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Mondly Review – Not My First Choice For Learning A Language

Quick Review

2.7 

Summary

Mondly is a language-learning app that teaches basic vocabulary and grammar structures. It seems most appropriate for learners with little to no exposure to their target language.

The activities mostly rely on passive recognition of vocabulary and phrases, and therefore are not very challenging. However, they are varied enough that you probably wouldn’t get bored with short, daily practice sessions.

Although I wouldn’t recommend Mondly to anyone looking to seriously learn a language, it may be appropriate for individuals studying languages with less available resources, or for individuals who are preparing to travel abroad.

Quality

The course could be designed better.

Thoroughness

It’s decent for learning vocabulary, but it only covers the basics.

Value

The price is comparable to similar apps, but it provides less content

Price

There are three plans…
$9.99 per month for one language
$47.99 per year ($4/mo) for one language
$47.99 per year ($4/mo) for all languages

Strangely, I was able to access multiple languages even though I only signed up for one month at $9.99.

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First Impressions

At first glance, Mondly seems similar to  language learning apps like Duolingo, LingoDeer, Busuu, and Mango Languages. It has a moderately intuitive interface and attractive graphics. However, I found its approach far less effective than other resources at promoting recall and learning.

The app gave me the illusion of ease with its quick lesson formats and primary focus on passive recognition. But, after testing several different languages, I was surprised at how little the lessons advanced my language abilities.

Mondly isn’t an app that will take you beyond the basics, but it may be an adequate option if you want a thorough introduction to basic conversation skills.

Overview

Mondly’s premium plan offers about 40 topics with over 300 individual lessons. Additionally, there are over 1000 daily lessons which cover 5000 words and phrases unrelated to the main content.

The free version allows you to access some content, such as the Hello section and the daily lesson. It’s quite limited but will give you a feel of what it’s like to use the resource.

The lessons are divided into different topics that allow the user to learn and practice vocabulary, pronunciation, conversation skills and, to some extent, grammar.

Although this seems like a lot of content, I only encountered the most basic of grammar structures. Therefore, I’d say it’s only suitable for beginners.

There’s a suggested path you should follow, as presented below.

Each section offers a different vocabulary topic; there are also special ones for grammar and a chatbot functionality.

Once you choose a topic, such as Hello, you gain access to a number of lessons. Each of them offers numerous exercises. You can redo lessons as many times as you want and complete them in whichever order you prefer.

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You also get stars for how well you performed. A lesson starts with three stars. When you make a mistake, you will lose all or part of a star. You can make five mistakes before losing all three stars, after which you must repeat the lesson.

You can also retake a lesson to improve your star score if you wish.

Studying on Mondly

When you first use Mondly, it asks you to choose a language you want to learn and your current level.

Quite disappointingly, you will study exactly the same vocabulary and grammar structures regardless of the level you have chosen. However, while most of the exercises at the beginner level only require passive recognition of vocabulary and phrases, the question format at the advanced level includes a few more recall activities.

The good news is that you can use the tool for more than one language at the same time. You just need to edit your settings.

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Unfortunately, similar to other resources that support many different languages, Mondly’s content is the same for all languages.

This means that you always get the same vocabulary topics and phrases to study. Also, the tool doesn’t deal with language-specific concepts. Instead, it assumes all languages work in the exact same way.

I have a feeling that most of the content was automatically translated, as there were some errors and assumptions that would never get past a native speaker.

For example, although verb tense is derived from context in Mandarin Chinese, Mondly assumes that verbs can be conjugated.

After you’ve chosen your language, you can see your home screen and choose your study topic. Each topic has lessons, conversation, and vocabulary sections.

The numbering is a bit confusing. It has nothing to do with your achievements, which are calculated with stars. 1/8 just means that this is part one of eight available lessons in a given section.

One good thing is that the program tracks your progress. The lessons you’ve already completed have stars above them and instead of the “start” button, you’ll see a “redo” option with a review button to the right.

The lesson review allows you to see words and expressions used in the lesson, as well as related grammar topics, such as conjugations of the verbs used.

It should be noted that if you change your level, the app will make you redo each lesson as if you had switched to a different language. However, going back to your previous level lets you continue from where you left off.

The Exercises

Within a subsection, such as a lesson, conversation, or vocabulary, you’ll encounter different types of exercises aimed at drilling.

One kind of language practice prompts you to choose the right translation for the English word provided. The flag icon can be used to submit feedback if you’ve found a mistake.

Another type of exercise prompts you to put a sentence in order or create a correct word from randomly ordered letters.

In the advanced level, and sometimes in other levels, you may be asked to type out the sentences.

Multiple choice questions prompt you to choose the right translation among the ones presented. One advantage to this exercise is the option to record yourself saying your response aloud. Mondly will then use speech recognition to choose from the provided answers.

