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Mango Languages vs Babbel
After thoroughly using and evaluating each language app, we break down the differences between Babbel and Mango
In some ways, the language learning apps from Babbel and Mango Languages are very similar. Yet, in many respects, they are also quite different, making each one better for different types of learners. In this guide, we break down in detail the strengths and weaknesses of each program, not only compared to each other, but also compared to other apps on the market as well.
Let’s start this article off by discussing pricing, as cost is always important. Babbel has a few different subscription plans, ranging from around $7 to $14 per month, depending on which option you choose.
Or you can purchase a lifetime pass to Babbel, which includes access to all of their languages for around $200-300. Basically, with Babbel, it all just depends on how long you want to commit to and pay for in advance.
Mango Languages, on the other hand, has just two plans. This takes the form of a single language plan and an “all languages” plan, which gives you access to all 70 of their languages.
If you pay monthly, the single language plan costs $8 per month and the all language plan is roughly $18.
Alternatively, if you want to pay for a year in advance, the single language plan costs a shade under $7 per month, and the all language plan is about $15 on a monthly basis.
Thus, in terms of cost, it’s pretty close here. Assuming you’re just looking for access to a single language, these two programs are within a dollar or so of each other.
However, one thing I do need to note here is that Babbel seems to be much more aggressive in their discounting than Mango Languages.
They regularly offer deals and special promotions (in fact, almost year round), so make sure to check for coupon codes before buying. Mango does sometimes run sales too, but not nearly as often or aggressively as Babbel.
Program Overview (How Each App Works)
Now that we’ve covered cost, I am going to provide a high-level overview of each program for context, starting with Mango Languages.
In terms of the organization of their lesson work, Mango has a fairly standard structure. Within the whole program, there are five main units, which cover major topics like introductions, connections, community, etc.
Then within each main unit there are chapters, usually 4 to 10 per unit. And lastly, within each chapter, there are 12 to 20 lessons. These lessons are the basis of your daily learning and what you’ll work through when you log in.
Each lesson takes about 5 to 15 minutes to complete, depending on how involved you want to get. In terms of substance, to be honest, the Mango lessons are a little different from most other language learning app lessons I’ve reviewed.
Essentially, an English-speaking moderator walks you through the lesson where you learn a handful of words and phrases.
Yet, there are only three main exercises or drill types to learn these words and phrases: learn, speaking quiz, and critical thinking. Those same three drill types get repeated.
Not to mention, every so often there is a quick grammar or culture note inserted. To be clear, there are no videos, mock conversations, flashcards, graphics, or anything like that, which are pretty typical in other language apps.
Then as for Babbel, their program is fairly similar in terms of structure and length. Their program uses a similar pyramid-shaped structure with lessons as the basis for coursework, and the lessons take just 10-15 minutes. Other than that, however, it’s fairly different.
Rather than the same three types of drills over and over across a lesson, Babbel uses a massive variety of exercises to teach whatever the day’s lesson covers (this holds true for all courses, including Babbel Spanish, Babbel French, and Babbel Italian).
These include matching pairs, flashcards, speaking drills, listening drills, mock dialogues, reading, fill-in-the-blanks, etc.
There is just a lot more variety in their drills. Plus, rather than inserting a grammar note at a singular point in each lesson, the grammar instruction in Babbel’s lessons is much more pervasive.
There are frequent callout boxes and notes about grammar tips, and even some entire lessons dedicated to grammar, so you definitely get a lot more coverage of grammar principles with Babbel.
Why Babbel Is Better Than Mango Languages
Now that you generally know how each language app works, let’s cover the main advantages of using Babbel over Mango (before getting to Mango’s wins).
More Diverse Lessons
The first thing I like about Babbel is something I’ve already covered above, lesson diversity. While I like the simplicity of Mango’s rinse-lather-repeat type structure, I found Babbel’s lessons to be more engaging overall. This is largely because there is so much more going on with Babbel.
You’ll start with a speaking drill, then jump into a picture-based flashcard exercise, then a match pairs drill, then a simulated dialogue, and before you know it, the lesson is over.
The variety of exercises just makes the lessons go very quickly, and honestly, helps with language retention.
Plus, I really like all the visuals Babbel includes throughout the lesson exercises. Mango Languages doesn’t really offer any graphics or images at all, and I do think this can make things kind of tough for visual learners.
