Language learners are blessed with a plethora of wonderful, online resources for studying. Today we are taking a brief look at three of the most popular sites for language learning: Mango Languages, Duolingo, and LiveMocha. Each program was tested by spending about ten minutes on an introductory Spanish lesson.
OKAY, SO WHAT MAKES IT GREAT? Mango Languages offers over 50 languages to choose from, many of which are available in ESL format as well. The system is beautifully designed and easy to navigate. Students are introduced to both grammar and cultural notes as they study. Mango also uses colors to distinguish words in sentences, which proved to be helpful when learning terms for the first time.
AND THE DOWNSIDE? MangoLanguages is not technically a free service, although many can access the program for free through their local library. (You can check here!) In addition, although users can record their pronunciation, you are speaking to a computer. Many language programs provide communities for users to speak with native speakers, which Mango cannot offer.
OKAY, SO WHAT MAKES IT GREAT? Duolingo is a crowdsourced text translation platform designed so that, by learning a new language, users inadvertently provide translations for documents. Because of this, Duolingo is completely free! It helps with the translation process as well: along with practicing your reading and speaking comprehension, by re-typing translations, it forces you to use proper spelling. Like Mango Languages, grammar is also subtly integrated into the learning process.
AND THE DOWNSIDE? Unfortunately, Duolingo only offers five languages to study at the moment: Spanish, Italian, French, Brazilian Portuguese, and German. Users are also unable to be judged on their speaking skills, and although you can create a profile for yourself, there seems to be little to no community to practice with.
LiveMochaOKAY, SO WHAT MAKES IT GREAT? LiveMocha is the most-used of the three programs, and it shows through its extended abilities and large community. Users can choose from over 35 languages and a variety of styles to study: vocab, reading and writing, reading and speaking, listening and writing, listening and speaking, etc. What really sets LiveMocha apart is its huge community – users are encouraged to help one another practice, which rewards them with points.
AND THE DOWNSIDE? Since we’re on the topic of points… it’s LiveMocha’s biggest issue. While users can do many activities for free, unlocking new lessons costs “points.” You can purchase points if you need, but by correctly answering questions or helping others, LiveMocha rewards you with free points to use. It’s a bit confusing, and rather unnecessary, considering how easy it is to achieve points. As for the learning style, it felt a little quick, which was a struggle at times.
CUT TO THE CHASE: WHICH SHOULD I CHOOSE?
All three are excellent programs, but if money isn’t an object, we have to recommend LiveMocha first. Being able to talk with native speakers is a huge benefit when learning a language, and LiveMocha’s large community is something to take advantage of. However, if you’re casually studying, consider DuoLingo if your language is one of the few they offer. Otherwise, if used through a local library, MangoLanguages is a great, free language tool, as well.
Do you agree with our ranking? Know of a better language program we should review? Let us know in the comments!