By clicking on the underlined words, you can see their translation. You can also click on the speaker icon to hear the word again.

A major issue in all of Mondly’s exercises is that the speaker will almost always say the translation of the word or sentence aloud before you have had a chance to recall it yourself. Therefore, unless you choose the advanced level, you mostly just practice listening to and recognizing different words.

If the word you’re interested in is a verb, you can see a number of conjugations in different tenses. However, as mentioned before, I found some errors in this function. Additionally, the app does not differentiate between types of past, future, and present tenses, so I would not recommend relying on this information.

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Once you’re done with all of the exercises in a given part (such as 1/8) you will receive a summary of the vocabulary you learned.

A native speaker reads the words aloud in your target language and they appear on the screen in English.

After completed lessons, Mondly volunteers information on how you are progressing. It also tracks when you learn, encouraging you to be systematic. What’s more, you’re presented with a few “competitors” in your category, meaning other people studying the given language.

Once you’ve obtained a certain number of points, you will receive a badge. I couldn’t find it anywhere on my profile after it popped up, so it may serve no other purpose than to be shared on social media.

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Apart from normal lessons, you also have vocabulary units, which are pretty much the same thing as a regular lesson.

A conversation unit, on the other hand, will help you practice your pronunciation by getting you to repeat sentences after a native speaker.

You can record what you say and compare it to the recording provided by the platform. There’s no other way to rate you accuracy other than through self-evaluation, which obviously isn’t ideal.

Working with a tutor from italki, using the community feature on Busuu, or using a platform like Speechling would be much more effective for improving your pronunciation.

The interface here is far from intuitive: the pink button with a drawing of a mobile phone on it allows you to listen to the recording of a native speaker, the orange button with a drawing of a person is a recording of your own voice.

To record yourself you need to click and hold the microphone button. When you release it, your microphone will stop recording you.

Next you can play back the audio and listen to your voice taking part in the conversation.

This sums up the main functions of Mondly. Let’s now have a look at the additional functionalities.

Mondly for English Learners with the oxford university Press

Mondly has recently partnered with the Oxford University Press to provide English progress tests for speakers of 33 different languages. These tests, which have integrated questions from the Oxford Practice Grammar tests and the Oxford Learner’s Dictionary, Oxford 3000, appear at the end of almost every topic. 

Unlike the rest of Mondly’s content, the difficulty of these tests adjusts to the beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels. 

In my opinion, because Mondly’s content does not adjust to your chosen level, it in no way prepares you for the Oxford tests. 

Additionally, although labeled “progress tests”, the Oxford tests do not seem to use the same grammar structures or vocabulary words that were presented in each of the previous lessons. 

I took several of the Oxford assessments, and each time it felt like I was using an entirely different app. I think that Oxford’s approach to learning is drastically different, and more effective, than that of Mondly’s. It includes problem solving, recall, and complex grammar exercises. 

For example, instead of getting you to recognize vocabulary words, some questions ask you to choose a vocabulary word that best fits a given description.

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Other questions ask you to differentiate between subtle language differences, correct grammatical errors, or rewrite sentences in a different way.

Overall, I was impressed with the quality of these tests, but this may be because I was so unimpressed with the rest of Mondly’s content.

Nevertheless, if I were learning English, I still wouldn’t pay for the app to use this feature — especially considering that other apps, like Busuu, include similar progress tests.

Additional Features

The same type of exercises done over and over again gets boring, but it seems like the designers of Mondly have attempted to diversify the learning experience.

The grammar drilling units offer the same kind of exercises as the regular lessons. However, the drills here are primarily grammar oriented with a few vocabulary words snuck in.

Below is an example of how they systematically get you to build upon simple sentences.

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Another functionality is the chatbot. Supposedly it’s meant to allow you to practice your conversational skills.

I like the idea behind the chatbot. It could make you feel more comfortable in various situations you may encounter as a language user.

There are different chatbots for different skills, such as having an introductory conversation with someone, taking a taxi, or going to a hotel.

It’s similar to the tool in Ling, whose chatbot allows you to choose different appropriate responses. You can see suggestions for other responses as well, then record or type one of your choice.

If you’re feeling confident, you can also switch off English translations altogether.

Last but not least, there are some useful additions to Mondly: daily lessons, weekly quizzes, and monthly challenges.

A daily lesson is a short compilation of exercises drilling a few themed words. The lessons are marked in green on your calendar when they’re completed.

If you miss a lesson because you didn’t have time on a given day, you can always do it later.

A weekly quiz includes a comprehensive test of the vocabulary that you’re supposed to have learned within a week. In order to access a weekly quiz, you need to complete all 7 daily lessons.

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This quiz is based on daily lessons and not on what you’ve covered in the main part of the program. A similar rule applies to monthly challenges, which require the completion of all weekly quizzes in a given month.

