Mango Languages and Duolingo are both middle-range language learning tools that offer online lessons for learning a variety of languages. Both are above-average resources that are good for beginners or people looking to study more than one language at once, but they’re not so useful beyond an intermediate level.
Although Duolingo and Mango Languages are similar in the quality of the content they offer, you will find some differences between the two, namely:
- Duolingo offers fun, gamified lessons that don’t really provide the level of depth for effective language learning, but it’s free. Mango Languages includes much better grammar explanations, cultural notes, and quality recordings, but still isn’t thorough enough for intermediate learning.
If Mango Languages and Duolingo were the ONLY two options to consider, I’d hedge towards Mango Languages.
However, in reality, there are lots of resources I’d recommend above Mango. As such, the fact that Duolingo is free makes it a solid option for casual learners. Neither resource is truly exceptional, and I wouldn’t recommend either for users beyond the intermediate level.
It’s worth checking out a few of the more popular language resources available before you settle on a final choice. Get more information on these resources based on your language learning preferences from the table below.
What I like about each program:
- Game-like exercises make language learning feel fun and casual.
- The resource is free to use unless you want to pay for additional features with Duolingo Plus, which isn’t necessary.
- The community aspect encourages competition and allows you to play against your friends.
- With a subscription, you’ll have access to over 70 languages.
- Cultural and grammar notes are thorough and appropriate, helping you to get to grips with the language you’re learning.
- It has a user-friendly interface and a slick, appealing design.
- Lessons don’t include a speaking aspect.
- Audio quality for most languages uses text to speech.
- Grammar instruction is mostly missing from the lessons.
- Most courses don’t progress past an intermediate level, with some finishing even before that.
- The Google Translate plugin is ineffective and doesn’t often produce high-quality translations.
- Instructions and prompts are read to the user during lessons, which can quickly feel rather repetitive.
Duolingo offers courses for 35 languages, while, more impressively, Mango Languages offers access to over 70 languages.
Some of Duolingo’s more practical language courses include German, French, and Spanish. For something more unique, you can also learn Swahili, Czech, Thai and Esperanto, or a few fictitious languages like High Valyrian and Klingon.
Mango Languages offers an even more interesting range of languages. As well as lessons in the more standard Italian, Russian, French and German languages, you can also take up Scottish Gaelic, Shakespearean English or Pirate.
There’s no cost to access Duolingo’s language courses. However, Duolingo Plus does provide more features, and comes at a range of prices, depending on subscription length.
If you opt to pay on a month-by-month basis, the cost comes in at $9.99 per month. A six-month subscription costs $7.99 a month, while a one-year subscription will set you back $6.99 monthly.
A subscription to Mango Languages costs $7.99 per month for one language or $17.99 per month for all languages. Alternatively, subscribing for a full year up front will get you two months free.
To get started with Duolingo, first select a language and then take a placement test or choose to start as a beginner. You’ll then progress through levels and build up a range of different skills on your way. There’s a slight issue with pacing here, especially towards the beginning. You might not feel like you’re not moving as quickly as possible, but this can be sorted by testing out of certain skills.
You’ll be given a chance to practice your skills in Duolingo’s basic but enjoyable exercises.
This activity is a simple one for developing your vocabulary. You’re asked to select the missing word to complete the sentence, which you’ll be able to progress through pretty quickly.
Another activity designed to broaden your vocabulary gives you an audio sample to listen to, then prompts you to type what you hear. Note that audio quality is lacking and can sound very robotic.
When you’re getting started with Mango Languages, you’ll first need to create a profile or sign up for a two-week free trial. You’ll be asked to select the language you want to learn.
Each chapter has a range of lesson choices for you to work your way through. Clicking on a lesson card will take you into that lesson. When you get a green tick by a lesson, it means it’s been completed.
You’ll need to follow lessons in the right order if you want to properly learn a language, as when you progress from one lesson to the next, the tool will utilize content you’ve already learned.
After giving you an outline of what the lesson will cover, the lesson will start by teaching you some words and phrases. Then an English speaking voice will prompt you to carry out certain tasks. If a word requires an explanation, a grammar or cultural note will appear, helping you to understand the language better.
Exercises get more complex as they go on. The resource encourages you to think, which makes for effective learning.
One feature that lets down with Mango Languages down is the Google Translate plug-in. Not only does this inaccurately translate single words in the wrong context, it’s also useless at translating sentences, as it won’t translate the full phrase as one.
Duolingo isn’t one of the better language learning tools, but considering it’s a free option, I wouldn’t rule it out entirely. For users looking to casually learn a language, Duolingo is a good, non-committal first start.
Mango Languages isn’t extraordinary, either. While it does offer some pretty nice, in-depth features, it’s still not as good as other similar resources.
I’d recommend taking a look at the wider range of language learning resources available rather than settling on either of these tools. You can check out our top recommendations based on the language you want to learn in the table below.
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