This post was updated April 2020.
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In case you’ve missed it, there’s a new kid on the language learning block: Mondly & Mondly Premium. And I know what you’re thinking: another language learning app?? Do we really need another option?? Well, if this is the one that works for you, I would have to say yes.
So what do we know about Mondly and Mondly Premium? Considering my current streak of over 400 days…a lot. But I don’t say that to brag (okay, maybe a little bit though). I say that because there are a lot of negative reviews out there, and I don’t think most of them quite get it.
Fortunately for us, there is an absolute butt-load of Mondly languages, so there is a significant chance that the one you want to learn is waiting for you. Mondly languages include:
On top of that, Mondly also prides themselves on the option to learn FROM more than just English. This is really great for expanding the privilege of language learning to those who don’t have the privilege of learning English, which I’m a huge fan of.
Suffice to say, we’ve got some options here. I know that Spanish has been ~my thing~ for a while now, but when I found Mondly, I decided to try something new: Afrikaans. Why?
Well, first off, it had been on my list after reading an article talking about how similar Afrikaans is to English (which it is!). Second, Mondly is best for fresh new learners, and there was no way I was going to stick to Mondly if it was trying to teach me Spanish for the first time.
Mondly review: the good
First things first: your basic, run-of-the-mill Mondly review. Mondly is most accurately compared to Duolingo: you have real quick lessons where you learn some basic grammar and vocabulary and keep up a streak for as long as you can. You can even collect a whole bunch of languages that you can say you’re studying.
These lessons are very simple multiple-choice, so it’s a great option for quick, low-key practice. All of the content presented in the language you’re learning is accompanied by audio, so Mondly also does a very solid job of training your ear to recognize the words you’re learning.
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Mondly hits all the senses
Another thing I love about Mondly is how it caters to all the senses and, therefore, all different types of learners. This game isn’t difficult, but it does change up the format of the questions (while always supplying audio), so it pokes at all the senses just right.
Now, if you’ve ever tried using Duolingo before, you know that a lot of the sentences you end up translating are sentences that don’t make any sense, and therefore you’ll never use. Not Mondly! Mondly’s practice sentences are completely practical statements that you might actually hear outside of the app. What a concept!
Mondly’s Chatbot and conversations
Mondly has 2 major perks that set it apart from every other language learning platform out there. One of them is its chatbot/conversations. Now, we all know how important it is to practice speaking in your foreign language (how else are you going to learn to speak a new language if you don’t practice actually speaking the language?). A lot of us also know how difficult it is to actually do that: it’s expensive, nerve-wracking, sometimes unreliable…the list goes on and on.
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Fortunately, Mondly has solved that problem by providing pre-written scripts that you can use to practice participating in an actual conversation. Each lesson topic comes with a conversation where you repeat everything that’s said in a conversation, and then there’s the chatbot itself, where you have more of a free hand.
These lessons are for similar purposes (to have actual conversations), but they’re definitely handled differently. The conversations (left) follow the vocabulary that you’ve been learning in the lessons leading up to them. Here we have a conversation based off of the vocabulary learned in the “family” section; you:
- listen to the Afrikaans audio presented,
- are able to fall back on the translation (so you’re absolutely sure what you’re even talking about),
- repeat the audio back to your phone’s microphone, and
- listen to your own pronunciation of the statement.
The Chatbot (right), on the other hand, is more of a free-flowing conversation, where you’re able to participate more. You’re provided with some reasonable responses to the Afrikaans and can choose your response. It definitely feels much more like a conversation.
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The speech recognition itself? Well, what can you expect? Some say it’s reliable, others don’t. All I can say is try your best, and don’t depend on it to accurately reflect how well you’re pronouncing your words.
Mondly’s Augmented Reality
The other perk that helps Mondly stand out from all the other apps is its Augmented Reality, or AR. The concept is really awesome: as long as you have an AR-capable device, Mondly can help you procure images of things that don’t exist through your phone’s camera! Mondly advertises themselves as the future of language learning, and that’s definitely the right track.
To access the AR, Mondly will prompt you to download a separate app that’s included with all Mondly Premium accounts. Honestly, I wasn’t even aware of this when I sat down to write this review; last time I tried AR, I was informed that it’s only available in a handful of languages, and Afrikaans was not one of them. Fortunately, that is no longer the case!
It’s pretty cool having a digital human talking to you in the language you’re learning and prompting you to speak back (feat. my napping puppy!). You’re given a couple options and can have the responses spoken to you as many times as you need.
Then, you’ll rely on speech recognition to recognize whether or not you’re speaking well enough. It is hit or miss, and it’s real frustrating when you miss, but I’m excited to see how Mondly continues to develop this technology for language learners. Talk about a great hack for immersion!
Daily, weekly, & monthly practice
The reason I’ve used Mondly Premium for more than 400 days straight? Every day there’s a new lesson. Then, at the end of every week (as long as you’ve completed every lesson that week) there’s a new weekly lesson, and a new monthly one, too. They’re bite-sized, and they might not be new content, but it’s a great way to poke at your new language consistently every day.
If you’re worried about these little snippets not being enough, don’t. If there’s one thing I learned from Add1Challenge, it’s that the important thing is that you’re working on your language consistently. It doesn’t have to be a whole lot, but as long as you’re using it, your skill will keep growing.
Mondly review: the not-so-good
Like I said, there are lots of negative reviews out there. And I do get it. You can’t JUST use Mondly to learn a language, for example. Afrikaans is very similar to English in a lot of ways, but at the same time a lot of the grammar doesn’t make any sense, and there’s no explanation.
Afrikaans is a special case because it’s not a common language, so there’s not very much information available online. Therefore, it would be nice if Mondly would conveniently explain the confusing grammar that it presents you with, instead of you having to leave the platform and search elsewhere.
Another thing: Mondly asks you your level in your target language (so I chose intermediate when I checked out their Spanish content, for example), but the content doesn’t change if you select something other than beginner. Which, you know, is fine, but it almost feels like they want to keep you on if you’re not a beginner, even though they don’t have the content.
Mondly Premium: worth the splurge?
With Mondly free, you get access to the first 6 lessons, 1 conversation, 1 vocabulary section, and 1 Chatbot conversation, plus those daily/weekly/monthly quizzes. It’s a nice preview of the app, but you can’t get a whole lot done.
To get everything else, you need Mondly Premium (get 20% off with my link!). This includes 250 lessons, 33 conversations, and 36 vocab builders. In the 200+ days I’ve been using Mondly Premium, they have updated it with new content, so they’re not sleeping at the wheel.
In my humble opinion? I think that Mondly is on track to being one of the most advanced, efficient language learning products out there. Just the AR and the Chatbot capabilities of Mondly Premium alone have a lot of potential when it comes to bringing foreign language immersion into your home.
Give it a shot – click this link to get 20% off your subscription!