Tuesday, March 18, 2014

A TOS Review: Mango Languages (Homeschool Edition)

It’s a small world, after all. When I was in High School (many moons ago) the only Foreign languages offered were French and Spanish. Even though I thought that I would do my French ancestors proud and learn the language of love (or is that Italian?), my parents felt that Spanish would be more practical. After all, they were on the Mission field in Nicaragua when I was born. It had certainly come in handy for both of them.

I was a baby when we left Nicaragua and unfortunately, the country of my birth afforded me a dual citizenship for a time…but not an intrinsic knowledge of the language. I left High School with 2 years of Spanish under my belt. Which means according to the standards of the time I could ask basic questions (maybe) and sing a few songs in Spanish. But that could have been because of parental influence. I could also sing a few songs in Italian, Latin and German. Thank goodness for Concert Choir!

As Josiah inches towards High School (have mercy!), I am more aware of what he needs to help him accomplish his High School goals. When I was in school I don't believe that we had to have a foreign language credit to graduate. That changed shortly thereafter. It's my desire to provide him a "leg up" on his foreign language before he actually needs it to graduate.. Have you heard of Mango Languages? I have to admit I hadn’t. I really have been out of the loop. Mango Languages has been available through the Public Library for a number of years. When an opportunity came to review Mango Homeschool Edition I was all about it. For one, I have reviewed a few good foreign language programs for The Crew, but the Mango Homeschool Edition is in a class by itself. More on that in a minute. 


What I Received
I received an online subscription to Mango Homeschool Edition. This homeschool curriculum has not 1, or 2, or even 20, but over 60 languages to choose from. The choices here are really incredible. Do you want to learn German? Got it. How about Russian? No problem. Fancy a dive into Farsi? Mango is happy to oblige. 


PRICE: This is their introductory pricing. 

1 subscription is $18/month or $125/year total 
2 subscriptions is $28/month or $175 /year total                     
3 subscriptions is $38/month or $225/year total                    
4 subscriptions is $48/month or $275/year total                
5 subscriptions is $58/month or $325/year total

If you have over 6 subscriptions it will depend on the number in your group.
It is recommended for ages 6 to adult. I think this is dependent on the individual child. I really think if you have younger kids you will need to assist them. Older kids can certainly handle it on their own.
Currently, the Homeschool Edition offers:
  •     more than 60 different languages
  •     progress assessments
  •     journals and discussions
  •     collaborative learning spaces
  •     eNote messaging and chat rooms
  •     access to embedded and downloadable content
  •     support from other community members
  •     calendars to schedule meetings or study-groups
All it took to run Mango on our computer was a good set of speakers (or ear buds) and the free installation of Adobe Flash Player.

How We Used It
I decided that I would sign up Josiah for Spanish as his primary foreign language. He has had quite a bit of exposure to Spanish. I also felt my Spanish speaking skills could use a big brush up and we did most of the lessons together. Josiah did review on his own every week, but our daily Spanish lessons together were a lot of fun.  
Now. I told Josiah he could pick another language for fun. And would you believe it? He chose Pirate. What well-respecting boy wouldn’t?
It wasn’t hard to get going on either languages. I want to share with you what a typical lesson looks like.

I first started by creating an account. It was easy peasy. I then wandered over to section called The Commons which brought me to this page. This is Mango's Course Directory. So many choices!


I set us up for both Spanish (Latin America) and Pirate. Then we were off!

These are actually screen shots from Spanish Lesson 5. At this point, Josiah has taken the Chapter Quiz for Journey 1 and we are now working through Journey 2. You do realize that there was no testing for me. Mamma has already been there (and done that).  

We started everyday by clicking on the Login to Mango. I have created a handy dandy yellow arrow for your viewing enjoyment. Please be aware that the yellow arrow won't be in the actually curriculum itself. That's all me.

The Welcome Screen provides some choices. Either we can resume a Lesson, Browse the Course Menu or Take an Assessment Test. It also has the date stamped on it. You can see that I took this shot just days ago.

On this day, I chose to resume the lesson. The narration is pleasant and every screen is interactive. I have pointed the arrow to our favorite button. The replay button. The pink arrows on either side of the card let you go forwards our backwards in the lesson.

This screen is introducing "hablar," which means "to speak." Not only can we replay it as often as we wish, but Mango also allows us to see the pronunciation by clicking on a box, If you have the capabilities to record yourself there is a tool that tests your pronunciation. We did not use this feature as we don't have a microphone that can be connected to the computer. I think that is a pretty handy tool to have, regardless.

This screen is giving us a Grammar Note. They are sprinkled throughout the lessons. The narrator has such a pleasant voice. I do believe that there is an option to turn her off, but we enjoyed her speaking to us everyday. Plus, it was helpful to my dyslexic boy.

Here is a brief timed test to see if we are grasping the lesson. Up at the top there is a clock. You can add more time if necessary or hear the correct answer.

During this lesson was a Culture Note. Both Josiah and I found these to be very interesting. They were brief enough to keep Josiah's attention, but also supplied pertinent facts.

The closing screen for this Lesson gives the chance for review. This particular phrase is one we learned in Journey 1. It was nice to have this review throughout.

One feature that we did not even explore are the chat rooms. It is possible to interact with other students. I think this is a great idea for some, but I don’t feel comfortable with Josiah interacting with people I don’t know. I am sure that it is perfectly safe and monitored, but he is 12. And a little  impulsive. 

Now I have recorded a little bit of a treat for you. I mentioned that Josiah is also learning Pirate. I recorded a whole lesson and tried to edit it, but had issues (what's new?). I was only able to download this brief bit. Ironically, at the end I tell Josiah I won't be able to use it. He really got into it.  

Belay yer carousing and haul wind smartly! Basically. Stop messing around!

My Thoughts (and other Tidbits)
I found this program to be tailor made for us.As I mentioned,  Josiah is dyslexic and the conversation aspect of Mango is really a big plus.  Josiah did quite a bit of independent work, but I liked that this was something we could also do together.
It was so easy! Basically, just point and click. I had trouble initially deciding where everything was, but after browsing around and watching the introductory videos I found it a piece of cake.
I need to mention that we actually reviewed the beta version of Mango Homeschool Edition.Basically, we took it out for a spin.

In the coming months, Mango is going to add to the Homeschool Edition and will include:
  • enhanced tracking and progress monitoring for students and parents
  • goals and personal lesson plans (both stand-alone and tied into Mango courses)
  • a resume and portfolio builder

Josiah and I used a whole week to go through one Lesson. We simply would repeat the same Lesson everyday. That worked best for us. I love that I could set my own schedule and speed based on our specific needs. I also love that we can dabble with other languages. If Josiah decides he wants to add Telugu to his education we can do that! With Mango Homeschool Edition you are not limited to one language. You can choose as many as you would like to learn!

I was a bit disappointed with the Chapter Quiz. It didn’t show what Josiah missed after he took it. I felt it would have been helpful to let him see (or correct) any mistakes. There might have been a way to review it, but I didn’t see it. I am not worried about his test scores necessarily. However, there are plenty of High School students who would like to use this as a foreign language credit.That being said I am sure that this will be addressed in the months to come. 

Connect with Mango! 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MangoLanguages
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/mangolanguages/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MangoLanguages

This was a great experience! I look forward to continuing our Mango Experience. Adios!

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