For the past several months I have been actively searching for a good Spanish program for my family. So far we have been using Teach Them Spanish and really enjoying it. However, the kids are getting bigger now and the program is meant for little children (PreK-5th grade only) so this is not going to work for much longer, especially for my junior high student who is needing something more advanced and challenging. I was asking advice all over, questioning parents of high school kids whenever I came across one, and researching on the internet whenever I could. Then, one day I walked into the library and our librarian suggested something completely different… Mango Languages!
I had never heard of Mango Languages before, so I was a little hesitant to trust them. I asked around and it seemed none of my friends had heard of them either. I do know my librarian though and she is amazing. I figured it couldn’t hurt to give it a whirl, especially since it is free for all library members. How awesome is that?
Logging in to Mango Languages was very simple, coming straight from our library’s online resource center. Once logged in, we selected our language from a long list (about fifty) of choices. Here is where things got slightly tricky for me. Do I pick the Spain Spanish or the Latin American Spanish? I thought we should go with Spain Spanish, seeing as proper Castilian Spanish was wanted on the parental end. As it turns out Spain Spanish doesn’t have a full set of lessons quite yet, so we were forced to end our pursuit of that particular choice and move forward with Latin American instead.
Other than that little snag, we are progressing nicely. The kids have been working on Latin American Spanish for two weeks now and are already on Chapter Two, Lesson Seven. To be truthful, I think they are having such an easy go of it because of the lessons we have been doing for the past several years in Teach Them Spanish. If it hadn’t been for that, my kids would still be doing well, just not zooming through it like they are now. Half of the words they are learning now, they have already been hearing.
I think our previous exposure certainly was beneficial, but not necessary to use this program. Mango seems very thorough and starts off very simple. They make a point of using a lot of repetition, recognizing pronunciation, and (unlike other programs) they handle grammar conjugation. Mango makes a point of not only teaching you the words and what they mean, but (just as importantly) why you use a particular conjugation and when it should be used. This was big for me. I wanted our kids to have a thorough understanding of the language, not just a head knowledge for the right words to use.
Honestly, I notice no major differences between the Spain and Latin American choices, other than the pronunciation of certain words (Spain has slight lisps on various words). So time was not necessarily wasted by us having started on the Spain version, this just boosted their skills when having to begin anew with Latin American.
Some might be disappointed in the lack of pictures used in Mango, but I find this refreshing. My children can learn about the culture found in Spanish-speaking countries through various other means, for now I don’t want them distracted by images while focusing on the language. We can make cultural studies part of a supplemental program apart from the actual language. (Personally, my father-in-law is from Spain, Cullera; my mother-in-law from Mexico; and my father from Puerto Rico. This really isn’t a problem for us; I am only needing the language portion, the cultural is part of everyday life. For others, I could see how a supplemental cultural portion of their lessons might be necessary.)
Overall, I am really liking this program. We have tested out Rosetta Stone and not really cared for it. We tested out a few others and found they weren’t what we were looking for either. So, until something else comes along which can top this program, Mango is what we are going to stick with. It is simple, thorough, cost-effective (hooray for free), and my kids are enjoying it. Who could ask for more?
Which Spanish program are you using and what do you like about it the most?