By Francisca Arnold, Marketing and PR Specialist
“We’re here to help you start a conversation.” That’s the slogan that Mango Languages uses to promote its language learning app. You may or may not know that Mango Languages is available for free with your library card. In my role as library marketer, I’ve made many efforts to promote Mango Languages. Nevertheless, it is one of our most underutilized offerings. When my family decided to go to Greece for our family vacation this summer, I decided it was time to find out for myself what Mango Languages was all about. So, a few weeks before my departure, I attempted to learn some Greek with Mango Languages.
Getting set up was quick and easy. I downloaded the app to my phone from the Google play store (I have an android phone, if you have an iPhone, go to the Apple store), I set up an account, and entered my library card number. You can also use a computer if you prefer. I searched for Greek and found 3 options; Ancient, Koine, and Modern. Considering that it’s 2023 and that I’d never heard of Koine (I did look it up if you want to learn more), I chose modern. I popped in my earbuds and got started right away with Unit 1, Chapter 1: Salutations and Small Talk. Mango has two units of Modern Greek with a total of 189 lessons.
I found the app very easy to use and follow. I quickly discovered the auto-play option, which allowed me to get some chores done while learning. The lesson starts with a simple recorded conversation, and then breaks it down into words and phrases. There’s a lot of repetition and slowing down of the pronunciation, which really helps the words sink in. There are minimal grammar lessons and lots of cultural tidbits sprinkled in. Did you know dinner in Greece doesn’t start until 9 PM or later? At the end of the chapter, there is a review summarizing everything you’ve learned with some pop quiz questions thrown in.
There are a few features that I wish I had discovered earlier. The first is how to see the phonetic spelling. Every time you’re presented with a word during your lessons, you can tap it on your screen or hover over it on a computer to see a phonetic spelling. I found this very useful.
Another feature is the option to record yourself to see how you compare to the native speaker. This is entertaining to try as well as helpful for your pronunciation.
One additional tip: make sure you download your lessons so that you can listen to them on your long plane ride.
I found myself getting really excited about my upcoming trip and had tremendous fun belting out these new, exotic-sounding words. I managed to get through 6 chapters of Unit 1 and while I didn’t retain everything, I was able to use basic phrases while in Greece. I could say hello, thank you, please, yes, no, good morning, good afternoon, cheers, ok, very good, beautiful weather, I would like a beer, how much does it cost, and goodbye (the hardest of all).
Over and over during my travels, whenever I attempted to speak the local language, the recipient would break into a smile. They would often help me with my pronunciation, ask me where I was from, ask about our travel plans, or share suggestions of what we should see. So, while I’m certainly not fluent in Greek, Mango Languages did help me start many conversations that enriched my travels in many ways.
In summary, Mango Languages is perfect for a beginner who would like to get a solid introduction to a new language in a short period of time. So next time you’re heading on a trip, why not give it a try? You might start some very interesting conversations of your own.
Fran joined the Library in 2013 and is responsible for our in-house communications, signage, flyers, social media, eNewsletter and press releases, as well as our tri-annual Bookplate newsletter.
One of Fran’s greatest passions is travelling. She was born in the Netherlands, grew up in England, and came to the United States as a teenager. Fran has travelled to over 30 countries.
Traveling soon? I highly recommend exploring our travel section, Libby, and especially hoopla, which has tons of resources. There are no holds or waiting lists for hoopla titles, and you can easily take them on the go. Since I’ve been back, I’ve been exploring Greek Cookbooks on hoopla and trying to recreate some of the amazing meals I had.
Here are some additional library resources that I used:
Lonely Planet Crete (eBook available on hoopla)
Rick Steve’s Greece (eBook available on Libby)