Each summer I tell myself that the new place we’re heading off to for a vacation is the perfect opportunity for me to learn a little bit of the native language. From saying hello, asking for the bill, a couple of beers, or where we are because we’re lost, I always think it’s a great idea to have some phrases that can rely on to get you out of a tight spot. Invariably I fail to get beyond the idea stage each year and simply muddle through and hope that whomever I’m speaking to respects my pigeon Portuguese. Enter Mondly. Mondly is an application that we were alerted to by them directly to check out. It uses gamification and bite-sized portions of language goodness to get you through some easy to follow lessons. Let’s take a closer look.
- Easy drip-fed lessons
- Gamification helps
- Simultaneous language learning
- Aged UI
- Lessons replicated for other languages
- Paywall for best features
I choose Portuguese as the language I was going to try and learn during this review period. We holiday there most years and I still haven’t gotten out of neutral in terms of my native phrases. This was the perfect chance to try and better myself in that regard, right?
I’ve tried a few applications like this in the past, such as Duolingo and Babbel but I haven’t managed to keep things moving so I had my doubts moving into this review. Off I went, opening the application, signing in and picking a language.
It’s worth noting up front that the user interface here could do with a bit of an overhaul. There are graphical artefacts and aged colour definitions galore when you are getting started. Thankfully that doesn’t detract from the content for too long but should be looked at by the developers. It reminds me very much of an old application running on Windows Mobile aesthetically which isn’t the best of first impressions and certainly isn’t a ringing endorsement.
As soon as you get into the nitty-gritty, you’re met with location-pin-shaped bubbles which represent a different topic from which to learn phrases from your chosen language. Clicking on a ‘bubble’ will guide you through a set of questions with various methods of answering. Sometimes you’re asked to swipe, Tinder-style, to assign the correct answer, whilst other answer types include multiple choice answers, filling in the blanks for a phrase, and Mondly even includes speech input as a means to answer questions which makes you feel as though you’re actually speaking the language like a pro very early on. Obviously, the speech input is a little forgiving as I completely butchered the “Are you doing well?” phrase I was asked to repeat, but it’s still a nice touch.
Lessons comprise of a number of questions as stated above and depending on how well you answer those questions denotes how many Stars you receive. Make too many mistakes during the lessons, the stars drop, and you might find yourself having to repeat the lesson entirely. It should be noted you can retake lessons as many times as you require.
The gamification aspect is something that personally I can live without but there is no doubting it keeps things interesting and for many, this will be an excellent gateway into extending your language studies out with the application entirely.
As I moved forward through the lessons, I regularly quit out to take a break and the application accurately keeps tabs of where you were at, and not just in one language. I also added a few more languages just to try. As it turns out I’m equally horrid at delivering French and Spanish phrases, but the application kept my place in case I plucked up the courage to come back to them at some point in the future.
Somewhat disappointingly, however, the content of the lessons are almost identical throughout the different languages. I would have expected at least a bit of randomisation here or a completely different set of curated questions which relate to the language being learned. Maybe it’s easier to start with possessive nouns in French than starting with family members. Perhaps that’s a small niggle, as the app still does what it says on the tin, but if you use this for more than one language you could find yourself feeling it was a little repetitive.
After you’ve completed some lessons you get a nice little overview of what you’ve achieved, with the phrases and words being displayed and repeated, as well as a graphical overview of your historical progress.
Thinking of getting hooked on a language? Well, there are some price plans to consider here as the free content is limited. Currently, the price plans are as follows:
- Mondly Premium 1 Language – Monthly Subscription – $9.99
- Mondly Premium 1 Language – Annual Subscription – $47.99
- Mondly Premium 33 Languages – Annual Subscription – $47.99 for the time being (usual, RRP is $479.99)
- Free Membership
- Premium Membership
- Hello section with 6 lessons, 1 conversation and 1 vocabulary
- Chatbot conversations
- Daily lessons
- Weekly quizzes and monthly challenges to measure progress
- 33 conversations for day-to-day scenarios
- 250 lessons centring on real-life topics and situations
- 36 vocabulary lessons
- 1300+ daily lessons, weekly quizzes and monthly challenges
- Speech recognition pronunciation feedback
- Conjugation tables and grammar features
Now obviously nobody would buy the $47.99 annual subscription for 1 language when they can get the annual subscription to all 33 for the same amount, so just bear that in mind when you’re weighing up when and whether to opt for a premium plan.
When rounding out this review, I found myself revisiting the app just to check for updates, and then I found myself going through a couple of lessons in my lunch break. I think that’s the key here. Is this going to be a deep dive into the intellectual workings of a language both formal and informal? No, it’s not. What Mondly does do is give you bite-sized chunks of information, and delivers it in a simplistic and intuitive way that allows you to consume the material with ease, take a break, and drop back in whenever without worrying too much.
You don’t learn so much as you remember by virtue of associating phrases and words with the graphical representations you see on screen.
I’m not a fluent Portuguese speaker (yet), but I’ve learned a little about telling people I have a brother, and asking them if they are okay. That has given me enough to think that I’ll get more out of this the longer I keep at it, and after all, that’s the basic principle with learning anything isn’t it?
Check out the Mondly website for more information as well as the respective app stores. Adeus meus amigos!