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August 2, 2012 / carlispina

Try Out Mango Languages While Learning Library-Specific Spanish

I’ve previously written about using Duolingo to practice Spanish, but when I recently learned that Mango Languages was offering a free tutorial focused on teaching library-specific Spanish, I couldn’t wait to try it out. I’ve been really happy with Duolingo, but this seemed like a nice opportunity to learn some vocabulary that would be useful in a library setting while simultaneously seeing what Mango Languages had to offer.

Mango Languages offers free trial access to the first lesson of each of their courses, but Learning Spanish with Libby is their first offering that is specifically geared towards libraries. While the lessons do cover some standard vocabulary concepts, such as greetings, the conversations are based on typical librarian-patron interactions, such as asking a reference question, getting a library card and giving directions. The lessons are structured so that users hear a phrase first and then are quizzed on that phrase and variations on it many times over the course of the lesson, slowly building up to a full interaction. The twenty available lessons are split between two chapters, with the first chapter focusing on getting a library card and the second chapter teaching how to conduct a simple reference transaction. By the end of the tutorial, users will have been introduced to some vocabulary that is commonly used in libraries, but might not be included in typical language tutorials.

I enjoyed using this tutorial to learn new library terminology in Spanish, but I found that its teaching style didn’t work as well for me as did that of Duolingo. This tutorial is based largely on repetition of spoken phrases, which makes sense given its focus on facilitating library interactions, but I feel that this narrow focus limits what users will get out of the tutorial. Also, I found that the beginning levels included a bit too much repetition that eventually felt overdone rather than seeming as though it reinforced the concepts. Because the repetition isn’t broken up with other concepts, it feels as though the user is expected to repeat the same phrase over and over again and then move on without necessarily reviewing those phrases again after new material has been added. Also, having tried Duolingo, I missed the reading, writing and listening components that make that such a great language tutorial. While I think that users will be able to pick up some vocabulary that they might find useful in library interactions and this tutorial is another way to try out Mango Languages before making a subscription decision, its usefulness is limited to these narrow scenarios. Having said that, I do hope that more content is eventually added to this tutorial to make it a more complete introduction to library-specific Spanish.

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