How to learn a new language for free with Mango Languages

You know, hosting Meet, Plan, Go! in Seattle has been a great learning experience for us, and the biggest bonus is meeting great people and learning about new companies that support long-term travel. One of my favorites has been Mango Languages, not only because my contact Beverly Cornell is so fun and engaging, but because Mango provides a way for people to learn a new language for FREE because they provide their software through libraries all over North America and beyond.

Cappuccino in Japan

Photo by ALT123 via Flickr

(In fact, if you aren’t using your local library for travel books, cultural music, videos, and reference material in preparation for your trip, you are wasting a lot of time and money. And who doesn’t want to save a few extra bucks for the trip fund? Anyway, enough of my PSA about your local public library.)

The team at Mango travels quite a bit, and many are bi- and tri-lingual. These people practice what they preach, and I love having them as sponsors for Meet, Plan, Go. If you are going to the Chicago event you can meet Beverly in person, and even if you aren’t planning to attend (the only excuse is that you are already on a trip), then you can benefit a lot from finding out more about our sponsors and speakers.

Listen below as Beverly and I talk about language, cultural taboos, and how to sign a petition to her boss to allow her to travel full-time to “road-test” all 70 languages in the Mango catalog. (ahem, if the boss is reading that is just a joke – kinda)

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01:40  How Mango is different from other language learning software companies

03:50  How Beverly uses Mango for her own travel and communication needs

05:15  How much language does a traveler need to learn for travel through several countries?

06:15  Three levels of language learning to suit your needs – basic is only 2-5 hours!

08:19  Access Mango from any internet service in any country with just your library card

09:00  The importance of being able to order food when traveling

09:55  Beverly admits that Mango is not as appealing as the hot language tutor Julia Roberts had in Eat, Pray, Love, but it is a pretty good second option

10:50  Mango is conversationally focused instead of focused on learning lists of nouns and verbs

11:30  Semantic color mapping, differences in word order in other languages, literal and understood meanings, and pronunciation popups – all of these are extra tools to help you learn faster

13:57  Cultural notes and taboos are addressed. Language is also about body language, and knowing this will help you communicate better. Mango is a “Lego” approach instead of a “puzzle piece” approach, meaning you will be able to build on your lessons.

16:30  The importance of knowing how to ask where the bathroom is AND being able to understand the answer.

17:06  What is “intuitive language construction?”

17:23  The “forgetting curve” and how Mango addresses this

19:38  Mango has an iPhone app coming out in October

21:45  What is the most popular language at Mango?

23:18  Beverly and I discuss how much easier it is to learn new languages after you learn the first new one. We unscientifically conclude that you begin to get an ear for it.

24:30  How learning even the basics of a language will encourage the locals to help you.

27:20  How travel to another country is like being a guest in someone’s home

28:38  The basic Mango program is a 2-5 hour investment. Think of how this compares to the overall time you’ve spent planning your trip.

29:00  Where can you find Mango Languages? Go to to find the library nearest you. Keep in mind that if your library does not have it, they may have access to it through an interlibrary loan with a neighboring library.

30:30  Beverly shares some of her favorite travel resources at the public library (and I love this because they are free AND you have nothing to get rid of when it comes time to pack up and leave)

32:45  Beverly’s final travel advice based on her own experiences:  Keep an open mind

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