The second advantage in favor of Babbel is their review sessions. Everyday when you log in to the Babbel app, they have you do a quick 2-3 minute review session. They’ll test you on vocabulary you learned a few weeks back and make sure it’s sticking.
I personally love this spaced repetition approach and think it adds a lot of value. Consistency and repetition are crucial for language learning, and this method really helps you move newly learned words from your short term memory to your long term memory.
Not to mention, I like that Babbel gives the option of how you want to review: flashcards, listening, speaking or writing. I think that’s really cool and helpful.
To be clear, Mango does have a review system of their own, but I just prefer Babbel’s.
Grammar Coverage Is Superior
Next up for Babbel in the win column is their approach to grammar. As noted above, both companies use pretty different approaches to teaching grammar.
Mango seems to be more focused on teaching words and phrases, and not necessarily grammar, so they have pretty limited coverage with just one drill per lesson.
It’s always a nice little tip or point, but Babbel’s approach is much more comprehensive in my opinion.
They have entire lessons dedicated to grammar, and even in the non-grammar lessons, they do a nice job weaving in tips and key points with little callout boxes.
In my opinion, Babbel’s approach is a very effective and efficient way of learning your grammar.
Tons of Extras
Last up for Babbel are all the bonus features you get. With Mango, it’s really just the main course and not much more. There’s a progress tracker and Mango Movies (which are a handful of language-based movies), but other than that, there really aren’t any cool extras.
Babbel, on the other hand, gives you a bunch of awesome tools and resources such as dedicated audio lessons, podcasts, games, an e-magazine, and vocab reviews.
This supplemental work just makes the Babbel program feel a little more well-rounded and comprehensive overall.
Knowing now where Babbel has the advantage, let me next break down the major advantages in favor of Mango Languages.
Cool Voice Analysis
The first advantage in favor of Mango is their voice analysis tool. In their lesson work, Mango has a has pretty cool feature that allows you to record yourself for any speaking drill (Pimsleur doesn’t even offer this).
You record yourself repeating a phrase, then the program gives you a visual readout of your tone and inflection. You can then grab the readout and move it over to line it up with the fluent speaker example to compare how you said it versus the native speaker.
I actually thought this was pretty useful as you can see where you’re not hitting inflection points or holding tones too long. It’s pretty helpful for visual learners.
Toggle Between Understood and Literal
The second advantage of using Mango is their breakdown between literal and understood phrases. As you start to learn a new language, what you’ll notice is that a lot of times phrases and sayings don’t translate between languages word-for-word.
Rather, there’s usually a similar phrase or way of conveying your message that isn’t a direct word-for-word translation. And to help you learn these little differences, Mango offers this cool little toggle switch where you can switch back and forth between seeing the common, everyday understanding of the phrase, and the literal word-for-word translation in English.
For me personally, this was super helpful for learning common terminology.
Color Coded Sentence Structures
The last advantage for Mango is their color coding. I’m a pretty visual person and when you’re learning a new language, like German for example, you’ll notice that the structuring of sentences is often different from how you structure sentences in English.
So to help you learn these differences, Mango color codes all the different components of a sentence, such as verbs, adjectives, objects and subjects, and stacks the two versions of the same sentence up side-by-side so you can see how things move around.
This is one of the hardest parts of language learning because you have to sort of rewire your brain for your new language in terms of how you construct sentences when saying and hearing things, and this color coding, at least for me, was a big help in seeing structural differences in the languages (especially for learning Japanese).
That about does it for the detail in this comparison, so let’s get to the final verdict. Should you choose Mango Languages or Babbel?
After using and testing each program, I personally prefer Babbel. Mango Languages has a lot going for it with their color coded sentence structures, pronunciation analysis tool, and quick-hit lessons, but overall, I just found Babbel to be the more engaging and effective app.
Their lessons are more diverse, their system of reviewing vocab is more effective, the images and visuals throughout the drills are incredibly helpful, and the grammar emphasis is a lot stronger. So in the end, between these two, I would point you towards Babbel.
The greatest difference between Mango Languages and Babbel is their approach to grammar. Mango tends to focus more on learning words and phrases, while Babbel places a heavier emphasis on foundational grammar principles.
Is Mango better than Babbel?
While our team generally likes Mango Languages as a language learning tool, we actually found Babbel to be the more effective program overall.
What's the cost difference for Mango and Babbel?
Babbel and Mango are very close in terms of cost. Mango Languages costs around $8 to $18 per month depending on your plan, while Babbel will run you around $7 to $14 per month.