Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Should you tango with Mango (languages)?

Mango Languages is an online resource for language learning, and it includes Italian. It's being seen as an alternative to the other two brands for self-instruction, Rosetta Stone and Pimsleur.

I had heard that the popular Pimsleur is no longer being sold to libraries. And this is where Mango comes in. You can either purchase a limited time with Mango or use the service free if your library subscribes to it. In the case of my town, you go to the library's website, find Mango, enter your library card number, and you're good to go, even from home, or anywhere else.

Mango's site has a search function by zip to check if your library subscribes. Unfortunately, it doesn't appear to be accurate, as it shows my library as not subscribing. Best thing is to check with your library directly. It could save you a pretty penny.

Now, the instruction itself. I was not very impressed. The Italian starts off with "salve" for "hello," which is by no means the standard or usual greeting. Checking the French and German versions shows that they used "bonjour" and "Guten Tag." They inform us absurdly that "come sta" literally means "how do you stay?" It does not: "stare" is one of two Italian verbs for "to be," and that is what it means here (it sometimes means "stay"). There are some glitches in the English, such as "soar throat." There is a degree of repetition that would drive me mad, but that's because I already know Italian. It may be suited to certain kinds of learners.

Bottom line: if you want to learn or review some Italian on the cheap and have free access through a library, give it a try. There are a hundred lessons, you'll get something out of it. But if I had to actually spring for it, I'd invest my money elsewhere.