Notwithstanding my criticism, I think that Mondly works reasonably well for those who want to dip their toes in a language.

The drills will provide some level of confidence in a conversation, and if you are consistent with the daily practice you will acquire a lot of new vocabulary.

Content and Platform Issues

Unlike Duolingo, which accepts a variety of responses, Mondly seems to lack flexibility in user responses.

There were also grammatical errors across several different languages and odd translations for individual words.

Additionally, although the iPad app worked seamlessly, the desktop version had some bugs. Sometimes it wasn’t possible to click the record button, and other times pressing ‘enter’ on my keyboard wouldn’t take me to the next exercise.

Mondly VR

Virtual Reality has the potential to have a huge impact on the way that people study languages.  However, as the technology is still quite new, there aren’t many options yet.

Mondly is among the first language learning companies to enter into the VR space. For that, they are ahead of the curve and I’m looking forward to seeing how things change in the future.

Unfortunately, for now at least, I’m not a big fan of Mondly’s VR app. Besides the novelty factor, I don’t think there’s a reason to use it over other language learning resources.

What it’s like using Mondly VR

Like Mondly’s online courses, there are quite a few languages to choose from and each language has similar content. There are currently three options for studying a language. These are…

  • Conversation
  • Vocabulary
  • Multiplayer (Beta)

The conversation is the main component of Mondly’s VR. The vocabulary section isn’t yet available for every language, and the Multiplayer part doesn’t seem to have enough active students to use it.

Conversation

The conversation feature is the main feature of Mondly’s VR app. It’s actually very similar to the chatbot that was mentioned earlier in the review.

But, since it’s VR, you’re in the environment, whether that’s in a store, restaurant, or taxi. This is initially somewhat interesting but I don’t think it would have much impact on the learning.

Just like with the chatbot, in each scenario, you’ll have a conversation with the AI character. It’s fairly basic, with that person saying something and you responding. You’re given a few options to choose from in each case and will record yourself responding to the question. It’s quite limited as you’ll need to stick with their pre-written responses to have it marked as correct.

The voice recognition software can be pretty far off and seems to grade stricter than with the chatbot. While I’m happy that this pushes users to speak aloud, I wouldn’t put much weight into whether or not it marks your speech as correct or incorrect. It’s not reliable enough to do so and may lead to unnecessary frustrations.

Just like with the chatbot, I like the idea behind these VR conversations, but there’s a ton of room for improvement. It’s nice to be thrown into these common scenarios but the functionality is very limited. There also aren’t very many of these lessons available yet.

Vocabulary

The vocabulary lessons aren’t yet available in every language and I didn’t find them to be all that exciting. As with the conversation lessons, you’ll speak with the AI character. She introduces you to various vocabulary words based on a theme such as fruits, vegetables, or animals.

She mostly speaks English, though you can change this to learn from another language. She’ll sometimes also include some semi-interesting facts about the different items. For example, did you know rhinoceros are pregnant for 15-16 months? While this won’t help you learn a language, it may make the lessons a little more interesting.

In these lessons, you’ll learn a few of the vocabulary words, practice saying them, and also practice a few sentences with those words. There’s not so much to these lessons but it is somewhat cool to see an animal walk around as you learn the word for that animal.

There aren’t many of these lessons and outside of the novelty factor of VR, there’s no real benefit from learning them here versus other means.

My opinion of Mondly’s VR

I wouldn’t personally use Mondly’s VR to study a language.

While it’s cool that they’re among the first companies to enter the space, I don’t see any real benefit to using it over more traditional resources. There are lots of resources that teach languages better.

That said, it’s available as a one-time purchase that only costs $4.99. At that low of a price, there’s no real risk in trying it out. You can definitely learn and practice a decent amount of many different languages.

Mondly’s Plans and Prices

You can try limited content for free to see whether you like it.

If you decide to pay for their Premium plan, there are three options

  • $9.99 per month for one language
  • $47.99 per year ($4/mo) for one language
  • $47.99 per year ($4/mo) for all languages

Obviously, it would make no sense to pay for a full year in one language when you can get access to all 33 languages they offer for the same price.

Final Thoughts

Mondly is a decent tool but nothing special. It could be alright for someone who only wants to focus on the basics of a language.

Using it isn’t as engaging as any of the apps mentioned at the beginning of this review, but it will probably get you comfortable enough to order food in a restaurant, make a booking at a hotel, or have a simple conversation with someone.

However, I definitely wouldn’t recommend it unless you are studying a language that doesn’t have a lot of other resources. The market for online language learning tools is quite competitive and Mondly is just alright.

Our favourite resources vary by language, so if you’re looking for something more substantial to supplement your language learning, you can check out the Most Recommended Resources at the bottom of this page.

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