Since I started attending college outside of Washington DC, I have met many friends that have lived all over the world and that speak multiple languages, including Hindi, Greek, Spanish, Tagalog, Chinese, Russian, and more. I love when my friends teach me things about their languages and cultures, and it’s fun to learn how to say different words and phrases in their native languages. Sometimes, I like to surprise my friends by learning to say new things using the Mango Languages app, which is free to access with my local library card and also through select colleges in the United States. Today, I will be sharing my review of Mango Languages for Libraries as a user with vision impairment.
What is Mango Languages?
Mango Languages for Libraries is a free service available through public libraries and colleges worldwide that allows library card holders to learn a new language through interactive lessons, though users can also purchase access to the service for $19.99 a month. Mango Languages lessons focus on developing practical conversational skills and using repetition to reinforce different concepts of each language. Mango Languages is designed for beginning and intermediate language learners, so users looking for advanced lessons may want to look elsewhere.
How to access Mango Languages
Mango Languages for Libraries can be accessed in a few different ways, though users must register for the service on their local library’s website first. Registration involves providing their library card number, name, email, and creating a password. Once registration is completed, users can access Mango through their website, iOS app, and Android app.
Examples of languages available
Mango Languages has over 70 languages on their platform, including English as a second language. There are also different dialects available for popular languages. Some of their most popular languages and dialects include:
- Spanish (Latin American)
- Chinese (Mandarin)
- Portuguese (Brazilian)
- Arabic (Levantine)
Mango Languages also has lessons in endangered and dead languages, which I thought was super awesome. Some of these languages include:
- Ancient Greek
Users can choose to take lessons in as many languages as they want at no cost to them.
Mango Languages interface
Once the user chooses what language they want to study, they are brought to the main language learning screen. Each language is broken up into units, which contain smaller chapters and lessons based on a specific theme. Within each chapter, users can practice reading, speaking, writing, and listening to words and phrases in their target language. At the end of each unit, there is a test so that users can see how much they have learned.
Once a user clicks on a lesson, they are brought to a full-screen view of bold text which is narrated by natural-sounding voices. Users can progress through each lesson by using the arrow keys on their keyboard or swiping on the screen. One of the features I thought was really interesting is the ability to compare a recording of my voice against a recording of a native speaker so I can practice saying different words and phrases.
I found that the text in the Mango Languages app was large enough for me to read with my iPad close to my face, though it was easy to use the Zoom magnifier to follow along with text as needed. VoiceOver worked well with reading text out loud, and I liked that the native speaker pronunciations still played in sync with VoiceOver reading out loud.
Since I have large text enabled in my web browser settings, I didn’t need to use any additional magnification in order to read the text on screen. According to the Mango Languages support website, the web platform is designed to work well with screen readers and their support team is willing to work with users to ensure that they can access the Mango website.
App vs website- which to use?
One of the great things about Mango Languages is that progress is synchronized across all devices, so I can pick up right where I left off no matter what device I accessed last. However, I found that I prefer to use the Mango Languages app for language practice, because it is easier to hold my iPad and I feel more comfortable using VoiceOver than JAWS or NVDA screen readers. I also like that the app has a night mode/high-contrast mode, so I can practice learning a language without dealing with eyestrain.
What it can be used for
There are numerous benefits to learning a language, though my friends and I have come up with many interesting ways we have been using Mango Languages to practice different languages:
- I decided to try out the Russian lessons so I could practice communicating with my friend’s family.
- One of my friends decided to explore Cherokee lessons after our trip to the National Museum of the American Indian.
- Another friend needed additional help in their Japanese class and used Mango to help them practice pronunciations.
- One friend was preparing for a study abroad where they would be surrounded by people speaking Portuguese, so they decided to download some lessons for offline use for the plane ride.
- National Museum of the American Indian Review
- Eight Ways To Read Handwritten Cards With Assistive Technology
Should I download Mango Languages?
I had a lot of fun exploring how to use the Mango app with vision impairment, and am glad that my local library subscribes to such a cool service. I highly recommend trying out the Mango service and using it to learn a new language- or 70!