Tag Archives: ESL

Learn a New Language (or to talk like a pirate) with Mango!

4 Sep

As an enthusiastic language learner, my favorite language software that the library provides is Mango Languages. First of all, the interface is aesthetically pleasing and easy to navigate. Second, it offers a vast array of languages to learn. Mango Languages not only offers the most commonly studied languages (English, Spanish, French), but it also offers more uncommon ones like Punjabi and Haitian Creole. And if you want to have some fun, you even have the option of Shakespearean English or Pirate! Furthermore, it offers different variations of languages, so you are able to take your pick of Egyptian Arabic or Iraqi Arabic, Castilian Spanish or Latin American Spanish, etc. Overall, Mango Languages offers over 70 language courses, so you’ll be sure to find something you are interested in.

The first thing you need to do is go to hobokenlibrary.org and click on Learn It in the horizontal menu you’ll see at the top of the page. Under “Learn It”, click “Learn a Language”. There, you will see a link to Mango Languages (among other resources). Click the link to be taken to Mango Languages through the Hoboken Library. This way you’ll be able to access the website for free! Sign up with your email and you are good to go (if you prefer you can also use Mango anonymously by choosing “Use Mango as a Guest”)!  Hoboken Resident Library Cardholders can sign in from home with their library card.

As previously mentioned, there are plenty of languages to choose from, and one great thing about Mango is that you can take different languages courses at the same time!

When you select a language, you’re right away led to a page with a list of units to study.
If you’re a beginner, click on the first one. If you’ve studied a bit before and don’t want to go through all the basics, you can take a placement test, as you can see in the screenshot below at the bottom of the left-hand menu.

Learn Spanish

You can also skip around lessons, there is no need to do the lessons in order. If you’re the kind who likes to skip around and customize their own experience, then you’re in luck!

Each lesson begins with objectives, in this case the Conversational Goals and the Grammar goals. It’s always good to know what your lesson entails before you begin it so you have a clear focus.

Small TalkNext, the program shows you a conversation you will be able to have by the time you complete the lesson. Here’s what that looks like in the French course:

After listening to the conversation, you begin the learning process! A word or sentence is presented:
good morning bon jour

Although words don’t always correspond perfectly, words and phrases are color-coded in order to help give the learner a sense of what they are saying. This is great for visual learners. Another great feature is that little green light bulb. Clicking on it allows you to see the literal translation of the word, phrase or sentence. It helps give the learner some insight on how differently languages can work.

The orange button on the bottom left is another cool feature. The learner can click on it and record themselves repeating the word, phrase or sentence. They can then compare it to the recorded speech and see how close it sounds.
Voice Comparison

As you go through the lesson, they repeat the words, phrases and sentences you have learned in English and give you time to respond corresponding phrase in your target language. Remember that repetition is key when learning!

Something I really like about Mango Languages is that it comes with cultural notes. It is of the utmost importance to learn culture along with languages, as the two are intertwined. Here’s one that came up in a French unit:
Cultural Note

Grammar notes are also included:
Grammar Notes

At the end of each lesson, there are listening and reading activities which reinforce what you have learned.

Another really cool feature in Mango is that some languages have specialty units, usually featuring culturally relevant vocabulary. French offers a course in Wine & Cheese, Japanese offers Mimetic Words and my personal favorite, Brazilian Portuguese offers…
That referee made a terrible callIn addition to these cool features, some language courses also offer movies and Little Pim courses for children. The movies can be watched normally or with short lessons and interactive content. It’s a really cool addition to learning. However, this feature is currently only available in a few languages.

Different languages offered by Mango have different amounts of content.  Their more popular languages tend to have multiple units, but you can check back in the future since they are always adding new content.

One thing to be aware of with Mango is that it does not teach different scripts comprehensively. If you plan to study a language like Chinese, Arabic, Japanese, Russian, etc. you’re going to want to study the scripts beforehand or just figure it out as you go. I was able to find some resources provided by Mango Languages, such as worksheets and videos; I was able to access them by visiting the main page while logged out and clicking on the language in question. Hopefully there will be more added in the future. If you’re learning a language with a different writing system, I think it’s best to look for books and other resources before starting with Mango whose primary focus is spoken languages.

Hoboken Residents also have access to Rosetta Stone which is offered to New Jersey residents through JerseyClicks from the New Jersey State Library.  So what are you waiting for? The time to learn a new language is…now!

Written by:
Samantha Evaristo
Hoboken Library Outreach Assistant


28 Aug

LANGUAGE LEARNING MYTH #1: I’m too old to learn a new language.

FALSE. There is a common assumption that children are better at learning languages than adults. They might be better at picking up pronunciation, but otherwise, adults have many advantages over kids. Adults already have pre-existing language knowledge. Adults understand how conjugation works, what an adjective does, etc. Meanwhile, children struggle with many aspects of language. For example, they have a hard time with irregular verbs (e.g., saying “runned” instead of “ran”). Additionally, babies take years before they can even utter a word. An adult? Well, you can learn how to say a few basic phrases in a day!

LANGUAGE LEARNING MYTH #2: I don’t have an innate talent for languages, so I can’t learn.

FALSE. Everyone is capable of learning a language. While it’s true that some people pick up on certain aspects of language more quickly, those same people can also peter out when they reach an intermediate level (trust me, I’ve been there before). Everyone has different strengths, but it is not talent that makes them fluent. It is regular practice and determination.

LANGUAGE LEARNING MYTH #3: I need to spend money on materials and on travel to learn a language.

FALSE. You can obtain a various amount of language learning resources from the library FOR FREE. In addition to language learning materials on our shelves, the library offers free access to software programs that normally would require payment, such as Rosetta Stone and Mango Languages. The Hoboken Public Library and Friends of the Library also provides free ESL practice every month, which will be starting a new series of classes in September. Language learners can also benefit from free access to video lessons on Universal Class and movies in several languages and language lessons from The Great Courses on Kanopy. If you’ve got your Hoboken Resident Library Card, you don’t even need to leave the house! And travel? Sure, immersion can be useful, but it doesn’t always work. There are a lot of factors that go into making full immersion a successful method, and as I’ve mentioned before, it is possible to become fluent without moving to a country (or locale) where a certain language is spoken. The most important thing is PRACTICE, and that practice must be applied to the four language skills: reading, writing, speaking, listening. If you consistently practice all of these skills, then you will achieve your goals.

Before you begin your language journey, make sure you have a goal in mind. This is of the utmost importance. “I want to be fluent” is not a good enough goal. It is vague and will not motivate you when you eventually reach a rough patch. What does fluent even truly mean? (We can save that conversation for another day…) What you want is a more specific goal, and remember, you can add another goal once you achieve the first. It is entirely fine to have short-term goals. Good examples of language learning goals are: “I want to be able to have small talk with my friend” or “I want to be able to read X book.”  These are specific and realistic goals that will help you keep focused and stay on track.

In my next post, I’ll provide you with a walkthrough of a software program you can have free access to through the library: Mango Languages. In the meantime, why don’t you check out the library’s many resources and choose a language to study?

Written by:
Samantha Evaristo
Hoboken Library Outreach Assistant

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