Evaluate the quality of the Mango Learn-a-Language Program as a language-learning tool.

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kipling2448 | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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As with most educational programs, whether they are classroom-oriented, cooperative online, or individual software-oriented, how well one serves the needs of students depends greatly upon the individual. Different people adapt better to different programs. Some learn foreign languages much better in the more traditional classroom setting, with students interacting with instructors and with each other. Some students have found an online course with live instructor training suitable for their purposes, and others have made great strides with individual software programs like Mango, Rosetta Stone, Duolingo, Transparent Language, and others. Within the category of foreign language education software programs, there are considerable differences, with some programs more useful than others, and those distinctions sometimes reflected in purchase prices. How well an individual adapts to any of these programs may be a product of his or her age, ability to function and focus without distractions, prior history of studying foreign languages, and other factors. 

With this preface, Mango Languages offers a useful introduction to foreign languages, and can prove very beneficial to individuals needing a relatively quick primer. It offers a wide range of languages, and its software program instructs students on pronunciations and vocabulary useful for everyday interactions with natives of whatever country one is traveling in. In short, for a middle-of-the-road software program, Mango is pretty good. The main criticism of Mango is that it's more limited than Rosetta Stone, which is to be expected given how much less expensive it is than its pricier competitor. If one is temperamentally-suited to learning a foreign language through at-home software programs -- and Mango can downloaded onto alternative software storage and playback components for use on the road -- then Mango is a solid option. As noted above, however, at-home foreign language programs lack the very important component of interaction with a live instructor and with other students. The classroom environment remains, to most, the optimal method for foreign language learning, as the instructor's ability to hear and assess the student's verbal language skills in person far exceeds the playback component of software programs like Mango. Assuming, however, that software programs are being used because of their obvious convenience, the advantages of a classroom environment are irrelevant. 

Mango's software is good, and its interactive component, while limited, is nonetheless more than adequate to provide rudimentary skills in foreign language learning. For a casual or even some business travelers, it will do the job. For more specialized applications, however, it is limited, as in the vocabularies needed for detailed professional conversation. That, though, is asking of Mango more than it was designed for. It is a good, inexpensive software program.

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