Těší mě, že jsem poznat vás! I have to admit, learning to speak Czech is rather slow going. However, it’s something I never thought I would have the opportunity to do, and Mango makes it possible! Language lessons can be rather expensive, and if you have lots of self-discipline, this database has the tools you need to get up to speed.
I began my exploration of Mango by testing out Basic Czech. This course is just meant to introduce the principles of simple, polite conversation rather than going into more detail. There are two chapters: “Meeting People” and “Meet Our Family.” Each chapter is further broken down into 7 lessons, and each one begins by listing the goals you can expect to accomplish. My first conversational goals included greeting, saying goodbye, and making introductions. Personal pronouns and present tense verbs rounded out my grammar goals. Given these goals, it may be a shock that the first lesson alone is 50 slides! However, repetition is an important part of Mango’s instructional guidelines, as is probably true with most language courses.
My main accomplishments in Lesson 1 were learning how to say “Good day, my name is Petra” as well as “And your name is?” I got to hear each phrase in total, and then subsequent slides broke it down into individual words. Pronunciations are shown, but unfortunately there is not a typed indication of where to place emphasis. I had to listen to the narrator several times to figure it out. One pretty cool feature is the voice comparison (though you do need to have a particular configuration with your computer’s speakers, etc.) You can record yourself speaking the phrase and play it back to compare with the narrator’s inflections. Some slides serve as quizzes with a ticking clock, and this is a great way to test yourself to make sure you are really retaining the information.
One thing that sort of frustrated me was the fact that I would learn how to introduce myself when talking to a female in one lesson, and then in another it mentioned introducing myself when talking to a male, but I didn’t get a clear picture of the difference or the reason for the difference so that I could incorporate this distinction in other situations. This is probably due to the basic nature of the course, so if you want more detail, try a different class.
Italian offered a more detailed course called Complete 2.0, so I decided to give that a shot. I found it rather similar to the basic lessons, except for the fact that cultural notes were often dispersed throughout. For example, “When you say ciao you usually wave your right hand. Sometimes you lift and lower your fingers, instead of waving your hand, but that’s more common with babies.”
I finally tested out the Complete Course 1.0 for French, and this was very detailed with information on grammar and rules- more like what you would experience in an actual class. I’d say the Basic and Complete 2.0 courses are best for prepping right before travel or just getting a taste of the language. With these classes you’ll probably be memorizing phrases without a real understanding of the reasons why it’s necessary to say things a certain way. Try a Complete 1.0 course for a real immersion into the essentials of a foreign language!