak anything at all!
Congrats to Stephanie who is the winner of the contest. She has chosen Spanish! I hope you enjoy Stephanie!
Though this is an older post, one avenue for people to consider is their local library. Many libraries offer the Mango courses online for free- that is, if you have a library card!
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